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Thread: Antikythera Mechanism: Ancient Astronomy Artifact Bears Hidden Text

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    Antikythera Mechanism: Ancient Astronomy Artifact Bears Hidden Text

    Ancient Astronomy Artifact Bears Hidden Text
    By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

    June 8, 2006— A shoebox-sized bronze device scooped out of a Roman-era shipwreck at the dawn of the 20th century has baffled scientists for years. Now a British researcher has stunningly established it as the world's oldest surviving astronomy computer.
    A team of Greek and British scientists probing the secrets of the artifact, known as the Antikythera Mechanism, has managed to decipher ancient Greek inscriptions unseen for over 2,000 years, members of the project say.
    "Part of the text on the machine, over 1,000 characters, had already been deciphered, but we have succeeded in doubling this total," said physician Yiannis Bitsakis.
    Bitsakis is part of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from universities in Athens, Salonika and Cardiff, the Athens National Archaeological Museum and the Hewlett-Packard company.
    "We have now deciphered 95 percent of the text," he told AFP.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism

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    Antikythera Mechanism

    Cool pictures!
    In the Innovators Issue, John Seabrook writes about the Antikythera Mechanism. Parts of this ancient machine were found at the bottom of the Aegean Sea at the turn of the last century. Recently, with the help of new technology, researchers have come to understand its form and function. A complicated arrangement of gears housed in a wooden box, this ancient analog “computer” could be used to calculate astronomical events, such as the next full moon or a solar eclipse, in the near future. Here is a portfolio of images of ancient fragments of the Antikythera Mechanism and contemporary working models.
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    Antikythera mechanism

    Not only are pictures cool, but the mechanism itself is very cool, indeed. Scholars have tended not to pay much attention to Greek technology. The Greeks were regarded as theoreticians rather than technologists. Hiero of Alexandria's inventions, a steam-powered opener for the doors of a temple and the aeolipile (which ultimately evolved into the lawn sprinkler) were regarded as toys and curiosities having no practical applications.

    No one imagined that Greek astronomical and mechanical knowledge were sophisticated enough to lead to an astronomical calculating machine as elaborate and well-designed as the Antikythera mechanism . Furthermore, we know that the thing actually worked. The large gear has been repaired. One does not repair a machine that never worked.

    Only a few military historians were aware that the Greeks had a repeating crossbow, an archer's version of a machine gun, called the GASTROKNEMIOS, another sophisticated device which we wouldn't have expected of them. The Greeks were evidently much more technologically inclined and adept than we have given them credit for being.

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