A 2,000-year-old device, often referred to as the world’s oldest “computer”, has been recreated by scientists trying to understand how it works. The Antikythera Mechanism has confused experts since its discovery on a Roman-era shipwreck in Greece in 1901.
Researchers believe they have solved the rear of the mechanism in previous studies, but the complex gear system at the front remained a mystery. Now, scientists at University College London (UCL) believe they have finally solved the puzzle.
A article published in Scientific Reports revealed a new display of the gear system that showed its fine details and intricate parts.
The gears and displays of the device cumulatively demonstrate the movements of the planets and the Sun, the phases of the lunar calendar, the position of the zodiac constellations and even the timing of sporting events such as the ancient Olympic Games. The device also reflects a very old idea of the cosmos, with Earth at the center.
“The Sun, Moon and planets are displayed in an impressive tour de force of ancient Greek brilliance,” the paper’s lead author, Professor Tony Freeth, said.
“Ours is the first model that conforms to all the physical evidence and matches the descriptions in the scientific inscriptions engraved on the mechanism itself,” he added.
The mechanism has been described as an astronomical calculator as well as the world’s first analog computer. It is made of bronze and includes dozens of gears.