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Historical novels from the 2nd für das 21st century


Montag, 1. Dezember 2014

So when and where was the Antikythera Mechanism built?

A recent study discussed in the New York Times on 25 Nov examined the sequence of solar and lunar eclipses that the Antikythera Mechanism is able to display and concluded that the earliest available date was 205 B.C.

'Beginning with the hundreds of ways that the Antikythera [Mechanism]’s eclipse patterns could fit Babylonian records ... the team used their system to eliminate dates successively, until they had a single possibility.

The calculations take into account lunar and solar anomalies (which result in faster or slower velocity), missing solar eclipses, lunar and solar eclipse­s cycles, and other astronomical phenomena."
"This suggests the mechanism is 50–100 years older than most researchers in the field have thought."'(1)

Frankly, I don't see how that final conclusion would arise from the evidence presented. Did it not come to the researchers' mind that the maker of the Antikythera Mechanism may have wanted his gear to calculate back into the past? The astronomy software installed on my computer is able to trace the movements of the heavens back to 2712 B.C. - is that conclusive evidence that king Sargon of Akkad ordered its making? At its best, the date of 205 B.C. suggests a terminus quo ante, that is: It is unlikely that the mechanism was crafted before that year because its maker would certainly have wanted it to be useful in his own time, not after some arbitrary date in the future. The commonly accepted age of the Antikythera Mechanism, however, is unchallenged in my opinion.

The argument about whether the workshop that built the Antikythera Mechanism was located in Sicily or in Rhodes is back at full volume, NYT also reports:

'An inscription on a small dial used to date the Olympic Games refers to an athletic competition that was held in Rhodes, according to research by Paul Iversen, a Greek scholar at Case Western Reserve University.'(2)