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Big Bad Voodoo

Famed Roman shipwreck reveals more secrets

66 posts in this topic

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/01/03/antikythera-shipwreck-survey/1804353/

Marine archaeologists report they have uncovered new secrets of an ancient Roman shipwreck famed for yielding an amazingly sophisticated astronomical calculator. An international survey team says the ship is twice as long as originally thought and contains many more calcified objects amid the ship's lost cargo that hint at new discoveries.

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Especially when we know it wasnt only one.

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Especially when we know it wasnt only one.

Why would you suppose it was the only one? my bet is that many successful astrologists ordered themselves one. made calculating that much easier.

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Why would you suppose it was the only one? my bet is that many successful astrologists ordered themselves one. made calculating that much easier.

I tend to agree with you. It would stand to reason that it was not the only one. It might have been rare and a prized possession, but I doubt it was the only one of its kind.

For those who are interested, they recreated a model in London. Watch the clip.

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Why would you suppose it was the only one? my bet is that many successful astrologists ordered themselves one. made calculating that much easier.

Yes but I assume that there were two restrictions:

( a ) The price. Manufacturing such a device was surely very expensive.

( b ) The secret: Different to modern understanding of science which publishes everything ancient scientists often kept their knowledge in order to profit, in order to keep renommé for their own school, etc.

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Yes but I assume that there were two restrictions:

( a ) The price. Manufacturing such a device was surely very expensive.

( b ) The secret: Different to modern understanding of science which publishes everything ancient scientists often kept their knowledge in order to profit, in order to keep renommé for their own school, etc.

A good astrologist could make a fortune then and now, and no, it probably was not as expensive as you think as geared mechanisms were known since Aristotle (384 BC) and the best know example of early mechanical works was located in the Tower of the Winds in Athens ( a water driven clock called horologion) dating from the second century BC. The only question is: "How big was the market for such mechanical devices"?

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I would assume that the market wasn't that extensive though, since the people able to use the things in the first place, were also usually the people fabricating them.

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... but I doubt it was the only one of its kind.

You dont have to doubt. We have historical records which said there was atleast 4 or 5 of them.

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A good astrologist could make a fortune then and now, and no, it probably was not as expensive as you think as geared mechanisms were known since Aristotle (384 BC) and the best know example of early mechanical works was located in the Tower of the Winds in Athens ( a water driven clock called horologion) dating from the second century BC. The only question is: "How big was the market for such mechanical devices"?

Very small.

What device from time of Aristotle?

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Very small.

What device from time of Aristotle?

His writings, I am not aware of any device. You can read about them in his Physical Theories.

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His writings, I am not aware of any device. You can read about them in his Physical Theories.

I will search it. Btw thanks on info about Towers of the Winds. First voice about it.

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Very small.

What device from time of Aristotle?

I would research Archimedes of Syracuse, he is generally considered to be the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and an explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited with designing innovative machines, including siege engines and the screw pump that bears his name.

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From Wiki - A brief description:

"In short, the Antikythera Mechanism was a machine designed to predict celestial phenomena according to the sophisticated astronomical theories current in its day, the sole witness to a lost history of brilliant engineering, a conception of pure genius, one of the great wonders of the ancient world—but it didn’t really work very well!"

—The Cosmos in the Antikythera Mechanism , 2012

Edit: So hopefully they can find a complete mechanism to confirm what's already known or better yet, expand on it.

Edited by Timonthy

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Why would you suppose it was the only one? my bet is that many successful astrologists ordered themselves one. made calculating that much easier.

Where are they all then? Not another found in two millenia yet you suppose they were quite common. Why?

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Where are they all then? Not another found in two millenia yet you suppose they were quite common. Why?

Where are almost all the 1848 Sharp's rifles? In the scrap metal. At most periods during the 2000 odd years of the existence of these things the metals contained in them were more valuable than the instrument itself.

Edited by questionmark

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Where are they all then? Not another found in two millenia yet you suppose they were quite common. Why? Also, why do you assume this is an astrologer's tool? Many had an interest in the heavens and an astrolger certainly wouldn't want it advertiswed that this machine can do what he does.

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Where are almost all the 1848 Sharp's rifles? In the scrap metal. At most periods during the 2000 odd years of the existence of these things the metals contained in them were more valuable than the instrument itself.

Brass? I didn't realize bras was so valuable in the iron age. :unsure2: So none of these are found but one and your assumption is they were common. Neither were they mentioned in any literature but they were common. Love the logic you use. I can show you examples of Sharps rifles, photos, engravings stories etc. etc., so bad analogy.

Edited by Merc14

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Brass? I didn't realize bras was so valuable in the iron age. :unsure2: So none of these are found but one and your assumption is they were common. Neither were they mentioned in any literature but they were common. Love the logic you use. I can show you examples of Sharps rifles, photos, engravings stories etc. etc., so bad analogy.

Brass is valuable now, and certainly more valuable to somebody than an instrument he does not know anything about. And the Sharp's 1848 rifle is a very good analogy as of the almost 200,000 made less than 1000 survive. Most Sharps you see today been build later up to our times.

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Brass is valuable now, and certainly more valuable to somebody than an instrument he does not know anything about. And the Sharp's 1848 rifle is a very good analogy as of the almost 200,000 made less than 1000 survive. Most Sharps you see today been build later up to our times.

Let's step through this folks.

I believe this to be a very rare, possibly ine of a kind instrument because:

1. Only one of these items is has ever been found.

2. It's design is far beyond contemporary mechanical items yet it has never been mentioned in any of the manuscripts of the time.

3. It is made of a fairly common metal of the time, brass and didn't appear to contain precious jewels so its material worth, if melted down, is negligible (this is the iron age afterall)..

Questionmark believes it was relatively common because:

1. Astrologers would've liked to have had one.

2. A couple pounds of brass was worth about $30

3. He says so.

See what I am saying here. :yes:

Thanks for playing quiestionmark. Now as usual, you get the last word,

Edited by Merc14

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From Wiki - A brief description:

"In short, the Antikythera Mechanism was a machine designed to predict celestial phenomena according to the sophisticated astronomical theories current in its day, the sole witness to a lost history of brilliant engineering, a conception of pure genius, one of the great wonders of the ancient world—but it didn’t really work very well!"

—The Cosmos in the Antikythera Mechanism , 2012

Edit: So hopefully they can find a complete mechanism to confirm what's already known or better yet, expand on it.

Actually they were able to extrapolate how it works see here :

Let's step through this folks.

I believe this to be a very rare, possibly ine of a kind instrument because:

1. Only one of these items is has ever been found.

2. It's design is far beyond contemporary mechanical items yet it has never been mentioned in any of the manuscripts of the time.

3. It is made of a fairly common metal of the time, brass and didn't appear to contain precious jewels so its material worth, if melted down, is negligible (this is the iron age afterall)..

.....snip

Actually, mechanisms like this have indeed been mentioned in manuscripts of the time. This is something found in wikipedia, which usually I tend to avoid, but in this instance, it serves it's purpose rather well, as it shows the point rather well in two counts.

Cicero's De re publica, a 1st century BC philosophical dialogue, mentions two machines that some modern authors consider as some kind of planetarium or orrery, predicting the movements of the Sun, the Moon, and the five planets known at that time. They were both built by Archimedes and brought to Rome by the Roman general Marcus Claudius Marcellus after the death of Archimedes at the siege of Syracuse in 212 BC. Marcellus had great respect for Archimedes and one of these machines was the only item he kept from the siege (the second was offered to the temple of Virtus). The device was kept as a family heirloom, and Cicero has Philus (one of the participants in a conversation that Cicero imagined had taken place in a villa belonging to Scipio Aemilianus in the year 129 BC) saying that Gaius Sulpicius Gallus (consul with Marcellus' nephew in 166 BC, and credited by Pliny the Elder as the first Roman to have written a book explaining solar and lunar eclipses) gave both a "learned explanation" and a working demonstration of the device.

I had often heard this celestial globe or sphere mentioned on account of the great fame of Archimedes. Its appearance, however, did not seem to me particularly striking. There is another, more elegant in form, and more generally known, moulded by the same Archimedes, and deposited by the same Marcellus, in the Temple of Virtue at Rome. But as soon as Gallus had begun to explain, by his sublime science, the composition of this machine, I felt that the Sicilian geometrician must have possessed a genius superior to any thing we usually conceive to belong to our nature. Gallus assured us, that the solid and compact globe, was a very ancient invention, and that the first model of it had been presented by Thales of Miletus. That afterwards Eudoxus of Cnidus, a disciple of Plato, had traced on its surface the stars that appear in the sky, and that many years subsequent, borrowing from Eudoxus this beautiful design and representation, Aratus had illustrated them in his verses, not by any science of astronomy, but the ornament of poetic description. He added, that the figure of the sphere, which displayed the motions of the Sun and Moon, and the five planets, or wandering stars, could not be represented by the primitive solid globe. And that in this, the invention of Archimedes was admirable, because he had calculated how a single revolution should maintain unequal and diversified progressions in dissimilar motions.

When Gallus moved this globe it showed the relationship of the Moon with the Sun, and there were exactly the same number of turns on the bronze device as the number of days in the real globe of the sky. Thus it showed the same eclipse of the Sun as in the globe [of the sky], as well as showing the Moon entering the area of the Earth's shadow when the Sun is in line ... [missing text]

[i.e. It showed both solar and lunar eclipses.][37]

Pappus of Alexandria stated that Archimedes had written a now lost manuscript on the construction of these devices entitled On Sphere-Making.[38][39] The surviving texts from the Library of Alexandria describe many of his creations, some even containing simple drawings. One such device is his odometer, the exact model later used by the Romans to place their mile markers (described by Vitruvius, Heron of Alexandria and in the time of Emperor Commodus).[40] The drawings in the text appeared functional, but attempts to build them as pictured had failed. When the gears pictured, which had square teeth, were replaced with gears of the type in the Antikythera mechanism, which were angled, the device was perfectly functional.[41] Whether this is an example of a device created by Archimedes and described by texts lost in the burning of the Library of Alexandria, or if it is a device based on his discoveries, or if it has anything to do with him at all, is debatable.

If Cicero's account is correct, then this technology existed as early as the 3rd century BC. Archimedes' device is also mentioned by later Roman era writers such as Lactantius (Divinarum Institutionum Libri VII), Claudian (In sphaeram Archimedes), and Proclus (Commentary on the first book of Euclid's Elements of Geometry) in the 4th and 5th centuries.

Cicero also said that another such device was built 'recently' by his friend Posidonius, "... each one of the revolutions of which brings about the same movement in the Sun and Moon and five wandering stars [planets] as is brought about each day and night in the heavens..."[42]

It is unlikely that any one of these machines was the Antikythera mechanism found in the shipwreck since both the devices fabricated by Archimedes and mentioned by Cicero were located in Rome at least 30 years later than the estimated date of the shipwreck, and the third device was almost certainly in the hands of Posidonius by that date. The scientists who have reconstructed the Antikythera mechanism also agree that it was too sophisticated to have been a unique device.

This evidence that the Antikythera mechanism was not unique adds support to the idea that there was an ancient Greek tradition of complex mechanical technology that was later, at least in part, transmitted to the Byzantine and Islamic worlds, where mechanical devices which were complex, albeit simpler than the Antikythera mechanism, were built during the Middle Ages.[43] Fragments of a geared calendar attached to a sundial, from the 5th or 6th century Byzantine Empire, have been found; the calendar may have been used to assist in telling time.[44] In the Islamic world, Banū Mūsā's Kitab al-Hiyal, or Book of Ingenious Devices, was commissioned by the Caliph of Baghdad in the early 9th century AD. This text described over a hundred mechanical devices, some of which may date back to ancient Greek texts preserved in monasteries. A geared calendar similar to the Byzantine device was described by the scientist al-Biruni around 1000, and a surviving 13th-century astrolabe also contains a similar clockwork device.[44] It is possible that this medieval technology may have been transmitted to Europe and contributed to the development of mechanical clocks there.[5]

I have put the part I consider important in bold. The logic behind Questionmark's comment is not incorrect as such. Although he might have substantiated it somewhat.

As to the fact it being brass and thus a common metal, all of that being true, there are a few things to be considered. For example, brass was available in sufficient supply to use as coinage in Phrygia and Bithynia and it was also used to make Roman dupondii and sestertii. It was also used for military equipment across the Roman. Since it is also easy to smelt, at rather lower temperatures than other metals, it stands to reason that the romans would smelt their spoils and use them for other pruposes.

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Actually they were able to extrapolate how it works see here :

Yep, hence why I said to 'confirm' what is 'already' known and 'expand' on it.

I have seen the videos Sir man. Would be nice to know the models are accurate representations or if anything was overlooked. ;)

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Yep, hence why I said to 'confirm' what is 'already' known and 'expand' on it.

I have seen the videos Sir man. Would be nice to know the models are accurate representations or if anything was overlooked. ;)

Considering what they had to work with, I find it already quite amazing that they actually got a functioning model, one that is actually accurate as well to boot. But no you're quite correct, there are other models being fabricated. This article may be of interest here.

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Considering what they had to work with, I find it already quite amazing that they actually got a functioning model, one that is actually accurate as well to boot. But no you're quite correct, there are other models being fabricated. This article may be of interest here.

Yeah it's pretty awesome. Loved seeing the detailed x-ray images for the first time. First glance it looks like it could just be a piece of junk!

The 'http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr/' website does have some cool info.

Also worth a look for some of the x-ray images: http://www.xtekxray.com/applications/antikythera_images.html

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I have put the part I consider important in bold. The logic behind Questionmark's comment is not incorrect as such. Although he might have substantiated it somewhat.

As to the fact it being brass and thus a common metal, all of that being true, there are a few things to be considered. For example, brass was available in sufficient supply to use as coinage in Phrygia and Bithynia and it was also used to make Roman dupondii and sestertii. It was also used for military equipment across the Roman. Since it is also easy to smelt, at rather lower temperatures than other metals, it stands to reason that the romans would smelt their spoils and use them for other pruposes.

The post by Merc was not about historical facts, it was more about his usual flame baiting. Which I just ignore, No time for that.

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