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12 Bizarre and Outlandish Theories About the Antikythera Mechanism

Updated June 14, 2019 51.6k views12 items

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient analog computer used to predict the movement of the planets and the dates of future solar eclipses. It contains 30 metal gears, which work in harmony. Devices of similar complexity didn't appear until the 14th century, more than 1,300 years after the mechanism was built, a reality so difficult to explain rationally that the Internet is practically bursting with the Antikythera mechanism conspiracy theories. But is the Antikythera mechanism real? Undoubtedly. 

In 1901, divers found a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. It was full of ancient Greek artifacts, which were excavated and taken to the National Museum in Athens. There, archeologists pieced together sculptures and pottery, largely ignoring a calcified lump of wood and bronze. This, it turned out, would be one of the greatest tragedies of archeological discovery in modern times, because what was inside radically challenged ideas about ancient civilizations and their technology.

The calcified lump contained parts of the Antikythera mechanism, and research into its origins didn't begin until the 1950s. Even as Yale University professor Derek J. de Solla Price began investigating it in 1951, his research had little impact on the scientific community. Over the years, however, thanks to 3D X-rays, carbon dating, and translation of inscriptions, tremendous amounts of information about the mechanism have been compiled. But even as we continue to learn about the device, more questions are raised than answered. The Antikythera mechanism theories range from out-of-this-world to firmly rooted in scientific evidence, but all of them will change everything you know about technology and history.

  • 5

    Aliens Gave It to Us

    The Antikythera mechanism is very old and was clearly a huge step forward in technology. So how did the ancient Greeks come up with the idea for it, let alone build it? According to The Ancient Aliens, they didn't:

    Beings with advanced knowledge of astronomical bodies, mathematics and precision engineering tools created the device or gave the knowledge for its creation to someone during the first century BC. But the knowledge was not recorded or wasn't passed down to anyone else.

    So, aliens either gave humans this device or the knowledge to build it, but didn't do anything to ensure that we learned from or built upon it. Seems like those aliens weren't really thinking ahead.

  • 6

    It Came from the Lost City of Atlantis

    Photo: Géza Maróti / Public Domain

    Much like the alien theory, this one revolves solely around the fact that the Antikythera mechanism appears to be too technologically advanced for its time. Atlantis is a mythological, technologically advanced city that sunk into the sea. Plato wrote about the city in a series of allegories, but many people believe it actually exists. And some of those people think the Antikythera mechanism is proof Atlantis is real - they think the mechanism originated in Atlantis, not Greece, because it was far too advanced for any known civilization at the time.

  • 7

    Its Purpose Was to Depopulate the Earth

    Video: YouTube

    The video above breaks down an article about the Antikythera mechanism from The New York Times, and boy, does the uploader (who describes their channel as "Just highlighting all the crazy trending stuff out there!") have some fun ideas about this thing. Some highlights are:

    • It was made by the Illuminati
    • It was made by an ancient race of lizard people (which, duh)
    • Its purpose was to depopulate the Earth,
    • It was not, in fact, powered by a hand crank, but by a "Mac computer because those are owned by the Illuminati."

    All of these ideas seem very legitimate.

  • 8

    It's Evidence of Intelligent Design

    Photo: Henri Théophile Hildibrand / Public Domain

    Intelligent design is a theory suggesting many things on Earth are far too complex to be the result of simple evolution, and therefore were deliberately created by a higher being. Some people believe the Antikythera mechanism is evidence of intelligent design because it is so much more advanced than any other device that has been found from that time period. If this is indeed the case, you kinda have to wonder what divine, omnipotent being would spend time making such a tiny thing with such a negligibly important purpose.