antikythera

Human skeleton found on famed Antikythera shipwreck

Hannes Schroeder snaps on two pairs of blue latex gloves, then wipes his hands with a solution of bleach. In front of him is a large Tupperware box full of plastic bags that each contain sea water and a piece of red-stained bone. He lifts one out and inspects its contents as several archaeologists hover behind, waiting for his verdict. They’re hoping he can pull off a feat never attempted before — DNA analysis on someone who has been under the sea for 2,000 years.

Through the window, sunlight sparkles on cobalt water. The researchers are on the tiny Greek island of Antikythera, a 10-minute boat ride from the wreckage of a 2,000-year-old merchant ship. Discovered by sponge divers in 1900, the wreck was the first ever investigated by archaeologists. Its most famous bounty to date has been a surprisingly sophisticated clockwork device that modelled the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets in the sky — dubbed the ‘Antikythera mechanism’.

But on 31 August this year, investigators made another groundbreaking discovery: a human skeleton, buried under around half a metre of pottery sherds and sand. Read more.

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May 17th 1902: Antikythera mechanism discovered

On this day in 1902, an odd mechanism discovered in a Greek shipwreck was identified as a form of ancient calculator. The wreck was discovered off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900 by sponge divers, and a number of artefacts - including statues, jewellery, pottery, and furniture - were recovered from the ship, dating from the first century BCE. The haul was sent to the National Museum of Archaelogy in Athens for analysis. In May 1902, archaelogist Valerios Stais discovered that one of the recovered objects - which initially appeared just a piece of rock - was in fact a wooden box housing a clockwork mechanism. However, it took decades before the importance of the find was realised. After the 1970s, X-ray imaging allowed scientists to infer that the device could be used for monitoring astronomical movement, tracking the cycles of the solar system. It was dubbed an ‘ancient Greek computer’, but scholars were skeptical until further research in the early 2000s. It was discovered that the device was operated by dials which moved the internal gearwheels to display celestial time - it was essentially a computer which could predict the positions of the sun, moon, and planets on any given date. The fascinating mechanism reveals the sophistication of Ancient Greek scientific and mathematical thinking.

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Skeleton found at the Antikythera shipwreck

  Divers have unearthed 2,000-year-old skeletal remains within the wreckage of a Roman-era cargo ship. Discovered by divers off the Greek island of Antikythera over 100 years ago, the shipwreck was where the famous Antikythera Mechanism - an ancient astronomical ‘computer’ - was found.

Now marine archaeologists working at the site have revealed that they have also uncovered the skeletal remains of one of the ship’s crew members.

The skeleton was found buried beneath sand and debris around 165ft below the surface and appears to be surprisingly well-preserved considering how long it has remained there.

If enough genetic material has survived intact it may even be possible for scientists to conduct a DNA analysis of the remains and learn a lot more about where this person originally came from.

“Archaeologists study the human past through the objects our ancestors created,” said marine archaeologist Brendan Foley of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

“With the Antikythera Shipwreck, we can now connect directly with this person who sailed and died aboard the Antikythera ship.”

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The Antikythera Mechanism

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The Antikythera mechanism is an early form of analogue computer used for astronomy. It was discovered in the early 20th century and is considered extremely advanced. Dating has placed the mechanism around the 1st century BC and similar levels of technology were not seen again until the 14th century.

Researchers are unsure of the mechanism’s origins and speculate that it may be from a Corinthian colony such as Syracuse or was perhaps from a city further east such as Pergamon in modern day Anatolia.

The mechanism was discovered on a shipwreck and a great deal of mystery surrounds it and it’s origins. One theory is that it was lost when being transported to Rome for the triumph of Julius Caesar. Whatever the case may be, it is an intriguing artefact and a great example of Hellenistic technology and engineering.

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A perplexing artifact was recovered by sponge-divers in 1900 off the coast of Antikythera. Among the findings was a hunk of corroded bronze that contained some kind of mechanism composed of many gears and wheels. An x-ray of the mechanism, however, revealed it to be far more complex, containing a sophisticated system of differential gears. Gearing of this complexity was not known to exist until 1575! It is still unknown who constructed this amazing instrument 2,000 years ago.

The Antikythera mechanism was discovered in the 1900’s during a recovery from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. The metal device consists of 37 different types of gears and is so complex that many consider it the first analog computer made by man. The device is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. Its remains were found as 82 separate fragments, of which only seven contain any gears or significant inscriptions. The largest gear is approximately 140 mm in diameter and originally had 223 teeth. After the knowledge of this technology was lost technological artifacts approaching its complexity and workmanship did not appear again in Europe until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in the fourteenth century

After decades of research, scientists were able to determine that the device actually shows the positions of the sun, moon and planets as they move through the zodiac. It predicts the solar and lunar eclipses and other key events still marked like the Pan-Hellenic games. Researchers and historians have long debated when the device was built and by whom. Given its complexity, some experts believe that the Antikythera mechanism could have been influenced by an adanced intelligence. 

The new study revealed that the device predicted a solar eclipse that occurred on May 12, 205 BC, suggesting that the device originated in 205 BC or is even older. Researchers had previously dated the mechanism to around 100-150 BC based on radiocarbon dating and analysis of letters inscribed on the device.

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                                   The Antikythera Device

There is at least one artifact that proves beyond all doubt that one civilization in the ancient world  possessed technical know how which no modern sci- entist had previously suspected. Since it was found in the sea off Antiky- thera, a small island northwest of Crete, it is known as the Antikythera Mechanism. It was recovered from a shipwreck discovered in 1900 by a team of divers who had decided to try to find sponges on a rocky ledge off Antikythera.
The Antikythera Mechanism is the oldest known scientific computer. It's believed to be an astronomical clock that determines the positions of celestial bodies with extraordinary precision.
 
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Scientists are still making discoveries about the world’s first “computer”

Divers found the Antikythera Mechanism in the Mediterranean Sea in 1900. It dates all the way back to 60 BC, when the ancient Greeks likely used it to track the positions of celestial objects. But now a new X-ray scanning analysis of the mechanism has revealed a series of inscriptions on the side — and a secondary purpose.

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Lego Antikythera Mechanism

Recreation of an ancient greek technology.

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Lego Antikythera Mechanism (by NatureVideoChannel)