The version of the Egyptian calendar represented on this dial assumed a constant calendar year of 365 days. The most convincing assumption is the Antikythera Mechanism comes from the surroundings of Poseidonios. Was the approximately 32cm-33cm high, 17cm-18cm wide, and at least 8cm deep, shoe-box sized device an astrolabe, a planetarium, or a calculator? When a pointer reached the terminal month location at either end of the spiral, the pointer's follower had to be manually moved to the other end of the spiral before proceeding further.:10. Figure 1. Copyright © 2020 by the ACM. The Greeks, being in the northern hemisphere, assumed proper daily motion of the stars was from east to west, ccw when the ecliptic and zodiac is viewed to the south. The Metonic dial covers 235 months in five rotations of the dial, following a spiral track with a follower on the pointer that keeps track of the layer of the spiral. 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. It is defined as the cycle of repetition of the positions required to cause solar and lunar eclipses, and therefore, it could be used to predict themânot only the month, but the day and time of day. Figure 2. However, it can also be understood as a mixed calculator. This was a level of technology that archeologists would usually date to the 16th ce… This picture shows the help menu for the rear side (courtesy of Markos Skoulatos and Georg Brandl). 14. The star calendar (parapegma) is written on the front of the case. The physicist Markos Skoulatos of the University of Technology in Munich designed a real reconstruction and then followed with a digital model, developed together with the physicist Georg Brandl. Chris is a virtuosic fabricator and watchmaker. (representing the number zero, assumed, not yet observed), H (number 8) means add 8 hours to the time mentioned in the display, IÏ (number 16) means add 16 hours to the time mentioned in the display, This page was last edited on 30 November 2020, at 17:05. Most researchers regard the astronomical marvel as an analog device. It is a metallic device which consists of a complex combination of gears, and dates back to the 2 nd century BCE. and Edmunds, M.G. Copyright held by author/owner. , Evans, Carman, and Thorndike published a solution with significant differences from Wright's. 10â11. The Metonic and the Saros cycles were spirals, the other cycles of the back face were circular dials. Of special delight to physicists, the Moon mechanism uses a special train of bronze gears, two of them linked with a slightly offset axis, to indicate the position and phase of the moon. Copyright © 2020 ACM, Inc. This fragment also contains the Moon indicator dial assembly including the Moon phase sphere in its housing and a single bevel gear (ma1) used in the Moon phase indication system. 181+221) about an "Astrologer's Board", where the astrologer lays out particular stones to represent the Sun, Moon and planets, ClickSpring: Machining The Antikythera Mechanism, Proposed planet indication gearing schemes, "Celestial Gearbox: Oldest Known Computer is a Mechanism Designed to Calculate the Location of the Sun, Moon, and Planets", "Decoding the ancient Greek astronomical calculator known as the Antikythera Mechanism", "The Cosmos in the Antikythera Mechanism", "Calendars with Olympiad display and eclipse prediction on the Antikythera Mechanism", "The World's Oldest Computer Is Still Revealing Its Secrets", "What is the Antikythera Mechanism? The model uses no fasteners, and would need a few if printed. 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 ...". Greek (astronomical and technical) texts were found on the covers of both sides of the device.  However, it was demonstrated in 2017 that the calendar on the Metonic Spiral is indeed of the Corinthian type but cannot be that of Syracuse. This fine, fragile construction may explain why hardly any devices have survived. The Antikythera Mechanism: the ancient Greek computer that mapped the stars. It was covered with bronze plates on the front and back containing inscriptions describing the geocentric cosmology that the device simulates. Astrolabe, Planetarium, or Calendar Calculator? No gearing for such a planetary display survives and all gears are accounted forâwith the exception of one 63-toothed gear (r1) otherwise unaccounted for in fragment D.. Wright, the leading model maker of Antikythera Mechanism, justly points out that a computer-generated 3D image does not have the same persuasive power as a physical model. Due to this similarity, the mechanical calendar computer appears as an analog device. The review is not aimed at experts, but at computer scientists who are interested in the history of technology. on the "sphaera" of Archimedes, has lived, however, over 100 years later than the outstanding Sicilian researcher.  It is possible that this medieval technology may have been transmitted to Europe and contributed to the development of mechanical clocks there. The current state of research can be summarized as follows: The Antikythera Mechanism, discovered in 1901, was lost about 60 B.C. Built over 2,000 years ago, the Antikythera mechanism calculated the movement of the Sun, Moon and planets using a system of dials and gears. The concentric dial on the front side had several pointers, the four or five dials on the back side had one pointer on each. When was the astronomical calculator built? 7. It could also be used to track the four-year cycle of athletic games which was similar to an Olympiad, the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games. Michael Wright was the first person to design and build a model with not only the known mechanism, but also, with his emulation of a potential planetarium system. There are numerous physical and virtual replicas. It certainly was good for demonstrations. Figure 10. The ratio between two gears is always a rational number. The Moon position was not a simple mean Moon indicator that would indicate movement uniformly around a circular orbit; it approximated the acceleration and deceleration of the Moon's elliptical orbit, through the earliest extant use of epicyclic gearing. :11, The Metonic Dial is the main upper dial on the rear of the mechanism. The position of the Sun on the ecliptic corresponds to the current date in the year. The modelled rotational period of the Moon pointer (averaged over a year) is 27.321 days, compared to the modern length of a lunar sidereal month of 27.321661 days. In the artificial world there is neither mass, inertia, force, friction, nor elastic or inelastic deflection. . Some of the abbreviations in the glyphs read:, The glyphs show whether the designated eclipse is solar or lunar, and give the day of the month and hour. In addition, I would like to thank all for the permission to reproduce the fascinating images.  The inscriptions on each one of the four divisions are:, The Saros dial is the main lower spiral dial on the rear of the mechanism. Freeth, T. Personal communication, (U.K., Nov. 6, 2017). The magazine archive includes every article published in.  Rhodes was a busy trading port in antiquity and a centre of astronomy and mechanical engineering, home to astronomer Hipparchus, who was active from about 140 BC to 120 BC. Such complex gearwork as in this astronomical calculator, however, only appeared (again) much later, especially in medieval clockworks. They are mentioned in the Doric not Attic-Ionic dialect, the latter of which is customary on the rest of the Mechanism. Syracuse had the advantage of any heritage left by Archimedes, but the problem that it was sacked in at the time of his death in 211 B.C., although something may have remained. If the astronomical calculator had been manufactured by Archimedes during his lifetime, it would have been approximately 150 years old when the ship sank. The exact position and mechanisms for the gears of the planets is not known.  In 1971, Price and Greek nuclear physicist Charalampos Karakalos made X-ray and gamma-ray images of the 82 fragments. In addition to theoretical accuracy, there is the matter of mechanical accuracy. , The system to synthesise the solar anomaly is very similar to that used in Wright's proposal: three gears, one fixed in the centre of the b1 gear and attached to the Sun spindle, the second fixed on one of the spokes (in their proposal the one on the bottom left) acting as an idle gear, and the final positioned next to that one; the final gear is fitted with an offset pin and, over said pin, an arm with a slot that in turn, is attached to the sun spindle, inducing anomaly as the mean Sun wheel turns. It has a computed modelled rotational period of 27758 days, while the modern value is 27758.8 days. Antike Welt 5 (2015), 27–32. This article is based on an international survey among the leading specialists for the Antikythera Mechanism and an adaptation of a chapter of the book on the history of computing by the author and its English translation.3,4,5 For more explanation, see the sidebar "Structure of the Antikythera Mechanism.". The Antikythera Mechanism is simply a later version of the Archimedes design. Antikythera mechanism, ancient Greek mechanical device used to calculate and display information about astronomical phenomena. Astronomical clocks are also hybrid, as are digital clocks with analog display. The dials are not believed to reflect his proposed leap day (Epag. The opinions about its age vary by about 120 years. , There are several gear ratios for each planet that result in close matches to the correct values for synodic periods of the planets and the Sun. 11. Edmunds, M.G. Personal communication, (U.S., Nov. 21, 2017). When was the ship built? The gear functions come from Freeth et al. It turns with a modelled rotational period of 29.53 days; the modern value for the synodic month is 29.530589 days. According to the 2010 radiocarbon analyses by Andrew Wilson (University of Oxford), the wood used for shipbuilding is estimated (with a probability of 84.8%) to have been cut between 211 B.C. The estimates range from 205 B.C. As of 2012[update], the Antikythera mechanism was displayed as part of a temporary exhibition about the Antikythera Shipwreck, accompanied by reconstructions made by Ioannis Theofanidis, Derek de Solla Price, Michael Wright, the Thessaloniki University and Dionysios Kriaris. Cicero, who reported in De Re Publica (book 1, 54 B.C-51 B.C.) Personal communication (England, U.K., Nov. 22, 2017). Many researchers believed he, his disciple Poseidonios, or someone from the astronomy school there could be considered the creator of the mechanism.10. The Moon pointer holds a shaft along its length, on which is mounted a small gear named r, which meshes to the Sun pointer at B0 (the connection between B0 and the rest of B is not visible in the original mechanism, so whether b0 is the current date/mean Sun pointer or a hypothetical true Sun pointer is not known). Almost certainly the machine contains over 40 individual gears (including any plausible reconstruction of the lost planetary gearwork). , The massively multiplayer video game Eve Online contains an item named "Antikythera Element" obtained from game content surrounding a mysterious group of non-player characters themed as ancient Greeks. It has a computed modelled rotational period of exactly four years, as expected.  Inscriptions on the instrument closely match the names of the months that are used on calendars from Epirus in northwestern Greece and with the island of Corfu, which in antiquity was known as Corcyra. He mentions a quote from an ancient papyrus: ...a voice comes to you speaking. I suggest that it was probably built with a generation or so of its loss; that is, within a few decades of 100 B.C.20, The physicist James Evans from the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA, tends to assume an early production: "The eclipse predictor best fits an 18-year Saros cycle that started in 205 B.C. suggest that to display the mean positions of the five classical planets would require only 17 further gears that could be positioned in front of the large driving gear and indicated using individual circular dials on the face. The calendar on the Antikythera mechanism and the Corinthian family of calendars. They are keyed to a parapegma, a precursor of the modern day almanac inscribed on the front face above and beneath the dials. Sicily was once thought to be the place of production, current thinking puts Rhodes as the likely location. Jones, A.R. being the most ancient computer to be known so far. Among the best known real (that is, physical) replicas were the devices of Ioannis Theofanidis (Greece, 1934), Derek de Solla Price and Robert Deroski (U.S.), Allan Bromley and Frank Percival (Australia), John Gleave (U.K.), Michael Wright (U.K.) as well as John Seiradakis and Kyriakos Efstathiou (Greece). 8. The first mechanical calculating machines were invented in the 17th century (Wilhelm Schickard, Blaise Pascal, Gottfried Leibniz). Each meshes with a gear grounded to the mechanism frame. The front of the Antikythera Mechanism shows seven hands (sun, moon, five planets) and a double ring scale (outside: Egyptian calendar, inside: zodiac). Being on the reverse side of the box, the "natural" rotation is the opposite. , The Moon train starts with gear b1 and proceeds through c1, c2, d1, d2, e2, e5, k1, k2, e6, e1, and b3 to the Moon pointer on the front face. The mean Sun position is, by definition, the current date. Why astronomical calculators have rarely survived? , Tony Freeth and Alexander Jones have modelled and published details of a version using several gear trains mechanically-similar to the lunar anomaly system allowing for indication of the positions of the planets as well as synthesis of the Sun anomaly. Incidentally, it is the only pointer on the mechanism that rotates counter-clockwise; all of the others rotate clockwise. The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project. The "natural" view is viewing the side of the Mechanism the dial/pointer in question is actually displayed on. de Gruyter Oldenbourg, Berlin/Boston, 2018; https://www.degruyter.com/view/product/503373. He suggested that along with the lunar anomaly, adjustments would have been made for the deeper, more basic solar anomaly (known as the "first anomaly"). The complex astronomical calculator, over 2,000 years old, was discovered in 1901 in the sea off the Greek island of Antikythera. when a Roman merchant ship sank in the Mediterranean Sea. Contains parts of the upper right of the front dial face showing calendar and zodiac inscriptions. Reconstructing The Antikythera Mechanism. , Apparently, gears m3, n1-3, p1-2, and q1 did not survive in the wreckage. 3D Solidforms sells the devices developed in cooperation with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. , It is very probable that there were planetary dials, as the complicated motions and periodicities of all planets are mentioned in the manual of the mechanism. Based on the fact that the calendar month names are consistent with all the evidence of the Epirote calendar and that the Games dial mentions the very minor Naa games of Dodona (in Epirus), it has recently been argued that the calendar on the Antikythera Mechanism is likely to be the Epirote calendar, and that this calendar was probably adopted from a Corinthian colony in Epirus, possibly Ambracia. The Antikythera mechanism was similar in size to a mantel clock, and bits of wood found on the fragments suggest it was housed in a wooden case.  Its instructions were composed in Koine Greek. The first in-depth analysis of the Antikythera mechanism was performed by a British science historian and Yale professor named Derek de Solla Price. How did a strange lump of bronze and decayed wood discovered in a shipwreck reveal the first ever computer? Many of the smaller fragments that have been found contain nothing of apparent value; however, a few have some inscriptions on them. There were no leap days. Fragment A also contains divisions of the upper left quarter of the Saros spiral and 14 inscriptions from said spiral. The B axis is the axis with gears B3 and B6, while the E axis is the axis with gears E3 and E4. On one of its fragments is written "76 years, 19 years" representing the Callippic and Metonic cycles. Figure 12. In the second half of the 20th century there was a competition between electronic analog computers and electronic digital computers. The Antikythera Mechanism: A Calendar Computer from ca. Found in 2005 and contains 16 inscriptions from the lower right of the Saros spiral. The discovery of the mysterious technological marvel was a big surprise. These devices were not gold-plated artifacts with precious stones. On the epoch of the Antikythera Mechanism and its eclipse predictor. Its appearance, however, did not seem to me particularly striking. However, they do not apply to Epirus (Western Greece) or Alexandria. Cicero describes such a machine built by his teacher, Poseidonios. They also propose indicating the solar anomaly (that is, the sun's apparent position in the zodiac dial) on a separate pointer from the date pointer, which indicates the mean position of the Sun, as well as the date on the month dial. , The Callippic train is driven by b1, b2, l1, l2, m1, m2, n1, n3, p1, p2, and q1, which mounts the pointer. The scales are concentric on the front. Found in 1976 and contains six inscriptions from the upper right of the Saros spiral. Figure 3. We know from writings that such devices were manufactured in Rhodes at the time of the shipwreck. It is mainly made up of experts from the fields of astronomy, physics, astrophysics, mathematics, engineering, history of technology and science, archaeology, and classicists. The crank moves the date pointer about 78 days per full rotation, so hitting a particular day on the dial would be easily possible if the mechanism were in good working condition.  Syracuse was a colony of Corinth and the home of Archimedes, and the Antikythera Mechanism Research project argued in 2008 that it might imply a connection with the school of Archimedes. A numerical display is more precise than analog pointers but less comfortable to read. The scientists who have reconstructed the Antikythera mechanism also agree that it was too sophisticated to have been a unique device. and 40 B.C. It is also one place where we know that a similar contemporary device was reputedly made and seen. The Swiss clockmaker Ludwig Oechslin built a replica with sun and moon pointers, but without the presumed planetary hands (courtesy of Ochs und junior AG, Lucerne). And then, so the popular version of the story goes, nobody on Earth had either the astronomical knowledge, nor the mechanical know-how, to construct such a device until a millennium later. 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. The Ionian island of Antikythera, originally called Aigila, is located between the Peloponnese peninsula and Crete, opposite Kythera (hence Antikythera). The Antikythera Mechanism, the "world's first computer" Marsyas, CC by 2.5 Analysis suggests the Antikythera mechanism was the first known astronomical calendar, a … The fixed programmed calculator was presumably operated by a lateral knob or a crank. Other small pieces have broken off in the interim from cleaning and handling, and still others were found on the sea floor by the Cousteau expedition. Hesperia 86, (2017), 129–203. and 50 B.C. This video series documents a reconstruction of The Antikythera Mechanism in its most authentic form to date, with the intention of establishing the precise machining tools, techniques and technology used to create it.
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