The First Investigations of the Antikythera Mechanism


Alexander Jones


Corroded fragments of a bronze machine with gears and dials were recovered in 1901 from a Hellenistic shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. Our present understanding of the Antikythera Mechanism as an astronomical device simulating phenomena of the Sun, Moon, and planets is the outcome of research between 1958 and the present in which x-ray radiography has played a major role. During the first years following its discovery, the nature, purpose, and date of the Mechanism were the subject of intense interdisciplinary debate among archeologists, historians of navigation, and classical scholars. In this lecture, Prof. Jones will trace how a basically incorrect identification of the Mechanism came to be widely accepted for half a century, as well as explore the unpublished investigations of the philologist and epigrapher Albert Rehm (1871-1949) in which he proposed an identification that was correct in principle and anticipated many details revealed by recent research.

Alexander Jones is Professor of the History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity at ISAW.  He studied Classics at the University of British Columbia and the history of the ancient mathematical sciences in the Department of the History of Mathematics at Brown University. Before coming to NYU, he was for sixteen years on the faculty of the Department of Classics and the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto. His work centers on the history and transmission of the mathematical sciences, especially astronomy.

Admission to lecture closes 10 minutes after scheduled start time.

Reception to follow.

Please check for event updates.