This story begins as the many great stories do, with a ship, captain and crew in the year 1900 who were simply going about their business as sponge divers. Returning to Greece from an expedition around Africa - the ship had cautiously avoided an approaching storm in the north of Crete and set sail to an outlying island for safety called Antikythera. Being a resourceful man, captain Kondos sent down a diver to see about collecting a few more sponges while they waited for the storm to pass. But something far more astounding awaited Kondos and his crew that day. Beneath the waves and depths of the seas destiny and the powers of time had been ordered to a single purpose and place.
Within minutes, a diver named Stadiatos resurfaced shouting frantically that he had seen hundreds of corpses and horses strewn below. Confounded, Kondo's thought maybe Stadiatos had lost his mind. Kondos quickly pulled on a canvas diving suit and a copper bell helmet and went down to take a look.
It turns out what Stadiatos thought were bodies were actually bronze sculptures from an ancient ship wreck. It seems they had crossed the oceans many times, and now they had crossed the oceans of time. Kondos and his crew took action and retrieved what they could bringing the treasure. For what mysterious circumstances had brought them there but an experienced diving crew, a ship, and specialized equipment to bring up treasure from the sea? But then again there are random things that happen in this universe for which we may never truly understand...
Soon after, the Hellenic Navy explored the wreck and collected more of the valuable marble, coins, and other precious artifacts along with a few curious lumps of stone that that looked like intricate metallic gears. Although interesting, these pieces were largely ignored for almost fifty years until an English physicist named Derek Price took notice.
Price discovered that they were part of an ancient device, but not just any device - it was something more like an analogue computer. There was an instructive script carved into it that placed it around 200 B.C. period - about 2000 years ago. The device functioned by turning a single input knob, where you could select a date, and the machine would predict with incredible accuracy the positions of the sun, the moon and five planets and the phases of the moon.Dials on the back predicted solar eclipses and the Calyppic cycle.
I wonder if Price yelled out "Eureka" because as it turns out famed Archimedes - the Eureka man himself and the greatest mathematician of all time, was the inventor of this incredible machine. The story goes that Archimedes yelled out "Eureka!" as he ran naked in a street after he watched his own tub water overflow. He calculated that the water that overflowed could be measured equating his mass in the tub. Therefor being able to solve the problem of mass. Eureka!
Archimedes came up with other amazing inventions too, including a mind blowing weapon known as the death ray, where he used gigantic mirrors to aim beams of sunlight at Roman ships to set them on fire.
It's tragic to know, after all of his accomplishments that Archimedes was brutally murdered by a Roman soldier. According to Plutarch, Archimedes was researching a mathematical diagram, when a Roman soldier ordered him to meet General Marcus who was engaged in the siege of Syracuse. But Archimedes declined saying that he had to finish his diagram. Furious, the Roman soldier killed Archimedes.
Despite a his brutal murder, his inventions and his life were marvelous. Archimedes benevolent influenced rippled, growing from small rings to the rolling waves just beyond our sight. His life persevered over his death and sent us this serendipity.
Although I am slightly obsessed with this story other people have been too. Hublot's master watchmakers made a replica of the Antikythera mechanism a few years ago scaled down to wristwatch size. The piece was nearly impossible to create and the designers built nonlinear gearings to simulate elliptical patterns in the solar system. It sells online for $233,100.00. Just a little pocket change.
Quite a treasure but the harnessing of time and the original idea was created long ago by a brilliant mathematician, and a brave hero.