The total Solar Eclipse in 2024 will be viewable from just north of Cincinnati, Ohio. Would you believe it if I told you that a mechanical device built in 200 BC could predict next years solar eclipse date?
What is the Antikythera Mechanism?
The Antikythera Mechanism is a hand wound, gear driven bronze time keeping mechanism with hands that predict the movements and occurrences in our solar system, like eclipses, and it is supposedly 2200 years old!
The Antikythera mechanism was found by sponge divers on the sea floor among the wreckage of an ancient Roman shipwreck off the coast of Antikythera, Greece in 1901.
The Antikythera Mechanism is more complicated than anyone could have ever imagined.
When wound, the Antikythera Mechanism turned gears that moved dials to account for the elliptical nature of the path planets take around the sun. Longer than the 17-year cicadas of 2021, the Antikythera Mechanism accounts for the 19-year lunar cycle. As the moon spins around the Earth, and the Earth spins around the Sun, the moon will repeat its position in the night sky from Earth every 19 years.
The Antikythera Mechanism tracks the19 year lunar cycle, among other things!
Why is the Antikythera Mechanism So Important?
The Antikythera Mechanism may have been a mechanical clock built by Archimedes in year 200 BC. It's origin is as of yet unknown. If dating technology is correct this unlocks details of the depth of knowledge and capabilities of the scientist at that time; they were much more capable mechanics and advance that imagined. The presence of this technology at that time makes us wonder how humanity went through the Dark Ages, why didn't technology advance much sooner than it did?
The Antikythera Mechanism included a notch in one of the gears that accounted for a slight seasonal delay due to the oval-esque shape of the planet! That is incredible calculations and mechanical work to simulate these slight time differentials over the span of decades. Their understanding of the solar system was vast.
What is an Orrery?
When Isaac Newton discovered and wrote the Laws Of Motion, he provided humanity calculations that allowed scientists & mathematicians to calculate the motions of the giant planets in our solar system. With Newton's calculations, humanity could predict the repeating cycles of our solar system with mechanical 3-dimensional clockwork mechanisms that display our solar system in 3-D and that move in relation to the sun and each other in realistic relative harmony.
The mechanism that using correct gear trains that can demonstrate in 3-D the position of and predict the positions of the planets and moons in our solar system is called an "Orrery".
An Orrery is a mechanical representation of the movement of our solar system.
This is an orrery presented by YouTube Channel KenToonz.
If you like that Ken Toons video check out his
"Orrery Construction Time Lapse: Seven Months in Seven Minutes"
Here is a link to an image of the actual Antikythera Mechanism as it is today at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens published in Smithsonian Magazine:
Smithsonian Mag. Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism
When Was The First Orrery Made?
Wiki will tell you that clock makers George Graham and Thomas Tompion built the first modern orrery around 1704 in England (Carlisle, Rodney (2004). Scientific American Inventions and Discoveries, p. 189. John Wiley & Songs, Inc., New Jersey. ISBN 0-471-24410-4.) Wiki - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Antikythera Changes Everything!
Where many scientists have studied and made progress coming to understand the ancient device, it was recent X-rays of the Antikythera Mechanism that have unlocked the mind blowing secrets of the device. A device whose invention date aligns with the life of Archimedes. That is why some suspect Archimedes could be the creator of the Antikythera Mechanism. The true creator of the Antikythera Mechanism is unknown.
The Antikythera Mechanism: The First Orrery
The order and movement of the solar system were brought unto Earth, into our hands, for us to watch, on display when Isaac Newton? / Archimedes? created the first Orrery over 2000 years ago.
How Was It Found: A Shipwreck near Antikythera
One of the most amazing discoveries in sunken ships at the bottom of the seas was found off the coast of Antikythera. The story goes that a young rookie sponge diver came upon what he thought were bodies buried in the sand on the seafloor.
He came to the surface screaming about bodies in the sand. The older owner of the company chastises the young diver, they all got a laugh, then he dove down discovering that the "bodies" the young diver saw were actually wealths of Roman statues. Among the amazing statues, the most unique and intriguing find was not the gold, jewelry, coins, or statues, it was a rusted out geared mechanism that has become known today as the Antikythera Mechanism.
Geared Notched Mechanical Driven Calendar
The wooden box Antikythera Mechanism was a mystery from the start. People started studying it and for generations scientists have investigated it. Almost every other year a scientist dedicated their life to figuring it out.
It was not until 2005 when Antikythera Mechanism Research Project used X-Rays to see the interior of the molded together brass and wood and layer by layer see what each layer held and thus identifying a web of gears.
Amazing detailed layer by layer display of the Antikythera Mechanism.
By focusing the XRay MM by MM through the Mechanism the scientist were able to look into the Mechanism layer by layer. From there they could identify and count the numbers of teeth in the cogs. Once the scientist counted the teeth in the cogs they could tell what each pin & cog represented in our solar system.
They found the Antikythera Mechanism was much more complicated and capable than anyone could imagine!
Revealing the mechanism's secrets of its interior has demonstrated that the Antikythera Mechanism was one of the first Orrey's. It told the movements of the planets in gears made of brass & wood notched in numbers that calculated many years forward in time.
The Orrery that accurately predicted eclipses
Antikythera Mechanism could accurately predict lunar & solar eclipses many years out.
Please, watch some of these resources if you have not seen them yet. We are grateful for all the published materials by the scientist, and passionate people who diligently have worked so hard to discover, document, and publish information about this mechanism that literally rewrites how we understand our history of knowledge.
Here is an incredible Antikythera Mechanism Rebuild & Documentary by Clickspring. Episode 1 of 2.
Hublot Antikythera Mechanism Watch
Hublot has made a mechanical watch representation of the Antikythera Mechanism.
A good Antikythera Mechanism rebuild video that demonstrates what the mechanism is and how it works by building one. Posted on YouTube Channel Mark De Solla Price
Further Resources, Citations, & References
Michael Wright: built two recreations of the Antikythera Mechanism to size.
Video of Michael Wright and Antikythera Mechanism replica: https://youtu.be/4eUibFQKJqI
Dr. Tony Freeth: The Antikythera Mechanism: A Shocking Discovery from Ancient Greece.
Quick Link Resource: Brilliant woodworking recreations of A Wooden Antikythera Reproduction in Progress