Archaeology & History
Could ancient computer predict the future ?
By T.K. Randall
June 13, 2016 · 16 comments
What secrets does the Antikythera Mechanism hold ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Juanxi
Researchers have revealed their latest findings on the enigmatic 2,000-year-old Antikythera Mechanism.
Originally discovered in a shipwreck near Crete back in 1901, this remarkable gadget, which has been described as the world's first ever computer, has been the subject of much intrigue recently.
How the ancient Greeks developed the device, which is filled with a staggeringly intricate array of bronze gears, remains something of a mystery - especially given the time period it was built in.
It is generally believed that the mechanism was actually used as a type of astronomical computer capable of tracking and displaying the positions of the sun, moon and planets.
Researchers investigating the device revealed their latest findings at the Katerina Laskaridis Historical Foundation Library in Greece on Thursday which included, among other things, an analysis of the tiny lettering etched on to the surface of its surviving parts.
"What we hadn't realized was that the modern techniques that were being used would allow us to read the texts much better both on the outside of the mechanism and on the inside than was done before," said team member Mike Edmunds from Cardiff University.
The new analysis has also revealed that the mechanism might have actually been used to predict the future as well as to track the positions of known astronomical objects.
This possibility is based on references to the color of a forthcoming solar eclipse.
"We are not quite sure how to interpret this, to be fair, but it could hark back to suggestions that the color of an eclipse was some sort of omen or signal," said Edmunds.
"If that is so, and we are interpreting that correctly, this is the first instance we have in the mechanism of any real mention of astrology rather than astronomy."
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