Cryptic Wonders of the Antikythera Mechanism: Unveiling the Enigmatic Ancient Computer

The Antikythera Mechanism, hailed as the world’s first computer, is shrouded in enigmatic allure. Its pivotal activation date, speculated to be the 22nd of December in 178 BCE, remains a matter of scholarly debate and fascination.

Bộ phận còn sót lại của cỗ máy Antikythera. Ảnh: Smithsonian

Discovered within the sunken remains of a Roman-era ship near the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901, this intricate mechanism, comparable in size to a shoebox, astounded divers. Comprised of interlocking gears and intricately engraved dials, it showcased a profound sophistication capable of predicting eclipses, lunar cycles, and an array of celestial functions.

Cỗ máy Antikythera – Wikipedia tiếng Việt

Over the years, dedicated researchers painstakingly assembled the fragmented remains of the Antikythera Mechanism. Their pursuit aimed to unravel its craftsmanship and unveil its functions, dating back two millennia.

Những phát hiện khảo cổ ấn tượng nhất thế giới - Ảnh 7.

Central to comprehending the mechanism’s calculations is its activation date. Similar to using a measurement tool requiring a reference point, researchers emphasize the necessity of a starting date, a cornerstone for all computations.

Giải mã bí ẩn "máy tính" hơn 2.000 năm trước, và có được cái nhìn về vũ trụ  trong con mắt của người Hy Lạp cổ đại

Prior studies decoded numerous inscriptions, grasping the purpose behind various gears and dials. However, it wasn’t until 2021, when a team of experts at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), successfully recreated a model of the Antikythera Mechanism. Nevertheless, the activation date remained a tantalizing mystery, as reported by Space on November 18th.

In a recent publication on the arXiv online database, experts present compelling arguments for the December 22nd, 178 BCE, activation date. The day witnessed an eclipse lasting over 12 minutes, followed by the winter solstice on December 23rd, a significant date in various ancient cultures. The Isia festival honoring the Egyptian goddess Isis occurred simultaneously in Egypt and Greece during this period. Additionally, lunar phases commenced on December 22nd that year.

The confluence of these events forms a “remarkably rare coincidence,” positing it as a memorable activation date. Aristeidis Voulgaris, the lead author of the study and head of the Antikythera Mechanism Functionality Reconstruction (FRAMe) project, highlights the need for a distinct, pivotal, and recognizable activation date.

However, dissenting opinions exist within the scholarly community. Alexander Jones, a professor from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, raises concerns about the recent research. For instance, the proposed activation date places Kraneios, a season associated with wine mentioned on the Antikythera Mechanism, in February, an unsuitable time for grape harvesting. Jones also references two prior studies in 2014 pinpointing the activation date to 204 BCE.

The Antikythera Mechanism continues to captivate humanity, offering glimpses into ancient technological prowess and celestial comprehension. Despite debates surrounding its activation date, the essence of this ancient artifact’s sophistication and significance persist, inviting continual exploration and contemplation.

 

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