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Author Topic: ANTIKYTHERA Mechanism  (Read 4452 times)
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« Reply #30 on: August 15, 2008, 08:34:48 pm »


In early 1901, a Greek sponge diver named Elias Stadiatos discovered the wreck of an ancient large cargo ship off Antikythera island at a depth of 42 m (138 ft) to 60 m (200 ft).

Sponge divers retrieved several statues (including the famous Antikythera Ephebe) and other artifacts from the site, known as the Antikythera wreck.

The mechanism itself was discovered on 17 May 1902, when archaeologist Valerios Stais noticed that
a piece of rock recovered from the site had a gear wheel embedded in it. Examination revealed that the "rock" was in fact a heavily encrusted and corroded mechanism that had survived the shipwreck in three main parts, and dozens of smaller fragments.

The device itself was surprisingly thin, about 33 cm (13 in) high, 17 cm (6.7 in) wide, and 9 cm (3.5 in) thick, made of bronze and originally mounted in a wooden frame (a very small part of it is still in the museum).

It was inscribed with a text of over 3,000 characters, most of which have only recently been deciphered. These were part of a manual, which describes how to set up the instrument and how to use it for observations, with references to the Sun, the motion of the planets (stationary points), Aphrodite (Venus), Hermes (Mercury), and eclipses.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau visited the wreck for the last time in 1978, but found no more remains of the Antikythera Mechanism. Professor Michael Edmunds of Cardiff University who led the study of the mechanism said: "This device is just extraordinary, the only thing of its kind. The design is beautiful, the astronomy is exactly right. The way the mechanics are designed just makes your jaw drop. Whoever has done this has done it extremely carefully." He added: " terms of historic and scarcity value, I have to regard this mechanism as being more valuable than the Mona Lisa."

The device is displayed in the Bronze Collection of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, accompanied by a reconstruction made and offered to the museum by Derek de Solla Price. Other reconstructions are on display at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana and the Children's Museum of Manhattan in New York.
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