History Mysterious

15 Intriguing Facts About the Antikythera Mechanism


Technologies made old-time wishes today’s reality. Now, we can communicate with anyone within seconds no matter where they are. 

We are not only sending plain messages, but we also share our emotions through video chats and photos.

Our modern times may seem like a magical world for someone from ancient times. In reality, there is no magic at all. It is the power of the human mind and innovations which are deeply rooted in ancient history. 

What, if I said computers are started over 2000 years ago. Would you believe it? I think you should because the Antikythera Mechanism is the first analog computer that belongs to the 2nd century BC (at least some scientists think so).

Now, let’s share some interesting facts about the Antikythera Mechanism, so you can have basic information about the device’s origin, builders, and characteristics.

 Facts about the Antikythera Mechanism

1. Sponge divers found Antikythera Mechanism off the coast of the Antikythera island in Greece on May 17, 1902.

Divers discovered it 148 ft (45m) below the water from the shipwreck site.

Archeologist Valerios Stais saw the artifact inside a partly damaged wooden box when he was going through recovered historical pieces. 

He knew that it was a special piece and suspected it to be some kind of astronomical clock. 

However, the Antikythera Mechanism remained unstudied about five decades after its discovery.

2. The Antikythera Mechanism was first reconstructed by English scientist Derek de Solla Price.

Facts about the Antikythera mechanism
Reconstructed version of the Antikythera Mechanism by Derek de Solla Price

The mechanism was found in an incomplete form. Several pieces were discovered next to it. But back then, the pieces were thought to be unrelated to the main body. 

Only in 1951, English scientist Derek de Solla attentively studied all the 82 pieces and reconstructed the machine.

3. It is thought to be the work of ancient Greek scientists.

No one knows who made it and its exact origin. The Metonic cycle found on the Antikythera mechanism is one evidence that traces its origin to Corinth. 

Because people in Corinth widely used similar calendars. But, the city is not the only candidate for its origin. 

One of the Greek cities such as Syracuse, Pergamon, and Rhodes possibly be the places where that mysterious computer was made.

4. Although it is debatable, some historians think Archimedes made the device.

Archimedes was also from Syracuse (one of the cities thought to be the origin). 

Plus, the device matches the story, in which mentioned that Roman General Marcellus took away mysterious astrological equipment from Archimedes

Could the mechanism be that device? However, the times do not match. 

One source suggests that the Antikythera mechanism appears several decades older than the time of Archimedes.

5. The discovery of the Antikythera mechanism truly amazed the scientific community. 

Previously, no one had thought that scientists of the 2nd century BC could build something that sophisticated. 

From known records, clock making emerged in Europe a thousand years later than the time of the artifact. 

That shows that history is not fully discovered nor understood yet.

6. The Antikythera Mechanism includes 30 interlocking gear-wheels.

Some surprising parts were uncovered after the results of x-ray scanning. The scanning revealed precisely constructed gear-wheals and other objects.

Those parts are identical to mechanical designs of watches. Researchers also could see various astronomical inscriptions.

All that hints that the Antikythera Mechanism may have been invented for time-keeping. 

7. The mechanism was named after the location where it was discovered.

We have already mentioned that it was found in Greek island Antikythera. 

The name “Antikythera” consists of two words: Anti- “opposite” and Kythera is the name of another island. 

Concisely, the word means the opposite of Kythera island.

8. It may have been used to calculate the movements of the sun and the moon, and probably to predict eclipses.

Antikythera Mechanism Facts

Although the real purpose of yet to be discovered, a majority of scientists are pretty sure that it was used as an astronomical clock

Since it was found inside the wrecked ship, it will be also logical to assume sailors used it as a navigation tool to use celestial bodies as a guide.

9. Antikythera Mechanism and its known fragments are currently placed in the National Archeological Museum in Athens.

So if you are wanting to see those bronze fragments in real-time, you have to make a trip to Athens, Greece. 

The museum displays them from time to time with various artifacts from the Antikythera wreck.

10. It was operated by turning hand crank

The hand crank is missing in its current condition. But, when it was complete, it was attached to its largest gear-wheal and activated the motion of other smaller wheels.

11. Scientists could decode the words “Dodona” and “Alexandria” from that device.

These words indicate that the device was popular in those places. And, it also indicates that the device was used in more than one location.

In other words, a person who operated the device might have set the gears based on their location to get accurate measurements. 

It almost reminds me of a modern-day navigation system. Using coordinations, GPS devices can pinpoint our current geographic location.

12. Scientists think that there were similar mechanisms at the time of the Antikythera Mechanism, but none of them survived to our days.

Why? is the first question that hits us. To find an answer, scientists studied the structure of the Antikythera Mechanism. 

They concluded that bronze gears used in the device were only 2 mm thick. Thus, it was too fragile to survive till our days.

Plus, bronze was a valuable commodity back then. Therefore, they were recycled to make other things. 

13. Antikythera Mechanism had three dials.he

Antikythera Mechanism Facts
The Antikythera Mechanism- a reconstructed version.

The largest dial was located in front of the device and showed 365 segments. Each segment represented the days from the Egyptian solar calendar.

Inside the large circle, there was a smaller circle with a smaller dial, which’s purpose was to point 12 zodiac signs. 

At the back of the device, there was a combination of two dials. 

The first dial from the back indicated the lunar and solar period over 19 years corresponding to 235 lunar months. The second one indicated the solar and lunar eclipses. 

14. There are many other theories about the purpose of the Antikythera Mechanism.

We have already discussed that it may have been used as an astrological, navigational, or time-keeping device. 

There are also two other interesting theories:

The first suggests that the mechanism was used to calculate which cities would host the Olympic Games every four years.

The second theory argues that it was used to track the position of 5 planets that were known to Greeks at the time. 

15. Antikythera Mechanism was kept in a wooden box.

The wooden box may have protected the device from underwater weathering and allowed it to survive to our time.

In general, the wooden box also used as a case and the framework to hold the mechanism as a whole. 

All these shared facts about the Antikythera Mechanism are based on current studies and speculations. 

The true purpose, true origin, and precise facts of the Antikythera Mechanism are yet to be discovered. 

You are also welcome to join that quest, sharing your thoughts in the comments section.

By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
Loves nature, Likes history, and Adores anything interesting
To get tailored writing or to work with, contact at [email protected]

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