Last year at about this time I posted an entry riffing on the so-called “Antikythera Mechanism” a device that was found in 1900 by divers off the coast of Crete. Now comes a report that its workings have been deciphered.
The new findings, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, also suggested that the mechanism’s concept originated in the colonies of Corinth, possibly Syracuse, in Sicily. The scientists said this implied a likely connection with the great Archimedes.
Only now, applying high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography, have experts been able to decipher inscriptions and reconstruct functions of the bronze gears on the mechanism. The latest research has revealed details of dials on the instrument’s back side, including the names of all 12 months of an ancient calendar.
In the journal report, the team led by the mathematician and filmmaker Tony Freeth of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, in Cardiff, Wales, said the month names “are unexpectedly of Corinthian origin,” which suggested “a heritage going back to Archimedes.”