Thursday, 18 December 2008

Antikythera: A 2,000-year-old Greek computer comes back to life

Watch a working model of the ancient clockwork device that some call the world's first computer.


This is a best guess of what the machine may have been like. Don't assume that this is what the machine actually was. It's still very interesting.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, December 18th, 2008.]


steven andresen said...

There's a video.

I think this shows these ancient types had smarts we are generally kept in the dark about.

I have seen discussions of there being examples of batteries...

The question one has is whether their developments would have been put into production, or whether there was an infrastructure to take these small developments and use them for practical purposes.

Given the small metal parts that work together, you'd think they'd think there would be practical spin offs...clocks, calculators.,..but their numbers were not concise enough...printing presses...interesting.

I've thought there was then a conflict between those who wanted to push learning and technological advancement, and those who thought that the infrastructure that's needed for that tends to expose religious development, which requires or encourages people to ignore the world, to undermine the development of communication and education.

The same conflicts occur nowadays.

My guess is the burning of the ancient libraries also went along with the destroying of technologies like this that might have been developing.

good post.

SpookyOne said...

Yes, I think for technology to develop, such as seen in the video, you need an element of social stability (not too much violence and destruction).

Of course you'd require a certain level of technological development first, but if you have metal working and a society in which fairly complex ideas and knowledge can be passed down it only takes a few very clever people, coming one after another, to develop upon existing concepts to produce a reasonably complex mechanical device.

Because such ideas were limited to a few "developed" places in the ancient world they were at the mercy of destruction through war, famine etc. Similarly the information about these things was also lost.

In today's society new contraptions, depending on their complexity, can be replicated throughout the world fairly easily and the information is not so easily lost. However, for very "high technology items" that need specialised support, these things can only survive as long as the institutions that make them exist. If there was a calamity very complex devices would be difficult to produce and the technolgy would be lost (although records on how to make the inventions would still exist).

I think the evidence shows that ancient people did develop lots of advanced items but this was usually done in isolation, such that these things did not survive. Their level of understanding as to what made these things work, like those ancient batteries, was probably very limited. The items also appeared to be for very specialised purposes and there was not much crossover of certain key principles to other areas of society ie. there was no plethora of mechanical aids. The lateral thinking only went so far.

With those batteries you refer to, I think the phenomena was probably found accidentally and the knowledge kept by only a few, hence it was easily lost. Of course the mechanical device seen in the video was a very deliberate construction- impressive indeed !

steven andresen said...

I've remembered a little more about this issue.

I remember reading quite a bit about speculations about Atlantis. The idea there was that there existed a civilization that had developed quite bit beyond the technological achievements of the rest of the world. When they look at the existence of pyramids, for example, the infrastructure required did not seem to exist in the cultures that were in their areas afterwards. So, the outlier theory about the Egyptian Giza pyramids is that they are at least 10,000 to 15,000 years old just because of the weathering around the Sphynx.

I remember reading about there being pieces of literature and evidence in sand deposits that suggest nuclear explosions beyond 5,000 years ago. These taking place on the Indian subcontinent.

There are ruins of massive cities off the coast of India at levels that could only have existed shortly after the Ice age started melting. The water levels had to have been a hundred feet lower(?)

I have thought evidence of longer ago civilization was so interesting. ....In order to float the religions, that God made special contracts recently, That God is creating a civilization for those who are around now, there has to be an effort to destroy or cover over evidence that there was much of worth before. Hence, the policy of building Christian churches on the places where previous temples already existed.

I am very much into looking for such evidence.

SpookyOne said...

I think you're right about there being various late ice-age civilisations or "citadel" building cultures.

Although more archeological work needs to be done, there appears to be a number of stone structures off the coasts of various countries that may have been on ground that was covered as the sea levels rose. Alternatively these "buildings" may have come later and sank as the result of land subsiding- but I think the number, and the limited damage to the sites excludes this hypothesis.

I speculate that our ancestors in the very late ice-age probably were able to build up substantial communities without needing to rely on farming as the primary food source. Instead of cereal crops being the cradle of civilisation I would guess that early coastal communities may have relied on large scale fishing (including coastal foraging of shellfish). And that this sort of activity may have been going on for 1000s of years during the time of the last ice-age.

I don't know about the nature of the Atlantis myth but reports from "coastal city" survivors or reports coming from smaller less "advanced" communities could well have talked up the technological "wonders" they observed. I'm sure that what was built was impressive, but it's all comparative and I'm sure the original story was embellished over time.

On the other hand The Great pyramids at Giza can be fairly accurately dated. There are smaller, less advanced pyramids from early pharaohs where the development of pyramid building can be mapped. We even have the tombs of the people who built them.

Recent experiments in stone moving has shown that given the right knowlegde and a few tricks it only takes a few guys (one!) to move a huge stone block across a paddock by "walking" it (I think I posted a vid on this a while ago). Moving heavy stuff around is not too hard if you know the right tricks and the stone builders back then had hundreds of years of experience to improve upon these techniques. It's not rocket science either - it requires using smaller harder stones to pivot on, levers, rollers, trenching etc.

The Sphinx tho seems older than the pyrmids. Weathering shows it could be very old indeed- putting it back in the neolithic. I don't know exactly. One thing I read recently about the Sphinx is that it might have originally been a lion and the much smaller head we see today was the result of later modifications by the pharaohs.

Personally, I would like to know what is under the Sphinx. There's rumours of a library. If true then I can only hope the contents are not too disturbed.

It's brilliant stuff, and if we can get over all this warring and mayhem I'd really like to see more investigations into these sorts of things. :)