he Antikythera Mechanism is considered the oldest computer in the world. In fact it seems it is actually even older than originally believed. Researchers at the National University of Quilmes, in Argentina, have studied the device again and now determine that it could date back as far 205 B.C. which is approximately 100 years earlier than they thought before.
The Antikythera Mechan ism was actually discovered within a sunken shipwreck at the bottom of the Aegean Sea (near the island of Antikythera, hence its name).
But when it was made is only part of the mystery, because this device can accurately predict astronomical positions and eclipses. This device, in fact, is so complex that many consider it to be far ahead of its time which probably accounts for the early miscalculation of its age. Still, mechanical astronomical clocks of similar complexity would not appear on Man’s timeline until maybe the 14th century. And furthermore, researchers believe that the Antikythera Mechanism must be an original machine and not the prototype for others, because of the relative span of time between it and the next such device.
These new findings, though, could reveal that the accurate eclipse predictor—the Saros dial—within the Antikythera mechanism suggests it provided highly valuable astronomical data.
The research team reached the conclusion of the new date stamp of 205 B.C. through a very detailed and intricate process of elimination. They examined hundreds of different ways that the device can math eclipse patterns with Babylonian records, which had been reconstructed by John Steele, a professor of Egyptology and Assyriology with Brown University.
He says, “The calculations take into account lunar and solar anomalies (which result in faster or slower velocity), missing solar eclipses, lunar and solar eclipse cycles, and other astronomical phenomena,” explains the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma,WA. “The work was particularly difficult because only about a third of the Antikythera’s eclipse predictor is preserved.”