In 1900, divers brought back vases, statues, jewelry, and pottery from a wreck dating back to 65 BC. BC, stranded off the Greek island of Antikythera. In the middle of this treasure, a piece of corroded wood and bronze goes almost unnoticed. It was not until 1902 that an archaeologist noticed the sprockets of this strange mechanism … the beginning of the long investigations that revealed the astonishing complexity of what would henceforth be called a machine (or mechanism)Antikythera. For some, it is a calculator intended to predict the date of the eclipse and the movements of the moon and the sun. The problem: Dozens of articulated cogwheels make it a very elaborate machine for its time, a kind of temporal artifact that doesn’t reveal all of these secrets.
The secret of the ancient Greeks
The Antikythera Machine didn’t begin to reveal its secrets until the 1970s when British researcher Derek de Sola Price and Greek physicist Charalambos Karacalos X-rayed it, yielding an initial view of the highly intricate gears of the remains. Then several teams tried to rebuild it, including another Briton, Michael Wright, who had studied it for years. Gradually, the idea that this was an astronomical calendar began to gain credence and is now the opinion of the majority of scientists who study it.
Based on this premise, a Greek team wanted to establish the calibration date of the machine, which is Day 0. Any measuring mechanism requires calibration, whether it is a matter of bathroom scales or powerful space telescopes for space agencies. If the Antikythera was indeed an orbital-calculating machine, it must have undergone the same modification. Authors who have submitted their work on a pre-publication site arXiv We believe the machine runs according to the Saros cycle as suggested by a dial with 223 sections located on its back face. The Saros cycle corresponds to a period of 223 moons that begins with an eclipse and at the end of it the moon, Earth and the sun find themselves in the same position and where a similar eclipse occurs afterwards, heading towards the west from 120 ° in a time of 8 hours. Greek scholars such as Hipparchus (described below), Pliny the Elder, or Ptolemy were familiar with this episode.