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Antikythera - from ancient high technology to the stars


Morning coffee discussion: Antikythera - from ancient high technology to the stars

When & Where: Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at 9.00 a.m., Glazed Attic (3rd floor)


  • Prof. Dr. Jure Zupan (National Institute of Chemistry),
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Andrej Gaspari (Department of Archaeology, FF UNILJ), 
  • Dr. Drejc Kopač (National Institute of Chemistry)


In 1901, Greek sponge hunters discovered a sunken ancient ship on the coast of the island of Antikythera between Crete and the Greek mainland. It turned out to be loaded to the brim with war booty from the island of Rhodes, destined for Syracuse in Italy. It is estimated that it sank between 150 and 100 BC. Although archaeologists initially focused on larger finds such as statues, ornaments, weapons and utensils, it soon became apparent that the ship's greatest treasure was hidden in a small wooden box (approximately 30 x 20 x 10 cm). When drying caused the wooden box to break into several pieces, it turned out to be a priceless astronomical instrument.

The find was called Antikythera mechanism. It consists of a complex system of more than 60 bronze gears with teeth as small as 1.5 mm. A few gears have more than 100 teeth, the largest even 223. The precision with which the mechanism was made is amazing. The technology used to make the precision mechanism was unknown to the world for at least another 1400 years, probably until the first mechanical hours were used to determine the positions of ships.

In the morning coffee discussion, led by Prof. Dr. Jure Zupan, we will discuss the production and use of this instrument. Dr. Andrej Gaspari, head of the Department of Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana, who is also an underwater archaeologist, will accompany us. He will explain to us some archaeological techniques that have allowed not only preservation, but also insights into the functioning of Antikythera. Since the mechanism of Antikythera is an astronomical instrument that indicates the movements of all known planets, lunar and solar eclipses, the times of various Olympic Games, etc., our colleague Dr. Drejc Kopač, a researcher who also deals with astronomy, will also accompany us. He will share with us some thoughts about the significance of the mechanism of Antikythera for this distant time.

At the same time, the interlocutors will also address the inevitable link between different scientific disciplines and, of course, the modern research infrastructure that researchers need to do their work.


More information about the mechanism of Antikythera:


After the discussion you are invited to chat over coffee and croissants!

The discussion will be held in Slovenian.

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