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Archaeologists resume Antikythera Mechanism hunt

Expedition returns to site where world’s oldest computing device found

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Scientists from the USA and Greece have returned to the site where, in 1901, a device widely regarded as the world’s first computing mechanism was found, in the hope that similar devices can be found.

The device in question is the Antikythera Mechanism, an apparatus of interlocking gears dated to the first century BC. The Mechanism has since been studied extensively, with recent simulations suggesting it could predict the path of the planets and was a navigational aide.

The Mechanism is of considerable interest to science, as humanity seems not to have constructed a mechanical artefact of comparable complexity for at least a millennium.

The new expedition to Antikythera, a small island located between the Peloponnese and Crete, will revisit the ancient wreck where the mechanism was found in the hope of retrieving similar objects.

AFP reports the expedition, a joint effort by Greece’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the USA’s Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, plans to spend three weeks diving on the wrecks where the Mechanism was found in 1901. The team says the site has never been completely surveyed and therefore hope new finds await. Hopes are also high that new wrecks may be revealed, a hypothesis based on the likelihood of escorts for the ship bearing the high value cargo already found.

Ancient literature describes several mechanical devices, but the Antikythera mechanism is the only one to survive. ®

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