What does it tell us about Greek Astronomy?

What does it tell us about Greek Astronomy?

Without a doubt it tells us that both Ancient Greek astronomy and mathematics were very advanced. This has to be placed in perspective as part of Greek astronomy comes after the long scientific tradition of the Babylonians, who built up a remarkable collection of astronomical data and discovered the repetitive patterns in that data. The Greeks placed these data into a new perspective. As an indication of the astronomical knowledge represented by the Mechanism, consider the FAQs regarding the Metonic, Callipic, Saros, and Exeligmos Cycles.



The Antikythera mechanism confirms that our previous understanding of Ancient Greek science was correct. Moreover, in actually implementing their knowledge by building a machine, they have proved their knowledge, to quote Donald Knuth: "Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer."

It also confirms the fact that, contrary to the popular misconception, Ancient Greeks scientists were very practical and did not limit themselves to theoretical investigation. To the surprise of the academic community, this misconception was strongly refuted when Archimedes' "The Method" was discovered in 1906 by Heiberg, in which Archimedes states that he systematically used physical analogies to discover his mathematical theorems.

However, after a century, this more realistic understanding of Ancient Greek science has had a difficult time entering the public consciousness. The fame of the Antikythera mechanism is therefore an important step in the general realization that Ancient Greeks had a very similar scientific process to our own.