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Decoded By Scientists, Finally!

Archaeologists recently claimed that they have succeeded in solving the puzzles surrounding an ancient Greek computer, which was dubbed as one that should not even exist!

Greece is definitely more than a little known for its hidden archaeological treasures, as the south-eastern European country often offers great insights into long lost relics. It is now seen that the Greek Scientists had a sound understanding about the Universe, as well as the position of Earth around the Sun. Even, they had built the very first astronomical calculator. Among these, an ancient Greek computer has continued to amaze scientists, archaeologists, and all others.

In fact, researchers consider the Antikythera Mechanism, a 2,000-year-old Greek hand-powered orrery or a mechanical model of the solar system, as the world’s oldest analogue computer. The Antikythera had reportedly helped Greek scientists track eclipses and astronomical positions, apart from tracing the cycle of Olympic Games. Archaeologists had discovered the Antikythera Mechanism amidst the ruins of a shipwreck off the Antikythera coast way back in 1901. Next year, archaeologist Valerios Stais identified the Antikythera Mechanism as a carrying gear, and later, Antikythera Mechanism, split into 82 fragments, found its place in a museum in Athens.

The Antikythera mechanism (Image: Getty)

As the Antikythera Mechanism appeared as a chunk of corroded metal at first sight, the archaeologists failed to understand the actual function of it. Talking to the BBC, Professor Tony Freeth of the University College London said: “It was not recognised at all as being anything interesting when it was discovered, it was just a corroded lump about the size of a large dictionary.” The professor claimed that the ancient Greek scientists had used the bronze gear and calculative prowess of the Antikythera Mechanism to assess the cycle of cosmos. By having the entire contraption magnified manifold, he discovered thousands of text characters in Greek, curved on the Antikythera Mechanism, and some certain cogs that were possibly used to make the computer function. It possibly aided this computer to predict eclipses, as well as to follow the motion of the moon, among a series of things.

The Greek island of Antikythera

Professor Freeth stressed that the gear wheels inside the computer had surprised Stais immensely in 1901, as people became excited about what it might have been used for. He explained: “This was the first shock because anything from ancient Greece simply shouldn’t have gear wheels. These were precision gears with teeth about a millimetre long. And, this was just completely shocking.” Later, researchers discovered that the Antikythera Mechanism was basically a calculating machine, which used to calculate the cycles of the cosmos by using its bronze gear wheels. However, a question started haunting researchers… why did the ancient Greeks create such a device?

After the team 3D X-rayed the mechanism they discovered hidden inscriptions inside (Image: Getty)

Professor Freeth has revealed that it was built mainly to practically calculate the Greeks’ astrological theories. “In those days the idea that your scientific theories could be mechanised was absolutely astonishing,” he mentioned. Meanwhile, the professor said that it was possible for him to solve the mysteries, as modern technology has changed and advanced in the past 100 years (since its discovery). The scientists X-rayed the device in the 1970s, and revealed the first secrets… dozens of cogs were hidden within it. However, the 3D X-ray technology helped Professor Freeth separate those gears, and take data from all the 82 surviving fragments of the mechanism. “When we first looked at the results it was astonishing because it showed us not only all the gear wheels in three dimensions so we could separate them, but it showed us all these new inscriptions in the fragments as well,” added the professor.

Professor Freeth told the press that he and his team would build a physical model of the mechanism, following the theoretical model and ancient Greek techniques.

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