An article from the LA Times described an ancient bronze and iron computer that predicted astronomical events. Recovered from a shipwreck off a a Greek island bearing it’s name, the Antikythera Mechanism is thought to have been made about 100 BC. It’s important for several reasons, one of which being that it serves as the first verification that the calendar system of months, thought to have been devised by Geminus, was actually used in everyday life at that time, which has long been an ongoing point of historical debate. Even more fascinating to me, is that a dial on the clock predicted the dates and locations of the next several Olympic games. This isn’t so interesting technically, but a pretty strong testament to how strongly the Olympic spirit was woven into the fabric of the ancient Roman culture.
I’m always amazed at “Ancient Technology” and how our ancestors were able to do pretty advanced tasks without electricity, semiconductors, and all the building blocks that we rely on today. This fascinating device demonstrates not only how advanced the level of Mathematical and Astronomical thinking was in Ancient Rome, but also the importance of civil and cultural activities in their lifestyle. Do you have the Olympics or your next government elections in your Blackberry or Google Calendar?