Friday, December 14, 2018, 2:00pm
Warren Weaver Hall, Room 109
Professor Alexander Jones
Leon Levy Director and Professor of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
The Antikythera Mechanism: Mathematical Astronomy through Ancient Gears
In 1901, heavily corroded fragments of a gearwork mechanical device were recovered from the site of a Greek shipwreck dating to around 60 BCE, close to the island of Antikythera. Research carried out over the past 60 years, using progressively more powerful imaging techniques, has resulted in a secure, if not quite complete, reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism as a chronological and astronomical simulator that displayed cycles of time and apparent motions of the heavenly bodies at a highly accelerated rate relative to real time. In this talk I will focus on the assumptions originating in Greek mathematical astronomy and Greek society that were built into the Mechanism, and on how these assumptions were implemented in the gearwork.