Gears from the Greeks:


The Antikythera Mechanism

an ancient astronomical computer ?

Without doubt, one of the most astonishing and intriguing artefacts of the ancient world: the Antikythera Mechanism. Is this a machine built according to the likeness of Archimedes' Sphere alluded to by Cicero ? Where is Archimedes' lost manuscript ``On Sphere-Making'' to clarify to us the astonishing technological knowledge of the Ancient World ?

``For when Archimedes fastened on a globe the movements of moon, sun and five wandering stars, he, just like Plato's God who built the world in the ``Timaeus'', made one revolution of the sphere control several movements utterly unlike in slowness and speed. Now if in this world of ours phenomena cannot take place without the act of God, neither could Archimedes have reproduced the same movements upon a globe without divine genius''

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, Book I, Section XXV

As a fitting testimony to the genius of the antiquity, here a series of photographs (Rien van de Weygaert, Sept. 2002, National Archaeological Museum, Athens), presenting an impression of the refined technological knowledge and skills which produced this apparatus with at least 32 gears, including a differential, around the year 80 B.C.

     Original Pictures National Archaeological Museum

the Antikythera Mechanism:
Ingenuity and High-tech from Graeco-Roman Antiquity

Central Gear House

sideview front central gear house:
successive zoom-ins

lower half & zoom-in


View from above

Front Dial

front dial: front view



front dial: side view

Door Plate

Backside central gear house


Backside central gear house:
sidelong view of gears


sidelong view plate layers


zoom-in onto plate layers


view righthand side

Central Gear House:
Processed Images