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Archaeology & History

Indiana Jones - what is the true story behind the 'Dial of Destiny' ?

By T.K. Randall
July 5, 2023 · Comment icon 11 comments

The real-life Antikythera Mechanism. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Joyofmuseums
As is often the case with the popular movie franchise, the focus of the new Indiana Jones outing is based on a real-life artefact.
It might not transport you back in time, but the Archimedes Dial - the MacGuffin of the final instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise - is at least partially based on a real-life archaeological wonder known as the Antikythera Mechanism.

Generally considered to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time, this fascinating ancient 'computer' dates back 2,000 years and is believed to be a form of early astronomical calculator from a time when such intricate contraptions were thought to be impossible.

How the ancient Greeks developed the device, which is filled with a staggeringly complex array of bronze gears, remains something of a mystery - especially given the time period it was built in.
Originally retrieved from a shipwreck by sponge divers off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900, the mechanism was found alongside an array of other artefacts including coins, jewelry, pottery and statue fragments.

More recently, scientists have also discovered a skeleton belonging to one of the ship's crew.

Researchers believe that the vessel was traveling from the coast of Asia Minor to Rome when it sunk and that it had been carrying the valuables of a woman who was due to be married.

The mechanism itself was most likely used as a mapping and navigational aid.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine | Comments (11)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Jon the frog 5 months ago
The strange thing is if it's a mapping and navigational aid, multiple of these would have been in circulation. Finding only one is by itself a mystery.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Susanc241 5 months ago
I am sure the inions and their form has been used to give a date a century or two BC.  Read that somewhere, though I also think there is some uncertainty re the letter forms/styles and when they were used.  Definitely Ancient Greek language though if I understood it correctly.  Perhaps need to research that again.
Comment icon #4 Posted by NCC1701 5 months ago
Bottom side of a ships bilgepump. There is even a hose attachment on one side, the green colour is the residu of the copper wiring from the electric motor.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Cho Jinn 5 months ago
C'mon, man, people are trying to make money here.  Use my promo code IFYOUSAYSO to get 15% your next order of merch in the next 60 minutes!
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hammerclaw 5 months ago
The movie sucks. You can see the wires holding Harrison Ford upright. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by josellama2000 5 months ago
what a surprise! When something remarkable is found on other cultures, people try to assign its origin to UFO or Aliens. But i never heard of anybody yet, claiming that the Antikythera artifact is from extraterrestrial origins. Sometimes western counter-culture is funny for that.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Alchopwn 5 months ago
LOL actually no.  The Antikythera device's pedigree is now well established as being very old indeed. But it isn't of extraterrestrial origin.  There are maker's marks on it and it suggesting it was made in the ancient Greek city of Pergamon.  We also know from recovered documents that the Greeks were leading the world in technical developments at the time as presented in the works of Hero(n) of Alexandria.  Ancient Alien Theorists are just damned wrong in general, but especially about this one.
Comment icon #9 Posted by jmccr8 5 months ago
Hi Al Ancient Greeks also invented vending machines
Comment icon #10 Posted by Alchopwn 5 months ago
Yep, BUMP. That's my boy Hero of Alexandria again.  He's more than a little amazing and very nearly triggered an industrial revolution during the Roman Empire.  It was Emperor Trajan who stymied him by pointing out that if they introduced all these devices that there would be no work for the slaves, and as work was basically the only right a slave really had, that wasn't really fair.  I'm only slightly joking btw.
Comment icon #11 Posted by newbloodmoon 5 months ago
Yes I think Harrison Ford is old enough to count as a real life artifact, especially by Hollywood standards.

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