utomating the process of working out complicated and time-consuming operations is something normal for our time, but something that people 2000 years ago would not even dream of, or at least so we have thought. In 1901, divers looking to research different species of fish next to the tiny island of Antikythera in Grece discovered an old shipwreck from ancient times which contained vast treasures.
Besides all the treasure, a piece of corroded metal was found which had a very odd shape. Those who discovered it in 1901 didn’t have the knowledge nor the technology to understand what exactly they were looking at. It was only after 120 years that scientists understood what they were looking for after splitting the object apart.
Technology that should not exist in ancient times
To everyone’s surprise, it is actually a computer that dates back to at least 87 BC, however, experts are saying that it could be older than 200BC. Some people might know a more modern definition for the word computer, but actually, a computer is considered a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. This is the reason why this computer has Antikythera mechanism, based on the location it was found.
The first X-ray CT scan performed on the computer in 2005 revealed that there were many small bronze gears inside that when turned, would give some sort of value. The vast knowledge of astrology that is discovered in the writings of ancient Greek historians is crazy and this is something that scientists took into consideration when looking at this mechanism.
The front of the mechanism remained largely unsolved until 2021 when a number of researchers understood what it was actually used for. This mechanism would calculate the cycles of the cosmos in order to tell where the planets are going to be in a long period of time such as 10 years or even 100 years. This was discovered based on the inscriptions on the computer that described the motions of the Sun, Moon, and the five planets known in antiquity (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn).
Experts say that it had been created to calculate the theories of ancient astrologists. The idea of having a machine able to calculate and validate scientific theories in ancient times is absolutely mind-blowing. This does truly justify that we are not the most intelligent generation to have walked this earth.
Looking for answers about the future in the cosmos
Sadly, only 82 fragments have survived which comes to a third of all the pieces that would make this mechanism work. A replica was based on the research of Michael Wright who took detailed X-rays of the discovered Antikythera mechanism whilst working as a curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London. From a computer-generated rendering of the Antikythera mechanism, he was able to rebuild a slightly more modern version of the original that does exactly the same job.
In order to use the machine, you would establish the current position of the planets, set a date, and turn the mechanism. This would show where the planets would be based on whatever date had been set for the future. It is sort of like a machine that would allow ancient astrologists to look into the future.
The experts that have done extensive research on this had admitted that for ancient times, this technology is incredible. It took modern generations over 100 years to understand something that had been built during what historians consider “very simple times”. Have a look at this simple blueprint that shows the function of the gears inside the computer.
A hypothetical schematic representation of the gearing of the Antikythera Mechanism, including the 2012 published interpretation of existing gearing, gearing added to complete known functions and proposed gearing to accomplish additional functions, namely true sun pointer and pointers for the five then-known planets, as proposed by researchers Freeth Tony and Jones Alexander.
How did the Greeks create such a complex mechanism?
As you can see, things are very complex which raises the question of how did Greeks from antiquity manage to invent something like this. The school of philosophy, mathematics, and astrology have been born with the minds of Greek scholars who definitely had the intelligence as well as the capabilities to come up with an invention so ahead of its time.
This is actually quite similar to the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci who also had a vision considered ahead of its time. The only difference is that the Greeks managed to somehow create and use this technology to understand the universe and even measure it to a certain extent. The simple existence of this mechanism questions the logic of history and the potential belief that humans were exponentially more intelligent in antiquity.
There are many debates that focus on the theory that technology has made us dumber and if we look at the average person this is true. The problem that society faced 1000 years ago is that most people were uneducated, but that does not necessarily make you dumb. Most people today are educated, but their intelligence through this modern education system where you just regurgitate knowledge that you digest to exhaustion does not show intelligence.
There is a big difference between being smart and being intelligent. Technology makes us smarter, but not more intelligent than people from 2000 years ago.