Talk:Antikythera mechanism/Archive 1

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How Many Gears?

Please see the following FAQ on the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project website:

How many gears does it have?

Wright's current model of the mechanism contains more than 70 gears. However, this is because this model includes the motions of all the inferior and superior planets known to the Ancient Greeks. Wright included these into his model to demonstrate how easy it would have been to build such a mechanism.

However, there isn't any remaining physical evidence in the Antikythera mechanism that supports the proposal that it modelled the motion of all these planets.

Also see the FAQ What does it do?.

Martin Allen 13:00, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

New discoveries

According to this article new discoveries regarding its functionality have been done. Lord Metroid 08:47, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

I think that is already covered in the section on the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project. -Insouciance 10:51, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
There was a conference that recently took place 30 November - 2 December in Greece where new results were published. See website regarding substantive work and translations of the inscriptions. Malfactor 11:20, 10 December 2006 (GMT+1)
Note that the authors of the article do not claim to have overturned Price, only to have found additional information about the mechanism, some of which confirms Price's hypotheses about the gearing. Tom Lougheed 18:48, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Hi, I'm Martin and I have been closely involved with the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project as part of the X-Tek team. The Project is trying to publish its findings as quickly as possible, but there is so much to do. We have just published some FAQ's on the Project website. Hopefully these will clarify some issues. The Project is aware that while the Wikipedia entry for the Mechanism has a lot of useful and detailed information, it also has some mistakes, and is a little chaotic. With your patience I will attempt to tidy up this entry, and correct those mistakes we are aware of. In the first instance I want to tidy up the References section and add a number more. I can then use these to start to tidy up the general content. I anticipate that it is going to take some time to complete this, and from the number of previous comments, and the level of general interest, I anticipate plenty of discussion. Martin Allen 17:45, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

  • Moe good information is always welcome - Skysmith 17:48, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

What is it?

In one or two sentences- what is it and what does it do?


it is a device for calculating the motions of the classical planets (that was, more or less, Price's theory, and the recent findings point also to that direction). As such, it is the first analogue (or is it analog?) computer.

As for analog, it depends on if you mean it in the sense of an analogy (analogue) or to mean non-digital (analog).--Scorpion451 23:26, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Transmitted via the Arab world?

The arab world scarecely existed during the days of the Roman Republic. They had no culture, and were mostly nomadic. I am removing that reference until a source is provided. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 11:52, 17 May 2005.

I suspect the author of that bit based it on the general notion that a lot of classical knowledge was lost to the West and only brought back there after being found, translated, preserved and developed by those in the Islamic world (which is what I assume you're saying "scarcely existed" - the Arab world was of course rather densely populated, having served as the seat of civilisation in the region - though it must have been difficult in those times with "no culture", whatever that means.). That route of information transmission is pretty well documented in general and doesn't need specific evidence here. The bit about the possible (re)provenance of clockmaking technology via that Arabic route can thus be restated and possibly reinserted, or it could go in an expanded clockwork article, which links here. - toh 04:54, 18 September 2005 (UTC)
What is today the "Arab World" was densely populated, but Mesopotamia and the Levant were not "Arab" until after 900 AD. The Arabs were a nomadic tribal people sparsely populating the fringes of the Arabian peninsula. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Delong1974 (talkcontribs) 16:10, 21 October 2005.
Your statement is absolutely unfounded and rediculous. Assyro-Babylonian culture that existed in a highly complex form in the third millennium BCE gave birth to an incredible chain of cultures that carried on its heritage. Sumerian and Uruk in what we would now identify as the Arab World were in close contact with later Hittite and Syrian cultures, as well as the Canaanites who were known to the Greeks, and thus to the Romans, as Phoenicians (meaning something close to "the purple people" for the brilliant purple dye they extracted from sea-dwelling crustaceans and stained their clothes with). Walter Burkert, for one, has shown through high-quality and extensive scholarship that much of the vaccuum left by the destruction of pre-Greek cultures in Greece during the late second millennium BCE was filled via contact with the Phoenicians; the Greek alphabet, for instance, is derivative of Phoenician. Greek, as Burkert writes, had the good fortune to be adopted and maintained by later cultures, namely the Romans. You may be right to question the authenticity of the claim that this technology was transmitted FROM what you call the Arab World, but as for the rest of your post, you are misinformed at best. --Ben iarwain 03:23, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
Obviously the original statement is absurd; the "Arab world" in the article obviously refers to the preservation and extension of Greek and Roman learning by the Islamic world during the European Dark Ages. But it's almost as absurd to use of "Arab world" to refer to areas outside Arabia in pre-Islamic Roman times (I'm referring to the "we would now identify as the Arab World"); these cultures were Semitic but not Arab. Callng pre-Islamic Syria or Mesopotamia "Arab" makes as much sense as calling Phoenician Carthage or Celtic Britain "Roman". --Saforrest 05:36, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
You're right. An edit rather than a removal might have been in order, then, in the first place. Anyway, I understand what you mean much better now, and had been taken aback at first, getting the sense that you meant something altogether different. Cheers! --Ben iarwain 09:54, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

This is a really great article!—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 20:33, 24 September 2002.

Concur. I really enjoyed reading it. Gold stars to the authors! Maurice Fox 13:05, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Then you should suggest it for inclusion under Brilliant prose.
Please keep in mind that allthough a lot of knowledge was preservered and partially developed further by the arabo-islamic-culture (which was not all arabic btw) that there existed an unbroken culturell tradition in the Byzantine Empire, wich contributed - at least - an even part to preservation of Knowledge, even to the western european renaissance aera. Besides, Northern Afrika and Anatolia where Part of the Byzantine Empire till the islamic expansion. -- 19:53, 15 June 2006 (UTC)


A thought provoking look into our assumptions about chronological acheivement. Perhaps, we have not progressed in steady line of acheivement. Could we have gone forward in fits and starts?

This is a really informative, well written article with a solid refrence and link section. My only complaint is the last line "The Antikythera mechanism is occasionally interpreted as an anachronism by those attempting to prove the occurrence of time travel (see anachronism and time travel)." ....must we indulge this nonsense? I think it should be removed. Thoughts?....--Deglr6328 06:04, 22 Jul 2004 (UTC)

It does sound like rubbish. An example from
...the strange device had been made in 80 BC. This was some one-and-a-half thousand years before mechanisms of such complexity had been invented.
I shall not insult our readers by explaining the logical lunacy of that statement. I think we should keep the comment you quoted, but explain how weak an argument it is. You never know: someone might visit this article hoping to find more on that very concept, and we wouldn't want to disappoint them. -- Heron 08:25, 22 Jul 2004 (UTC)

This article uses fact and tangible evidence existent today. We should refrain from any 'conclusions' made an author of any part. The fact that this item exists and is scientifically dated to its date is something to think about, but lets not fill in the conclusions before we have the facts. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

The quote above is beyond rubbish. Just look at Hero of Alexandria. By the end of his life he was working on the principals of programing using automata.--Scorpion451 23:31, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Price and Russo

I removed the two paragraphs below, which were in the intro to the article. I don't think Price and Russo need extra mention in the introduction. Both paragraphs contain little information and come across like advertisements for two of the external links. I suggest expanding the article with additional sections discussing individual scholars' contributions. Then versions of these paragraphs, expanded with more information should be reinserted. --345Kai 00:43, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

  • Derek J. de Solla Price, a science historian at Yale University, published an article on the mechanism in Scientific American in June 1959 while the device was still only partially inspected [1]. In 1973 or 1974, he published an analysis based on gamma ray imaging by Greek archaeologists. He claimed that the device had been built by a Greek astronomer, Geminus of Rhodes. His conclusion was not accepted by experts at the time, who believed that the ancient Greeks had the theoretical knowledge but not the necessary practical skills.
  • The Antikythera mechanism, not described in any surviving source, (although see below) shows that our knowledge of ancient technology is incomplete. In 1996, the Italian physicist Lucio Russo (professor at Università di Roma "Tor Vergata") published an essay putting new light on the issue. The essay has been translated and published in English in 2004 under the title "The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why it Had to Be Reborn".
I agree, both Price and Russo are pertinent to the article and belong in it. Research on the mechanism did not spring fully formed from the brow of the current research team.
The information in the Price paragraph you extracted is needed in the portion which remains—splatting half of it in the intro and leaving the rest dangling in a section halfway down a long page was poor placement indeed. A Russo paragraph must be a concise summary of his ideas about the mechanism and the technology of that era and region, rather than devoting more than half its content to fluffing up an essay title and garbling the university name (which is University of Rome Tor Vergata) after a lead line which vaguely echoes statements elsewhere in the article.
Russo's perspective (properly addressed) and Price's (which needs consolidation and streamlining) both belong in the First investigations and reconstructions section, which should have a clear chronology which it presently lacks. Athænara 13:42, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Price (Revisited)

Amazing object! Am I following the timeline correctly for its analysis? It seems to me like everything begins with Price and his article in Scientific American. It seems to me, if we follow the preceding suggestion from 345Kai, then don't we begin with Price's work? Thoughts and suggestions? -- Dash 00:49, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

In any case the omission of Derek Price from the introduction raises a problem, in that the subsequent section talks about "Price's X-ray analysis" without telling us about this mysterious "Price" person, or about his X-ray analysis. The impression I get from this article at The Economist is that Derek Price was initially the major authority on this device, but he is now less respected than he was. This article would be improved by re-inserting the first of the two paragraphs by 345Kai. I would do it myself, but he has more authority than me. Lupine Proletariat 13:34, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

A computer?

A mechanical device yes, even a calculator of sorts, but a computer - not as far as I can see. Computer defines a computer as "A computer is a machine designed for manipulating data according to a list of instructions known as a program." Many definitions also require the availability of a branch instruction.

I don't believe this device qualifies as a computer as it does not follow a list of instructions. Robert Brockway 23:12, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Read analog computer. You're thinking solely in terms of a digital computer. -- ChrisO 23:13, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
To be fair, the terms are confusing. By modern standards "analog computers" are not computers at all, since computer has evolved to mean a more-or-less "universal machine" that can run "any" program (with some caveats), regardless of the nature of its construction. In modern parlance, an analog computer could be considered a physical implementation of a single program; more like an advanced calculator than a computer.
All this notwithstanding, "analog computer" means what it means, and by that meaning the Antikythera mechanism is definitely an analog computer. 22:17, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
Since it has a special purpose as it seems (calculating the position of stars and planets), can it be named as "computer"? What sources do we have upon this matter?-- 12:41, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

It's a computer by the most basic definition of the word: something that computes. -- Admiral Rupert 17:45, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Oh, sure. In the early days human beings were considered computers. (Today some may consider the human brain a computer, but that's another topic.) 21:22, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Translated Inscriptions

Anyone have, or have a link to, the translation of the inscriptions on the device? I'd love to know what was written. Toby Douglass 11:37, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

The new transcription/translation hasn't been released yet, unfortunately... -- ChrisO 12:42, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
The article refers to 1000 characters that were already visible, but no translation or reference to translation of these earlier visible characters is provided. Can anyone provide an appropriate link? Thanks. 22:37, 11 June 2006 (UTC)
The "Antikythera Mechanism Research Project" announced that the inscriptions will be released at the Athens Conference in November 2006.
Kadros 17:19, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

The release was delayed by this part of the inscription, which puzzled the researchers:
This equipment complies with Part ι´ε´/15 of the ΦΚΚ (FCC) Rules. Operation is subject to the following two conditions: (1) This device may not cause harmful interference and (2) This device must accept any interference received, <undecipherable> that may cause undesired operation.
 :-) bogdan 22:01, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

The translation of most of the earlier visible characters is in Price, 1974 (Gears from the Greeks, pages 46, 49 and 50). I think that there is a reprint of this famous book, available for about 20 Euros.

Kadros 12:21, 29 June 2006 (UTC)


Friggin cool machine!

  • I agree

This is the biggest eye opener I have seen on this site! user:jodywebster

Wouldn't it be funny if it turned out to be something simpler, like a music box? Can you imagine all of the man hours that have been spent thinking about how it relates to the calendar or the stars? user:cngodles

The text inscribed on the device apparently contains instructions on how to use it and describes its purpose, so I think there's not much chance of that happening. :-) -- ChrisO 17:09, 11 June 2006 (UTC)
I do believe that Cngodles is refering to an episode of The Simpsons if i'm not mistaken. Is that correct cngodles? Danl 07:12, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Spyridon Stais or Valerios Stais?

What's the name of the Greek archaeologist who first studied it? Some sources name him Spyridon Stais, some others Valerios Stais. Curiously, both names currently have Wikipedia entries. Valerios seems more plausible to me, as he is otherwise mentioned on the web as an archaeologist, whereas Spyridon is described elsewhere as a politician and may have got into some report on the Antikythera story by mistake (and then proliferated from one article to another). Fut.Perf. 07:28, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

i'm on to it... I think though it is Spyridon. Valerios is not credited with the discovery of the mechanism. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 13:39, 12 June 2006 (UTC).
Thanks. Please have a look at some data on Talk:Spyridon Stais. And google for "Valerios Stais" Antikythera, you'll get quite a number of hits, mostly Italian and Greek ones. Fut.Perf. 14:17, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

The name Stais is not uncommon, Dim. Stais being someone else. The archaeologist credited with the discovery was known to have been a politician and education minister as well. As to his first name...I am awaiting information from the one authority most authorized (pun intended) to enlighten us...the one that authorized (pun not intended) Stais to explore the Antikythera wreck. I have no information regarding the sportsman. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15:56, 12 June 2006 (UTC).

It's Valerios Stais. (--> Talk:Spyridon Stais) --Anastasios 02:32, 6 July 2006 (UTC)


Is a clock a computer? By these standards set to glorify ancient Europe, it's a supercomputer. LOL! deeptrivia (talk) 14:21, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

As I told you before, read the relevant discussion at the main page before making your own assumptions. By your comments here and on the history page, it is clear your bias against ancient Europe would be something much more to worry about than "these standards set to glorify ancient Europe".—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Take it easy, it will take a few centuries to unlearn these fairy tales :) I'm not trying to do anything here, so please cool down :) deeptrivia (talk) 15:30, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
When you consider *facts* "fairy-tales" I'd think it's time to totally realign your priorities. Hindu folklore spiritualism is something that any historiographic methodology would class as a fairy-tale, not European archeology. 19:57, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Anti-European rants aside, the difference is obvious: a mechanism for calculation has a different purpose from a mechanism for marking time. Calling something a computer has nothing to do with modern electronic computers - in the past the term "computer" was even used for people who did calculations. It's arguable that a mechanical computer needs to be programmable to be a computer rather than a calculator, but to some extent this is just sematics of modern interpretation.

First things first: every culture contributed to the current state of science equally. Europe, and China, and the Arabian Peninsula, and Africa, and India, and all the others I did not mention for lack of room included. At any one time it is luck of the draw who has a "civilized" society and who is rebuilding.
Now what we really are taking about: It is not truely a clock, but more like a star chart. You put in data throught the crank to set the date, and it tells you where certain planets and such are on that day.--Scorpion451 23:43, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
In other words, you enter the input data and the machine computes some output data. :^) Eaglizard 16:58, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
exactly--Scorpion451 19:59, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

"Possibly the first" ?

The main page describes this as possibly the first analog computer; I think it is better described as possibly the oldest extant, or oldest remains of one. Just following logic, one would be hard pressed to convincingly persuade another that this device without any kind of precedent that could also be described as an analog computer.

That is true, the antikythera device certainly was not the first of its kind since such complex device, much more complex than any other similar devices made in the next 17 centuries, could not come out of nowhere. It was a fragment of the ancient greek tradition of complex mechanical machines, with help to indicate the impressive technological sofistication of the great classical civilization.--RafaelG 16:09, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Please read the article South pointing chariot. That device also used a differential gear - it computed the result of subtracting the number of revolutions made by one wheel of the chariot from the number made by the other - and multiplied the result by a constant to drive the output shaft. It is a geared device - it has a differential and it was around a clear 2500 years before Antikythera. The very best claim for "first" anything has to be that Antikythera is the oldest SURVIVING example of all of those things. We need to tone down the wilder claims here (either that or fix South pointing chariot because they can't both be right - and that's a bad thing for an encyclopedia). SteveBaker 03:40, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

I think the problem here is that there is but vague information on the origin and original design of the South pointing chariot.It could have been first designed in 2634 BC by Huang Di (The Yellow Emperor), but that man is a quasi-mythical figure whose very existance is disputed, not to mention that he is credited with creating pretty much every element of ancient chinese culture(see Huang Di ), or that it is claimed he achieved immortality after "physical" death at the age of 111.The article South pointing chariot thne lists many different dates when the south pointing chariot is said to be reinvented, but without any details or citations.I think we should research the chariot further before making any comparisons. --Jsone 11:54, 13 June 2006 (UTC) first extant/surviving, wld be correct as the BBC article explicitely states there must have been other   bsnowball  10:46, 30 November 2006 (UTC) I agree that the 2634 BC date for the SPC is open to doubt - but there is a second report at 1115 BC that suggests it was well-known at that time. I agree that the Wikipedia article on SPC is poorly cited - but I've read about this device in a number of other places (which I should really take the time to look up and cite!) - this isn't just the figment of some Wikipedian's imagination. The thing that seems believable about the chariot is that it's NOT magic - it's a very achievable technology for the time. You only need four gear wheels to implement it (five if you aren't careful about your choice of wheel diameters and the length of the axles), I've built one out of Lego in about 10 minutes flat. It's a remarkable thing to watch - even when you know how it works it seems almost magical. If the inner workings were hidden the people of the time would have been totally amazed by it. You drag the thing around on a reasonably flat surface and no matter how much you twist and turn, the figure of the emperor continually points in the exact same direction. It's not a PRACTICAL device because wheel slippage would cause it to lose accuracy alarmingly quickly on the roads of the time - and the 'algorithm' it uses fails on hilly terrain. But it would have been a seemingly magical device for an emperor to use to impress people with his god-like powers. It has a strong ring of truth to it. SteveBaker 13:55, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

This topic is not about the discussion if it was the first diferential gear, but if it was the first analog computer.-- 22:17, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
OK - but what is your definition of "an analog computer" ? The Analog computer article says: "An analog computer is a form of computer that uses electrical or mechanical phenomena to model the problem being solved by using one kind of physical quantity to represent another." - and a differential gear uses a mechanical phenomena to compute the function (A-B)*C - where C is a constant. So anything that has a differential gear (such at the SPC) is a minimal analog computer. The Antikythera device has more gears and evaluates a much more complex function - but it's not different in principle. Of course one can find other examples of analog (or even digital) devices that could be said to meet the criteria. When the first human added up the number of bananas they just picked using his or her fingers, they were using a mechanical phenomenon to model the problem of the total number of bananas I guess that's an analog computer by this definition. SteveBaker 22:53, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
The south pointing chariot was problably invented in the first millenium and even if it was not, we do not have any surviving examples of it so it can be concluded that this device is the most ancient preserved analog computer.-- 18:09, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Preserved complete at the Museum of History of Science at Oxford is a 13th-century Islamic geared calendar-computer that has various periods built into it, so that it shows on dials the various cycles of the sun and moon. This design can be traced back, with slightly different periods but a similar arrangement of gears, to a manuscript written by the astronomer al-Biruni about 1000 A.D. Such instruments am much simpler than the Antikythera mechanism, but they show so many points of agreement in technical detail that it seems clear they came from a common tradition. The same 60-degree gear teeth are used; wheels are mounted on square-shanked axles; the geometrical layout of the gear assembly appears comparable. It was just at this time that Islam was drawing on Greek knowledge and rediscovering ancient Greek texts. It seems likely that the Antikythera tradition was part of a large corpus of knowledge that has since been lost to us but was known to the Arabs. By Derek J. de Solla Price From June 1959 Scientific American p.60-7

first extant/surviving, wld be correct as the BBC article explicitly states there must have been other devices previously made by the same people, as they knew what they were doing. which is a minor point in that they might have been say a year before, but this (me hypothesising here, not the BBC) surely this also implies a long 'development period' of similar tho less complex devices. also, more importantly this device is not a computer because its single purpose. doesn't use stored program concept. this is not quibbling, it's in principle a different kind of machine than even a simple anolog computer. hvaen't read it properly but the analog computer article doesn't seem to explain this very well.   bsnowball  10:46, 30 November 2006 (UTC)


Hi, I am Adam and I have taken this case. The details of the request for mediation are at 2006-06-14 Antikythera mechanism

During this mediation please refrain from editing the article.

Please state your positions and give your supporting reasons below. Ideogram 11:14, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Reply from Dr.K. 15:09, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Hi Adam,

Thanks for taking this case.

We have a problem with the Greek version of the name of the Antikythera mechanism. Let me provide some background:

Users contributed to the Greek name such as: (I copy and paste some examples from the History page of the article for your convenience):

user:CJGB m (tweak transliteration) user:Tasoskessaris (added Greek version again. The Greek version is important a) Because the mechanism is Greek b) It is wikipedia article policy to include the version of the native language the article item comes from.)

but user:Mikkalai keeps reverting these edits with the following comments:

Mikkalai (greek translation of the title is irrelevant: it is neither a propoer name nor a historical term)

to which I replied: Tasoskessaris (It does not have to be proper name or term. If you go to the Athens museum you must know its Greek name. Knowledge is never bad.)

And he reverted back with the comment: Mikkalai (title translation in greek: wikipedia is not dictionary. There are thousands of things in Greek museum)

My position is:

a) It is Wikipedia tradition to provide the version of the title of an article in the language of the country the item originated from as well as a transliteration of the foreign terms. In fact in many articles about Greek topics such as Athena words are often translated in Greek to enhance the experience of the reader, for example: virgin (parthenos); (pasted from the Athena article).

b) Even though this term: Antikythera mechanism might not be the original Greek term, this is how it is called today in Greece by the Greek people and therefore it does have a valid, unique and recognizable name in its country of origin, therefore in observing the Wikipedia tradition and because this item is Greek and has a valid Greek name that is used and recognized with in its country of origin and, through its exact translation, abroad, we must include the Greek name version and a transliteration of it in the article, based on Wikipedia tradition and practice, that in itself is based on knowledge and cultural enhancement reasons.

Supporting Evidence:

Providing local language terms for article items originating in foreign countries is widespread in Wikipedia so I am only going to include a few representative cases.

Please look at a similar article link: Zytglogge, the local German term is provided.

In the section: Astronomical_clock#Lund that has a name provided in Latin Horologium mirabile Lundense that simply means the marvelous Lund clock and I am sure even though the natives don't call it that because they don't speak Latin, it is still in the article because of knowlegdge enhancement reasons.

Further evidence:

This item isn't even named and despite that it has a translation in Russian: Kremlin_towers#First_Unnamed. But it doesn't end there: There is a second unnamed item with a full Russian translation: Kremlin_towers#Second_Unnamed.

Notice also that the Russian terms in the above examples come without transliteration. So why are they there? For the average English speaker the Cyrillic alphabet is incomprehensible yet Wikipedia icludes them in the article even without transliteration. Why? Clearly for cultural enhancement reasons. Also the item described therein is Russian and if you go to Russia you might recognize the foreign alphabet pattern and thank Wikipedia for it. That's what Wikipedia is all about in my opinion: Promoting knowledge through cultural boundaries.

In conclusion: Whenever there is a local term describing an object originating in a foreign country this object's article on Wikipedia should include the local term.

I could go on and on but I will leave this to your judgement. However if you require further evidence please do let me know.

Please note that I am not here to pass judgement but to facilitate the two sides reaching an acceptable compromise by their own efforts. Ideogram 15:17, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
I mentioned the word judgement as it refers to your arbitration decision. I think that at the end of the day we must have some decision regarding the status of foreign language terms in Wikipedia articles where it is warranted. In the history excerpts I provided above it can be seen that the other user has a different idea about the use of these terms than me. I am open to your suggestions and input as to how we can conclude this process. Dr.K. 16:02, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
I will not be providing an arbitration decision. Mediation Cabal is an informal organization with no enforcement power. If you can not reach a mutually agreeable compromise you will have to seek other options from Wikipedia:Resolving disputes.
You may wish to appeal to the broader Wikipedia community for their consensus on this issue at the Village pump and present your findings here. Ideogram 16:19, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Thanks again. Dr.K. 15:09, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

General ObservationThis is a case of "Much Ado About Nothing" if I ever saw one.Really, thousands of wikipedia articles include local names in articles.It's established precedent and, frankly, there's nothing wrong with it. It's pointless to start edit warring about it now, and in this article.--Jsone 16:43, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for your input, however please do try to focus on providing evidence to support your claims and avoid inflammatory remarks. Ideogram 16:52, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Mikka response

As I wrote in edit summaries, this is not a proper name neither it is a specifically Greek term. Yes, there are thousands of articles that include locan names of places, persons, institutions, etc. But it would be ridiculous to translate every artice about Greece in Greek. We do not translate the titles Battle of Dardanellia, History of Greece, Cyprus dispute, Greek Civil War, Hellenistic civilization, History of the Hellenic Navy Buddhism in the Russian Federation, and thousands of other terms precisely because they are common words (history, war, Buddhism, civilization), only applied to specific things. And by the way, First Unnamed tower is actually the name of the tower (and I know several Russian streets and rivers named Unnamed Street, Unnamed River, also persons, volcanoes mountain peaks and many other. In some cases they are transliterated, in others translated). I our case the word is "mechanism" (found near Antikythera), just like Venus de Milo is statue of Venus found in Milos. In both cases IMO there is no reason for translation.`'mikka (t) 17:31, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

A side note: I understand a special position of Greek language in European civilization and the corresponding enthusiam in this respect. But sometimes it goes a bit too much. For example a year ago one editor started adding Greek translations (in addition to etymology) to all aritlces like climatology, palaeontology, physiology, geomechanics,... you get the idea. `'mikka (t) 17:58, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Hi Mikka, thanks for your remarks. I'll try to make my case.

Let's analyze why is the Cyrillic version given for the First Unnamed tower ? How can a non Russian understand Cyrillic? It is given because part of Wikipedia culture is to promote transboundary cultural exchange and information where warranted. The Greek articles you suggested are also eligible for including the Greek name versions. In fact I just added the Greek names in the Greek Civil War and History of the Hellenic Navy articles. Thanks for the suggestion :). For the mechanism of the present article, the word Antikythera and mechanism combined form its name. No different than the no name towers in Russia. It may lack imagination but it is a name. Its name in Greek is well accepted, established and part of the Greek culture. Again there is ample precedent in Wikipedia to include foreign language name versions where applicable. This tradition should be followed in the Antikythera mechanism article as well. Thanks. Dr.K. 18:14, 15 June 2006 (UTC)


Thank you for joining us Mikka. Now that the interested parties are here, please discuss. As I noted above, I am here only to facilitate. Ideogram 17:36, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Please do remember that two fundamental values of Wikipedia are verifiability and consensus. Applying those principles will get you farther than reason and appealing to abstract principle. Ideogram 18:21, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

So far we have one who wants it in, one who wants it out, and two who really don't care and just want it to end :-). Ideogram 19:14, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

  • If we are voting, and recognising that a tie would be the worst possible result, I hereby cast my vote to support keeping the greek form of the name in the article - but it is a weak support at best. SteveBaker 19:44, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Oh no, Wikipedia is not a democracy. Full consensus is definitely preferred. Ideogram 19:47, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
I fully understand that - but hey - you were the one counting votes! I merely wished to point out that whilst I don't have a strong preference for one position versus another, I do have a strong preference for a swift conclusion to the debate and a weak preference for keeping the greek version of the name. SteveBaker 20:25, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I was kind of joking. I'm not here to call for votes or straw polls, but if one of you wants to, go ahead. Ideogram 20:44, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Comments from ChrisO

Tasoskessaris is mistaken when he asserts that it's common practice to "provide the version of the title of an article in the language of the country the item originated from as well as a transliteration of the foreign terms". If you look at the articles listed under Category:Archaeological artefacts you'll see that this is simply not the case, even for other ancient Greek artefacts such as the Mask of Agamemnon or the Pella katadesmos. Phaistos Disc is the only comparable example I can find. One example is not a "tradition".

Furthermore, I honestly don't know what is gained by including a local name that is a direct equivalent of the English name. There might be some point in including the name if it was something radically different from the English equivalent (e.g. if the Antikythera mechanism was called the "West Aegean Wonder" or something else in Greek). But what is the benefit to the reader of knowing that the Greeks call the Antikythera mechanism the Antikythera mechanism? -- ChrisO 18:23, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Firstly, and most importantly - we don't know the original Greek name for the device. If we did then giving its greek name would be useful - indeed essential. Some scholar of the greek language might understand some subtlety in the original name that might be absent from its translated form because translation is an inexact matter - so information would be lost by omitting it. However we don't know the real name given to it. The device is currently named after the place nearest to where it was found by the guys who found it. That's a completely arbitary thing - it tells you nothing about the device whatever. So knowing the greek name for that place doesn't tell us anything we don't already know. We don't generally translate place names when they are just mentioned in passing (That's why there are 15,867 references to 'Belgium' and only 22, 299 and 39 references to Belgie, Belgique and Belgien (respectively)). So I would not have bothered to find out the greek name and stick it into the article. However, I don't see any harm in leaving it there either (so long as the information is correct). 99.99% of readers will simply gloss over it and the 0.01% that don't will (by definition) have found it useful in some mysterious way. It costs Wikipedia about a millionth of a US cent to store and transmit it - and we've just blown that by writing all of this debate. However, this edit war is a waste of everyone's time and the argument needs to end here and now so that the protagonists can spend their precious Wiki-hours doing something more productive. IMHO: Leave it in's not actually hurting our readership or the guy who doesn't want it there. SteveBaker 18:57, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree entirely with your comments, I'm just pointing out that Tasoskessaris is mistaken in his assertions. :-) -- ChrisO 19:05, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree with SteveBaker's final conclusion even though I disagree with his points. Overall his conclusion is very useful and pragmatic. It would save us time if we reached an agreement and dedicated more of our time to Wikipedia. In the examples cited by ChrisO, Mask of Agamemnon and Pella katadesmos, one could seamlessly edit in the Greek names, it is actually a great idea, following the practice in many other articles as, for example, the Greek islands such as Antikythera, Gods of Olympus as for example Athena, all the Byzantine Empire articles, and yes and thanks for the link:Phaistos Disc. In these cited examples the Greek name is often a direct translation of the English term yet it is still included, as in Byzantine Empire the Greek translation doesn't translate in Greek as anything but Byzantine Empire. I realize one article such as Phaistos Disc does not make a tradition about Greek artifacts but in the absence of more artifact related articles one could make a case about the usage of foreign terms in general in any article. Our quest here at Wikipedia is Knowledge. Knowing the native language versions serves to broaden our cultural and linguistic horizons and sheds a native light, ever so remote, on the featured item that enriches its background. It is our made in Wikipedia version of the Rosetta stone. That is why I would never oppose this for any foreign item, artifact, person etc. Anyway my vote is in. Dr.K. 20:13, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Dr.K., you need to convince Mikka (or from his perspective, he needs to convince you). Again, general appeals to "broaden our cultural and linguistic horizons" are not going to get you very far. Ideogram 20:19, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Ideogram I don't understand this need for full consensus. Wikipedia votes in many other matters have required majority but not unanimity. Why is this case different? Dr.K. 20:31, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a democracy. Even if everyone votes against Mikka, the result is not binding on him. And if it was, I couldn't enforce it (remember I have no power). Now, you might say to him, "look, everyone here agrees except you; won't you yield?" but his final decision is still up to him. If you want to try that route, read Wikipedia:Straw polls. Ideogram 20:42, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
You don't have to convince me. It is not life and death for me. I stated my point and I am retiring from this discussion.
Also, I don't quite understand why the issue was jumped right into a mediation. Mediation is a step when two people could not agree in talk page. It is true that none of us started using talk page immediately, but in the future if one of the two opponents has more common sense to go beyound "edit summary", then I would suggest to start from the article talk page rather than from bureauceratic tools. In absense of serious conflict, mediation is waste of third person's time and clutter of the talk page. You don't need a mediator to ask for third opinion in a talk page without extra formalism. `'mikka (t) 20:57, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
You'll have to talk to Dr.K. to find out why he asked for mediation.

Apparently we have agreement. I will go ahead and close the case, unless anyone objects. Ideogram 21:02, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

I asked for mediation so that we can have a Wikipedia sanctioned policy so as to avoid similar conflicts in the future. I can talk to Mikka no problem at all but next time someone else will start the same argument without any specific guidelines. Dr.K. 21:06, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
There is a special place for suggestions about policies, frequented by people who are keen in writing and discussing policies. I don't remember the exact place, but you can find it. `'mikka (t) 21:09, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Mikka. I'll try to find it. Dr.K. 21:14, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
You want the Village pump. Ideogram 21:17, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Ideogram. It's been fun. Dr.K. 22:59, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Comments from Wareh

Another perspective here I hope will be useful. I am a professor of (ancient) Greek language & literature who absolutely loves adding Greek names to articles whose subjects have a long history in the Greek language. But here I was one of the ones who got rid of the Greek (without realizing that there was a big brouhaha going on over here). And I'd have thought it would be an obvious & uncontroversial move. I wonder if there really is a policy to put something "in the language of the country the item originated from." The problem with this, in a case like this one where we have no ancient texts referring to the article subject, is that it gives the false impression that we do have such texts. In other words, the Greek phrase in the article now is a misleading fiction. (I'm not saying that a Greek newspaper might not have used the term in the last year, but, are we really supposed to put in a foreign-language term for an ancient object because a Greek newspaper mentioned it in the last year?) The real equivalent to what's been done here would be to add the Arabic word for the pyramids in the article Egyptian pyramids. That would be "in the (modern or unhistorically-produced-by-moderns) language of the country the item originated from." I can't parse the above as to whether a decision has been made to support this on a policy level, but I think it'd be a misguided policy. I won't edit this out again, but it's embarrassingly unscholarly and historically misleading. Wareh 22:07, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Bravo Wareh - I couldn't agree more. Simply translating "Antikythera Mechanism" into modern Greek and then pasting it on at the front of the article is just jingoistic nationalism. Another point is that although this thing was found in waters that are now within the boundaries of the modern Greek state, there is no guarantee that its creators were from Crete, Kythera or were even Greeks! Let it rest if keeps the original editor happy, but its a pretty poor show...--Oscar Bravo 15:51, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
I would have liked to not enter this debate in this thread but I just want to express a few points regarding your comments above. First I am not the original editor of the transliteration. You can verify this by checking the history of the page. Second it is interesting how a simple transliteration can become the focus of such venom. I think you are using the information I provided about myself against me without examining the issues involved. If your conclusion from reading this debate is that I am a jingoistic nationalist I'll take it to be as valid as your conclusion that the mechanism is not Greek. Maybe instead of trying to apply anthropology of origins (the fact that I am Greek) with political science (Nationalism, Jingoism) and Historical revisionism (i.e the origins of the mechanism), you may wish to investigate phenomena in more familiar areas. Having said that I will not reply any further in this thread of the discussion as it lacks the seriousness level I am accustomed to. Dr.K. 16:21, 18 October 2007 (UTC)