Antikythera Mechanism: Photography and Radiography | Free Essay Example

Antikythera Mechanism: Photography and Radiography

Words: 1928
Topic: Sciences


During the year 1900, in one Greek isle of Antikythera, sponge divers stumbled upon statuettes on an ancient shipwreck (Cowen 10). Their mission unearthed the many artifacts from the ruin. The shipwreck has been dated by numerous autonomous investigations to the early eras of the 1st century BC. The two researchers had been hired by the Greek government to recuperate resources that were to be taken to the National Museum of Athens (Dimitris 1). The substantial part of the objects was the Antikythera treasure. The items attracted much attention. At the time, the fragments of the artifacts were only analyzed for a few months. The Early analysis pointed out that the times were part of an ancient astronomical tool. Its enormous importance was realized decades later during the mid-20th century.

The initially authorized account of the Antikythera mechanism is stored in a museum pamphlet of the year 1903 (Kaltsas 78). The device is depicted in four different fragments. The rubbles have been labeled A, B, C, and D. the fragments have been illustrated in many kinds of literature using photos and drawings. Additional rubbles marked E and F were recently obtained in the art center’s store. Particular fragments had separated from rubble C when the mechanism was being cleaned. The detachment has been reassembled.

The features of fragments making up the Antikythera mechanism have mostly stayed hidden from direct sight even after dusting. Radiography undertaken in the 1970s showed more information about the device (Price 12). Charalambos Karakalos conducted the evaluation. The assessment stimulated Derek de Solla Price to try a comprehensive depiction and to reassemble the tool.

Statement of the paper’s purpose

Many prototypes have been designed to replicate the Antikythera mechanism based on Price’s account (Wright 27). Price’s description has been described as improper. Thus, none of these replicas depicts any base in historical authenticity nor can any of them provide any real understanding of the plan, production, or purpose of the tool. Established literature comprises of articles that focus on the instrument being used to identify the position of the stars, the moon, and the stars.

Price’s findings offered numerous translations (Freeth 237). Marcus Tullius Cicero authored the earliest rendition featured by Price between 106 to 43BC (Wright 21). At this time, the Antikythera vessel is approximated to have vanished. Before the discovery of the instrument, it was assumed that ancient astronomical tools had simple designs. However, existing literature, including Price’s publication, suggests that the perception of the old astronomical instruments should be amended (Freeth 208). The pieces of literature claim that Antikythera Mechanism, with its lots of minute gear systems, forces us to review our opinion of ancient technical advance.

The many prototypes that have been developed to illustrate the design and functions of the Antikythera mechanism have received numerous criticisms (Freeth 209). In this paper, we seek to investigate recent findings of the instruments to gain a comprehensive understanding of the design and purpose of the tool. Through this, we will evaluate recent findings in comparison with earlier investigations to identify the basis of contradictions. Earlier kinds of literature focusing on the instrument have contradicted themselves.

For instance, the famous model postulated by Price refuted or overlooked aspects, which are seen in the illustrations. As such, he uses arguments on the planning and implementation of the tool that has little or no persuasion. In fact, some of his acclaims are not logical. Equally, his rebuilding has been termed inexplicable and imperfect. In this regard, this report seeks to make a meaningful input to the research of the Antikythera Mechanism. Through it, the original fragments of the instrument are analyzed to detail that previous researchers have failed to capture. The analysis will be undertaken using recent evidence obtained from photography and radiography assessment of the device.

Analysis of data and research material

Original fragments

Based on the existing photos and radiographs, our study noted that all the current metallic pieces were made from bronze. The parts were designed into thin slips of metals. They ranged between one and two millimeters in thickness (Price 56). Other parts were possibly made of corrosion components. There are higher chances that these components were designed using iron or steel. The parts have probably decomposed owing to electrochemical processes.

Fragment A comprises of numerous surviving interior machinery. The mechanism contains the remnants of 27 lesser gear rolls (Price 59). The wheels vary from nine to one hundred and thirty mm in diameter. They are organized in multiple sequences on twelve distinct axes. The highest breadth of the fragment is about two hundred and seventeen mm. Some of the wheels are fixed to gazeboes that are fixed in pivot-holes constructed in a frame dish. The outline of the frame plate, which still exists, indicates that the dish was a quadrilateral. There are bits of two additional portions of wood on the extreme ends of the frame plate.

The moon hand fused on the instrument is partially contained in fragment C. The sun needle is also preserved in fragment C. Modern findings indicate the above needles were read alongside the Zodiac scale of the gauge. Part of the measure is conserved in fragment C. it is believed that this part might have been positioned just above fragment A in the original instrument. The above findings contradict Price’s findings that never indicated any direct intersection between rubbles A and C.

Karakalos and earlier researchers call the dishes that are positioned over the gauges doorplates (Freeth 234). However, our findings illustrate that there is no proof that they were united to the casework. A recent research by Michael Wright has sculpted the plates as disconnected protections that fall onto edges of woodwork sticking out of the gauges (Freeth 238). The dishes enabled the operators to rest the tool on one surface while engaging it.


Modern findings suggest that the device was operated by rotating the main wheel enclosed in fragment A. The wheel has a big quadrilateral central dump that researchers have deduced to be an opening intended to take a projection molded on a wooden handle. The design is likened with a join between the fine-tuning hooks of a lyre and the key utilized for altering them.

Evidence of alteration

Modern findings indicate that there are proofs that the tool was modified after its initial production. The best and noticeable of numerous revealing features is the tread arrangement of the wooden case (Wright 27). It recommends that the anterior fragment of the tool was modeled and constructed enclosed in the smaller part of the item. The case was afterward protracted to enfold the back dial. An individual would suppose a new dial, prepared precisely for the device, to have been modeled to fit the measurements of the current case. However, the back dial could not have matched without varying the item

Examination of data collected

In the proposed reestablishment, the first gauge offers the bearing of the sun and the moon and the time of the year. The model resembles Price’s refurbishment. However, it should be noted that the model has an additional key pointer displaying the stage of the Moon. Our model indicates a presence of a lost epicyclical mechanism. Our findings suggest that the mechanism operated based on Hipparchos theory (Freeth 234). As such, the device indicated the position of Venus or another smaller planet. The findings also suggest that the upper back dial showed the association amid synodic months and years and the 19 and 76-year phases linking them. According to the findings, the lower back gauge indicated the draconic month segmented into half-days. The curved holes engraved along the measures of the upper and bottom faces were possibly fixed with portable markers.

Like other previous literature, this report encourages more investigations to be undertaken to understand the hints of misplaced apparatus under the front dial. The early literary findings collected by Wright and Price indicate that the mechanisms were utilized during philosophical studies, educational demo, academic showbiz, and the estimation of prominent astronomical occurrences like eclipses (Yan 22). An additional purpose of the instrument is indicated by the increase in curiosity in an individual horoscope in the 1st century BC (Wright 21). For a person to know his or her horoscope, the seer had to distinguish the position of the heavenly bodies like the sun and the moon at the instant of birth.

Archeological proof consisting of numerous citations on slips of papyrus proposes that these figures were usually obtained from printed tables (Yan 21). Therefore, this report postulates that a planetarium tool like Antikythera Mechanism may have been utilized whenever it was available. As such, many pieces of literature have supported this finding by citing the principle used by Cicero in the 1st century BC. Based on the above illustrations, the report noted that the tool’s worth as an academic showbiz alone possibly offered an adequate motivation for its design and production.

Literature produced by Price inspires readers to perceive the Antikythera Mechanism as a planetarium tool (Yan 21). In the same approach, recent findings focusing on the complexity of the instrument based on the existing fragments suggests that a replica of the tool may be redesigned and made to operate. The above findings confirm that the device was a planetarium device. Likewise, other instruments cited by 1st century BC authors imply that such tools were familiar to the readers. The above indicate that ancient planetarium like the Antikythera Mechanism was uncommon or simple as numerous academics have thought (Price 124).

It should be noted that Antikythera Mechanism still endures because it had a chance to be misplaced in ancient times making it inaccessible to human beings who could have made it a scrap-metal man. The instrument managed to survive to modern times out of luck. Therefore, the exclusivity of its existence is not an indication of its exceptionality in the environment in which it was modeled and constructed.

Furthermore, the fact that the mechanism has been rehabilitated offers proofs that the tool is attributed to an ancient workshop in which a variety of similar instruments was designed and produced (Spinellis 189). In this regard, the current understanding of Hellenistic philosophy ought to include both the notch of technical accomplishment to which the Antikythera Mechanism depicts and the fact that wealthy citizens in the community were enthusiastic to fund workshops that could produce such instruments.

Concluding remarks

In conclusion, it should be noted that The Antikythera mechanism is a prehistoric instrument constructed to forecast planetary locations and eclipses for calendric and zodiacal commitments. The device is depicted in four different fragments. The rubbles have been labeled A, B, C and D. Additional rubbles labeled E and F have been recently obtained. Many prototypes have been designed to replicate Antikythera mechanism based on Price’s account. His description has been described as improper. Thus, none of these replicas depicts any base in historical authenticity nor can any of them provide any real understanding of the plan, production, or purpose of the tool.

The prototypes that have been developed to illustrate the design and functions of Antikythera mechanism have received numerous criticisms. In the above paper, researchers investigated recent findings of the instruments to gain a comprehensive understanding of the design and purpose of the tool. Modern findings focusing on the complexity of the apparatus based on the existing fragments suggested that a replica of the machine might be redesigned and made to operate. The above findings confirmed that the instrument was a planetarium device. The results encourage readers to perceive the Antikythera Mechanism as a planetarium tool.

Works Cited

Cowen, Ron. “Atom & Cosmos: Ancient Gadget Charts Game Time: Antikythera Mechanism Kept A Calendar Of The Olympics”. Science News 174.5 (2008): 10-10. Print.

Dimitris, Angelakis. The Antikythera Mechanism-Learn About The Oldest Analog Computer. 2015. Web.

Freeth, Tony. The Antikythera Mechanism. Cambridge: Whipple Museum of the History of Science, 2008. Print.

Kaltsas, Nikos. The Antikythera Shipwreck. Athens: Kapon Editions, 2012. Print.

Price, Derek. Gears From The Greeks. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1974. Print.

Spinellis, Diomidis. “The Antikythera Mechanism: A Computer Science Perspective”. Computer 41.5 (2008): 22-27.Print.

Wright, Michael. “The Antikythera Mechanism: Compound Gear-Trains For Planetary Indications”. Almagest 4.2 (2013): 4-31. Print.

Yan, Hong-Sen. “Reconstruction Synthesis Of The Calendrical Subsystem Of Antikythera Mechanism”. Journal of Mechanical Design 133.2 (2011): 21-24. Print.