Antikythera Mechanism.
An Accurate Mechanical Model of the Solar System from the Ancient Greeks.

This mechanism is a clocklike astronomical computer dating from 87BC (2,000 yrs old), which was found on a ship that sank off the island of Antikythera (Greece) about 76BC. It was rediscovered in 1901. Studies of the mechanism shows that it was used to calculate the motions of stars and planets. Only about 20 of the gearwheels are preserved assembling to a differential gear-system. The whole mechanism was in a box, to protect the wheels and Greek inscriptions on every available space on the inside of the box were instructions to its assembly. A worthwhile moving demonstration can be found at this website: http://etl.uom.gr/mr/Antikythera/640X480.html.
From what is known about Greek science, it seems very unlikely that this mechanism should exist. The Greek were very sophisticated at Mathematics, but what is known from written descriptions of scientific devices it seemed that especially at technical levels these were rather crude and went only as far as using simple gears. As knowledge about more complicated gears did exist in theory, you would expect them to be able to use it to construct a device like the Antikhytera, but as no other mechanism like it had ever been found or connected with Greece, the find was quite unexpected and was first thought to be of more modern origin. The reason it could be dated with great certainty was due to other artifacts on the sunken ship, like amphora which still contained wine. But the most relevant hint came from the inscriptions on the corroded wheels caught the epigrapher Benjamin Dean Merrits eye who instantly saw that the forms of the letters used were ancient, not older than 100BC but nor younger than the time Christ was supposed to have been around. The contents of the inscriptions gave even more certainty as the wording of the astronomical sense fitted exactly that era. One of the most elaborate inscriptions is part of an astronomical calendar which resembles another written by Geminos who lived in Rhodes at about 77BC. Nici

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