Intricacies of Ancient Lunar-Cycle Machine Revealed

A computerized reconstruction of the device's gears. The wheels at lower left correspond to the Moon

A computerized reconstruction of the device's gears. The wheels at lower left correspond to the Moon's nine-year cycle. Antikythera Mechanism Research Project/Nature hide caption

itoggle caption Antikythera Mechanism Research Project/Nature

In 1900, a team of sponge-divers discovered an ancient shipwreck from around 65 B.C. On the ship, they discovered the remains of a mysterious machine about the size of a shoebox. X-rays of the fragments revealed that it contained about 30 intricately arranged gears.

Scientists think it was used to calculate eclipses and other astronomical cycles. Now, researchers have completed a three-dimensional scan of the pieces, and have uncovered more of the writing on its surface. They say the device is even more impressive than they had thought.

The research appears in Nature.

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