Talk:Antikythera mechanism/Archive 3

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How about a description of the device?

I've read the article and I am still clueless about the materials used in the device and the size of the device. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:52, 16 December 2011 (UTC)


Proof of age?

Where is the discussion about this thing's age? The article says it is believed to have been made in 150-100 BC, but where is the proof? Or even the reasoning for this date? As it was found in 1900, why should I believe that it was made >2000 years earlier? Can anyone provide any further information about the reason why the 150-100 BC date was chosen? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Twistedwheelnut2 (talkcontribs) 10:33, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

There are multiple clues:
1: Carbon dating
2: The wreck found sank at that time
3: The inscriptions are in ancient Greek
4: Other such devices were described, so we knew they existed, we just never found such a pristine copy
Even with all those clues we still don't know for sure (we never really know for sure when it comes to history)

"Why should I believe?" sounds like you're looking for someone to convince you. Maybe the answer to your question is something you need to find yourself (talk) 09:10, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Carbon dating is only accurate to within about 60,000 years... -Biokinetica (talk) 18:52, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

Where the hell did you get that idea from? For objects less than about 5000 years old, it's accurate to about 40 years! Hence we can date the biological material in the vicinity of the mechanism to between 150 and 100BC. I suspect you misread the Carbon dating article that indicates that carbon dating is only really reliable for objects less than 60,000 years old. SteveBaker (talk) 00:36, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
  • How do we know that anything older than living memory is what we think it is. I've often wondered how in the world, in just over 100 years of the existence of the automobile, how could have all of the roads, bridges, overpasses, Interstates and just random country roads been constructed, graded and paved, when it takes the DOT 2 years to replace a single bridge near my house. Anyway, that was the long answer. The short answer is that the article contains the information provided by the reliable reliable sources referenced in the article. If another source says differently, and passes a Wikipedia reliability test, then we can include that information as well. Wikipedia does not contain the "truth" merely contains the information found in the sources. The Eskimo (talk) 19:28, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
Roads existed before automobiles did. — goethean 21:18, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

For one, the device includes a dial for calculating the dates for the ancient Olympic Games which were abolished in 393 AD, so that in itself should give a clue regarding its antiquity. It's highly probable that the mechanism was found with a sunken Roman ship precisely because it was a part of the ship's cargo which adds further clues regarding its date. The language and writing style used on the device as well as the underlying mathematics and cosmology used can further corroborate the date. Given the circumstances and the date when it was found, the possibility of it being a modern forgery is as close to zero as you can reasonably get. It was an accidental group discovery in the year 1900 when the methods and knowledge necessary for such an advanced forgery would have been severely limited and it wasn't even noticed at first at the bottom of the ocean, lying there among all the shiny bronze statues. Establishing the actual importance and value of the device required several decades of work by some very smart brains using some very expensive equipment. I doubt a case of authenticity can get much more solid than this, if this is not good enough then probably nothing is good enough... Abvgd (talk) 00:06, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

It could be that the case of authenticity is solid, but if so, somebody should put it in this article. Because I don't see it. The string "carbon" doesn't exist in the article. I haven't read the whole thing. But the one reference I see, for the belief that it was made 100-150BC, is really terrible. It just restates that belief without any explanation or evidence. —Darxus (talk) 21:39, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
I don't see that anyone has actually put forward a credible case against its authenticity. It's pointless to "respond" to an allegation that hasn't even been formulated by anyone in the field. The 100-150BC date is a conservative estimate based on not only the carbon-dating of the ship and its cargo (which I think is a few decades later), but also on the whole context which I explained, namely the cosmic model used in the device (IIRC, post-Hipparcus but pre-Ptolemaic cosmology), dials for the Olympic and some other minor Greek games, the nature of the writing itself on the device and of course as circumstantial evidence literary references and the immaculate design being proofs of this device not being a first or one of its kind.
BTW, since ancient Greek chroniclers often dated events according to the Olympic and other Greek games, these additional dials on the device have made it possible (according to classicists working on the device) to pinpoint events dated according to these lesser known Greek games more accurately. Why do I mention this? Because this device will help fill in blanks in ancient chronologies in a way which can be verified and cross-checked. Few, if any, forgeries provide any original data that is verifiable and falsifiable using historical records. That would simply be a huge and unnecessary gamble for a forgerer, to make guesstimates of unknown dates or events and hope that they work out in the end. Also, I forgot to mention that during the actual recovery process of the ship's cargo one of the divers died due to diver's disease while several others fell ill. No "staged" discovery would go as far as putting the lives of so many individuals at risk, and if it did happen I doubt that the survivors would have kept quiet about it. Abvgd (talk) 19:27, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Oldest complex mechanical device?

The Origins paragraph begins "The mechanism is NOT the oldest known complex scientific instrument." I removed the bold and capitalization because that is obviously not proper formatting for an encyclopedia. The bigger issue, though, is something I can't edit myself: whether or not it is the oldest complex scientific instrument. It is clear that the NOT has been added in the last few edits. If it is not, this still needs to be editted, because you have a thesis statement which has nothing to do with the rest of the paragraph. Whoever believes it not to be the oldest device of this sort needs to point us towards what is. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and delete "not", since it is not being backed up with anything. Can anyone weigh in on this? Conical Johnson (talk) 19:02, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Good call. Seems like some type of vandalism. Dr.K. (talk) 00:02, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

original article of D. J. De Solla Price

hello, we need a reliable link to Price's original article on the Scientific American as the old link is not valid anymore.Anyone has knowledge of other links?

Greek translation again

Re. this round of reverts [1] - I was honestly not aware of the previous discussion, but having checked it, I cannot see any meaningful consensus for keeping the Greek translation was established. The only reason the "mediation" ended the way it did was that reasonable people withdrew from a dispute where the importance of the issue stood in no relation to the persistence of the other side. That's probably what I'll do too, but just for the record, I fully agree with ChrisO, Wareh and Mikka back then. There's no good reason for keeping the Greek translation, it's poor practice and looks unprofessional. Tassos, if you must persist and revert, I won't stop you, but please don't cite that old discussion as if it had established some consensus in your favour. Fut.Perf. 23:31, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Hi FuturePerfect. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify this. I am not trying to imply consensus, as it is clear after reading the arguments pro and con, that Mikka and I essentially agreed that the matter was not worth pursuing further and the rest of the participants agreed to this. I simply wanted to point the past debate to your attention to avoid any arguments over the edit summary fields and to hopefully avoid opening a new debate. Τάσος. (Dr.K. 05:59, 17 October 2007 (UTC))
Okay. Well, sorry, but I will re-open it. Back then, Mikka, SteveBaker, ChrisO, and Wareh all told you they thought the translation was really useless and not in line with what we normally do. Now I'm telling you the same. Five to one. Everybody has just been too polite to press the matter against your insistence, but on the merits of the issue it's always been essentially a "consensus-minus-one" against the inclusion (you being the "minus-one"). If the matter is so minor, don't you think it might be time for you to take the other people's opinion on board and let us remove it? Fut.Perf. 06:24, 17 October 2007 ~~ (UTC)
I'd just like to reiterate my original position that the translation is useless - it doesn't tell us anything more than that the Greeks use the same term as everyone else for the Antikythera mechanism. What value is given to the reader by telling them that? -- ChrisO 08:01, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Well here I am doing what I feared most: Rehashing the old debate: So I'll do it by cutting and pasting sections of the old debate to this: Quote:

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)

Do I need to copy and paste the arguments pro and con as well? Dr.K. 12:05, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

But I do have to recognise that all of the participants in this debate are gentlemen: You Future, Steve Baker, ChrisO, Wareh and Mikka. Let's therefore have an agreement: To quote Mikka (from the old debate), let's take this to the Village Pump. Their decision will be final. Fair? Dr.K. 12:21, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't really see what the village pump has to do with it. It's a decision to be made about just this article, so whatever discussion needs to be done can be done here. The village pump doesn't normally "decide" things. Of course, if you want more outside voices, we can try to get a few; the normal way would be an RfC. Fut.Perf. 16:30, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Sure Future. Sorry about the Village suggestion. I just took it from Mikka and didn't really examine its function in depth because I don't examine things in depth if they have to do with process. Process logistics is not my cup of tea so to speak not to mention that I trust capable administrators like yourself to take care of these things so that I can write about things I have fun with. Let's clear this matter up so that everyone goes home happy at the end of the day. Thanks for your assistance and if it's not too much trouble can you start it up and let me know what happened? I'll try to participate in this forum but with one caveat: I can't repeat things I said before. So could you tell everyone to read up on the past discussion? Thanks for your elegant approach to this and take care. Dr.K. 18:09, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I'll put up an RfC flag and see if anybody comes to comment. Just for the record, I've checked Wikipedia precedent again, by looking at various articles in Category:Archaeological artefacts, and the common practice seems to be clearly not to include translations in local languages if these are simple translations of descriptive phrases rather than proper names. The precedent quoted back then, Phaistos Disc, has had the Greek translation removed in the meantime. An interesting exception-that-proves-the-rule is Kurgan stelae - it has local terms, but it does so because these are exactly not simply translations but different names. The only (isolated) real exception I could find was Pyxis of Čierne Kľačany. Fut.Perf. 19:58, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Excellent framing of the issue/background. Great aesthetics also. I loved the lightbulb. Thanks again Future. Dr.K. 20:30, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I was in a bit of a hurry so I didn't see all your message. Thanks for the info. It's very fitting that you divulged the information about the only exception. It is a very honourable thing to do, especially because it is an obscure article. Well done. Take care. Dr.K. 21:59, 18 October 2007 (UTC)


There is a (minor but long-standing) disagreement over whether the lead should contain a translation of the term used for the article subject in the local language of where it was found and kept, i.e. Greek. There was a previous discussion about this last year, see above under #Mediation. Main arguments then and now were:

  • Pro: It's useful practical information and in line with Wikipedia conventions of allowing local aliasses in article leads (as e.g. in placenames)
  • Contra: It's not a local divergent proper name, but merely a literal translation of a descriptive phrase, and as such useless since Wikipedia is WP:NOT a dictionary.

Fut.Perf. 19:58, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Alan Partridge

User: tried to remove "Alan Partridge" from the article, but I added it back in as it has been there since 23:01, 5 January 2007, originally added by User:Martin Allen [2] and appears to be a legitimate ref. —Viriditas | Talk 10:50, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

Which date?

I am looking for somewhere to flag a conflict between the page on the Antikythera wreck and this one. The wreck page has the original find happening in October 1900 -- Price and quite a few other sources agree with this page in dating it near Easter. I am not qualified to comment or pontificate, so I just flag. McManly 07:54, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Mass production?

Are there any plans to mass produce reproductions of this thing? It doesn't seem like it would be very difficult or expensive with modern technology. It would be a lot more interesting that most of the useless bric-a-brac people have. Do people know enough about how it works to create working copies? Herorev (talk) 06:12, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

I guess it would be a kinda cool gizmo thing to have around your house but if you read the section about the investigations and reconstructions nobody is really sure how it worked. The image with the one reconstruction is just the most plausible working one i guess but they could mass producce that i suppose. --Deo Favente (talk) 15:16, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

The February 2012 issue of Popular Mechanics (South African edition) reports on page 62 that the watchmaking company Hublot has produced what they call their 'Antikythera watch' which includes a normal watch movement in addition to the mechanism. No prices quoted, though... Elio1 (talk) 16:02, 21 February 2012 (UTC)



Since when has anything about this device, other than its found location, been anywhere near certain enough to justify the 'ex cathedra' language of this article? Even Michael Wright's excellent reproduction is loaded with very reasonable guesswork, (thus, so are his findings as he will be the first to admit.)

I'm new at this, so I thought I'd put my thoughts up here rather than dive into editing. I'm aware that it's a very active area of research. This section repeats or conflicts with some of the information in the introduction. It also seems a bit muddled:

  • Rome's "Conquest of Greece" usually refers to the destruction of Corinth in 146BCE. There's no reason to mention it in relation to this ship, which was carrying coins from Asia Minor dated to about 65BCE and therefore must have sunk in that year or later.
  • Posidonius founded his school on Rhodes in 100BCE; Hipparchus died in 120BCE. In about 45BCE Cicero talks about Posidonius recently having a device that might have been like the Antikythera mechanism. The case for Rhodes being where the device was made more than one sentence.
  • AFAIK there's no particular reason to think that the looting Roman was Julius Caesar; he could have been Pompey. It's even possible that this was just an ordinary merchant ship with a very mixed cargo. Trade and travel did still happen in this period, in spite of piracy and wars.

Kytaline (talk) 14:31, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Does any evidence suggest that the device was made bu the people listed? It looks like someone grabbed a list of the thinkers of the time and attributed it to them. By that logic, Carl Sagan may have invented the Internet. In all likeliness, it was invented by someone who was lost to time. (talk) 00:47, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

I wouldn't worry about this too much. If all these researchers, conferences, published papers, museums, organisations, institutes, companies etc. have reached a consensus that this is a Greek invention it would be too hard or impossible for an individual to prove them wrong. So by default I tend to believe them. Dr.K. (talk) 04:17, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
Sorry to just post a link without adding much to the discussion. Probably this IHT article may deserve also publication in the main 'pedia article, but I'm a bit too busy right now... Anyway... It does shed some light (or add some more doubts...) on the origins too. Regards-- (talk) 13:43, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

Greek or Egyptian?

I find these two passages to be confusing when juxtaposed:

"Based on the shape of the Egyptian letters used in the manual of the instrument. . . . All the instructions of the mechanism are written in Greek."

Was the manual written in the Greek language using Egyptian letters? Either way, I think this could be written more clearly, because at present it's confusing. --Skb8721 (talk) 13:48, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

Accidental Duplicate

I had the same impression - the article contradicts itself. I'm fairly sure that the instructions were written in Greek only. Fuzzform (talk) 14:00, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
It is in Greek only. The Egyptians month names are given in Greek transcription, a common practice of the Hellenistic astronomers Kadros (talk) 15:42, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Suspect it is for Navigation Anyway

Given that many ancient cultures considered eclipses to be "bad omens", being able to predict an eclipse would be extremely handy for trading purposes, which was the main driver of navigation among ancient cultures. The last thing one would want is to pull into a foreign port and be accused of "stealing the sun" or some such thing which would likely result in finding yourself sacrificed to the local gods to "bring back the sun". So I don't see the fact that it can predict eclipses as a barrier to it being a navigational instrument, particularly when taken in the cultural context of the societies that they were trading with at the time. Furthermore, there are also quite a few stories of "impressing the locals" by being able to predict eclipses, not the least of which was Columbus. It seems to me that this would be handy, possibly essential, information for a trading operation crossing cultural boundaries.

As for the argument about the materials, many of these materials were routinely carried over long sea voyages without any noticeable degradation which means that they had some way to prevent the salt air from destroying the metal. Bronze weapons, statues, etc. were routinely shipped and I can't imagine anyone paying good money for jewelry, a statue or a weapon that's corroded from a long sea voyage. So the obviously had some method of protecting these items while at sea. If those items could be protected, those same methods could easily have been applied to this item, which is considerably smaller than the bronze statue found on board the same ship. (talk) 01:10, 5 August 2008 (UTC)Morrghu72.34.191.208 (talk) 01:10, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

Actually salt corrosion would be much, much more of a concern for a mechanical device that employed large numbers of small gears than for a large statue with no moving parts. Also, of course the statue would be shipped as cargo, and therefore could be wrapped up or boxed or protected in some other way for the whole voyage, whereas if this mechanism were needed for navigation they would have had to use it frequently during the voyage, thus exposing it to the elements. Fumblebruschi (talk) 22:06, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

time for section re-write, I am thinking...

Check this out. Pretty awesome. :) - Arcayne (cast a spell) 05:37, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Interesting indeed, but keep it short and sweet (certainly not its own section). This article is intensely unfocused and I've been considering a rewrite at some point. Since this article's inception much has been discovered about the mechanism and we're now at a point where we can write something concrete about its function and general origin rather than toying around with academic crystal ball-gazing. This recent article should provide a good start. Sillyfolkboy (talk) 05:47, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Only one loose end that bothers me, is stating that the original device was made with recycled materials. To me that's an indication that there are unexplained markings that were written off by saying they were left over from when the parts were used in something else. However, all we can do is use what we have. The working of the mechanism seems sound at least. 2ndAmendment (talk) 07:30, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
I assume you've all seen the latest information in Nature? In addition to a research paper a few weeks ago, they've also put up a pretty interesting video. I posted a blog item on this yesterday, it contains the refs. --Chris Jefferies (talk) 12:38, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
I see that a short bit has been added to the article. As the mechanism has been 'deciphered', perhaps a bit more expansion is called for, as well as a notation in the Lede? - Arcayne (cast a spell) 15:39, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

" world's first analog computer'

I removed this claim once, but it has been reinserted. Although we have no evidence for earlier similar devices, it seems vastly unlikely that there were none, and that a device of this complexity was the first analog computer. Indeed, much the same point is made by the cited source [3], which as far as I can see does not claim that this device was the "first" (although it does say "first example of such gearing yet discovered"), but does say: "it is difficult to believe that the Antikythera device is a unique piece of antiquity". Does anyone disagree? EdwardLockhart (talk) 07:45, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

I had added it again, as the source (and many other sources as well) called it such. We cannot superimpose our own knowledge over that of the source, as that is verboten here. If we can find a source that more appropriately terms it as an early computer and not the first computer, we can place the previous citations into perspective. Unfortunately, until someone citable says that, neither can we. - Arcayne (cast a spell) 14:26, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
The article says "world's first analog computer". I don't think that's from the cited source. The closest I can see is "first example of such gearing yet discovered". Could you provide the exact quote you're relying on? EdwardLockhart (talk) 16:31, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
1, 2, 3, , 5, 6 and 7. The sticking point for at least one (8) of the sources is the descriptor of the term "analog" in relation to computer. However, all of them are in agreement that - at least currently - it is the first analog computer. - Arcayne (cast a spell) 18:19, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the links; I've added the NY Times one as a reference, since it actually uses the phrase "first analog computer", and cited Martin Allen on the opposite view (that it very likely had predecessors). I hope that's satisfactory, and that both viewpoints are adequately presented. EdwardLockhart (talk) 19:03, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
I will check the article after I post this, but I am sure that it is okay, Edward. You have been most polite and gracious in this discussion, and I wanted to make a point of thanking you for that. Recently, I have been exposed to the polar opposite of that, and it is disheartening that it is allowed. Thanks for restoring my faith a little bit. Have a splendid weekend. :) - Arcayne (cast a spell) 20:47, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
I still have issues with the "first analog computer". The phrase "analog computer" has _never_ meant anything other than a device that can mechanise some _set_ of general calculations, e.g the planimeter that can measure arbitrary areas on a plane. The Antikythera Mechanism models precisly one thing, the movements of the planets known to the ancients. Now if it could be set (i.e. programmed) to model a variety of arbitrary planets then it would be an analogue computer. So in modern parlance an analogue computer needs to be programmed to fit it to a specific task.

Besides I would not take a newspaper column as gospel on a very technical subject that can only be appreciated by someone with knowledge of the history of technology. I see no other references apart from the NYT article and a host of websites who probably copied it from there anyway. It is telling that neither De Solla Price, Bromley, Wright or the authors recently published in Nature call it such. I would remove it but it would only get put back. If the Mechanism is an analogue computer then so is the abacus, which must predate it. Celephicus (talk) 09:35, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Actually, an abacus is a digital device - and it's not programmable - so it's a calculator. If antikythera could be programmed (as an analog computer can) to do different calculations - then it might well have been the first - but there is (as far as I can tell) no evidence of that. It's best described as an (analog) astronomical calculator. SteveBaker (talk) 17:14, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
The statement is accurate and supported by the literature. Please look at it. Viriditas (talk) 09:40, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

How about, world's first proven analog computer (talk) 09:13, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

hoax controversy

There should be a section listing the controversy over whether this is a hoax! (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 12:27, 15 May 2009 (UTC).

Possibly because it's been proven beyond reasonable doubt that it is genuine. (talk) 09:14, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
We don't even know if it's really a computer. Perhaps, the results it computed were so off that it can't even be considered to be a computer. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:14, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

Fortean Times

There's a two page article in FT250, I'd be more than happy to email scans of it to anyone who wants to read it and/or possibly include stuff from the article on this. Not really sure how the FT stands as a credible source. The article posits Geminus as a possible builder of the mechanism. Anyhoo, I'll hold on to it for now... Fol de rol troll (talk) 00:07, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

I'd be interested in seeing it. If you send me an email I'd be happy to take a look. -- ChrisO (talk) 00:10, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

was there no other compex discoveries between the antikythera and the 14th century????

This article states that there was no other mechanism constructed like this one until the 14th century but i have come across articles that state there have been discoveries of the same quality mechanisms in the 6th century.....but the article dose not explain the other discoveries.......i would like to change this from its statement but dont have the proof ..... any help would be grate

Danhudman (talk) 04:33, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

This 6th-century device is already mentioned in the article. It was a geared mechanical calendar from the Byzantine period, but was not as complex as the Antikythera mechanism. See "Early mathematical wheelwork: Byzantine calendrical gearing", Francis Maddison, NATURE 314 (1985), 316-317, doi:10.1038/314316b0. Spacepotato (talk) 02:55, 6 January 2010 (UTC)


There is a discrepancy between the IPA and the pronunciation respelling in this article: "(pronounced /ˌæntɪkɪˈθɪərə/ AN-ti-ki-THEER-ə)". Is the sound /ɪə/ or /i/? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:54, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

okay, i actually get it now, sorry. (talk) 02:57, 13 January 2010 (UTC)


The article doesn't state explicitly that the mechanism (at least as its gears) is made of bronze -- you have to infer this from the fact it is displayed in the Bronze Collection of something. Gvanrossum (talk) 23:39, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't understand the line "The salt-laden dampness of marine environments would corrode the gears in a short period of time, rendering it useless". It survived two thousand years in 60 metres of sea water (i.e. fairly oxygenated). Therefore, I'd imagine most of it to be made of bronze. Bronze would be an excellent choice for a device to be used for sea navigation. Can anyone with access to the journals find any reference to its materials of construction?--ML5 (talk) 11:38, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
Depends on how you define 'survived'. That the artifact remained in existence to be rediscovered, it survived. However, it is not useable for its intended purpose as discovered so functionally it didn't survive. (talk) 17:45, 5 July 2011 (UTC)


I was watching some stupid TV show on the History Channel that intimates that this thing was brought to America (or wherever they found it) by aliens. What do you dudes think? Should it be in the wiki? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:33, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

Hello. I don't think a "stupid TV show" passes wp:rs, BUT I think it is worth considering that perhaps adding a section on "Atlernative Origin Theories" or "Early Speculation of Origins" would positively add to the article provided the information came from good sources. The original function of this device was a mystery for a number of years, and it was certainly cited (and still is today, for that matter) by some fringe groups as evidence for extraterrestrial activity, as well as time travel. In fact, I think a main reason this artifact is now relatively well know to the public can be very much attributed to those "stupid TV shows" of which the Antikythera mechanism is often the subject. I think the section would have to take a tone like, "Though now largely dismissed by further research, the mechanism's origins were a initially a mystery to scientists, and subject of rampant speculation, in the years following it's discovery." Something like that...not really giving creedence to these theories, but rather as a part of the artifact's history and notariety in popular culture. But I will wait for further comment before taking a stab at it. Also, I have not read through all of the archived discussions, so this may have been hashed out before, and a moot point. But thanks for an interesting idea. The Eskimo (talk) 16:40, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
I think you mean "Though now largely dismissed by further research, the mechanism's origins were a initially a mystery to scientists, and subject of rampant speculation, in the years following its discovery.". Cuddlyable3 (talk) 11:24, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
If aliens were travelling in space, it is just remotely possible that they may have spotted that the sun is the centre of the solar system and not the Earth as the mechanism assumes. (talk) 16:51, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

The Antikythera mechanism was for producing astrology charts

To a working astrologer, it is self-evident the Antikythera mechanism was intended to produce astrology charts. The earliest published charts are found in Dortheus of Sidon's Carmen Astrologicum, which dates from the first century AD. Its charts are dated 13 AD, 22 AD, 29 AD, 36 AD, 43 AD, etc. David Pingree translated the book in 1976. The eight charts in it are generally accurate, but are quirky. Modern calculations show individual planets shifted far from their proper positions. This is easily explained if an individual gear in a clockwork mechanism had come out of alignment.

The question arises, how did ancient astrologers calculate charts? There were no printed ephemerides, nor were Greek or Roman numbers suitable for complex calculations. (The modern number system was centuries in the future.) One could always make his own nightly observations, but the best method, by far, would be to construct a clockwork mechanism. Such as the Antikythera mechanism.

It is a common misconception to think that Roman numbers were not suitable for complex calculations. Romans used the abacus (or alternatively the counting board) for arithmetic, and were able to perform large and complex arithmetic operations very rapidly. Roman numerals simply describe the state of an abacus or counting board representing a number.
The Romans were the great builders of antiquity. Without being able to do arithmetic quickly and easily, it would not have been possible to create a vast, elaborate civilization with architecturally complex public buildings everywhere, roads, bridges, aqueducts, canals, reservoirs, dams, harbours, fortifications; do complex commercial transactions and accounts, run banks, do land surveying and mapping, do tax planning and budgeting, run commercial farms, mines, and manufacturing industries, etc.
Green Wyvern (talk) 08:26, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
Orbital vectors & spherical trig are the issues at hand. These calculations are messy in Arabic numbers, which is why no one, to this day, attempts them. Kepler was one of the first to solve that problem, and that was 400 years after the introduction of Arabic numbers in 1202. Greek astrology was centered on Alexandria (32 degrees north), which, up to at least 30 BC, and probably long thereafter, presumably used Attic numbers, which were somewhat inferior to Roman.
The problem with numbers also includes how astrological houses were calculated, which gets into the problem of latitude, which the ancients solved, not by calculation, but by noting the length of the longest day of the year, presumably with water-clocks. The earth, from equator to pole, was divided into seven or twelve climes, based on length of day. This inability to make what we would consider basic calculations kept astrology confined to tropical (23 degrees north latitude) and near-tropical areas of the world, and also limited accurate map-making in northern latitudes.
These problems were not solved, in Europe at least, until centuries after the introduction of Arabic numbers in 1202. (China and Tibet never solved them, India & the Maya had no need. The abacus has limitations.) By 1600, there were a handful of printed ephemerides, for a few years at a time, laboriously hand-calculated & set for the author's home town. Nothing comparable is known to have existed in Classical times.
I was asked a few moments ago how ancient astrologers calculated charts, as they are uniformly silent on the matter. Over the past 50 years, we now have good translations of several dozen texts from the period. While many of them give instruction for calculating the ascendant, and some for Dodecatemoria (12ths), not one covers zodiacal calculation. Moreover, the kind of mistakes we find in ancient charts is not compatible with actual calculation. Compare Dorotheus to William Lilly's Christian Astrology, Book 3, of 1647. In Book 3, written under great duress, a number of the charts have mistakes, but these are mistakes of degree, or wrong house placement. Not whole sign. Dave of Maryland (talk) 11:34, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
I fully agree that astrology would have been one one the major uses of the device, and that it would have been a lot more convenient to use such a device for astrological calculations than to do the calculations by hand.
However, a high degree of mathematical and observational knowledge of the motions of heavenly bodies was needed in order to construct the device in the first place. The designers of such devices had the knowledge not only to predict the motions of the sun, moon and inner planets very accurately, but also to design a complex set of gears to simulate those motions.
That means they were certainly able to do calculations by hand which they built the device to do more conveniently. No doubt it was a great time saver to turn a handle and see the positions of the planets at a future or past time, but the ability to get the same results by manual calculations obviously existed, or else the device itself could not have been constructed.
I agree that astrology should be mentioned prominently in the article among the uses of the device - I think that it was mentioned in some earlier versions of the article, but was unjustifiably removed.
Green Wyvern (talk) 13:09, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
It might be that somebody could make Roman or Attic numbers work, or it might be that a clockmaker took many years of actual observations (from an observatory in Alexandria, for example) and made his gears fit those observations, supplementing that with laborious calculations as a cross-check. There are general patterns in planetary data which have long been known. The resulting clockwork would probably not be accurate to a degree of arc. We know this because the astrological texts of the period base their delineations on decans (10 degree sections of a sign), or, from time to time, faces, which are 5 degrees. With a bit of luck, the ascendant could be known to the degree, but ascendants were not part of the Antikythera mechanism, as ascendants are based on the axial rotation of the Earth.
Which means that machines like the Antikythera mechanism were accurate, more or less, only over a certain range of dates. Beyond that range - which might be as little as a decade, and probably not more than a century - it would become progressively more inaccurate. This is another argument in favor of hodge-podge observational construction, rather than grinding through a lot of Roman numbers. This is also a caution to modern model-makers, that they do not inadvertently make a better Antikythera replica than what actually existed. Which, as I think of it, gives us another possibility as to its ultimate fate: It might have become so old, and, consequently, inaccurate, as to be worthless. Which might also explain why such devices, which should have been common, simply disappeared. Could they have all been thrown away?
You might be surprised to learn that astrologers, to this day, do not actually calculate a chart. Not from scratch, at any rate. They never, ever have. Open any medieval textbook - Lilly, Gadbury, Partridge, Coley, Ramesey, etc., and you will read the same instructions: Get a table (aka ephemeris), find the date, look up the positions you find there, do the necessary calculations to adjust for clock time, and set your chart. My own experience in this matter is clear: When astrological computer programs first became available nearly 30 years ago, there were businesses set up expressly to provide astrologers with charts. I was hired to run charts at the New York Astrology Center, 1986-90. I estimate I ran 12,000 charts during that period, the vast majority of which went to astrologers in a 50 mile radius. Astro-Computing, in San Diego, did several times that volume, as they had a national business.
The accepted opinion of astrology - that it is a belief system at best - should not blind us to a larger study of cultures and how they expressed themselves. If analysis and logic proves the Antikythera mechanism to have been astrological, we should not hesitate to say so. The scientific objection to astrology is that it seems to have no theoretical foundation. This is flimsy objection, as, at any moment, such a theory might well be found. (I in fact have one.) The previous religious objection - that astrology usurped the role of God in man's life - was more solid, although still flawed. Astrology does not usurp "God" (whatever that might be). Astrology usurps the role of the priest as self-appointed intermediary - which it does. Astrology exposes, and, consequently, usurps, all authority. Which is the real reason it has been, is now, and forever will be, banned. Dave of Maryland (talk) 17:39, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Such a machine would be expensive, but also very lucrative. The owner of such a machine could make money supplying data to astrologers far and wide. Make a good deal of money, if I am not mistaken. A bit of extra money could be had by providing precise dates for games and other events. That eclipses were a part of it indicates that the machine calculated the Mean Node in addition to the sun, moon and five planets. Such machines would command a high price, and would be handed down through the generations, until they physically wore out. Why was the Antikythera mechanism found at sea? Presumably its owner was on a voyage. As has been remarked already, it is unsuitable as a navigation aid.

Pingree's translation: Carmen Astrologicum, published by K.G. Saur Verlag GmbH, Munich, 1976. Reprinted by Astrology Classics, Abingdon MD, 2005. Which is me, by the way.

Everything about this device is easily explained by its use as an astrological calculator. Without doubt, it was not the only such machine in existence.

Dave of Maryland (talk) 23:49, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

Very interesting. Do you know of sources that put forth this theory? The Eskimo (talk) 13:34, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
We don't know what it was used for - we can only just barely infer what it could do. Everything that Dave says could be true - but we have no way to know that it was true. My laptop could be used to produce astrological charts - but it most certainly has never been used to do that. The same exact thing is true of Antikythera. Without solid references saying that it was used in this way - we cannot, should not and must not add this into the article - no matter how reasonable it seems - because it is both OR and SYNTHESIS. SteveBaker (talk) 17:08, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
There is an entire section of the article dedicated to speculation of its uses. In fact, the entire article is peppered with speculative phrasing like "probably had" or "was likely to have" which are nothing more than assumptions. Dave, if you can provide a source that passes wp:rs, and reports the opinion of a notable researcher that says it may have been used for astrological purposes, then you should add it.The Eskimo (talk) 20:01, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Hello Eskimo & SteveBaker, my thanks for your comments. While computers have other uses, the Antikythera mechanism had NO other use. (The sporting calculator is clearly an add-on. A clever person could estimate the cost of the machine by deducing how much money could be made by providing such dates, but I digress.)
Devices identical to the Antikythera mechanism are used by astrologers to this day. Printed ephemerides being the most obvious, but also Maynard's annual Celestial Influences Wall Calendar, which sells in the many thousands, despite the fact that it never appears before mid-November. It sells for full price in January, February & March, right up to the moment when it has sold out. Looking at today, December 24, 2010, the calendar, which is set in Eastern Standard Time, tells me the Moon is in Leo, that it will sextile Saturn at 11:16 am, square Venus at 12:10 pm, and trine Mercury at 8:45 pm. In London can be found the annual Raphael's Ephemeris, which has been continuously published since the late 1820's. It has many times the sales of Maynard. Please remember that in classical times there were no printing presses, so far as is known. Clockwork mechanisms were in fact the means by which astrological positions were known.
Computers have, in fact done the Antikythera mechanism one better. Many astrology program have a routine that will display the current planetary positions on-screen, in real time, along with the local horizon. Which produces exact times for the rising, culmination & setting of the sun, moon & planets. For details about these programs, contact Hank Friedman at He's been reviewing & selling astro software for 30 years.
For these reasons, a test of Dave's theory, that the Antikythera mechanism was intended for astrologers, can easily be made. Give replicas of the device, with modern names for planets & signs & dates, with modern planetary positions, to astrologers & see what they make of it. Don't give them any instructions, as I don't think they will need any. (Yes. To a working astrologer, the machine is that obvious.) Have them keep a month's diary. See what turns up.
Yes, a few ephemerides are sold to people who are not astrologers. A small handful buy Maynard, even though they do not understand it. Some people will spend $200 for astrology software but then never use it. But in fact, by far the majority of interest in this area comes exclusively from astrologers, and always will.
Skeptics should be aware of two other factors. One is Occam's Razor, which is to say, if it looks like a duck, then it's probably a duck. You might have been expecting a peacock. Hitler was expecting the Pas de Calais. We all know how he ended up.
The other factor is observer bias, in this case, the Cargo Cult factor. Cargo Cults (Wiki has a nice article on it: ) are what happens when artifacts specific to a single culture are taken out of context and dumped on unsuspecting rubes. The reactions of those natives are surprisingly similar to modern speculation about the Antikythera mechanism, or, for that matter, modern speculations as to the remains of the giant stone battery that can be found in the Wiltshire plains (apologies for the digression). In the case of south seas Cargo Cults, any American teenager could sort the natives out, but the islands' wise elders will hear none of it. Their ears and eyes are closed, they will consider nothing that contradicts their theories of long standing. I fully expect to suffer a similar fate at your hands.
In 110 years, the Antikythera mechanism has gone from puzzle to puzzle. The best modern guess, according to Wiki's main article, is that it was for public display, or for use by sea captains. Both are clearly wrong. Is that the best that academics can do?
The study of Hellenistic astrology, of which the Antikythera mechanism is a critical component, has come a long way just since 1990. At some point it won't just be me. The astrological community will move wholesale to reclaim what was always rightly theirs. In the end, the fate of the Antikythera mechanism might be one of the consequences of Europe having banned "astrological superstition" some 300 years ago. Dave of Maryland (talk) 16:37, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
A printed ephemeris is not a "device identical to the Antikythera mechanism", nor is it generated by such a device; so I stopped reading there. —Tamfang (talk) 23:14, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
There is no way to know that this wasn't produced as an exotic and expensive gift for a king or someone of similar stature. If it were - then it might never have been used to generate a written ephemeris - indeed it may merely have been briefly toyed with and then stuck in a show-case someplace.
However, there is one, absolute, cast iron, for-certain reason that it couldn't possibly have been used to make a printed ephemeris. Antikythera dates to 150 to 100BC. Printing (even in it's crudest forms) wasn't around until 220AD in China and about the 300 to 400AD in the parts of the world where Antikythera likely originated. With everything having to be hand-written on scrolls or clay tablets, the effort involved in making multiple copies of an ephemeris as complex as the one that Antikythera was evidently designed to produce means that it makes perfect sense to make a machine to do the work rather than lugging around a few thousand scrolls. For precisely that reason, having a hand-held calculator would be the most efficient way to get this bulky data down to something that a person in a position of power could call upon as needed.
At any rate - it doesn't really matter whether you're right or wrong. Without a decent reference in a suitable peer-reviewed journal to back up your ideas - they aren't going anywhere near this article. SteveBaker (talk) 13:30, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
My apologies. "Identical" was a bad choice. "Similar" would have been better. But it's a petty complaint. "Antikythera-as-a-Faberge-egg" is absurd, sorry to say. The instructions found with the machine are enough. Those instructions, by the way, almost certainly have to do with transposing dates from one calendar to the next, as there were a myriad different calenders at the time, based on absolutely weird suppositions. Even the official Roman calendar was darn tricky, to say nothing of hundreds of isolated communities that insisted on keeping their own accounts. Vettius Valens, first century AD (we think) goes into some of these in great detail. In the 10th century Al Biruni compiled a large number of these: Chronology of Ancient Nations, as translated by Dr. C. Edward Sachau, 1879.
As far as pocket calculators go, the first ephemeris routines were run on IBM mainframes back in the late 1960's, programmed by Neil Michelsen at IBM in Long Island. Translating those routines to the early 8-bit PC's was a major accomplishment & required a certain amount of fudging. Which was done by Michael Erlewine out in Big Rapids, MI. Even today, there are astrological routines that will tax the best PCs, as I learned when I compiled & published my own ephmerides four years ago.
I have long been frustrated with the peer-reviewed, journal-published scientific community. Astrologers have been banned from the community for centuries. I need only cite the controversy over Michel Gauquelin's Mars Effect (here:, which has ground on for several decades (and which, in part, led both to his divorce, as well as his suicide), precisely because a certain part of the scientific community refuses to recognize proven results.
As with Gauquelin, a peer-reviewed publication would "prove" precisely nothing. We can "prove" the Antikythera mechanism was astrological, over & over again, all day long, in all the finest peer-reviewed journals, but critics will go on insisting it isn't. He-said, she-said is what it amounts to. That kind of discussion isn't worth having.
If you seriously want to solve the riddle of the Antikythera mechanism, gather a large group of diverse people & show it to them. Eventually you will find one who will recognize it. Or, accept the opinion of a volunteer who ambles by. This is a machine for producing astrological charts. So my question to all of you is, Do any of you know how to cast an astrological chart? It's simply a two-dimensional representation of the ecliptic. You cannot be ignorant of this, and yet sit in judgment over me.
I'm spouting this off the top of my head, precisely because I've been in the middle of it for a quarter-century. I am a working astrologer. I know my tools when I see them.
So, no. We've tried the scientific route. Didn't work. That game is rigged. Gauquelin's experience was enough. Dave of Maryland (talk) 00:52, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Firstly, let me correct a misunderstanding that you seem to have. That you say about producing an ephemeris being difficult on a modern PC (or even an 8 bit home computer) is extremely ill-informed. It's a very, VERY simple thing to program - the equations for where the stars and planets will be at any given time are available in many books and on the Internet - and they are childs-play to turn into computer code. The IEEE 63 bit double precision floating point standard has been available in high level programming languages such as C since the late 1970's so we have ample precision to solve the problem (far better than if the gearwheels in Antikythera were the size of the known universe and machined to a tolerance smaller than the size of a quark! Accurate enough to represent the time since the big bang to the nearest yoctosecond!). Ephemeris calculations require very little code and tiny amounts of data - even a very modest 8 bit computer from the 1970's should have no problems whatever evaluating them. I know this because I work in computer graphics (I make "serious games" for training people to do difficult jobs) and one teeny-tiny part of what I do is to draw a view the sky at night. A couple of years ago, just for grins, I decided that instead of drawing random dots to represent the stars in our game - I'd put the stars, sun, moon and planets into their correct positions for whatever time/date the game was set at. The software to do that took me no more than a day to write - and you can set the time/date to "now" and compare the positions of the heavenly bodies to where they are in the actual sky as you look out of the window...and guess what? They match perfectly! So I know for 100% sure that it takes a moderately competent programmer less than a day to produce an accurate ephemeris with standard software tools on a typical cheap laptop.
Secondly, it doesn't matter a damn what you, personally feel about peer-reviewed scientific papers. It is extremely well-established in Wikipedia rules and guidelines that in matters of a scientific nature, those are the "gold standard" for referencing facts in our articles. If you don't like that, then the discussion page of this article is most certainly not the place to fight it! We are required to use those sources as our guides for writing the article - and that's what we're going to do.
Thirdly, (as I'm sure you know) as far as Wikipedia is concerned, astrology is deemed to be a pseudo-science (check out the copious "gold standard" references in the second paragraph of astrology). Now, I'm sure you disagree with that assessment - but, again, we're guided by Wikipedia's standards for what is an acceptable "fact" - so whether you or I happen to believe in astrology or not is utterly irrelevant here. This means that asserting your views in our article would fall foul of WP:FRINGE/PS. So, whatever whacked-out ideas you have about far distant stars and planets being able to control/predict our future - they have no place whatever in writing encyclopedia articles here. If there are reliable sources that say Antikythera was used to generate "printed" ephemeris - then we can write about what those reliable sources say. If there aren't any such sources - then we absolutely won't do that. Period. Nothing that you say or believe or can find in books written by people who are pseudo-scientists like yourself are appropriate for changing how we write this article...again, Wikipedia policy...not just my opinion.
If you don't like these constraints, then bad luck - that's how Wikipedia works. If you want to be free of them, you'll need to find another web site to host your ideas. But if you are prepared to work within Wikipedia's guidelines about acceptable references and to keep your own ideas to yourself - sticking to facts found in peer-reviewed scientific journals - then you can still do good work here and you are more than welcome to do so.
SteveBaker (talk) 15:18, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Although User:SteveBaker's commentary on the beliefs of a fellow Wikipedia user is inappropriate, he is correct in regard to Wikipdia's adherence to sources which are generally considered reliable. See also WP:NOTAFORUM. — goethean 15:48, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Typically I don't rehash years-old conversations, but this is a bit personal, NOT in an angry way however. Including an explanation for the device based on a false pseudo-science is ridiculous. Rather than a "working astrologer", I'm a "working ASTRONOMER", which IS a science. The device is clearly an astronomical device, even if we are still unsure about 100% of it's workings. The myth of astrology unravels when confronted with true science. By answering the following questions, that fact is easy to see. 1. Why are there only 12 "signs" (astronomical constellations) in astrology, when the true astronomical zodiac has 13? 2. While that fact has been true for several hundred years, it wasn't ALWAYS true. Around 3,500 ago, the zodiac briefly contained only 11 "signs". Again, why are there currently 12, with no mention of how many existed in the past. 3. Why does the Sun stay in that unacknowledged 13th "sign" LONGER than it does in one of the actual 12 which astrology uses. Further, it just BARELY grazes a tiny portion of that member of the astrological 12. 4. What's astrology going to do in 12,000-15,000 years, when the steady march of precession eliminates all but TWO of the "signs" from the zodiac? Will it replace the irrelevant ones, or will it continue to use the wrong ones? The device is a PROVEN instrument of science, highly likely an ASTRONOMICAL instrument. Astrology was/is a myth, written by story-tellers & fake psychics having no real knowledge of what's REALLY happening in the heavens. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:12, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

undiscovered predecessors

None of these have been discovered as of now.

I rearranged a little bit to remove this sentence, because it assumes the existence of "these" (unknown predecessors to the A.device) and raises the silly mental image of a supervisor saying "Well get cracking and discover them already!" —Tamfang (talk) 21:01, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Drawing v. blueprint

Would the change of Blueprint to Drawing (by user (talk) 26 March 2011) ("blueprint" -> drawing (a blueprint is a specific way of copying drawings not invented until the 1800s)) be the appropriate way to describe the drawings/blueprints in this article (as well as others)? I use "print" or "blueprint" to describe a mechanical or electronic drawing off a laser printer as do many others. [] does not have a significant mention the use of blueprint as a construction plan, though [Wiktionary:blueprint] does as does Wikipedia. Jim1138 (talk) 08:34, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

There were blueprints before there were laser printers. In fact, one could reasonably state that if it is created by laser it is not a blueprint. Of course, the meaning of blueprint has changed. Victor Engel (talk) 15:16, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
In the context of "surviving texts from the Library of Alexandria" it is less ambiguous (hence more encyclopedic) to use "diagrams" or "drawings." The same could be said for schematics, plans, or other diagrams produced by modern means. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 18:30, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. Victor Engel (talk) 21:31, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
Certainly a modern engineering drawing can be a 'blueprint' even though it's black and not blue and printed on a laserprinter. Heck, we even talk about "blueprints" when we're discussing things like policy in politics ("A blueprint for change!") - so the term doesn't have to be taken literally.
But in this context, "blueprint" implies a formal engineering drawing - executed to the drafting standards that we've used for technical drawings for the past couple of hundred years - with consistent dimensioning, a three-view presentation and conventions for indicating cut-away views, circle centers and such like. The drawings we're talking about here are not remotely that. So I think "drawing" is a better choice - it carries less implication of formalism. They are more than a "sketch" but less than a "blueprint". SteveBaker (talk) 02:51, 19 April 2011 (UTC)


When I first came to this page several years ago it was a stub...amazing —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:44, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Behold, the power of the community! SteveBaker (talk) 02:41, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

BCE vs. BC

A new edit just changed BC to BCE with a comment that it should be BCE. Why? The cited document states B.C., not BCE. Victor Engel (talk) 15:12, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Well, they mean the exact same thing - but BCE is more in tune with modern usage. We don't have to copy the style of the source - we're not quoting the source directly and we have not changed the information from that source by switching from BC to BCE. Furthermore, we use BCE everywhere else in the article. So on those grounds, I support the BCE. However, the Manual of Style (specifically WP:ERA) says:
"Do not change from one style to another unless there is substantial reason for the change, and consensus for the change with other editors."
But honestly - the article should be consistent, there is not a thing wrong with using BCE - and it's more the more modern usage. SteveBaker (talk) 02:41, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
To be pedantic, the correct politically correct term is 'BME' meaning before modern era. The idea being to remove any reference to christian faiths for the benfit of those that do not subscribe to such beliefs. (talk) 17:50, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Size of device

Nowhere does the page mention the exact size of the device. It just says it is small. It would be good to include some measurements in inches or centimeters, or add a ruler or reference object to the photographs. Peterpj77 (talk) 23:47, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

A little tricky given that it is behind glass in a museum. I would estimate that it is about a foot square. (talk) 17:51, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
IEEE micro gives the dimensions as 6.5 x 12.5 x 3.5 Chaosdruid (talk) 18:32, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
6.5 x 12.5 x 3.5 what? Millimetres? Furlongs? (talk) 16:56, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Inches. It says inches in the source ChaosDruid links to. In centimeters that is 16.5 x 32 x 9 cm. (talk) 01:30, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Far too many external links

WP:EL says ": External links in an article can be helpful to the reader, but they should be kept minimal, meritable, and directly relevant to the article." and "Some external links are welcome (see "What should be linked", below), but it is not Wikipedia's purpose to include a lengthy or comprehensive list of external links related to each topic." and "As the number of external links in an article grows longer, assessment should become stricter". There's no set number, but 50 seems ridiculous. Dougweller (talk) 20:42, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

Totally agree. I have started deleting redundant links. There are also links to different pages that have no essential difference in their content. This happens every time there is a media event about the subject (like the 2008 "Olympiad" article in "Nature"), followed by dozens of articles in newspapers, journals and online magazines. Kadros (talk) 09:21, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

Mention in Galileo's Dream

Sorry, but Antikythera is named nowhere in the book nor in reviews from reliable sources and a sci-fi online fanzine is not in my view a reliable source. --Dia^ (talk) 14:29, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

It is mentioned in passing (I think, I don't have my copy to check at the moment) not by name as one of an earlier time travel device that was lost. Earlier than the device that was disguised as a telescope which is first used to transport Galileo to the future. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:32, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

From Galileo's Dream page 293 epub edition.

Cartophilus actually smiled at this. “You may be right. Whatever you call it, there’s one of them on the bottom of the Aegean, near An-tikytherae. It’s likely to last a long time, too. It was disguised to look like an Olympic calendar, but that won’t be enough to explain it if it’s ever found

I am right and Dia is wrong.

LOL!! Do you feel better now?
Well, technically speaking I was right, I wrote "Antikythera is named nowhere in the book" (I did a word search on in the book the word is "Antikytherae" (without hyphen actually) ;0) Have a nice evening! --Dia^ (talk) 20:06, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Age reference

By far the most important characteristic of this thing is its age. The only reference I see for its age is terrible. It only says "The Mechanism is thought to date from between 150 and 100 BC and it precedes any other known clockwork mechanisms of similar complexity by more than a millennium." No explanation for that conclusion, or references. I question that this article should even exist without a far better reference for that single point. —Darxus (talk) 21:46, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

There is some related info in Antikythera_wreck#Dating_the_ship. —Darxus (talk) 17:27, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
I have used that information and the reference given there to replace the unreliable source. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:40, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Out-Of-Place Artifact

Why was the reference of it being an Out-of-Place artifact removed?--Packinheat2u (talk) 08:26, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

I suspect because we know with a large amount of certainty when it was made, where, & why. So it's not "Out-Of-Place then. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:15, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

The Mechanical Ephemeris solution

On Sunday, September 17, 2012, I added notes to the section entitled, Speculation About the Mechanism's Purpose. I had noted the existing speculation was by Derek_J._de_Solla_Price and was otherwise unsourced. Price's speculation was then followed by unsourced refutation, leaving the matter entirely in the air.

I suggested the device was intended for working astrologers, as a mechanical ephemeris. I am, myself, a working astrologer. In this area, and as a publisher, I have published new - legal - editions of David Pingree's translation of Dorotheus_of_Sidon's Carmen Astrologicum (1st century CE); Ancient Astrology Theory and Practice/Matheseos Libri VIII, by Julius_Firmicus_Maternus (4th century CE), the translation by Jean Rhys Bram; R. Ramsay Wright's 1934 translation of The Book of Instruction by Abū_Rayḥān_al-Bīrūnī (11th century CE); as well as a new edition of the J.M. Ashmand translation of the Proclus paraphrase of Claudius Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos (2nd century CE). Presently I working on an edition of Mark Riley's translation of the Anthologies of Vettius_Valens (2nd century CE). This will be its first time in print, by the way, I am working with the permission and cooperation of Prof. Riley himself. Elsewhere I have published a definitive new edition of William_Lilly's Christian_Astrology, of 1647, as well as other, more obscure, early works. It may therefore be said that my opinions in this matter have weight. I am well-read in the area of early astrology, having studied Otto_E._Neugebauer, Van Hosen and Kroll, in addition to David_Pingree and Mark Riley, all established experts in early Greek astrology, and none of them astrologers. While I may be a horrid astrologer, I am not "in-universe." I have an extensive resume. Or would you rather I simply denied the bit where I admit I'm an astrologer? I'm well-known in the field, but Wiki may just be so insular that Wiki will never find out.

I was surprised to see that my suggested use of the Antikythera mechanism was removed in less than 24 hours. Elsewhere I have learned that Wiki has an express policy that prohibits the promotion of "pseudoscience" in any fashion whatever. Pseudoscience - astrology is one of the worst examples - may not be linked or associated in any fashion with proper, legitimate, legal science. Here is part of it: Pseudoscience may be significant as a social phenomenon, but it should not obfuscate the description of mainstream scientific views. Any mention of pseudoscientific views should be proportionate to the rest of the article. (found here: Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view/FAQ#Pseudoscience This is Wiki's express policy, I have now seen and experienced it in the past 24 hours. Without any note that a deletion was made.

So it would appear that if the ancients developed something for the aid of astrologers and if such a device "fell out" and became disassociated with astrology and was then found and mislabeled as some other kind of artifact, and if an astrologer came upon this and, after careful study, realized its true nature and made a speculative case for it, he will be prohibited from speaking. Even in a section clearly labeled as Speculation ! In this case, it's not that my remarks were "unsourced." The existing Wiki section is itself unsourced, being 1. idle speculation followed by, 2. unsourced refutation of idle speculation (shoot yourself in the foot?). I had mentioned the mechanical ephemeris idea in the previous Talk page, which generated much comment, but which Wiki has recently archived, which is to say, removed from public attention. Why was this done?

Despite Wiki's beliefs, astrologers eat, piss, shit and fuck just like everyone else. We are people. Like all intelligent apes, we have tools. So if the Antikythera mechanism is in fact a mechanical ephemeris, an astrological tool, what should we do about it? Is this a matter for Occam's_razor? (If it looks like a duck, etc.) Or is that to be applied selectively?

If the original purpose of this device is no longer acceptable, we could be honest and say, "This is an astrological device, therefore it is junk and to be discarded." I think I would understand that, I think I would be okay with that. Which might surprise you, but as astrology was thrown away 350 years ago, astrologers have become accustomed to looking in refuse heaps (Oxyrhynchus). (Aside from the Egyptian site, whatever we find in a dump is ours, by the way. Since no one wants it, no one will bother us.) But we don't want to throw Antikythera mechanism away because we have foolishly become emotionally attached to it. It's such a lovely piece of work, it means so very much, it must have been intended for some approved use. We just have to discover what it was! - But after a century, what is that "approved use" - ?

As the existing Speculation section is itself a speculation (Antikythera_mechanism#Speculation_about_the_mechanism.27s_purpose), it should begin with, "At this time, this device has no known use."

When anthropologists go into the field, they are strongly cautioned about Ethnocentrism. Western science in general, and Wiki in particular, have a very bad case of it. Dave of Maryland (talk) 16:13, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

It appears you didn't cite the claims made in your edit. If you have published you should easily be able to cite (to the page number even) anything you write here. You can't use anything that is unpublished and unreviewed because there is no way to verify it and you could be anybody (wikimedia sites don't have any way to verify this). That entire section of the article needs work, so if you could give it a bit of extra time you (if you are as qualified as you claim) would be the perfect person to clean that section up. If you can't get to grips (or don't want to) with the citation system, just put the publication title, author, pages, dates and other such things inside <ref> ... </ref> tags and someone will clean them up eventually. --Lead holder (talk) 17:37, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Hello Lead Holder, let's get real here. The existing refutation is entirely unsourced. Price's "suggestion" was made by a man whom Wiki describes as a " physicist, historian of science, and information scientist, credited as the father of scientometrics." That makes him an expert in the field. Under what basis did Wiki doubt him?
Hmmm, under the basis that these assertions are mentioned in "Gears from the Greeks" which is accepted source material. That whole section could really be wiped anyway, it is badly written and sourced as you have said and I have not disagreed with. I suggested that if you can back up your edits with a source then you could make that section better. The only reason I haven't had a go at cleaning that section up myself is because I only care how the mechanism works. Anyway, I've gone over this and there is no point repeating myself any more. If you don’t like that section, delete it and claim why in your edit summary (it may stand), edit it with sources that can be verified, or shut up whining about it. I think I'm done with this "debate" now. If you don't even attempt to follow wikipedia policy or actually fix what you have a problem with then you look more like someone who just wants to complain and there is little point trying to talk to you. --Lead holder (talk) 20:08, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
The physical location of celestial bodies is astronomy, not astrology! Is there any indication that the greek lettering is assigning non-physical meanings to any of the positions? By your claim any orbital calculation is "astrology".Spitzak (talk) 06:34, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
Hello Spitzak, there seems to be confusion here. Positions are positions. Positions have no meaning. A map of the sky can be drawn for any moment in time, set for any location on the planet. In itself such a map is an objective fact. In itself it has no meaning whatever. Astrologers term this map a natal chart and apply meaning to it. I'm sorry if that's not clear. The Greek lettering on the Antikythera mechanism implies nothing at all. The challenge is to explain why the device exists, for what reason it was made, who used it.
Skeptics can carp all they want. This is a mechanical ephemeris made for the use of astrologers, who, then as now, were numerous. They required accurate planetary positions for their work. At the time there were no printed ephemerides nor were there nearby observatories. The best they could do were laborious counts. The ones given in Vettius Valens require counting back to the death of Julius and Augustus Caesar, which was more than 150 years prior. Which was done in Attic, Ionian or Roman numbers, by the way, as Arabic numbers did not exist, not even in India, which developed them.
While many astrologers, then as now, were casual in their study, there would be a small number with paying clients, who would have the money for this very expensive device. Think of this as a detective novel: We have motive, we have means.
The device was made in Alexandria, for the simple reason that such a device must be calibrated, and that can only happen in a city with an observatory. The choices are Alexandria and Babylon. As Babylon did not speak Greek, we may presume Alexandria.
The device was one of many. We know this because of its size. A one-off will be quite large and, as speculated, would be suitable for display. That was my reference to Jean-Baptiste_Schwilgué, which you did not bother to check before you deleted it. I have myself seen his device.
The Antikythera mechanism was sold by mail order. We know this from the text of the plates that were attached to it. They were a general set of instructions intended for persons unknown. If a traveler came to Alexandria and bought the machine in person, it presumably would have no such explanation. Because of this, we may presume the device was in transit to its purchaser when it was lost at sea.
If all of the following is true, we may also presume the device to be more or less mass-produced, with interchangeable parts. Again: Small size means one of many. Explanatory plates mean mail order. Calibration means Alexandria. We can build upon our presumptions. The tolerances on this machine are so fine that it would be a nightmare calibrating it if the individual parts were were custom made for each machine. Very likely the remains of similar machines will be found in local Turkish museums, where they might have histories attached. This is a masterpiece.
All of this can be known by observation and deduction, but only by someone who has actual knowledge of ancient society. I can, if you wish, nominate people, aside from myself, who can offer informed opinion. And by the way, with the background I stated, I am myself an expert in this area.
It's been a century since it was discovered. If there's a better explanation than this, I'd like to hear it. Otherwise, Mr. Price is the expert and if there are no creditable experts to refute him, his opinion should stand.
PS. Someone with a Ph.D. after his name could well steal this, publish it in some peer-reviewed paper, and thereafter claim credit as the man who solved the Antikythera puzzle. Would I mind? Would it make any difference if I did?
I stand corrected re: Alexandria. It would seem that Rhodes is a more likely source Dave of Maryland (talk) 13:52, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
Unfortunately, this sounds like original research. If you are able to write a paper about what you assert and get it accepted for publication in a reliable, peer-reviewed scientific journal, please come back with the citation of your paper from the reliable, peer-reviewed scientific journal and we will consider adding this. But not before then. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 15:46, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

Please unarchive the Talk.

Please unarchive the Talk, whoever is able to do this. There is almost nothing in Talk now. And please leave the Archives unarchived. Thanks! Misty MH (talk) 21:23, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Maybe you don't realize how long the 3 Archives for this page are. This talk page has past posts archived from over 200 editors that date back to 2004...if the entire Archive is disabled and "un"-archived, the resulting Talk page would simply be too long for most/many readers to use. Please see Talk:Antikythera mechanism/Archive 1, Talk:Antikythera mechanism/Archive 2 and Talk:Antikythera mechanism/Archive 3 I have adjusted the Talk page header so everything is in one place and hopefully the Archives are now more clearly searchable. Cheers, Shearonink (talk) 19:30, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

New 2012 video documentary

I just came upon a new 2012 documentary video. Very enjoyable. I didn't see it referenced within the article. I just watched it on YouTube (58:40), called on YouTube "The Two Thousand Year Old Computer", but the title of the documentary is "The 2000 Year-Old Computer: Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism", © MMXII Images First Ltd. Any enthusiasts want to add anything to the article? Thank you! :) Misty MH (talk) 21:29, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

I think you are referring to the BBC documentary. There is a link to the BBC page for this documentary on the bottom of the article. It is not referenced in the text because it contains nothing that isn't referenced elsewhere.--Lead holder (talk) 15:14, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
There seem to be quite a few documentaries about the mechanism, not sure of the differences about them all. "The Two-Thousand-Year-Old Computer" aired on BBCFour which for now can be found at this BBC link. The program "The 2000 Year-Old Computer: Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism" is a "National Hellenic Research Foundation" production found at: Not sure if these two shows are different or not but editors need to exercise some restraint about providing linkage to every single one of the various programs about the device. The External links section is there to supplement the information already in the article, not to become a collection of links (or what is known as a linkfarm). Cheers, Shearonink (talk) 16:51, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

B1 gear: "223", "224", o "223 or 224" teeth?

There seems to be some issues as to how many teeth the b1 gear possessed. As, I believe, it is a fragment, the actual number of teeth may be uncertain. Different sources give "224", "223", or "223 or 224". As the gear was simply the main drive gear and was apparently not involved in calculation, the tooth count (other then for meshing purposes) likely did not matter. One clue to its isolation is that the pitch is larger than other gears. As this seems to be somewhat in contention, how should this read in the article? Jim1138 (talk) 20:27, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

I reverted you. It is perfectly ok to use sources in ​​other languages than English. It occurs throughout the project.
The international research team that studied the mechanism in detail, argues that it is 223 teeth not 224. When they used 224 teeth (traditionally believed)in calculations an error occurs in the output data. I think you should update your self on this, and not reverting to an edit thats not supported by the source used, and removing sources that verify the claim of 223 teeth. Regards, Dnm (talk) 22:15, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
See my edit summary before your re: wp:NONENG]. So, given the position of [Antikythera_mechanism#Known_gear_scheme|gear b1]], how does that affect the operation? If you look at the gear train, you would see that it only gears down the crank and is not apart of any cycle calculation. Jim1138 (talk) 22:54, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
There is a 223-toothed gear for the Saros cycle, but that isn't the same as the mean sun gear b1. The gear b1, as far as I know, is universally acknowledged to have 224 teeth. Since it only meshes with the crank handle, it has no effect whatsoever on the computation. Calcyman (talk) 13:25, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
This supplement to a Nature article gives a range of up to 216-231 by one of six different authors, with a 223 "best fit" by the Nature author. Ranges are: 223-226, 225, 223, 216-231, 223, and 223/224. Jim1138 (talk) 17:55, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

As it is not used in any known mechanical calculations it isn't really important. In prospective additions it only matters to the Evans proposal which is almost universally rejected. The most recent article in the IEEE Computer magazine (2011) (I forget the issue number, it is in sources somewhere) and "The Cosmos in the Antikythera Mechanism" (2012) by the Freeth team indicates the gear to have 223 or 224 teeth. The 224 being most likely in that it would be easier to manufacture using the methods available at the time. I suggest removing that information from the header text and I will get round to making image alterations when I have less RL stuff to deal with. As for the condition of b1, it is almost whole which explains the very small tooth range.--Lead holder (talk) 17:34, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
Actually we don't know if it was used in some way. Some researchers suggest that the total gear count was much larger. But I agree that it should be removed from the header text. Also the swedish reference that is currently used there, only talks about the gear for the Saros cycle. It never mentions B1. Although they concludes that it is 223 teeth. Before that they discuss 223 or 224 teeth for the saros gear and that might be confusing for some here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ingeborgsjon (talkcontribs) 22:39, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

Star of Bethlehem

Request comment at Talk:Star_of_Bethlehem#Irrelevant_clause. --Pawyilee (talk) 09:52, 4 December 2012 (UTC)


Although I am no expert, there was a programme on TV last night that seemed to suggest NEMEA was the site of the Nemean games, and this text is, under this hypothesis, not "undecyphered" as it says in the article. I'll leave it to a more educated and erudite person to make the change if deemed suitable.

Dickon Lush (I don't have an account) (talk) 14:08, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Lego Antikythera mechanism - suitable for inclusion?

I recently saw a video of a man who built an AM out of Lego Technics. Due to the nature of the tools he was using it required more gears than the original (Lego obviously doesn't make 63-tooth gears) but it's fully functional. Whilst not a "scientific" reproduction in the purest sense, it is a reproduction. Should I put a subsection in the wiki? Primefac (talk) 13:01, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Modern devices

The new "modern devices" section is showing *digital* devices. It seems the Antikythera mechanism is much more similar to analog orrerys and clocks showing the phase of the moon and sun position, which date from a good deal earlier than Babbage.Spitzak (talk) 21:42, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

I concur; the Antikythera device is not a calculator, it's a planetarium or orrery. Therefore it should be compared to orreries, astronomical clocks and other devices that have fixed gearing, and not calculators. I by no means mean to belittle the device, which is truly spectacular for its time, but comparing it to the difference engine is just silly. The antikythera mechanism cannot tell you what 1+1 is, it shows you where Mars is in the sky (assuming you wound it to the correct date), so why on earth the entire "Similar devices in the modern era" section is devoted to adding machines rather than astronomical clocks and orreries is beyond me. Perhaps someone was mislead by the word "computer" in the lead? Because is isn't a computer in the modern/Turing sense of the word. The astronomical clock article is a good source for modern devices, and even mentions the Antikythera mechanism.--Vilding1 (talk) 00:52, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Can somebody please fix or delete this section? This is total nonsense but my attempts to fix it were reverted. Basically some joker out there thinks "uses gears" is the defining criteria, which means this machine can also be considered equivalent to an automobile transmission, too. He seems to think "digital" means "uses electronics" as well and fails to see the HUGE difference between how this machine and the difference engine or pascal's computer or a mechanical calculator work.

I would delete the section as the more accurate information (that it matches technology of approximately the 14th century) is already in the lead. Maybe add a link to orrery there.Spitzak (talk) 02:37, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Currently there are at least eight citations calling the device an analog computer. Deleting reliably sourced information is not only original research, it is considered tendentious editing if not worse. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 02:45, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Of course it is an analog computer. Your problem is you think the difference engine is an analog computer. That is incorrect.Spitzak (talk) 02:58, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
No I don't. The statement that it is a difference engine was indeed unsupported. I modified the section to reflect the reliable sources. I also removed two additional unsupported statements. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 03:35, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
(Personal attack removed) He obviously is going to revert any attempt I make to change it, and thinks that finding references saying "the antikythera mechanism was an analog computer" means he can match it with any device that somebody calls a computer as long as it does not use electricity. I'm sure there are thousands of such references if he wants to make his list longer but it has nothing to do with what the rest of this claims. He now claims it is equivalent to the Analytical Engine which was never even built because it far exceeded 18th century and possibly even modern mechanical engineering skills! He also restored a picture of a completely unrelated device using far different gearing.Spitzak (talk) 03:48, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
"Analog computer" is not the same as calculator. And it doesn't matter how many citations you have on it, it doesn't make it equivalent to a Babbage machine. As I said, I think the problem is that people didn't understand what "analog computer" means when they made this section. It computes positions of objects based on fixed gearing. It doesn't do so via numbers. So the 13th century astronomical clocks and astrolabes (which are also analog computers, by the way) are a far more appropriate thing to compare it to. The only reason it's not called a clock is that a clock needs some mechanism to automatically advance the positions of the gears at the correct pace, and it lacks that. --Vilding1 (talk) 07:18, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Whatever we add in this article must be sourced to reliable sources. The reliable sources call this device an "analog computer" so that is exactly what the section claims. If you can find reliable sources comparing it to a clock then please add them to the article. Just comparing it to different devices without back up sources is not useful. There is also no claim in the section that the machine is equivalent to Babbage's difference engine. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 13:52, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
I started fixing it. The first paragraph discusses devices for mathematical computation including adding machines, which is completely irrelevant to this article, as that's not what the mechanism is (that would be a mechanical digital computer, while this is an analog one.) The last one comparing it to the difference engine is also not relevant... it could as easily be compared to a clock, a transmission, a pulley, or anything else with gears. What was left was simply the statement "The Antikythera mechanism is considered to be an analog computer." While true, that same sentence appears earlier in the article and the statement itself does not compare the device to modern devices as the section title suggests. The article seems much more accurate and true to the sources without the section. --Sam (talk) 02:27, 30 May 2013 (UTC)