A new important paper that explains the functionality of the Antikythera mechanism, the remarkable astronomical calculator from antiquity, is receiving widespread international attention. The Antikythera mechanism, often described as the world’s first analog computer, was found by sponge divers in 1901 amid a haul of treasures salvaged from a merchant ship that sank off the Greek island of Antikythera. The ship is believed to have foundered in a storm in the first century BC as it passed between Crete and the Peloponnese en route to Rome from Asia Minor.
The Antikythera Mechanism has challenged researchers since its discovery in 1901. Now split into 82 fragments, only a third of the original survives, including 30 corroded bronze gearwheels. Microfocus X-ray Computed Tomography (X-ray CT) in 2005 decoded the structure of the rear of the machine but the front remained largely unresolved. X-ray CT also revealed inscriptions describing the motions of the Sun, Moon and all five planets known in antiquity and how they were displayed at the front as an ancient Greek Cosmos. Inscriptions specifying complex planetary periods forced new thinking on the mechanization of this Cosmos, but no previous reconstruction has come close to matching the data.Now, new research just published in Nature's Scientific Reports by a team of researchers from University College London (UCL), led by Dr Adam Wojcik and made up of Professor Tony Freeth, Professor Lindsay MacDonald (UCL CEGE), Dr Myrto Georgakopoulou (UCL Qatar) and PhD candidates David Higgon and Aris Dacanalis, documents their discoveries that led to the development of a new model for the mechanism, satisfying and explaining all the evidence currently available.
The paper has received widespread international publicity: