Scientists Continue Unlocking The Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Computer

The Antikythera Mechanism, used by the Ancient Greeks, is the most intricate example of ancient engineering to have been preserved over the long years. The 2,000-year-old instrument was used to forecast solar and lunar eclipses and the locations of the Sun, Moon, and planets.

Where Was It Found?

In 1901, Antikythera Mechanism was discovered on one of the first shipwrecks to be archaeologically studied, located off the coast of Crete. This amazing analog computer from early Greek civilization is a complicated system of rotating bronze gears and a display far ahead of its time. Despite its time in the sea leading to corrosions, the Antikythera Mechanism still retains visible gears with triangle-shaped teeth and a ring split into degrees. It also included a handle for turning the device back and forth, much like a clock, but it displayed the positions of the planets instead of time.

How Did The Scientist Solve the Mystery of This Device?

Prior studies by researchers led them to assume that the mechanism’s back had been figured out. The front, however, has remained a mystery until recently. University College London (UCL) researchers now think they have the solution to the puzzle. Freeth and his team employed 3D computer modeling to replicate the complete front panel to produce a full-scale copy of the Antikythera using modern resources in the future. The researchers then reconstructed the device with gears and moving dials to display the movement of the planets, moon, and the sun through the ancient star chart, known as the Zodiac, on the front face and the moon phases and eclipses on the back.

The scientists hope to recreate the physical version to understand better, the workings of what is known as the world’s oldest computer.