In 1900, sponge divers off the coast of the tiny Greek island of Antikythera made an astonishing discovery: the wreck of an ancient Roman ship lay 200 feet beneath the water, its dazzling cargo spread out over the ocean floor. Among the life-size statues and amphorae was an encrusted piece of metal, which after nearly a century of investigation, is finally revealing its secrets. Called the Antikythera Mechanism, study has shown that this improbably preserved object is actually an ancient Greek astronomical computer of a technical sophistication not seen until the clock making traditions of Medieval Europe—1,500 years after the Mechanism is believed to have been made (about 200 BC).
Recent advances in computer imaging as well as painstaking scholarship have finally elucidated nearly all details of the Mechanism. Join us as we dive into the mysterious history of the Antikythera Mechanism, guided by several world experts: marine archeologist Brendan Foley will describe his 2014 diving expedition to the original Antikythera wreck site; Michael Wright, former curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London, will describe the structure and recreation of the Mechanism at University College London and will be bringing a model of the device to the Museum for audience members to explore; and professor Nicolaos Alexopoulos will discuss sociology, engineering, and science in ancient Greece.