A Decade Of Work Has Decoded This Ancient Greek Astronomy "Computer"

Fragments of the Antikythera Mechanism. Jaysmark/Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

The ancient "computer" was previously heralded as a scientific machine that was purely concerned with astronomy, as opposed to astrology. While the new research further proves the astronomical function of the device, it has also pointed to a more “supernatural” purpose. The orrery was believed to be able to predict the color of future eclipses, which the ancient Greeks might have seen as apparent prophecies.

“We are not quite sure how to interpret this, to be fair, but it could hark back to suggestions that the color of an eclipse was some sort of omen or signal. Certain colors might be better for what's coming than other colors," Mike Edmunds, an astrophysics professor at the University of Cardiff in Wales, told a presentation in Athens, reported Reuters.

Alexander Jones, a professor of history of ancient science at New York University, also reinforced that the Antikythera Mechanism blurs the line between science and the supernatural, but nonetheless gives a crucial insight into how the ancient Greeks viewed the natural world.

"It was not a research tool, something that an astronomer would use to do computations, or even an astrologer to do prognostications, but something that you would use to teach about the cosmos and our place in the cosmos," Jones said at the presentation, as reported by the Associated Press.

"I would see it as more something that might be a philosopher's instructional device."

Reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism. Andrew Barclay/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Main image credit: Jaysmark/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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