The Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the ‘world’s oldest computer’, is even older than previously thought, according to a new study.
Previous estimates placed the astronomical mechanism’s construction at around 125 BC, but new research has pushed that date back further, to 205 BC, according to Christian Carman of Argentina’s National University of Quilmes and James Evans of the University of Puget Sound.
The mechanism, measuring just about 8 inches across, was discovered in 1901 amongst the wreckage of a Greek ship believed to have sunk sometime between 85 BC and 60 BC, near the island of Antikythera between Crete and Greece.
The mechanism’s complex clocklike assembly of bronze gears and display dials predated other known examples of similar technology by more than 1,000 years.
It accurately predicted lunar and solar eclipses, as well as solar, lunar and planetary positions, the ‘New York Times’ reported.
In a paper appearing in the Archive for History of Exact Science, Carman and Evans described how they arrived at the new date.
According to ‘pcmag.com’, they began by comparing the “hundreds of ways that the Antikythera’s eclipse patterns could fit Babylonian records” reconstructed by Brown University’s John Steele.
By process of elimination, the researchers concluded that 205 BC was the likeliest date for the mechanism’s construction.
The finding supports the idea, scientists said, that the mechanism’s eclipse prediction strategy was not based on Greek trigonometry, which did not exist at the time, but on Babylonian arithmetical methods borrowed by the Greeks.