The Temporary Exhibition of the Mechanism and the Antikythera shipwreck...>>

The study of the Mechanism

Since its first publication the Mechanism has been recognized as an astronomical device. The first Greek experts to study it (1902-1934) were archaeologists, J. Svoronos and V. Stais, the historian, K. Rados, the officers of the Greek Royal Navy, P. Rediades and J. Theophanides and the German philologist A. Rehm. Both Svoronos and Stais guessed that it was an astrolabe. Rehm studied the mechanical elements and the inscriptions on the plates and called it a "planetarium". Theophanides was the first to construct a mechanical model and to give publicity on the find, which was a navigational instrument in his view.

During the period 1953-1974, the physicist and historian of science Derek J. de Solla Price examined the internal structure of the fragments, thanks to radiographs made by the physicist Ch. Karakalos, and built a second model. He concluded that the object was a calendrical mechanical computer. His ideas presented in two seminal publications (1959, 1974) were fundamental for subsequent research.

From 1990 onwards the fragments were investigated by means of X-ray linear tomography, photography, plain radiography and direct inspection of the fragments (A.G. Βromley and Μ.Τ. Wright) and recently with advanced surface imaging and high resolution 3-Dimensional X-ray tomography (Antikythera Mechanism Research Project). As a result of this research, additional inscriptions have been read and new models of the Mechanism have been constructed.

Bibliography: P.D. Rediadis, O εξ Αντικυθήρων αστρόλαβος, in: Ι.N. Σβορώνος, Το εν Αθήναις Εθνικόν Μουσείον. Ο θησαυρός του ναυαγίου των Αντικυθήρων, Athens 1903, Vol. Α, 44-52. P.D. Rediadis, Το εξ Αντικυθήρων αστρολάβον, ΑΕ 1910, 157-172. D.J. de Solla Price, Clockwork before the Clock, Horological Journal 97 (1955) 811-813. D.J. de Solla Price, Clockwork before the Clock, Horological Journal 98 (1956) 31-34. D.J. de Solla Price, On the Origin of Clockwork, Perpetual Motion Devices and Compass, United States National Museum Bulletin 218, Washington D.C. 1959. D.J. de Solla Price, An Ancient Greek Computer, Scientific American 200 (1959) 60-67. D.J. de Solla Price, Gears from the Greeks: The Antikythera Mechanism - A Calendar Computer from ca. 80 B.C., TransactAmPhilosSoc 64.7 (1974) 5-70, reprinted as a monograph by the Science History Publications, New York 1975. M.Τ. Wright, An Apparatus for Linear Tomography of the Antikythera Mechanism, Working notes, Science Museum, London 1990. M.T. Wright - A.G. Bromley - H. Magou, Simple X-Ray Tomography and the Antikythera Mechanism, Proceedings of the Second Conference of Archaeometry in South Eastern Europe in Delphi, 19-21 April 1991, PACT 45 (1995) 531-543. M. Wright - A.G. Bromley, Current Work on the Antikythera Mechanism, Proceedings of the Conference on Ancient Greek Technology, Thessaloniki 1997, 19-25. G.J. Toomer, Ptolemy's Almagest, Princeton 1998. Μ. Edmunds - Ρ. Morgan, The Antikythera Mechanism: Still a Μystery of Greek Αstronomy?, Astronomy and Geophysics 41.6 (2000) 10-17. Τ. Freeth, The Antikythera Mechanism: 1. Challenging the Classic Research, Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 2.1 (2002) 21-35. Τ. Freeth, The Antikythera Mechanism: 2. Is it Posidonius'Orrery?, Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 2.2 (2002) 45-58. M.Τ. Wright, A Planetarium Display for the Antikythera Mechanism, Horological Journal 144.5 (2002) 168-173 and 144.6 (2002) 193. M.Τ. Wright, Epicyclic Gearing and the Antikythera Mechanism, Part 1, Antiquarian Horology 27.3 (2003) 267-279. M.Τ. Wright, In the Steps of the Master Mechanic, in: Ancient Greece and the Modern World, Proceedings of a Conference in Ancient Olympia 2002, University of Patras 2003, 86-97. M.T. Wright - A.G. Bromley, Towards a New Reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism, in: S.A. Paipetis (ed.), Extraordinary Machines and Structures in Antiquity, Proceedings of a Conference of Archaeometry in South Eastern Europe in Ancient Olympia 2001, University of Patras 2003, 81-94. M.Τ. Wright, The Scholar, The Mechanic and the Antikythera Mechanism: Complementary Approaches to the Study of an Instrument, Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society 80 (2004) 4-11. M.Τ. Wright, The Antikythera Mechanism, Seminars in the History of Science and Technology, Science Museum and Imperial College, December 2004. M.Τ. Wright, The Antikythera Mechanism: a New Gearing Scheme, Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society 85 (2005) 2-7. M.Τ. Wright, Ο Μηχανισμός των Αντικυθήρων. Η κατασκευή οργάνων στην αρχαιότητα, Αρχαιολογία και Τέχνες 95 (2005) 54-60. M.T. Wright, Epicyclic gearing and the Antikythera Mechanism, Part 2, Antiquarian Horology 29.2 (2005) 51-63. Μ.Τ. Wright, Counting Months and Years: The Upper Back Dial of the Antikythera Mechanism, Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society 87 (2005) 8-13. M.T. Wright, Understanding the Antikythera Mechanism, Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Ancient Greek Technology, Athens 2005, 49-60. T. Freeth - Υ. Bitsakis - Χ. Moussas - J.H. Seiradakis - Α. Tselikas - Η. Mangou - Μ. Zafeiropoulou - R. Hadland - D. Bate - Α. Ramsey - Μ. Allen - Α. Crawley - Ρ. Hockley - Τ. Malzbender - D. Gelb - W. Ambrisco - M.G. Edmunds, Decoding the Ancient Greek Astronomical Calculator known as the Antikythera Mechanism, Nature 444 (11/2006) 587-591. M.T. Wright, The Antikythera Mechanism and the Early History of the Moon-Phase Display, Horological Journal 29.3 (2006) 319-329. J.M. Steele, The Solar/lunar Functions of the Antikythera Mechanism in the Context of Mesopotamian and Greek Astronomy, στο: Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism, Conference in Athens, 30th November - 1st December 2006. J. Evans - L. Berggren, Geminos's Introduction to the Phenomena: A Translation and Study of a Hellenistic Survey of Astronomy, Princeton 2006. M.Τ. Wright, The Antikythera Mechanism Reconsidered, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 32.1 (2007) 27-43. T. Freeth - A. Jones - J.M. Steele - Y. Bitsakis, Calendars with Olympiad Display and Eclipse Prediction on the Antikythera Mechanism, Nature 454 (07/2008) 614-617. M. Zafeiropoulou - P. Mitropoulos, The Antikythera Shipwreck, the Treasure and the Fragments of the Mechanism, στον τόμο: IUHPS/DHST, Book of Abstracts, XXIII International Congress of History of Science and Technology, Ideas and Instruments in Social Context, 28.7 - 2.8 2009, Budapest Hungary, Budapest 2009, 221. T. Freeth, Decoding an Ancient Computer, Scientific American 301.6 (12/2009) 76-83. F. Espenak - J. Meeus, Five Millennium Canon of Lunar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (2000 BCE to 3000 CE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, online at (2009). J. Evans - C.C. Carman - A.S. Thorndike, Solar Anomaly and Planetary Displays in the Antikythera Mechanism, Journal for the History of the Astronomy 41 (02/2010) 1-39. M.T. Wright, The Antikythera Mechanism: Reconstruction as a Medium for Research and Publication, in: Κ. Staubermann (ed.), Reconstructions, National Museums Scotland 2011, 1-20. M. Edmunds, An Initial Assessment of the Accuracy of the Gear Train in the Antikythera Mechanism, Journal for the History of Astronomy 42.148 (2011) 307-320. X. Moussas, «Πίναξ». Το Πρώτο Μηχανικό Σύμπαν. Ο Μηχανισμός των Αντικυθήρων. Ο αρχαιότερος υπολογιστής και αστρονομικό όργανο, Athens 2011. T. Freeth - A. Jones, The Cosmos in the Antikythera Mechanism, ISAW Papers, 4. To be available at (2012).
Contributions, R. Proskynitopoulou, Ε. Magou, Μ. Zapheiropoulou, in: Ν. Kaltsas - Ε. Vlachogianni - P. Bouyia (eds), The Antikythera Shipwreck. The Ship - The Treasures - The Mechanism, Exhibition Catalogue, National Archaeological Museum, April 2012-April 2013, Athens 2012.

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Position in the museum