New research by the National University of Quilmes suggests that the Antikythera Mechanism – known as the world’s first computer – is 100 years older than scientists previously thought.
The ancient Greek mechanism was found in a Greek shipwreck in 1901, and is thought to have modeled the known universe 2,000 years ago, and has puzzled and fascinated archaeologists for decades.
The International Business Times reports that the research study was published in the Archive for History of Exact Science, and was begun by studying the Antikythera Mechanism and Babylonian records of eclipses for several years.
Their findings suggested that the Mechanism was dated to 205 BC, which is 50 to 100 years earlier than originally estimated.
New findings also indicate that the ancient Greeks could use the device to predict eclipses, and Babylonian arithmetic was used to predict the eclipses rather than Greek trigonometry.
Furthermore, the findings indicate that the Greeks engineered the complex machine at an earlier stage than believed.
According to a report by John Markoff of the New York Times, the device predates other known examples of similar technology by more than 1,000 years.
Scans of the device revealed it was originally housed in a rectangular wooden frame with two doors, covered with instructions for its use.
At the front was a single dial showing the Greek zodiac and an Egyptian calendar, and at the back there were two further dials displaying information about lunar cycles and eclipses.
The Daily Mail reports that the calculator would have been driven by a hand crank.
A recent statement from the University of Puget Sound reads, “If the Antikythera mechanism did indeed use an eclipse predictor that worked best for a cycle starting in 205 BC, the likely origin of this machine is tantalizingly close to the lifetime of Archimedes…
The calculations take into account lunar and solar anomalies (which result in faster or slower velocity), missing solar eclipses, lunar and solar eclipses cycles, and other astronomical phenomena…
The work was particularly difficult because only about a third of the Antikythera’s eclipse predictor is preserved.”