Mike Edmunds MA PhD
Professor of Astrophysics, Cardiff University
Abstract: The Antikythera Mechanism Decoded
What may well be the most extraordinary surviving artefact from
the ancient Greek world was discovered just over a century ago.
Found in 1900 in a wreck off the coast of the Mediterranean island
of Antikythera, the device contains over thirty gear wheels and
dates from around 100 B.C. Now known as the Antikythera Mechanism,
it is an order of magnitude more complicated than any surviving
mechanism from the following millennium, and there is no surviving
precursor. It is clear from its structure and inscriptions that it
is an astronomical calculator, although its exact purpose is still
shrouded in mystery. Over the past few years an international
research programme has involved scientists from Greece, the UK and
HP labs in Paolo Alto, California. The use of cutting-edge
technology has revealed a great deal more about the structure,
function and inscriptions of the Mechanism. This illustrated review
will describe the modern research methods we have used, and the
profound implications of the results for the development of ancient
Greek astronomy, philosophy and technology.
Mike Edmunds M.A., Ph.D., FRAS, FInstP, CPhys, is currently a
professor of astrophysics at Cardiff University, and a member of the
Science and Technology Facilities Council of the UK. His research
career has focussed on the chemical evolution of galaxies and the
origin of interstellar dust.
In recent years he has been the academic lead of an international
team investigating the ancient Greek astronomical calculator, the
Antikythera Mechanism. He has a long history of strategic
involvement in the provision and running of international
observatory facilities. Strongly committed to public engagement with
science, he is Chair of STFC.s Education and Outreach Advisory Panel
and a consultant for the Higher Education Academy.
A frequent speaker and radio broadcaster on astronomy, he also
occasionally appears in his one-man play as Sir Isaac Newton. He is
a member of the Council of the Royal Astronomical Society.