Antikythera mechanism – The most ancient & mysterious Greek machine !

The Antikythera mechanism is more valuable than Mona Lisa !

says professor Michael Edmunds from Cardiff University, who led a 2006 study of the mechanism !

Honestly, this is one of the most mysterious, extraordinary, fascinating & interesting  machine I’ve ever seen in my life ! The Antikythera mechanism is one of the most remarkable inventions of the ancient world came to light in 1900 when a Greek Sponge diver discovered the wreck of an ancient Greek or Roman cargo ship that had sunk off the Greek island of Antikythera around 80 B.C.E !

What is the Antikythera mechanism?

The Antikythera mechanism, believed to be the first analog computer is an ancient machine & scientific instrument that could be used to calculate the astronomical positions of the Sun, moon, lunar phases & the 5 planets then known. The instrument was also designed to predict eclipses. The Antikythera mechanism, as it is known, is the first known geared device & thus the first known clockwork mechanism.

History & Discovery :-

The Antikythera mechanism was discovered 45 metres below the water surface in the Antikythera shipwreck off Point Glyphadia. Among the objects recovered from the wreck by the divers, which included various artifacts, statues,coins & jewellery; was a geared mechanism that from the shape of it’s inscribed Greek letters, dated to between 100 & 150 B.C.E ! Not anyone on this holy Earth knows how the mechanism came to be on ship, but it has been suggested that it was being taken to Rome together with the other treasure which was looted from the island.

Fragments found in the shipwreck of Anikythera mechanism. source:-

Fragments found in the shipwreck of Anikythera mechanism. source:-

Don’t forget to read the most INTERESTING facts at the end of the article !

Construction :-

The Antikythera mechanism was found in 340mm × 180mm × 90mm wooden box comprising of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. Its remains were found as of total 82 fragments of which only 7 gears have significant inscriptions. The largest gear is approximately 140 mm in diameter & had 223 teeth !
On the front face of the wooden box, are 2 concentric circular scales with a ringed dial. The outer ring represents the days of the 365-day Egyptian calendar, while the inner one is marked with the 12 Greek signs of the Zodiac equally with 30 degree sectors.
The rear face had 5 more dials; the 2 large ones named the Metanic(main upper dial) & the Saros(lower), & 3 smaller indicators- the Olmpiad, the Callipic and the Exeligmos. (Source)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mechanism :-

When a date was entered by a crank(or a turning handle), one could position the dials to any day of the year to know the exact position of the sun & the moon. The intermeshed gears then dial on the rear side showed the Metonic cycles which shows the lunar & solar cycles to over 19 years ! The Saros dial indicates the eclipses of the Sun & the moon.
Well, brace yourself, the most thriller part comes here; the Antikythera mechanism was also equipped with some interlocking gears. To determine the occurence of next eclipse of the Saros cycle, the gears would get interlocked which indicated the date on the other dial on the front side of the box !

Interesting facts :-

  • It is the first known geared device oldest known scientific instrument.
  • The concept of differential gearing was not discovered until the 16th century, while the complexity of its parts are comparable to the finest 18th century clocks !
  • The Antikythera mechanism has at least 30 gears !
  • All known fragments of the Antikythera mechanism are kept at the National Archeological Museum of Athens.
  • The Antikythera mechanism is the world’s first analog computer !

You might like to read about – World’s first pump ! (which doesn’t look like a pump 😀 )

Here is a video clip of researchers, archaeologists, linguists & mechanical engineers who are trying to remake the machine ! It will surely give you a clear idea about the Antikythera mechanism !

Seriously, whoever built this mechanism would have been astonishingly ahead of his time !(just wondering how 😮 )

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this incredible masterpiece ! You can do so by commenting in the comment section below ! 🙂


  1. It seems so strange that there weren’t lesser machines scattered around different areas or countries. That we find one so advanced out of the blue. What we need is a counter balance first. People dedicated to showing the machine is nothing much so that we can be sure it’s not finding what we seek. Then if the machine is as advanced to try and make one with the same equipment available then. This one mystery, if fully understood, could unlock so much information about ancient times. When we find something like this it means there are huge gaps in our understanding of the past.

    • Gannesan nagarajan

      Thanks a lot,,I am an average man,,not well versed with technical terms,,but could understand the value of such a machine,,,our outlook that we are the advanced scientific community is smashed,,,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *