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The ancients had an astrology computer! December 3, 2006

Posted by Kerry in Astrology.

Antikythera mechanism

A fascinating device was discover off a shipwreck in the Aegean Sea some years ago, but it is only now that the workings have been deciphered. It came from a ship sunk around 85 BC and is known as the Antikythera mechanism.

This information comes from an article in Nature and is well worth the read. Just clink on the underlined link to read the full article; but they do miss the point. And the point is – why did this devise exist at all?

This mechanism has 30 interlocking gear wheels, yes 30 of them. And when you turned a handle it computed and displayed the positions for the Sun, Moon and the planets. It could be used to predict the position and date of eclipses and the planets movements. There were other, much simpler devices, called astrolabes that were used for the same purpose, but the Antikythera mechanism is a true marvel.

And article does not mention that the primary reason for these devices was for astrology. The advisers of the day all needed a reliable source of information about planetary movement. How could you tell your client, the roman emperor, what was to happen to his main rival if your calculations were wrong? So a good reliable computer was needed, especially as wrong information to the emperor could result in your own death. Some of the emperors were astrologers themselves. It appears that they used astrology to help decide when an attempt on their life would likely succeed and who the likely successor would be. Then they set about getting rid of the likely successor! I don’t quite use astrology like that, but I do have to admit that it can guide us in knowing times we are weak or strong in our careers, just like an emperor would want to know.

Astronomy, the study of the stars, was a science born from the intense interest in astrology. But the world of science does not want to acknowelge its parent. This esteemed publication of Nature is the International  Weekly Journal of Science – so the word “astrology” is not mentioned. But it would pay the scientists to remember why these devices were used. Not just to ignore their primary purpose.

Your in the stars


Antikythera research


1. Kerry - September 8, 2010

Thank you

2. ;) - September 7, 2010

I don’t know you but I like your mind

3. Kerry - January 1, 2007

Thanks for your comment. For those that don’t know the sextant is an important device and was, and still is, used to plot the position of a body, be it the sun moon or a planet, relative to the horizon. The astrolabs used the position relative to the instrument itself, or the user, and hence was great for your astrology, but not so good 10 miles out to sea. So astrology was the parent to the development of the sextant, and to astronomy, and to further mathematices and many other so called scientific discoveries. Even chemistry was a developement from the ancient and fasinating study of alchemy which shared much with astrology. Its so interesting, I just wish, like you, that the source was recognised.

4. Adrian Fourie - December 29, 2006

Scientists are trying to say this is an astronomical discovery. That is like saying the sextant is an astronomical discovery.

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