So this is pretty

We love the antikythera mechanism at grilly towers. It's quite an obsession, since it allows us to rewrite supposed history as to what was invented when, quite a feat for a single find. Hence, it's been incredibly well studied.

I think there's something missing from the analysis though. That is, the mindset of the people who would have used it. I love the device because it's so state-of-the-art; it feels so modern and functional, entirely analogues to modern palm-top computers.

Now, I'm wandering outside the boundries of science here; this is speculation, but I think it's interesting speculation.

The mechanism is, basically, as far as we can work out, a computational calendar. It shows the eclipses, the phases of the moon, the position of the sun, and (possibly, at least according to some authors) the position of the planets, at any given date of the future, just by turning a small handle. It's a model of the skies.

This is no mean feat, for a culture that believed the state of the skies accurately reflected the state of the world. This isn't just a calendar for the fun of it; no-one would design and build such a complicated mechanism just for that.

I think that the mechanism is a fortune-telling device. Knowing the positions of the heavens at any given date in the future would tell you everything you needed to know about it.
If you were arranging a festival, you could look at your mechanism and it would tell you what a good day was, when the gods would be looking favourably on you. When would be a good day to set sail. When would your fortunes change. Of course, it does not interpret anything, which is up to the owner of the device, but you've got the raw data.

And it augments the fortune-teller's art with solid technology. We all talk about our 'offboard memory' now, but this was over 2000 years ago. Think about how much power knowing the future would give the owner. And how much they would want to be the sole owner of that power. Is it a surprise we've only found one of these?

1 comment:

laurence said...

82 fragments...... buh :-o