Antikythera Mechanism to be honoured by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ΑSME) will pay a tribute to the world famous ancient artifact known as the Antikythera Mechanism, in recognition of its significance to the evolution of mechanical engineering and technology. The society will designate the ancient technological marvel as a Historical Mechanical Engineering Landmark and present an honorary plaque during a special event at 16:00 on June 26, at the Altar Hall of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

At the award ceremony, Greek and American scientists will make brief announcements about the special contribution of the Antikythera Mechanism to science, and update participants on the ongoing research towards a better understanding of its structure and function.

The Antikythera Mechanism is a unique find dating back to the 1st century BC, which was found on the seabed near the island of Antikythera, northwest of Crete, in 1901.

The device has since baffled the scientific community with the sheer amount of technical knowledge, skill and the wealth of scientific information that went into its construction and operation. It is the oldest surviving multiple-gear mechanism, essentially an analogue ‘computer’ for making astronomical and calender calculations, designed to predict astronomical phenomena and to maintain a multi-annual precision calendar.

The small size of the mechanism, the pinion gears, the differential gears and the helical gears, as well as its slit system assembly, prove that the Greek engineers of the Hellenistic period were much better at designing sprocket gears than historical sources seem to suggest.

Such complex mechanisms did not reappear in Europe until the 13th century mechanical clocks.