Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, November 29, 2021

More than the the surprising mechanical sophistication of the Antikythera Mechanism, a discovered ancient Greek artifact dubbed the “world’s first computer”, what strikes me is the tip-of-the-iceberg implications it represents:

[University of Munich scholar Dr. François] Charette noted that more than 1,000 years elapsed before instruments of such complexity are known to have re-emerged. A few artifacts and some Arabic texts suggest that simpler geared calendrical devices had existed, particularly in Baghdad around A.D. 900.

It seems clear, he said, that “much of the mind-boggling technological sophistication available in some parts of the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman world was simply not transmitted further.”

“The gear-wheel, in this case,” he added, “had to be reinvented.”

Which underlines the transitory nature of collective human knowledge and achievement, really. Who says that 99 percent of everything built and established by this present day can’t be wiped out readily, lost to subsequent generations? Having grown up during the darkest days of the Cold War, I recall pretty frequent threats of such a scenario.

Beyond that gloom-and-doom, the Antikythera will find its way into the Greek-pride arsenal of a few of my relatives, who like to expound on such cultural chest-puffing. That arsenal includes, of course, ancient steam engines and automatic doors.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/29/2006 11:27:05 PM
Category: Science, History | Permalink |

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