As is often the case with the popular movie franchise, the focus of the new Indiana Jones outing is based on a real-life artefact. It might not transport you back in time, but the Archimedes Dial – the MacGuffin of the final instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise – is at least partially based on a real-life archaeological wonder known as the Antikythera Mechanism.Generally considered to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time, this fascinating ancient ‘computer’ dates back 2,000 years and is believed to be a form of early astronomical calculator from a time when such intricate contraptions were thought to be impossible.
How the ancient Greeks developed the device, which is filled with a staggeringly complex array of bronze gears, remains something of a mystery – especially given the time period it was built in. Originally retrieved from a shipwreck by sponge divers off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900, the mechanism was found alongside an array of other artefacts including coins, jewelry, pottery and statue fragments.
More recently, scientists have also discovered a skeleton belonging to one of the ship’s crew.
Researchers believe that the vessel was traveling from the coast of Asia Minor to Rome when it sunk and that it had been carrying the valuables of a woman who was due to be married.
The mechanism itself was most likely used as a mapping and navigational aid.