The Antikythera Mechanism was used by ancient Greeks to track solar and lunar eclipses using a complex system of bronze gears. An ancient astronomical calculator dating back to 60BC may have been used to predict the future, a new study has revealed.
The 2,000-year-old computer was salvaged from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901 and is thought to be the most sophisticated piece of machinery of its time.
An international team of researchers, including experts from the University of Cardiff’s astrophysics department, has toiled for more than a decade to uncover the secrets of the mysterious device.
Improved X-ray technology has enabled the team to uncover new features hidden on the remaining fragments of the machine.
Along with tiny inscriptions, the scientist even discovered a 3,500-word piece of explanatory text on the instrument’s main plate.
While the contraption was known to track the movement of starts and planets as a navigational aid, scientists now believe that it was used to make astrological predictions.
Though the team aren’t entirely sure how the predictions work, it is thought that they could be connected with different colours of eclipses representing different omens.
While the device is the only one of its kind that has ever been found, the researchers doubt that it was the only one ever made.
Variations in the inscriptions suggest that at least two of the machines were built.
The mechanical complexity of the machine was unrivalled for at least 1,000 years, up until the advent medieval clocks.
The remaining fragments of the Antikythera Mechanism are currently held at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.