First analogue computer used to predict Olympics

By on

A new analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism, which is thought to be the first analogue computer, has shown it was used to not only predict solar movements but also plan for the Olympics.

The device, which was found in a first century shipwreck, is made up of brass dials and cogs. A previous analysis concluded that the device was used to predict solar and lunar cycles but new scanning technology has revealed that it was also used to date the Olympic Games.

Tony Freeth, a member of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, told the BBC he was "astonished" at the discovery.

"The Olympiad cycle was a very simple, four-year cycle and you don't need a sophisticated instrument like this to calculate it. It took us by huge surprise when we saw this.

"But the Games were of such cultural and social importance that it's not unnatural to have it in the Mechanism."

By using 3D scanning the team found the words Isthmia, Olympia, Nemea and Pythia (part of the precursor games to the main Panhellic competition) etched on one of the cogs.

The Antikythera Mechanism has fascinated scholars since it was identified. It is so far advanced that similar mechanisms weren’t created until over 1,000 years later.
Got a news tip for our journalists? Share it with us anonymously here.
Copyright ©

Most Read Articles

Log In

  |  Forgot your password?