Sunday, June 11, 2006

ANCIENT ASTRONOMICAL COMPUTER -- This is too cool not to note:
Ancient Astronomy Artifact Bears Hidden Text
By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

June 8, 2006— A shoebox-sized bronze device scooped out of a Roman-era shipwreck at the dawn of the 20th century has baffled scientists for years. Now a British researcher has stunningly established it as the world's oldest surviving astronomy computer.

A team of Greek and British scientists probing the secrets of the artifact, known as the Antikythera Mechanism, has managed to decipher ancient Greek inscriptions unseen for over 2,000 years, members of the project say.

"Part of the text on the machine, over 1,000 characters, had already been deciphered, but we have succeeded in doubling this total," said physician Yiannis Bitsakis.

Bitsakis is part of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from universities in Athens, Salonika and Cardiff, the Athens National Archaeological Museum and the Hewlett-Packard company.

"We have now deciphered 95 percent of the text," he told AFP.

No word on what the inscription says. There's a conference coming up in November on the Mechanism. The website is at And here's a site on the object from the American Mathematical Society.

Incidentally, here's an interesting essay by Meir Bar-Ilan on "Astronomy and Astrology Among the Jews in Antiquity." I wonder if the Enochian astronomers would approve or disapprove of the Antikythera Mechanism.

(Via Archaeologica News.)

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