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12 Bizarre and Outlandish Theories About the Antikythera Mechanism

Updated 14 Jun 2019 50.2k 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.

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