Archaeologists first discovered the mysterious Antikythera Mechanism, believed by some to be the world’s first computer, on December 22, 178 BC.
Discovered by sponge divers in a Roman-era shipwreck near the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901, the elaborate ancient computer, resembling a shoebox-sized tool with gears and discs that had many small inscriptions written on them, could predict eclipses and determine when different sports were held , among other functions.
Over the years, researchers have compiled the many parts of a . file Antikythera mechanism To see how it was created and how it would have been used 2000 or so years ago. Many questions are plaguing the device: Who made it? Where did they live? Why create it and what is the start date? Now, a team of scientists has set the date of the ‘run’, with their findings posted online March 28 in a preprint database. arXivan online journal where research can be downloaded prior to peer review.
However, scientists unaffiliated with the study have questioned this claim, telling Live Science that the start date may have been in 204 BC.
Find start date
In their new paper, the researchers identify a number of reasons why they believe December 22, 178 BC was the start date of the mechanism, the earliest date on which all calculations made on the mechanism are based. It’s kind of like absolute zero on the Kelvin scale.
For one, there was a file solar eclipse That day, which lasted more than 12 minutes. Second, the next day, December 23, it was winter solstice, an important day among many ancient peoples. They also note that the festival of Izia – which celebrates the Egyptian goddess Isis – was celebrated in both Egypt and Greece at this time. In addition, the phases of the moon began on December 22 of that year, the team wrote in their paper.
The researchers wrote that this combination of events created a “very rare coincidence” that would make for a memorable starting day. Aristeidis Voulgaris, lead author of the paper and team leader for the functional reconstruction of the Antikythera-The FRAMe mechanism, told Live Science in an email that the start date “must be distinct, significant, and easily detectable.”
It’s possible that the person who made the Antikythera Mechanism – another unresolved question, with some experts suggesting Archimedes was the engineer who made the wonder – witnessed this day and remembered cosmic events, but there’s no way to be sure. “Usually, in order to make time calculations, it is more common to choose a date from the recent past than to select a date in the future,” the researchers wrote.
This start date is important because it is the date on which all calculations using the mechanism will be based. “In order to use a measuring instrument, a reference point is needed before the measurement is made,” the researchers wrote in the paper. Like a calendar that needs a specific date – like AD 1 – everyone who has used the mechanism will need a starting date on which all calculations can be built.
History is one of the mysteries of mechanical marvel that remains to be resolved. Previous research has succeeded in deciphering many of the inscriptions and understanding the purpose of using various gears and discs. 2021 a team of scientists announce Create a computer model of the mechanism they think is accurate.
Live Science reached out to several scientists unaffiliated with the research to get their thoughts on the team’s findings. Not many were able to respond by the time this news broke, but those who did were skeptical.
“It’s not a paper that can stand up to competent peer review,” Alexander Jones, professor of the history of the exact sciences of antiquity at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, said in an email. “There are a lot of problems with it, from major issues to minor issues which are nonetheless symptomatic of a lack of good foundations in the broad context of ancient astronomy and science,” Jones said.
For example, Jones noted that this start date would put Kraneios, a season recorded on the Antikythera mechanism associated with wine, in February, which “is not a particularly good month for ripe grapes,” Jones said.
two papers published Jones added that 2014 showed the start date was 204 BC. These two papers, Jones said, showed “that the eclipse prediction sequence was computed for a unique 223 lunar month interval beginning in 204 B.C.” This is timed to begin on May 12, 204 BC and begin and end with a lunar eclipse.
Originally published on Live Science.