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This 2,000-Year-Old ‘Computer’ Was Used To Tell The Future

Jun 24, 2016 04:52 AM EDT
The Antikythera Mechanism
The famous 2,000-year-old Greek computer was not just used in astronomy, international scientists revealed.
(Photo : Tilemahos Efthimiadis / Flickr)

The famous 2,000-year-old Greek computer was not just used in astronomy, international scientists revealed.

After more than a decade of investigating the ancient Antikythera Mechanism, also known as the world's first computer, scientists have discovered more information about the device and its possible uses.

Ever since its first fragments were recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901, scientists and historians have been trying to uncover the relic's secrets. With the use of new imaging techniques, such as 3D X-ray scanning, scientists have discovered hidden letters and words in the text, which was unreadable to the naked eye. These 3,500 characters of text were believed to be the device's user manual, Live Science reported.

According to Science World Report, the high-tech relic, which looks like an old clock with bronze gears, was discovered to have been used thousands of years ago to calculate astronomical events and other happenings in space. Ancient Greeks may have also used the device in tracking the positions of the sun and the moon, the lunar phases, and cycles of Greek athletic competition.

"Now we have texts that you can actually read as ancient Greek, what we had before was like something on the radio with a lot of static," Alexander Jones, a history professor from the New York University, said in a report by Science World Report.

"It's a lot of detail for us because it comes from a period from which we know very little about Greek astronomy and essentially nothing about the technology, except what we gather from here," Jones added.

The relic, which was a kind of "philosopher's guide to the galaxy," could be a tool used to teach about the cosmos and our place in the cosmos, scientists said.           

"It's like a textbook of astronomy as it was understood then, which connected the movements of the sky and the planets with the lives of the ancient Greeks and their environment," Jones said.

While the mechanism was clearly used for astronomical purposes, researchers suggested that the machine could also be used to tell the future because of the inscriptions in the device that is used to predict a forthcoming eclipse, said a report from Mail Online.

American and Greek marine archaeologists are continuing excavation activities in the Antikythera wreck site. In June 11, the team found ceramic vessels, wooden furniture, fragments of marble statues and gold jewelry.

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