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Antikythera Mechanism (from the magazine: Leonardo, Vol. 45, No 3, pp. 250-257, 2012)

Deciphering and Appeasing the Heavens: The History and Fate of an Ancient Greek Computer
Evaggelos Vallianatos

The Greeks incorporated cunning craftsman- ship, inventiveness and beauty in everything they made. Techne, the term they used to describe this, was the mother of their culture. Aristotle, who shaped the nature of Greek science and invented zoology, admired craftsmen for their useful devices and wisdom [1]. In fact, of all classes in a polis, he considered craftsmen the most essential. No polis could exist without mechanics practicing their arts and crafts. Of those arts and crafts, Aristotle said, some are “absolutely necessary,” while others enrich life [2]. This Greek mechanics gave birth to the Antikythera Mechanism, discussed below.
On around Easter Sunday 1900, Greek sponge divers discov- ered the remnants of an ancient ship in the waters of the Ae- gean island of Antikythera. The most precious artifact within this treasure trove was a small piece of metal with gears. Ar- chaeologists of the National Museum in Athens categorized it as an astrolabe [3].
The shipwreck probably happened in the mid-1st century BCE. The doomed Roman ship, sailing from Rhodes to Rome, carried looted Greek treasure: more than 100 bronze and marble statues, amphorae and coins. Some of the amphorae came from Rhodes. The silver coins originated in Pergamon, a Greek kingdom in northwestern Asia Minor, and the bronze coins were from Ephesos, a Greek polis about 100 miles south of Pergamon. The bronze coins, which dated from 70 to 60 BCE, helped to date the doomed Antikythera ship. One memo- rable statue, the Antikythera Youth, is a bronze masterpiece of a male nude from the 4th century BCE.
The mechanism, calcified and covered with seashells, was kept in a crate until May 1902, when an archaeologist, Spyri- don Stais, unpacked it and saw a Greek inscription on its sur- face. Others noticed perfectly cut triangular gear teeth.
In 1905, Konstantinos Rados, a naval historian, declared that the Antikythera device was too complex to be an astro- labe [4]. In 1907, the German philologist Albert Rehm sided
Evaggelos Vallianatos (historian, writer, environmentalist), 675 W. 10th Street, Claremont, CA 91711, U.S.A. E-mail: <>.
See <> for supplemental files associated with this issue.
Article Frontispiece. Works of Archimedes, Basel, 1544. (Reproduced by permission of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.)
with Rados [5]. Rehm correctly suggested that the Antikythera clockwork resembled the Sphere of Archimedes, which Cicero de- scribed in the 1st century BCE. Archimedes was a mathemati- cian and engineer of the 3rd cen- tury BCE (Article Frontispiece).
n 1900, Greek sponge divers discovered an ancient Greek treasure in the waters of the Aegean island of Antikythera: a device with gears dubbed the Antikythera Mechanism. Scientists studied it for almost a century and eventually declared it the most advanced machine preserved from the ancient world. This device predicted solar and lunar eclipses and harmonized the Greeks’ sac- rifices to their gods with their Panhellenic games and agricul- ture. This geared computer from the 2nd century BCE is now
said to mirror the philosophy of Aristotle and the science of Archimedes. It was the product of an advanced Greek techno- logical infrastructure that early Christians destroyed.
© 2012 ISAST
LEONARDO, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 250–257, 2012 251
Cicero recounted that the plan- etarium of Archimedes repro- duced the movements of the sun and moon and the planets Venus, Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. The same eclipse of the sun that happened on the globe of Archimedes would actually happen in the sky [6].
Rehm worked on the device for several years; he died prema- turely, however, and his work remained unpublished.
In the 1920s, a Greek admiral, J. Theophanides, opined that the ancient mechanism was a navigational device that could tell the position of certain planets [7].
The next important phase in the decipherment of the Antiky- thera Mechanism began with Derek de Solla Price, a British physicist and historian of science then teaching at Yale Univer- sity. In studying the papers of the Greek scientists and those of Rehm, Price came to the understanding that the Antikythera Mechanism was probably the most sophisticated technological artifact of the ancient Greeks and that it remained unrivaled for 1,500 years.
In 1971, Price asked the Greek nuclear physicist Charalam- bos Karakalos to X-ray the Antikythera fragments. In summer 1972, Karakalos took hundreds of radiographs of all large frag- ments. Price wanted to know how the gearwheels meshed with each other and how many teeth each wheel had. Only then could he figure out the purpose of the Greek machine. He eventually left us “Gears from the Greeks,” a masterful scientific record of his assessment of the Antikythera Mechanism [8].
Price took 16 years to master the intricacies of the device. He reported that the Antikythera Mechanism, dating from about 150 to 100 BCE, was “one of the most important pieces of evidence for the understanding of ancient Greek science and technology” [9]. He explained why: The complex gearing of the Antikythera Mechanism shows a more precise picture of the level of Greek “mechanical proficiency” than that indi- cated by the surviving textual evidence. This “singular artifact,” he said of the Antikythera Mechanism,
the oldest existing relic of scientific technology, and the only complicated mechanical device we have from antiq- uity, quite changes our ideas about the Greeks and makes visible a more contin- uous historical evolution of one of the most important main lines that lead to our civilization [10].
Price described the differential gear of the Antikythera Mechanism as the cornerstone of the computer’s technol- ogy. The differential gear enabled the Antikythera Mechanism to show the movements of the sun and the moon in “perfect consistency” with the phases of the moon. “It must surely rank,” Price said of the differential gear, “as one of the greatest basic mechanical inventions of all time” [11] (Fig. 1).
In fact, in keeping with the near disap- pearance of the Antikythera Mechanism’s technology in late antiquity, the differ- ential gear disappeared for more than a millennium and a half. Price shows that its reinvention eluded Leonardo da Vinci and that it reappeared in 1575 in a clock made by Eberhart Baldewin in Kassel, Germany. This gear and the clockwork culture that developed it advanced the technology of cotton manufacture in the 18th century. Eventually, the differential gear ended up in automobile designs in the late 19th century.
Price complained that the West now judges the Greeks from scraps of build- ing stones, statues, coins, ceramics and a few selected written sources. Yet, when it comes to the heart of their lives and culture, we have practically nothing from the Greek past. We do not have artifacts that show how they carried out agricul- ture, how they built the perfect Parthe- non, what kind of mechanical devices they employed in war, how they used metals or, in general, what the Greeks did in several fields of technology. As Price wrote:
Wheels from carriages and carts survive from deep antiquity, but there is abso- lutely nothing but the Antikythera frag- ments that looks anything like a fine gear wheel or small piece of mechanism. In- deed the evidence for scientific instru- ments and fine mechanical objects is so scant that it is often thought that the Greeks had none [12].
Price was correct, particularly on the value he put on the fragments of the Antikythera device. In this insight, he surpassed his critics and others who maintained that the Greeks had no technology to speak of. (In 1968, the best-selling Swiss writer Erich von Dan- iken in his book Chariots of the Gods advanced the fiction that important technologies in the ancient world were
Fig. 1. The Antikythera Mechanism: The largest gear, the Wheel of the Sun. (Photo © Xeno- phon Moussas)
252 Vallianatos, An Ancient Greek Computer
products of extraterrestrial astronauts or gods.)
This nonsense that the Greeks lacked technology fooled millions for a long time. Finally, in 2005, more than 20 years after Price’s death in 1983, a group of international scientists was formed to settle the controversy over the ancient device’s scientific significance and func- tions. Key members included a British mathematician and filmmaker, Tony Freeth; a British professor of astronomy, Mike Edmunds (University of Wales); and two Greek professors of astronomy, J. Seiradakis (University of Thessalonike) and Xenophon Moussas (University of Athens). Freeth, who brought to bear creativity and innovation, convinced two companies, X-Tek of England and Hewlett-Packard of the U.S.A., to volun- teer their imaging technologies for study of the Antikythera Mechanism.
In September and October 2005, tech- nicians used a 10-ton machine to take 3D photos and nonlinear computer tomog- raphies of the Antikythera Mechanism. They also exposed the 82 fragments of the 32 known gears of the computer to X-ray bombardment unprecedented in intensity and sophistication. From thousands of X-ray tomographs of the interior and exterior of the ancient ma-
chine, there emerged evidence of the machine’s architecture and engineer- ing, and even of a users’ manual (Fig. 2). Now it was possible to understand more clearly how the Antikythera computer was constructed.
The fragments bore inscriptions in ancient Greek. Moussas hired physicist Yanis Bitsakis to assist Agamemnon Tse- likas, director of the Center for History and Paleography, with the reading of those inscriptions from the computer tomographies. The Greek letters were very small; some were smaller than 2 mm. The first inscription Bitsakis and Tselikas translated was on the back of the Anti- kythera Mechanism. It read: “The spiral [!"#$#] divided into 235 sections.” This meant that one of the back dials was a spiral representing the 19-year Metonic moon and sun calendar of 235 months. Other back dials predicted the eclipses of the sun and the moon. Inscriptions on the front dials, on the other hand, con- cerned the days of the year; the zodiac ran clockwise around them. These in- scriptions allowed one to determine the date based on the rising and setting of constellations. Moreover, the front dials showed the movement and position of the sun, moon and the planets in the zo- diac. They also revealed the phases of the
Fig. 2. Part of the users’ manual. At center it reads, “So we know four,” and below this, “76 years,” “19 years,” representing the Callippic and Metonic lunisolar periods; “223” [months]; “divided”; and then “ecliptic months.” (Photo © Xenophon Moussas)
Greek philosopher and mathematician Hypatia. Around that time, Augustine, the most important church father of the Latin West, preached that all that a Christian needed was the Bible. In 484, Emperor Zeno defiled the Parthenon, plundering its chryselephantine statue of Athena by Pheidias, one of the foremost Greek sculptors of the 5th century BCE. In 529, Emperor Justinian shut down the Platonic Academy, which had been the greatest university of Greece for about 900 years. These barbaric acts were part and parcel of an extremely effective and sustained Christian attack against Greek culture [19].
The investigators of the Antikythera Mechanism all ignored the effect of Christian actions, which must have al- most obliterated Antikythera-like de- vices and other technology throughout the Greek world. Christian acts against pagan ideas explain the rarity of the An- tikythera computer. By means of terror and propaganda, followers of Christian- ity devalued Greek culture so much that the arts of civilization, including technol- ogy and science, fell into a precipitous decline. Also, as a matter of course, the Christians melted down or burned the bronze devices and statues of antiquity.
For example, in the mid-4th century, Firmicus Maternus, a Christian apologist, appealed to the brother emperors Con- stantius and Constans to “take away . . . the adornments of the temples. Let the fire of the mint or the blaze of the smelt- ers melt them down” [20]. Palladas, a Greek poet of the 5th century, witnessed a smith transforming a statue of Eros into “a frying-pan” [21]. In the early 5th century, the Christian historian Sokrates documented the Christians’ recasting of the Greek bronze statues of the Library (Serapeion) of Alexandria into “pots and other convenient utensils for the use of the Alexandrian church” [22].
The fires of the mint and the blazes of the smelters must have consumed Anti- kythera Mechanism–like devices. In the new Christian society, such devices would have lost all utility and meaning.
Despite such violence, not all Chris- tians hated the Greeks. The Nestorians, for example, became instrumental in the preservation of some Greek texts. They were branded heretics and fled to Persia, carrying with them Greek books. In the 8th century, the caliphs of Islam turned to the Nestorians for the translation of the Greeks’ scientific and philosophical works into Arabic. In addition, Greek Christians in medieval Greece copied and protected the key ancient Greek texts that have lasted to our time.
moon. Indeed, the entire device became a text (Fig. 3). The scientists reported the Antikythera device is “an extremely rare original document that gives us critical information about the astronomy and technology of its era” [13].
The celestial Antikythera device was alternatively like a laptop computer the size of a shoebox, which, according to the scientists, exhibited “longitudes of heav- enly bodies on the front dial, eclipse pre- dictions on the lower back display, and a calendrical cycle believed to be strictly in the use of astronomers on the upper back display” [14] (Fig. 4).
The scientists also concluded that the Antikythera Mechanism was in its time the most sophisticated technology in the Mediterranean and remained so for more than a millennium. They published their reports in the 30 November 2006 and 31 July 2008 issues of Nature. Like Price’s 1974 report, these two Nature ar- ticles are fundamental in the decipher- ment of the Antikythera Mechanism. They complement each other, with the 2006 and 2008 reports building on the technical detail of Price, who had also de- scribed the Antikythera Mechanism as a “singular artifact” and an “astronomical or calendrical calculator” that turned out to be “the most enigmatic, most com-
plicated piece of scientific machinery known from antiquity” [15].
Freeth et al. admired the ancient de- vice’s “great economy and ingenuity of design.” The Antikythera Mechanism, they concluded, “stands as a witness to the extraordinary technological poten- tial of ancient Greece, apparently lost within the Roman Empire” [16].
The truth is simpler. The Christians de- stroyed the technological achievements and potential of the Greeks. The technol- ogy of the Antikythera Mechanism was not merely lost; the Christians made it obsolete, that is, made it disappear. The Romans were brutal, but it was the Chris- tians, not the Romans of the pagan era, who removed the Greeks’ contributions from the landscape.
The apostles directed Christians, “Stay clear of all Greek books” [17]. The church fathers denounced the Greeks, accepting the utility of Greek logic only where Greek philosophy was made a handmaiden of Christian theology. In 391–392, Chris- tians burned the nearly intact Library of Alexandria [18], which possessed most of the books of the Greeks; the Christians brought the Olympics to an end in 393; they imported barbarians to smash the Greek temples in 396.
In 415, Christian monks killed the
Vallianatos, An Ancient Greek Computer 253
Fig. 3. From the letters of the manual, the archaeologist C. Kritzas estimated the mecha- nism’s date of construction to be between 150 and 100 BCE. (Photo © Xenophon Moussas)
the Antikythera Mechanism. Price would have agreed with this conclusion.
Thus, the considerable scientific and political value of such a small machine would argue for its widespread use and ownership. This suggests dozens of such computers all over the Greek world and more than one place manufacturing them. In contrast to the 14th-century Dondi astronomical clock, set upon a church tower, the Greek computer was not a plaything for the rich. It did not simply vanish.
In 1983, a Lebanese man sold to the Science Museum of London a sundial possibly constructed in Constantino- ple, in all probability around the early 6th century. This device had 4-toothed wheels and a ratchet carried on 2 small axles. One of the wheels had 59 teeth; this wheel measured the movement of the moon. Like ancient lunar calen- dars, this sundial represented a 30-day month followed by a 29-day month, the gearwheel turning a tooth a day. This sundial is the oldest surviving Greek clockwork device after the Antikythera device. To find anything resembling this technology, one has to look ahead to the 11th century, when al-Biruni, a Persian scientist, described a geared calendar mechanism.
Price was right that the Greek knowl- edge of gears was passed on to the Arabs, who made their own clockwork calendars. In addition, the construction of the Con- stantinople sundial showed that the in- strument, clearly descended from the Antikythera model, was not a luxury toy but an everyday calendar.
The Antikythera Mechanism also pro- vided the names and schedule of the Panhellenic games: OLYMPIA for the Olympics; NEMEA for the Nemean games; ISTHMIA for the Isthmian games at Korinthos; PYTHIA for the Pythian games at Delphi; and NAA for games in Dodona in Epiros. Since the Greeks did not need a computer to tell them the times of their Panhellenic games, which for more than a millennium were the most important political, social and re- ligious celebrations in their civilization, the Olympiad dial on the Antikythera device served another purpose.
Freeth et al., in their 2008 report, were right in saying, “It is perhaps not extravagant to see the Mechanism as a microcosm illustrating the temporal har- monization of human and divine order” [23] (Fig. 5). That is exactly the nature of
Fig. 4. The Wheel of the Sun seen from behind. (Photo © Xenophon Moussas)
254 Vallianatos, An Ancient Greek Computer
Fig. 5. Antikythera Mechanism fragment: The users’ manual with the Fig. 6. A lunar pointer, showing the position and speed of the moon Wheel of the Sun superimposed. (Photo © Xenophon Moussas) throughout the cycle of the zodiac. (Photo © Xenophon Moussas)
The Arabs copied the Greek geared machine and eventually passed it to Eu- ropeans in 13th-century al-Andalus (Mus- lim Spain). It then became the model for the sophisticated clockwork that under- pinned Europe’s scientific and techno- logical developments of the 17th century.
The Antikythera device was probably made in Rhodes or Korinthos or one of the daughter-poleis of Korinthos: Kerkyra, Sicily or, most likely, Syracuse.
Rhodes and Syracuse are the most at- tractive possibilities for the birthplace of Antikythera Mechanism–like devices. It is likely that the Greek computer came from both areas. Ancient Rhodes was a center of Greek science and culture. Here, a pleiad of famous scientists and philosophers lived and flourished. In- deed, the work of these people was one of the reasons Rhodes became one of the earliest and most important cultural centers of ancient Greece. According to the Greek physicist Antonios Pinotsis, the first meteorological observations neces-
sary for Greek calendars took place in Rhodes [24].
Hipparchos, the greatest Greek as- tronomer, had his laboratory in Rhodes from 140 to 120 BCE. He, more than other Greek astronomers, made use of the data of Babylonian astronomers. However, like the rest of the Greek as- tronomers, he employed geometry in the study and understanding of astro- nomical phenomena. He invented plane trigonometry and made astronomy the predictive mathematical science it is to- day. He computed eclipses. In addition, he discovered the precession of the equi- noxes—that is, he proved that the fixed stars are very slow movers that appear to be stationary [25]. He left a list with all his astronomical observations, including the observations he borrowed from the Babylonian and Greek astronomers. His only surviving book is a commentary on the works of Eudoxos and Aratos. Most of what we know of Hipparchos comes from the Almagest of Ptolemy, a great as- tronomer of the 2nd century of our era.
The connection of Hipparchos to the Antikythera Mechanism is in the front bronze plate of the device, where point-
ers displayed the positions and speed of the sun and the moon throughout the cycle of the zodiac. According to the July 2008 Nature report, that technology mir- rored work by Hipparchos [26].
Hipparchos knew the moon moved around the earth at varying speeds. When the moon is close to the earth, it moves faster, and it slows down when it is far- ther from the earth. This is because the moon’s orbit is elliptical, not the perfect circular movement the Greeks associated with the stars. Hipparchos resolved this difficulty with his epicyclic lunar theory, which superimposed one circular motion of the moon onto another, the second movement having a different center.
Those who made the Antikythera Mechanism modeled these ideas of Hip- parchos, setting one gearwheel sitting on top of another but located on a differ- ent axis. A pin-and-slot mechanism then accounts for the non-circular or ellipti- cal orbit of the moon. A pin originating from the bottom wheel enters the slot of the wheel above it. When the bottom wheel turns, it also drives the top gear- wheel around. However, the wheels have different centers, and therefore, the pin
Vallianatos, An Ancient Greek Computer 255
Fig. 7. Gears of the computer, showing their intricacy and the complexity of the machine. (Photo © Xenophon Moussas)
According to Geminos, the ancient Greeks reckoned the days and months by the moon and the year by the sun. One revolution of the earth on its axis equals a day. The Greeks and other an- cient people had determined that the year had 365 days. However, the dura- tion of the earth’s spinning on her axis 365 times is not exactly the time it takes the earth to circle around the sun, which is 1 year or 365.242199 days. The same kind of rotational deviation governs the month, which turns out to be 29.53059 days. Nevertheless, time-reckoning by the Greeks was not far off the mark.
The crescent moon was seen at the be- ginning of a month. The time between one crescent and another was never more than 30 days and never less than 29 days. The solar year was vital for marking time, telling the Greeks when to sow and when to harvest; and the moon’s cycles, averag- ing 291⁄2 days, reminded the Greeks to join farming to civic life. According to Geminos, the astronomical calculation of the month and the year helped the Greeks to follow the tradition of their ancestors in sacrificing to the gods, al- lowing “the same sacrifices to the gods to be performed at the same times of the year” [30].
All the cycles in the heavens, especially those of the sun and the moon, were captured in the Antikythera Mechanism, as the lunar pointer shows (Fig. 6). The Greeks used their mathematics, espe- cially geometry, to simulate astronomical
slides back and forth in the slot, which enables the speed of the top wheel to vary while that of the bottom wheel remains constant.
Poseidonios (c. 135–c. 51 BCE) was also connected with the technology of the An- tikythera Mechanism. He succeeded Hip- parchos in the school of astronomical studies in Rhodes. Poseidonios became a citizen of Rhodes and served Rhodes in senior political positions. Powerful Romans visited him for his friendship and learning. General Pompey stopped at Rhodes in 66 and 62 BCE to see Posei- donios. Cicero studied under him and reported that Poseidonios constructed a sphere that looked like the planetarium of Archimedes. That globe showed “the movements of the sun and the stars and planets, by day and night, just as they ap- pear in the sky” [27].
Finally, Geminos, probably a student of Poseidonios, was another astrono- mer who flourished in Rhodes in the 1st century BCE. His book Introduction to the Phenomena is a general overview of Greek astronomy, written by a knowledgeable polymath for the general reader [28]. It served as a scientific bridge for 400 years of Greek astronomical thought, connect- ing Hipparchos (2nd century BCE) and Ptolemy (2nd century of our era). Intro- duction to the Phenomena includes ideas
that resemble the inscriptions on the Antikythera Mechanism regarding the names of the months, which years had 13 months, which month would be repeated in those years, and which months had 30 and which 29 days. After reading its in- scriptions, the scientists who studied the Antikythera Mechanism saw the hand of Geminos in the Antikythera device [29].
256 Vallianatos, An Ancient Greek Computer
Fig. 8. The Tower of the Winds. An octagonal planetarium with sundials, a wind vane and a klepsydra or water clock. (Photo © Evaggelos Vallianatos)
phenomena, creating an accurate model of the universe through the use of gears (Fig. 7).
Could it be that Hipparchos, who ex- plained why the moon changes speed while zooming around the earth, created the first astronomical computer, some- thing like the Antikythera Mechanism? It is quite possible he did. His astronomi- cal models were more advanced than those of Archimedes, and his footprint is in the Antikythera Mechanism. How- ever, he relied on Archimedes, because Archimedes’s science and mechanics moved the world in Greek times; he was the model for Hipparchos as much as he was for Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton.
Price proposed that the creator of the Antikythera Mechanism was Andronikos Kyrrhestes, who built the Tower of Winds in Athens (Fig. 8) [31]. Pinotsis makes a case for Poseidonios being the architect of the Antikythera computer and indeed inventing the differential gear [32]. Ar- chimedes, however, built the prototypical astronomical computer, that is, his plane- tarium, and Poseidonios must have been indebted to him.
Pinotsis favors Rhodes as a point of origin. Studying the coins of Rhodes, he noticed an interesting evolution in the ray-crowned head of Helios on Rhodian coins, which changed with the advances in the astronomical knowledge on the island. That is a great insight. However, even if that observation is accurate, and in all likelihood it is, science and ad- vanced technology in the Alexandrian era became Panhellenic, spreading rap- idly from polis to polis, possibly from Syracuse to Rhodes or from Rhodes to Korinthos.
Some Western scholars and scientists, being preeminent in the modern world, question Greek achievements in science and technology, preferring that Western Europe take special credit for the birth of science and technical knowledge. They know or should know their claims are false.
Above I have mentioned Aristotle and how much he admired craftsmen and artists. A near contemporary to Archi- medes, Philon of Byzantium, also wrote about mechanics, including about the construction of weapons. He was em- phatic that advancements in technology rely on trial and error as well as theory. His experience came from working in both Alexandria and Rhodes. For exam- ple, the catapult was made more effective by changing the size of the hole through which its twisted skeins, the springs of the weapon, moved. Doubling the size of a
catapult required a larger diameter for the hole, which meant solving the inter- esting and difficult geometrical problem of doubling the cube. Philon tells us that the Ptolemies, the Greek kings of Egypt, funded experiments for “the long-range shooting of missiles which [would] land with vigorous impact” [33].
The mechanics and engineering of Philon, just like those of Archimedes, persisted as late as the 4th century of our era, when the Greek mathematician Pappos of Alexandria divided mechanics into theory and praxis. Theory includes “geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and physics.” Practical mechanics relies on “metal-working, architecture, carpentry” and “painting” [34].
Thus crafts and mechanics among the Greeks, including the technology of the Antikythera Mechanism, were not trivial but comprehensive, scientific and funda- mental to their culture and life.
Francois Charette, professor of the history of natural sciences at the Ludwig- Maximilian University in Munich, Ger- many, studied the Antikythera computer and concluded that “mind-boggling tech- nological sophistication” must have been available to those who made it [35].
References and Notes
Unedited references as provided by the author.
1. Aristotle, Metaphysics 981b13–17, in The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. and tr. Richard McKeon (New York: The Modern Library, 2001).
2. Aristotle, Politics, in McKeon [1] 1291a1-4.
3. See description of the shipwreck by archaeologist J.N. Svoronos, Das Athener Nationalmuseum (Athens, 1908). For an early description of the Antikythera Mechanism see Der Astrolabos von Antikythera by Perikles Rediadis, who later became Greek minister of finance. Rediadis sees it as a very complex astro- labe. See also Rediadis, “The Antikythera astrolabe,” Newsletter of the Archaeological Society of Greece, Athens, 1910, pp. 157–172.
4. K. Rados, On the Antikythera Treasure (Athens, 1910).
5. A. Rehm, Philologische Wochenschrift (Berlin, 13 April 1907).
6. Cicero, De re publica 1.14.21-22, tr. Clinton Keyes (Loeb, 1928).
7. J. Theophanides, Military and Naval Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, Athens, 1928, pp. 83–104; J. Theophanides, “On the Findings of the Antikythera Treasure,” Naval Review (Athens, 1934).
8. Derek de Solla Price, “Gears from the Greeks: The Antikythera Mechanism—A Calendar Computer from ca. 80 B.C.,” in Transactions of the American Philo- sophical Society, 1974, 64 (7).
9. Price [8] p. 13. 10. Price [8] p. 13. 11. Price [8] p. 60. 12. Price [8] p. 51.
13. Tony Freeth et al., “Supplementary Notes,” in “Calendars with Olympian display and eclipse predic- tion on the Antikythera Mechanism,” Nature, 31 July 2008, 458, pp. 614–617.
14. Freeth et al. [13], “Supplementary Notes,” p. 21.
15. Price [8] p. 5. The two Nature articles are: Tony Freeth et al., “Decoding the ancient Greek astro- nomical calculator known as the Antikythera Mecha- nism,” Nature, 30 November 2006, 444, p. 591, and Freeth et al. [13].
16. Freeth et al. [15] (2006) p. 591. 17. Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum 1.6, ed. F.X.
Funk (First published 1905, Turin, 1964) pp. 13–15.
18. Eunapius, Lives of Philosophers, tr. Wilmer Cave Wright (Loeb, 1998) pp. 465–473; Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 6 vols. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993) Vol. III, pp. 151–152.
19. Evaggelos Vallianatos, The Passion of the Greeks (Harwich Port, MA: Clock and Rose Press, 2006).
20. Firmicus Maternus, The Error of the Pagan Reli- gions 28.6, tr. Clarence A. Forbes (New York: Newman Press, 1970).
21. Palladas, in The Greek Anthology 9.773, tr. W.R. Paton (Loeb, 1968).
22. Sokrates, Ecclesiastical History 5.16, tr. A.C. Zenos, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 2 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995).
23. Freeth et al. [13], “Supplementary Notes,” p. 21.
24. Antonios Pinotsis, “Astronomy in Ancient Rhodes” (unpublished paper, 2008, Section of As- trophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics, Department of Physics, University of Athens); Pinotsis, “Kleovou- los of Lindos: The Precursor of Science in Ancient Rhodes,” Dodecanesian Chronicles, Vol. 18, 2005, 322– 351 (in Greek).
25. Ptolemy, Almagest 7.1–3, tr. and ed. G.J. Toomer (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).
26. Freeth et al. [13] pp. 2–3. 27. Cicero, The Nature of the Gods 2.87–89, tr. Horace
C.P. McGregor (London: Penguin Books, 1972).
28. Geminos, Introduction to the Phenomena 8.15, tr. James Evans and J. Lennart Berggren (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).
29. Freeth et al. [13] p. 614. 30. Geminos [28]. 31. Price [8].
32. Antonios Pinotsis, “The Antikythera Mechanism: Who Was Its Creator and What Was Its Use and Pur- pose?” Astronomical and Astrophysical Transactions, Vol. 26, Nos. 4–5, 2007, pp. 211–226.
33. Philon of Byzantium, Belopoeica (Mechanics IV) 3.5-7, in A Source Book in Greek Science, ed. Morris R. Cohen and I.E. Drabkin (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1948) pp. 318–319.
34. Pappos, Mathematical Collection 8.1–5, in Cohen and Drabkin [33] pp. 183–184.
35. Francois Charette, “High tech from ancient Greece,” Nature, 30 November 2006, 444, p. 552.
Manuscript received 21 December 2010.
Evaggelos Vallianatos was born in Greece. He studied at the University of Illinois, where he earned a BA in zoology and an MA in medieval Greek history. He continued his his- torical studies at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a doctorate in Greek history. He then did postdoctoral studies in the history of science at Harvard. He worked on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He has also taught at several uni- versities. He is the author of five books, one forthcoming book, and more than 150 articles on Greek history, the history of science and en- vironmental issues.
Vallianatos, An Ancient Greek Computer 257


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