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_Reconstruction Synthesis of The

_Reconstruction Synthesis of The

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Hong-Sen Yan
e-mail: hsyan@mail.ncku.edu.tw
Jian-Liang Lin
e-mail: n1896132@mail.ncku.edu.twDepartment of Mechanical Engineering,National Cheng Kung University,1 University Road,Tainan 70101, Taiwan
Reconstruction Synthesis of theCalendrical Subsystem ofAntikythera Mechanism
The damaged excavation of the Antikythera mechanism presents the oldest astronomicalanalog computer in ancient Greece. Its interior mechanism is a complicated gear trainwith many subsystems in which some are unclear, such as the calendrical subsystem. Thiswork focuses on the reconstruction synthesis of the calendrical subsystem and provides asystematic approach to generate all feasible designs. Based on the studies of historicalliteratures and existing designs, the required design constraints are concluded. Then,according to the concepts of generalization and specialization of mechanisms, two fea-sible designs and 14 results of teeth counting, including the existing one by Freeth et al.(2002, “The Antikythera Mechanism: 1. Challenging the Classic Research,” Mediterra-nean Archaeology & Archaeometry,
 , pp. 21–35; 2002, “The Antikythera Mechanism: 2. Is It Posidonius Orrery?,” Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry,
 , pp. 45–58;2006, “Decoding the Ancient Greek Astronomical Calculator Known as the Antikythera Mechanism,” Nature (London),
 , pp. 587–591; 2008, “Calendars With Olympiad  Display and Eclipse Prediction on the Antikythera Mechanism,” Nature (London),
 , pp. 614–617; 2009, “Decoding an Ancient Computer,” Sci. Am.,
(6), pp. 76–83),which are in consistent with the science theories and techniques of the subjects time period, are synthesized.
DOI: 10.1115/1.4003185
Keywords: Antikythera mechanism, reconstruction design, calendrical subsystem, syn-thesis of mechanism, ancient machines
1 Introduction
The destroyed fragments of the Antikythera mechanism, theoldest known Greek astronomical machine, were accidentally dis-covered at the site of an antique shipwreck in 1900. In the lasthundred years, with the help of image technology, some recon-struction designs have gradually resolved the secret of the Anti-kythera mechanism. It is confirmed that the Antikythera mecha-nism is a geared mechanism with several functions: It displays themotions of heavenly bodies, calculates between different calendarsystems, and records astronomical phenomena.From 1902, scholars, such as Stais, Svoronos, and Rediadis,began to study the Antikythera mechanism. They understood thedeep significance of the mechanism but were unable to present acoherent explanation. Afterward, Rehm and Theophanidis alsosuccessively studied this mechanism. Around 1905, Rehm was thefirst man to define that the Antikythera mechanism was an astro-nomical calculator. Because of the limitation of technology at thattime, the previous reconstructions were incorrect in many ways.In 1974, de Solla Price produced the first complete reconstructiondesign
Fig. 1
 
. However, he misunderstood several fragmentimages and designed a differential gear train to display the lunarmotion. In 2000, based on de Solla Price’s work, Edmunds andMorgan provided the gear trains with a pin-in-slot device to ex-press the motions of Venus and Mars
Fig. 2
. From 2002 to2007, Wright presented a new reconstruction design in a series of studies, including the gear trains to display the functions of back dials and a gear train with a pin-in-slot device to express the lunarmotion
Fig. 3
. From 2006 to 2008, the Antikythera re-search project by Freeth et al. decoded numerous inscriptions onthe exterior and explained the transmission of interior gear trains.Furthermore, he discovered the existence of a dial to display theOlympiad cycle
. In 2008, Koetsier presented the histori-cal development of reconstructing the Antikythera mechanismthrough the analysis of each previous design and Greek astronomy
.Based on the reconstruction design by Freeth et al. shown inFig. 4, the Antikythera mechanism can be divided into the follow-ing five subsystems: the date subsystem, the calendrical sub-system, the lunar subsystem, the eclipse prediction subsystem, andthe lost subsystem. While previous studies have confirmed themechanisms of the date subsystem, the lunar subsystem and theeclipse prediction subsystem, there is still much debate on theunclear calendrical subsystem and the lost components of the in-terior mechanisms.This study presents an approach for the reconstruction synthesisof the mechanism contained in the unclear calendrical subsystemof the Antikythera mechanism. Through this approach, all feasibledesigns of the calendrical mechanism that agree with the scienceand technology standards of the subject’s time period can be sys-tematically synthesized.
2 Historical Background
Figure 5 shows the excavated Antikythera mechanism
.Its deterioration underwater is the primary reason for the difficultyof the reconstruction. In order to accurately reconstruct the Anti-kythera mechanism, the first work is to understand and define theproblems, including the origins and applications. This can be ac-complished through the study of the existing literatures and his-torical background.From the decoding of inscriptions, the Antikythera mechanismis thought to be an ancient machine that existed between 150
and 100
Due to the lack of historical records, people knewnothing about the Antikythera mechanism before its discovery inthe year of 1900. Therefore, only direct evidences from the sur-viving fragments can be used to support the understanding of this
Corresponding author.Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publica-tion in the J
. Manuscript received May 18, 2010; finalmanuscript received November 4, 2010; published online January 24, 2011. Assoc.Editor: Ashitava Ghosal.
Journal of Mechanical Design
FEBRUARY 2011, Vol. 133
/ 021004-1Copyright © 2011 by ASME
device. Since 1902, countless scholars have involved the recon-struction work. Through the image technology, the photos of frag-ments provide help to recombine this device. It is confirmed thatthe interior of the Antikythera mechanism is composed of gearsand links, and the exterior is covered with dials and inscriptions.Through the decoding of inscriptions, the use and functions of thedevice become clear. Based on the applications of astronomicaltheories and the time origins of the device, some argued that thearchitect of the Antikythera mechanism might be Posidonius of Rhodes. Others contend that the creator might be Hipparchus.These viewpoints were overturned until 2008. Through decodingthe month names of the calendar in this mechanism, Freeth et al.strongly confirmed that the mechanism’s calendar is identical tothe Corinthian calendar coming from the calendar of Tauromenionin Sicily. It also explained that the Antikythera mechanism shouldbe from Corinthian colonies, and a certain workshop adopted fromArchimedes seemed to be likely the origin
.It is believed that the technology of the Antikythera mechanismwas spread by both cultural communications and wars. Ancientmachines were copied by ancient cultures in other countries.Therefore, ancient machines with similar functions can provideadditional study references in addition to the surviving objects andhistorical archives. The Islamic calendrical sundial designed byAl-Biruni dating from 1000
is such an example; it functionsas a modeling cyclic astronomical phenomenon
Fig. 6
.This geared instrument consisting of eight gears is driven byhands. It displays the phases of the moon and its age in days, aswell as the movements of the moon and sun around the zodiac inthree separated axes. Interestingly, in Europe, technological arti-facts of similar complexity did not reappear until the 14th century,when mechanical astronomical clocks appeared.Due to a similar application of this device, it is suggested thatthe technology of the Antikythera mechanism may continue to beactive and have influenced the Islamic tradition. Since the calen-drical subsystem of the Antikythera mechanism is unclear, themechanism of Islamic calendrical sundial may supply the knowl-edge to reconstruct the unclear interior mechanism.
3 Existing Reconstruction Designs
The Antikythera mechanism, approximately 315
100 mm
in size, is a bronze geared mechanism
Fig. 7
. Its
Fig. 1 Reconstruction design by de Solla Price
Fig. 2 Reconstruction design of the Venus display by Ed-munds and Morgan Fig. 3 Reconstruction design by Wright
Vol. 133, FEBRUARY 2011
Transactions of the ASME
exterior shows the dials that cover a large number of inscriptions.Its interior consists of gear trains that drive the display of pointerson those dials.
3.1 Decoding of Exterior Dials.
The front plate of the Anti-kythera mechanism contains two concentric dials
Fig. 7
. Theinner dial shows the Egyptian calendar while the outer dial showsthe Zodiac. The pointers can display, respectively, the date, themotions of the sun, the moon, and five planets on the front dials.The Antikythera mechanism also displays the moon phase in amonth.The back plate includes two parts
Fig. 7
. The upper part isdesigned to express the calculations between different calendarsystems and the records of celebrations in ancient Greece. Theupper part of the back plate includes one large spiral dial and twosubsidiary dials. The large spiral dial displays the Metonic period,an approximate common multiple of the synodic month and thetropical year. The Greek astronomer Meton observed that the pe-riod of 19 tropical years, approximately 6940 days, is almostequal to that of 235 synodic months. Two subsidiary dials show,respectively, the Olympiad period, 4 years in one turn, and theCallippic period with four times the Metonic period. The lowerpart of the back plate that serves to predict the eclipse of the mooncontains one large spiral dial and one subsidiary dial. The largespiral dial displays the Saro period, i.e., a period of 18 years. Thesubsidiary dial depicts the Exeligmos period that is three times theSaro period, i.e., a period of 54 years.In summary, the exterior functions of the Antikythera mecha-nism display the motions of the heavenly bodies and record im-portant astronomical events and cultural activities.
3.2 Mechanism Analysis.
The calendrical subsystem on theupper back dials of the Antikythera mechanism displays the cyclicrecords both of astronomical phenomena and festivities. As theparts of the calendrical mechanism are unclear or lost, the interiormechanism remains unknown until the decoding of the exteriordials. In 2003, Wright provided the corresponding gear trains forthe Meton period and the Callippic period
. In 2007, Freethet al. further collected previous designs and revealed the existenceof a dial displaying the Olympiad period
.Based on the existing design by Freeth et al.
Fig. 8
, it canbe concluded that the topological characteristics of the calendricalsubsystem are as follows.1.It has six members including a ground link 
member 1,
,an input link 
member 2,
, a Meton cycle link 
member 3,
, an Olympiad cycle link 
member 4,
, a Callippiccycle link 
member 5,
, and a transmission link 
.2. It has nine joints including five revolute pairs
 joints a, b, c,d, and e;
and four gear pairs
 joints f, g, h, and i;
.3. It is a simple gear train formed exclusively by externalgears.4. It has one degree of freedom.
Fig. 5 Surviving fragments of the Antikythera mechanism
Fig. 4 Reconstruction design by Freeth et al.Fig. 6 Islamic sun dial
Fig. 7 A reconstruction model of the Antikythera mechanism
Journal of Mechanical Design
FEBRUARY 2011, Vol. 133
/ 021004-3

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