The relic is often described as the world’s first computer and has a fascinating history.
The Antikythera Mechanism, the subject of today’s Doodle, is a 2,000-year-old astronomical instrument
The contraption would have been employed by early astronomers to mark the calendar and anticipate solar and lunar eclipses by following the movement of the sun, moon and planets.
It was also used to plot the four-year cycle for scheduling athletics tournaments similar to the Olympic Games.
A complex piece of machinery, the mechanism consists of 30 meshing components and dials and is housed inside a box of wood and bronze.
It is thought to have been assembled on the island of Rhodes as long ago as 150 BC, possibly with contributions from the great Greek astronomer Hipparchus.
1/51 Richard Oakes
Google Doodle celebrating Richard Oakes' 75 birthday
2/51 Google Doodle celebrating the Antikythera Mechanism
Google Doodle celebrating the Antikythera Mechanism
3/51 Ferdinand Monoyer
The famous French ophthalmologist, who invented the eye test, would have celebrated his 181st birthday today
4/51 Google Doodle celebrating Giro d'Italia's 100th Anniversary
Google Doodle celebrating Giro d'Italia's 100th Anniversary
5/51 Google Doodle celebrating Nasa's Cassini probe
Google Doodle celebrating Nasa's Cassini probe
6/51 Google Doodle celebrating Fazlur Rahman Khan
Google Doodle celebrating Fazlur Rahman Khan
7/51 Google Doodle celebrating Sergei Diaghilev
Google Doodle celebrating Sergei Diaghilev
8/51 Google Doodle celebrating St. Patrick's Day
Google Doodle celebrating St. Patrick's Day
9/51 Google Doodle celebrating Holi Festival
Google Doodle celebrating Holi Festival
10/51 Google Doodle celebrating St. David's Day
Google Doodle celebrating St. David's Day
11/51 Abdul Sattar Edhi
Google Doodle of Abdul Sattar Edhi on February 28 2017
12/51 Seven earth-sized exoplanets discovered
Google Doodle celebrates Nasa's discovery of seven earth-sized exoplanets in new solar system
13/51 Bessie Coleman
Google Doodle honours the first African American woman to get an international pilot licence on her 125th birthday
Google Doodle celebrates Christmas caroling
Today's Google Doodle features activist Steve Biko
16/51 Walter Cronkite
Google celebrates Walter Cronkite's 100th birthday
17/51 Ladislao José Biro
Google celebrates Ladislao José Biro 117th birthday
Google celebrates its 18th birthday
19/51 The history of tea in Britain
Google celebrates the 385th anniversary of tea in the UK
20/51 Autumnal equinox 2016
Google marks the start of fall
21/51 Paralympics 2016
Google marks the start of the Paralympic Games 2016
22/51 Nettie Stevens
Google celebrates Nettie Stevens 155th birthday
23/51 Father's Day 2016
Google celebrates Father's Day
24/51 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
Google celebrates Elizabeth Garrett Anderson 180th birthday
25/51 Earth Day 2016
Google celebrates Earth Day
26/51 Ravi Shankar
Google marks Pandit Ravi Shankar's 96th birthday
27/51 Olympic Games in 1896
Google are celebrates the 120th anniversary of the modern Olympic Games in 1896
28/51 World Twenty20 final
Google celebrates the 2016 World Twenty20 cricket final between the West Indies and England with a doodle
29/51 William Morris
Google celebrates William Morris' 182 birthday with a doodle showcasing his most famous designs
30/51 St Patrick's Day 2016
Googlle celebrates St Patrick's Day on 17 March
31/51 Caroline Herschel
Google marks Caroline Herschel's 266th birthday
32/51 Clara Rockmore
Google celebrates Clara Rockmore's 105th birthday
33/51 International Women's Day 2016
#OneDayIWill video marks International Woman's Day on 8 March
34/51 St David's Day 2016
Google marks St David's Day
35/51 Leap Year 2016
Google celebrates Leap Day on 28 February 2
36/51 Lantern Festival 2016
Google celebrates the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations with a doodle of the Lantern Festival
37/51 Stethoscope Inventor, René Laennec
Google celebrate's René Laennec's 235th birthday
38/51 Valentine's Day 2016
Google celebrates Valentine's Day with a romantic Doodle
39/51 Dmitri Mendeleev
Google celebrate Dmitri Mendeleev's 182nd birthday
40/51 "The televisor" demonstartion
Google Doodle celebrates 90 years since the first demonstration of television or "the televisor" to the public
41/51 Professor Scoville
Google marks Professor Scoville’s 151st birthday
42/51 Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Google marks Sophie Taeuber-Arp's 127th birthday
43/51 Charles Perrault
Google celebrates author Charles Perrault's 388th birthday
44/51 Mountain of Butterflies discovery
Google celebrates the 41st anniversary of the discovery of the Mountain of Butterflies
45/51 Winter Solstice 2015
Google celebrate the Winter Solstice
46/51 St Andrew's Day 2015
Google marks St Andrew's Day with doodle featuring Scotland's flag and Loch Ness monster
47/51 41st anniversary of the discovery of 'Lucy'
Google marks the 41st anniversary of the discovery of 'Lucy', the name given to a collection of fossilised bones that once made up the skeleton of a hominid from the Australopithecus afarensis species, who lived in Ethiopia 3.2 million years ago
48/51 George Boole
Google marks George Boole's 200th birthday
49/51 Halloween 2015
Google celebrates Halloween using an interactive doodle game "Global Candy Cup"
50/51 Prague Astronomical Clock
Google celebrates the 605th anniversary of the Prague Astronomical Clock, one of the oldest functioning timepieces in the world
51/51 Autumnal Equinox 2015
Google marks the autumnal equinox on 23 September
It was retrieved from the bottom of the Aegean Sea 115 years ago today
The mechanism was discovered by Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais on 17 May 1902 when he dived down to inspect the wreck of a Roman cargo ship off the coast of the island of Antikythera - the boat thought to have been ferrying treasures to Rome in time for a triumphal parade staged by Julius Caesar.
Sponge divers had spotted the remains of the ship lying on the ocean floor two years earlier and already rescued a number of artefacts from its hull, including bronze and marble statues, coins, jewellery and pottery.
Stais found a hunk of corroded metal and wood resembling an antique gear or crank, which would turn out to be one of the archaeological finds of the century.
The true purpose of the device was only discovered in 1959
Originally assumed to be an ancestor of the astrolabe, it was Princeton science historian Derek J. de Solla Price who uncovered the true purpose of the Antikythera Mechanism.
Price became interested in the machine in 1951 and took extensive X-ray and gamma-ray images of its 82 fragments with the aid of Greek nuclear physicist Charalampos Karakalos.
Having completed his detailed study, Price realised that its main gear was intended to represent the calendar year while its smaller, separate gears stood for the celestial bodies.
Price worked on the device for 23 years and published extensive findings in 1974, telling Scientific American: “The mechanism is like a great astronomical clock... or like a modern analogue computer which uses mechanical parts to save tedious calculation.”
It is a precursor to the modern computer
As Price observed, although the rusting remnants of the Antikythera Mechanism bear little resemblance to current laptops or tablets, its importance lies in its use as a calculator, allowing antiquity’s astronomers to carry out detailed arithmetic based on the planets.
Primitive though it may appear to contemporary eyes, the technology was fantastically advanced for its period and mechanical devices of the same degree of sophistication would not be seen again until the advent of clockwork in mediaeval Europe.
Since Price’s breakthrough, further advances have helped scientists clarify the nature of the machine. In 2000, 3D mapping revealed inscriptions that effectively serve as an instruction manual giving guidance on its use.
The Antikythera Mechanism is currently on display in Athens
The remnants of this extraordinary find are currently on display in the National Archaeological Museum in the Greek capital, where visitors can try out a replica to get a better understanding of its workings.Reuse content