Antikythera Mechanism: Google Doodle Celebrates The Discovery Of Mysterious Ancient Computer

Today, Google Doodle pays tribute to one of the most mysterious discoveries from the ancient world; the Antikythera mechanism. Google has changed their homepage picture to a series of gears, which represents the discovery that was discovered on this day in 1901.

A crew of divers looking to gather sponges from the Mediterranean Sea was impacted by a storm that forced them to seek safety. They were able to find shelter on the Greek island of Antikythera. While they were there, they noticed a shipwreck full of treasures. It was later stated that the ship was of Roman origin. A report in Nature states that the treasures included statues, jewels, furniture, weapons, and fragments of what would later become known as the Antikythera mechanism.

Antikythera Mechanism Google Doodle
[Image by Google]

According to Nature, the Antikythera mechanism was discovered in 1901 when it was salvaged from a shipwreck off the coast of Greece. The ancient device was dated to between the first or second century B.C. and has baffled experts over its design and its potential use.

In order to understand the mechanism and discover its use, scientists were able to reconstruct the device in 2006 based on the fragments that were discovered over a century ago. Mike Edmunds, an astronomer from the University of Cardiff, and mechanic Michael Wright were in charge of the group responsible for reconstructing the mysterious ancient artifact.

Also known as an ancient computer, the Antikythera mechanism measured approximately 30 centimeters wide and 20 centimeters tall. The device consisted of multiple gears made of bronze, which were of varying sizes, and was accompanied by multiple inscriptions written in Greek. The front of the Antikythera mechanism consisted of dials that showed the months of the year and the 12 signs of the zodiac.

The dial which showed the months of the year was divided into 365 days, while the dial with the zodiac was divided into 360 degrees. It is also believed that the mechanism was able to show the exact day of the year and phases of the moon. The back of the Antikythera mechanism also consisted of two dials. These dials were used to predict when eclipses would occur. Due to the construction of the device, experts state that the Antikythera mechanism was a computer used for astronomical purposes.


Experts initially believed that the Antikythera mechanism was built on the island of Rhodes. The reason for this belief was due to Rhodes being the place where the ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus resided. This theory began to fall apart when it was realized that the names of the months on the mechanism were related to those being used by the people that lived in the city-state of Corinth. It is still a mystery as to where exactly the Antikythera mechanism was built.

Alexander Jones, a historian of ancient science at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World spoke with the Washington Post about the ancient computer.

"In this very small volume of messed-up corroded metal you have packed in there enough knowledge to fill several books telling us about ancient technology, ancient science and the way these interacted with the broader culture of the time. It would be hard to dispute that this is the single most information-rich object that has been uncovered by archaeologists from ancient times."
To understand just how advanced the Antikythera mechanism is, it is important to understand that the gear technology used in the device was never seen in Europe until the 14th century when the first clocks were invented.[Featured Image By Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo]