Sunday, July 7, 2013

ISAW Papers 4: The Cosmos in the Antikythera Mechanism

[First posted in AWOL 24 February 2012. Updated 7 July 2013]

ISAW Papers 4

This article is now available at the URI as part of the NYU Library's Ancient World Digital Library in partnership with the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW). More information about ISAW Papers is available on the ISAW website.

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ISAW Papers 4 (February, 2012)

The Cosmos in the Antikythera Mechanism

Tony Freeth and Alexander Jones

Abstract: The Antikythera Mechanism is a fragmentarily preserved Hellenistic astronomical machine with bronze gearwheels, made about the second century B.C. In 2005, new data were gathered leading to considerably enhanced knowledge of its functions and the inscriptions on its exterior. However, much of the front of the instrument has remained uncertain due to loss of evidence. We report progress in reading a passage of one inscription that appears to describe the front of the Mechanism as a representation of a Greek geocentric cosmology, portraying the stars, Sun, Moon, and all five planets known in antiquity. Complementing this, we propose a new mechanical reconstruction of planetary gearwork in the Mechanism, incorporating an economical design closely analogous to the previously identified lunar anomaly mechanism, and accounting for much unresolved physical evidence. 

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