Decoding the world’s first computer: Unravel the mysteries of the Antikythera Mechanism at this distinguished lecture

November 16, 2012

The world’s first computer put the time cycles of the Sun, Moon and planets into mechanical form. And today, cutting-edge technology reveals the extraordinary sophistication of ancient Greece. What mysteries does the Antikythera Mechanism unveil?

Learn all about it at the HMNS distinguished lecture,  “Cosmic Time – The Antikythera Mechanism & Its Mysteries,” this Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m., presented by the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project’s Mike Edmunds, Ph.D.

Unravel the mysteries of the Antikythera Mechanism Nov. 20Photo courtesy of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project

More than 100 years ago, an extraordinary mechanism was found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the Greek island of Antikythera. It astonished the international community of experts on the ancient world. The machine dates from around the end of the 2nd century B.C. and is the most sophisticated mechanism known from the ancient world; nothing as complex is known for the next thousand years. The “Antikythera Mechanism” is now understood to be dedicated to astronomical phenomena and operates as a complex mechanical “computer” which tracks the cycles of the Solar System.

What exactly is this complex device? For decades, scientific investigation failed to yield much light and relied more on imagination than facts. Now a new initiative is building on this previous work, using the latest techniques available today. The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project is an international collaboration of academic researchers supported by some of the world’s best high-technology companies, which aims to completely reassess the function and significance of the Antikythera Mechanism.

Since 2005, innovative technologies have been used to reveal unknown elements of the mechanism by looking at the internal structure, with its complex and confusing gear trains. A remarkable window on microscopic internal details of inscriptions and gearing has been opened. Inscriptions can now be read that have not been seen for more than 2,000 years, and this is helping to build a comprehensive picture of the functions of the Antikythera Mechanism.

Mike Edmunds, Ph.D., The Antikythera Research Project

Mike Edmunds, Ph.D

Results from researchers are emerging on a stable basis as data continues to be analyzed. Come hear the latest findings from project astronomer Mike Edmunds of University of Cardiff at HMNS on Tuesday, November 20. This lecture is co-sponsored by Archaeological Institute of America – Houston Society and the Hellenic Cultural Center. Click here for tickets.

Amy P
Authored By Amy P Potts

Amy is the Director of Adult Education at HMNS.

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