Unearthing four new mysteries

Data
Country: 
United Kingdom
Media name: 
BBC Radio 4
Author: 
Aubrey Manning
Media type: 
Radio
Publication Date: 
12/12/2006

The Antikythera Mechanism is an intricate bronze device of wheels, dials and gears created more than two thousand years ago by the Ancient Greeks.

Found at the bottom of the sea by sponge divers on the wreck of a Roman cargo ship it has fascinated astronomers, mathematicians, engineers and historians ever since.

Crafted with precision engineering and covered with astronomical symbols and inscriptions – was it an early astronomical computer? The sophisticated technology used to make it isn’t seen until medieval clocks 1000 years later. Could its existence mean the ancient Greeks knew the Earth moved round the Sun more than a millennia before Copernicus brought it to the world in the sixteenth century?

Aubrey goes in search of who made it, what it was used for and why its existence might mean a rethink of our understanding of the history of science and technology.