ASME Designates the Antikythera Mechanism, an Analog Computer from the Second Century B.C., a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark

Jun 26, 2019

ASME Designates the Antikythera Mechanism, an Analog Computer from the Second Century B.C., a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark

NEW YORK (June 26, 2019) – The Antikythera Mechanism, found in a first century B.C. shipwreck at the bottom of the Antikythera sea in Greece in 1901, is the earliest known analog computer, an inscribed astronomical and calendrical device, designed to predict astronomical phenomena such as lunar and solar eclipses, to maintain calendar accuracy and to forecast the dates of Panhellenic Games, the ancient Olympic Games. The mechanism’s miniature scale, the elaborate gear trains, the use of differential and epicyclic gears, and the employment of pin-and-slot couplings demonstrate that the Greek mechanicians of the Hellenistic period had become far more fluent in designing geared devices than the surviving written sources indicate. Geared devices matching the complexity of the second century B.C. Antikythera Mechanism would not appear again in Europe until the mechanical clocks of the thirteenth century.

Recognizing the exceptional importance of the Antikythera Mechanism in the history and evolution of mechanical science and technology, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), which has 100,000 members worldwide, has designated the mechanism as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Including the Antikythera Mechanism, 271 artifacts from around the world have been designated historic mechanical engineering landmarks, heritage collections or heritage sites. The ASME History and Heritage Committee selects these artifacts based on their engineering attributes, role in the evolution of the mechanical engineering profession, and significance to society in general.

ASME President Richard Laudenat will present a plaque commemorating the landmark designation at a ceremony today at the National Archeological Museum (of Greece) in Athens, where the remnants of the original mechanism are housed. Museum Director Dr. Maria Logogianni will receive the plaque, and distinguished Greek and American scientists will make brief announcements about the contribution of the Antikythera Mechanism to science, as well as the ongoing research into a better understanding of its structure and function.

The Antikythera Mechanism has captured the imaginations of engineers, scientists, historians and many others for more than a century,” says Laudenat. “ASME fully recognizes its significance in the evolution of mechanical engineering, as well as its role in educating and inspiring new generations of engineers, computer scientists and researchers.”

The Antikythera Mechanism Research Team of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Macedonia has constructed accurate and functional copies of the mechanism. These replicas are based entirely on those portions of the research team’s findings that have been accepted by the international scientific community through publication in reliable scientific journals.

About ASME

ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real-world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.

Media Contacts

National Archeological Museum, Athens
(Monday, Wednesday - Sunday, 08:00 – 20:00, Tuesday 12:30-20:00)
(213) 214-4800

Monica Shovlin
MCShovlin Communications LLC (for ASME)
(541) 554-3796