September 15, 2014

The Antikythera Mechanism - The World's Oldest Known Computer


WITH torn sails and splintered timbers, a Roman ship foundered in the savage seas between Greece and Crete. Some 2000 years later, what it carried would rattle the world. 

As the shattered remains sank into the dim sea, the treasures it carried passed out of reach of history.

As Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem Ulysses evocatively intones: “Beyond the utmost bound of human thought”.

Until now.
On board was an amazing but eclectic collection: Bronze and marble statues. Glassware. Jewellery. Coins.

An ancient computer.
  But the cargo also appears to have been something of an assortment of parts. Few objects recovered so far have been complete.

Was it a treasure ship making a delivery to an expectant king or high priest? Was it a loot ship, carrying the spoils of a distant war? Or was it a salvage barge lugging away the discarded, unfashionable luxuries from a rich estate for recycling?

What vanished that fateful day about 60BC is about to be revealed.

Finely formed bronze statues of gods, kings and warriors. Amazingly animated marble statues — made weak by time and fate, but still full of vigour and life. Sublimely crafted and coloured glass bowls and cups.

All this paled into insignificance once scientists took at close look at a corroded clump of bronze cogs and wheels.

It was part of an astronomical calculator. A mechanical device to predict the motion of the stars and planets.

The 82 fragments recovered so far have become known as the Antikythera Mechanism. It has been the centre of fascination, debate and speculation for decades. And there are enticing hints that there may be a second.

Now archaeologists have resolved to find the rest of it.

It was more than a century ago when local sponge diver spotted an eerie hand sticking out from the silt while working the barren crags off Point Glyphadia on the Aegean island of Antikythera.

The intrepid divers could only go as deep as 75m for a few minutes. Nevertheless, they managed to recover a wealth of ancient art.

But it would be one shapeless, nondescript lump of bronze which would turn out to be one of the most extraordinary discoveries in history.

When eventually cleaned, the 20cm tall tangle of bronze revealed a complex interweave of gears and cogs.

Today an assembly of archaeologists and divers sets out with hungry hearts to finish the job.
It won’t be an easy task. And they have only a month to do it in.

 Antikythera isn’t exactly a hospitable place. It’s little more than a clump of rocks situated between Crete and Greece. The earthquake-wracked region is renowned for its jagged outcrops and deep ravines.
But new technology will be instrumental in this search for the old.

It’s a cutting-edge piece of engineering which encases an operator inside an automated exoskeleton pressure suit. It can keep its occupant safe — and mobile — down to a depth of 300m for up to five hours at a time.

Dr James Hunter, a research fellow with the South Australian Maritime Museum and head archaeologist for the HMCS Protector Project, says he is excited at the potential the exosuit brings.

“It’s really cool. We’ve progressed quite a bit from the early days of underwater archeology when we were using scuba gear with regular compressed air and no mixed gas. We’ve learned through trial-and-error new methods to safely work at depth,” he says.

Jacques Cousteau revisited the depths in 1953 and 1976 using just such basic equipment. Nevertheless, the famous ocean explorer managed to dredge part of the site — recovering many wonderful things.

It is still believed the main body of the wreck itself has not been extensively searched.
A recent survey uncovered evidence of artefacts scattered over a 50m by 10m patch of the seabed.

Then there’s a second, as-yet unexplored wreck.


by: Jamie Seidel
With thanks to The Herald Sun

More from You Tube:

More than 21 centuries ago, a mechanism of fabulous ingenuity was created in Greece, a device capable of indicating exactly how the sky would look for decades to come -- the position of the moon and sun, lunar phases and even eclipses. But this incredible invention would be drowned in the sea and its secret forgotten for two thousand years.

This video is a tribute from Swiss clock-maker Hublot and film-maker Philippe Nicolet to this device, known as the Antikythera Mechanism, or the world's "first computer". The fragments of the Mechanism were discovered in 1901 by sponge divers near the island of Antikythera. It is kept since then at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece.

For more than a century, researchers were trying to understand its functions. Since 2005, a pluridisciplinary research team, the "Antikythera Mechanism Research Project", is studying the Mechanism with the latest high tech available.

The results of this ongoing research has enabled the construction of many models. Amongst them, the unique mechanism of a watch, designed by Hublot as a tribute to the Mechanism, is incorporating the known functions of this mysterious and fascinating ancient Mechanism.

A model of the Antikythera Mechanism, built by the Aristotle University in Greece, together with the mechanism of the watch and this film in 3D are featuring in an exhibition about the Mechanism that is taking place in Paris, at the Musée des Arts et Métiers.

The original fragments of the Mechanism, its main models and the watch designed by Hublot are on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece.

Many thanks to Jared for sending me this. A lot of other items have been found.

More at the link below:

Buried Treasures Pulled from 'Titanic of Ancient World'

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