X-Rays Used to Decode Ancient Greek Technology

Scientists have failed to find any more of the pieces still missing from the Antikythera Mechanism, one of the most mysterious artifacts of the ancient world recently discovered to be a lunar and solar calendar that can also predict eclipses. Scientists believe that the Antikythera Mechanism is a “philosopher’s instructional device”, or a mechanical tool for teaching.


The device was uncovered at the site of the Antikythera shipwreck off the Greek island of the same name over a hundred years ago. Amidst works of art, jewels, and life-sized marble and bronze statues was this clock-like device of cogs, plates, and gears made of heavily corroded bronze.

The device, which is now housed at Greece’s National Archaeological Museum, became known as the Antikythera Mechanism and was thought to be some sort of astronomical computation device, built to predict the movement of objects in space. Over a century later, scientists developed equipment that could explore the Antikythera Mechanism’s inner workings and thus reveal its secrets.

About 3,500 characters can now be read of what appears to be instructions on the usage of the mechanism. There were 82 pieces of corroded bronze whereon the inscriptions could not be discerned. By using x-ray CT (Computational Tomography) scanning, CT imaging and polynomial texture mapping, researchers were able to piece together the text within the device. The recovered text on the back cover of the Anikythera Mechanism is believed to be something of a “user manual of sorts” which allowed researchers to ascertain what the device was and how it was used.

Research team member Alexander Jones said, “It’s like a textbook of astronomy as it was understood then, which connected the movements of the sky and the planets with the lives of the ancient Greeks and their environment.”

Researchers refer to the ancient Greek device as a philosopher’s guide to the galaxy, something of an astronomical calculator. It provided a cosmological calendar of the known universe, and it just might be the world’s oldest mechanical computer. Amazingly, it predates anything technologically like it by a thousand years.

Once again, amazing x-ray technology uncovers secrets of history and space!

Read more at here.

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