The Antikythera Mechanism: Astronomy and technology in ancient Greece

R D Wright Lecture

Professor John Seiradakis, Department of Physics, Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics, Aristotle University, Greece will be presenting the R D Wright Lecture.

The Antikythera Mechanism was a portable (laptop-size), geared mechanism, built ca. 150-100 BCE, which calculated and displayed, with high precision, the movement of the sun and the moon and the phase of the moon for a given epoch. It could also predict eclipses and calculate the dates of the Olympic Games. It had one dial on the front and two on the back. Its 30 precisely cut gears were driven by a manifold with which the user could select, with the help of a pointer, any particular epoch. While doing so several pointers were synchronously driven by the gears to show the above mentioned celestial phenomena on several accurately marked annuli. It contained an extensive user's manual.

The exact function of the gears has finally been decoded and a large portion of the manual (~3000 letters) has been read after 2000 years by a major new investigation, using state of the art equipment.

No complicated geared instruments are known before the Antikythera Mechanism and for several centuries after. Therefore, this astronomical device stands out as an extraordinary proof of high tech in ancient times.

The R D Wright Lecture is jointly sponsored by the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne and the 'Friends of R Douglas Wright'.

Bookings essential, places limited.