Project Overview

Antikythera Mechanism model by Hublot: front face (detail)

More than a hundred years ago an extraordinary mechanism was found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera. It astonished the whole international community of experts on the ancient world. Was it an astrolabe? Was it an orrery or an astronomical clock? Or something else?
For decades, scientific investigation failed to yield much light and relied more on imagination than the facts. However research over the last half century has begun to reveal its secrets. The machine dates from around the end of the 2nd century B.C. and is the most sophisticated mechanism known from the ancient world. Nothing as complex is known for the next thousand years. The Antikythera Mechanism is now understood to be dedicated to astronomical phenomena and operates as a complex mechanical "computer" which tracks the cycles of the Solar System.

The Antikythera Sonnet

Fractured at thirty fathoms down it lies,
By octopus and clam uncomprehended,
A brazen image of Hellenic skies,
The simulated flow of time suspended.
Athenian's year by Cyzicene amended,
The Babylonian's Suns blood red and black,
Mechanic's art with mathematics blended,
Aigila's dark abyss holds all in wrack.