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originally posted by: Hanslune
a reply to: stormcell
Found in a ship with Greek statuary and they can read the language in which the instructions were made and that is a dialect of Greek.
So at least one of Archimedes' machines, probably (considering Gallus' interests and the fact that that portion of the De Republica seems to be concerned with astronomical prodigia and in particular eclipses) quite similar to the Antikythera mechanism, was still operated around 150 BC. Pappus of Alexandria stated that Archimedes had written a now lost manuscript on the construction of these devices entitled On Sphere-Making. The surviving texts from the Library of Alexandria describe many of his creations, some even containing simple blueprints. One such device is his odometer, the exact model later used by the Romans to place their mile markers (described by Vitruvius, Heron of Alexandria and in the time of Emperor Commodus). The blueprints in the text appeared functional, but attempts to build them as pictured had failed. When the gears pictured, which had square teeth, were replaced with gears of the type in the Antikythera mechanism, which were angled, the device was perfectly functional. Whether this is an example of a device created by Archimedes and described by texts lost in the burning of the Library of Alexandria, or if it is a device based on his discoveries, or if it has anything to do with him at all, is debatable.
If Cicero's account is correct, then this technology existed as early as the 3rd century BC. Archimedes' device is also mentioned by later Roman era writers such as Lactantius (Divinarum Institutionum Libri VII), Claudian (In sphaeram Archimedes), and Proclus (Commentary on the first book of Euclid's Elements of Geometry) in the 4th and 5th centuries. Cicero also says that another such device was built 'recently' by his friend Posidonius, "... each one of the revolutions of which brings about the same movement in the Sun and Moon and five wandering stars [planets] as is brought about each day and night in the heavens..."
It is unlikely that any one of these machines was the Antikythera mechanism found in the shipwreck, because both the devices fabricated by Archimedes and mentioned by Cicero were located in Rome at least 30 years later than the estimated date of the shipwreck, and the third one was almost certainly in the hands of Posidonius by that date. So we know of at least four such devices. The modern scientists who have reconstructed the Antikythera mechanism also agree that it was too sophisticated to have been a unique device.