Antikythera Mechanism

Alexander Jones

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online July 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
  • History of Science and Technology


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The Antikythera Mechanism (National Archaeological Museum, Athens, inv. X 15087) was a Hellenistic gearwork device for displaying astronomical and chronological functions. Substantial but highly corroded remains of the instrument were recovered from an ancient shipwreck (see Figure 1).

The most complex scientific instrument to have survived from antiquity, it resembled the sphaerae or planetaria described by Cicero (1) and other Greco-Roman authors. The date of its construction is in dispute but must have been earlier than the middle of the 1st centurybce and can scarcely have been before the end of the 3rd centurybce. It is an invaluable witness for ancient mechanical technology at its most advanced level (see mechanics) as well as for Hellenistic astronomy.

Keywords: astronomy; mechanical technology; underwater archaeology; Antikythera Mechanism; planetaria; calendars

Article.  3285 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology ; History of Science and Technology

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