Fragment A of the famous Antikythera Mechanism. Credit: Brett Seymour/WHOI

Our Understanding Of The Antikythera Mechanism Changed Completely Thanks To Hacker’s Discovery

This may be the most impactful discovery in the Antikythera Mechanism research to date.


Among the massive ancient monuments, temples, even cities, archaeologists often discover unexpected mysterious ancient artifacts that go beyond our knowledge and understanding of the past. One such item is the Antikythera Mechanism which is often referred to as the world’s most ancient computer.

This absolute “technological” wonder of the ancient world was once used for astronomical purposes such as predicting astronomical events years or even decades in advance and following the movement of cosmic objects.

The Antikythera Mechanism has baffled experts for nearly 120 years now and although we have a general idea of its ancient purposes, many questions remain. I think we all know what those questions are and since we do not have a precise answer, let’s move on to some fresh discoveries.

A Discovery Contrary To What Is Known About The Antikythera Mechanism

Fragments from the Antikythera Mechanism. Fragment C on the left is the one in question in this discovery. Credit: CACM
Fragments from the Antikythera Mechanism. Fragment C on the left is the one in question in this discovery. Credit: CACM

This latest chapter in the research of the Antikythera Mechanism was conducted by a rather unexpected group of researchers through the creation of a complete replica of the original artifact and extensive mathematical calculations.

For decades, it has been thought that the outer calendar ring on the Antikythera Mechanism was a presentation of the Egyptian Civil Calendar which had 365 days.

The extensive research conducted by the small team in addition to the careful re-creation of the entire Antikythera Mechanism has led to the discovery that the calendar ring was not referring to a 365-day calendar but instead, to a 354-day lunar calendar.

The inaccuracy in the construction or more precisely the discrepancy of the inter-hole distance between each of the holes has been noted in the past. Even in the early periods of research, there are opinions that this is not an annual calendar like the one we know, but as you can see, it takes more than 100 years to find enough evidence.

To a large extent, the problem with the proper study of the Antikythera Mechanism is the lack of high-quality photos. It was only about 15 years ago that the first high-quality X-rays were taken, which marked and listed all the small parts and sections in the artifact.

Of course, this refers to only the existing parts of the Antikythera Mechanism but it is more than enough if you are prepared to go deep in mathematical calculations. And since this is definitely not one of my strong subjects, I will put a link towards the research paper at the bottom as there is no point in trying to explain the process better than the creators.

If you are interested in the detailed sequence of calculations and experiments, everything is explained there.

If you need the summarized explanation, the team of researchers tested the 365-day calendar hypothesis which eventually got rejected. This was achieved by calculating the inter-hole distance and applying it in various tests.

Once this hypothesis was rejected, the team went on to test 24 other possible hole counts individually until reaching the most probable number – 354.

Our Take on the Subject

Undoubtedly, this discovery was a surprise not only to the scientific world but to the team of researchers as well. Who would have thought a few years ago at the beginning of their project that it would get to this point or turn in this direction? More importantly, why did nobody attempt to test the probabilities in the past and search for the real truth?

It is important to note that the researchers who made this recent discovery did not rely only on statistical data and calculations. In fact, they went on and rebuilt the Antikythera Mechanism with absolute precision and using methods from the time period of origin.

In other words, they used the precise tools and techniques that the maker would have used 2000 years ago. Perhaps this is why they were able to see something more to the picture than anyone in the past. As far as we know, this is the most comprehensive attempt in building the Antikythera Mechanism, and putting yourself in the maker’s boots will always give you a different perspective.

I believe that this is perhaps the focal point of almost 120 years of research. Based on the hypothesis of the 365-day calendar, many experts have overlooked the Antikythera Mechanism believing that it is inaccurate. With hopes that this new discovery will not share the same fate, I see a completely new wave of experiments and research in the future.

This case is also the perfect example of how sometimes, in order to understand a mystery or something unexplainable, you need to take the time to do it from scratch just like the original creator.

You can watch the complete video on the building process in the video below.

The entire research paper on the discovery is available HERE.

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Budiselic, C., Thoeni, A. T., Dubno, M., & Ramsey, A. T. (2020). The Antikythera Mechanism Evidence of a Lunar Calendar Parts 1&2.

Maloney, D. (2020, December 16). Hacker’s Discovery Changes Understanding Of The Antikythera Mechanism.

Jones, A. (2020, April 08). The Antikythera Mechanism: The ancient Greek computer that mapped the stars.

Marchant, J. (2015, February 01). Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism, the First Computer.


Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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