Scientists propose radical new model of the Antikythera Mechanism

Scientists at University College London's Antikythera Research Team have presented "a radical new model [for the ancient Greek astronomical calculator, the Antikythera Mechanism] that matches all of the data and culminates in an elegant display of the ancient Greek Cosmos," according to a study published on Friday in Nature

As new experimental techniques emerged, research teams have been able to explain the purpose and dynamics of the Antikythera Mechanism's back face, which includes a system of eclipse predictions. In particular, the use of surface imaging and high-resolution X-ray tomography on the artifact, described in a 2006 study also led by Freeth, revealed scores of never-before-seen inscriptions that helpfully amount to a user's guide to the mechanism.

Now, Freeth and his colleagues believe they have tackled the missing piece of the puzzle: the complicated gearworks underlying the front "Cosmos" display of the calculator. Virtually nothing from this front section survived, and "no previous reconstruction has come close to matching the data" that does exist, according to the study. 

The new paper "has synthesized other people's work, and dealt with all the loose ends and the uncomfortable nuances that other people just simply ignored," Wojcik said. "For example, there are certain features in the surviving bits—holes and pillars and things like that—which people have said: 'well, we'll just ignore that in our explanation. There must be a use for that but we don't know what it is so we'll just ignore it.'"

Read more here.

Watch a 30-minute video on the history of the Mechanism and the UCL Antikythera Research Team's latest research and paper.

Image: Computer model of the Cosmos display from the research team's paper