The Antikythera Mechanism: still a mystery of Greek Astronomy

TitleThe Antikythera Mechanism: still a mystery of Greek Astronomy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsEdmunds, Mike, and Morgan Philip
Journal TitleAstronomy & Geophysics
Start Page6.10

A lump of bronze found in a shipwreck a century ago is a fragment of a complex device of gears and scales around 2000 years old. Its markings suggest it was used for astronomical and calendrical calculations. But uncertainty remains over its purpose: was it astronomical, astrological or educational? Here we summarize what is known about the Antikythera Mechanism and reconstruct its workings. We also examine its context in the Greek world of the first century BC and suggest that its purpose might be astrological more than astronomical. The existence of the Mechanism shows the sophistication of thought and manufacture available at this time. We speculate on the purpose of the device and demonstrate mechanisms that could enable such a device to give planetary positions, useful for astrology. It could also function as an accurate calendar, perhaps for civil holidays, or as an orrery.

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