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The Antikythera Mechanism – Computer Technology of the Ancient Greeks

In last Fridays’s issue of the NZZ (New Zurich Newspaper) there was an article about the computer technology of the ancient Greeks. It was reporting about a mechanism found in 1901 by sponge divers near the Greek island of Antikythera, thus called the Antikythera mechanism. It has puzzled and intrigued historians of science and technology since its discovery. Already in the 50th of last century a scientist put up the theory that the Antikythera mechanism was a device for calculating the motions of stars and planets, which would make the device the first known analog computer. It dates from around the 1st century B.C. and is the most sophisticated mechanism known from the ancient world. Nothing as complex is known for the next thousand years. It is even possible that the mechanism is based on heliocentric principles, rather than the then-dominant geocentric view espoused by Aristotle and others.
Recent X- and gamma ray researches showed an astonishing precision of the device and subtle inscriptions. Latest discoveries are reported on the website of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project. In November 06 there will be a conference in Athens to present the results.
The wisdom teachings tell that for long times there has been a connection between Greece and the East, and there were people having an outstanding knowledge of numbers and cosmology (see the blog-entry about the wisdom of Pythagoras). We always think we are at the pinnacle of knowledge, but we have to bow down to the heights of the gigants of the past.

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