Antikythera mechanism, world's oldest computer, followed Greek lunar calendar

By Jurassic JennJun 30, 2024 09:37 AMScience
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Antikythera mechanism, world's oldest computer, followed Greek lunar calendar
Antikythera mechanism, world's oldest computer, followed Greek lunar calendar. Source: www.livescience.com

The recent discovery regarding the Antikythera mechanism, which is considered the world's oldest computer, challenges our previous understanding of its function. While it was initially believed that the device tracked the ancient Egyptian calendar, new research indicates that it actually followed the Greek lunar calendar. This was reported by SSPDaily.

Discovered off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901, the shoebox-sized device dates back approximately 2,200 years. Comprised of bronze gears, the Antikythera mechanism has captivated historians, with its intricate design often likened to that of a computer.

A crucial component of the mechanism, referred to as the "calendar ring," was dedicated to tracking the days of the year, featuring a hole for each day. Although the ring is only partially preserved, its intended purpose remains unclear.

Recent studies shed light on the true nature of the device's calendar. Independent researcher Chris Budiselic, in collaboration with a team, utilized advanced X-ray imaging techniques, along with mathematical analysis, to discern that the mechanism likely followed a lunar calendar with a duration of 354 days, rather than the solar calendar employed by the Egyptians, which encompasses 365 days.

Subsequent research published in The Horological Journal supports these findings. Researchers from the University of Glasgow employed statistical techniques tailored for managing data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. These methods allow for the identification of faint signals amidst a potentially disruptive background noise.

By leveraging the known hole positions, as well as a plausible arrangement of the fragmented components, the team inferred the intended number and placement of the missing holes. Their analysis suggests that the mechanism originally possessed either 354 or 355 holes, aligning with the Greek lunar calendar prevalent during the era.

Contrary to previous assumptions that the device adhered to the more precise Egyptian solar calendar, it appears that the ancient engineers prioritized synchronization with the 354-day lunar calendar utilized in Greece. The revelation, as researchers from the University of Glasgow highlight, provides fresh insight into one of the key functions of the Antikythera mechanism.

In addition to challenging conventional knowledge, the precision exhibited in the construction of the mechanism has garnered significant admiration. The accurate positioning of the holes within the device necessitated remarkable measurement techniques and unparalleled manual dexterity. Professor Graham Woan, a co-author of the study from the University of Glasgow, commended the exquisite craftsmanship employed in its creation. Woan equated the connection between the astronomical research used today and the understanding gained from this ancient device as a testament to its enduring significance.

The revelations regarding the Antikythera mechanism have sparked praise and recognition from various experts in the field. Andrew Thoeni, a co-author of the 2020 study, expressed satisfaction that scholars are now endorsing their findings. Diomidis Spinellis, a professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business, who has conducted previous research on the Antikythera mechanism, affirmed the lasting impact of advanced technologies and multidisciplinary analysis in unraveling the mysteries of this extraordinary artifact.

In conclusion, recent research has unveiled that the Antikythera mechanism reliably tracked the Greek lunar calendar, offering a fresh understanding of its purpose and historical role. The remarkable precision and intricacy of this ancient computer continue to fascinate and provide insight into the scientific prowess of our predecessors.

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