Discovered in a shipwreck over 100 years ago off the Greek island of Antikythera, the exact function of the 2,100-year-old remains of the Antikythera Mechanism is still a mystery. However, as Phys.org reports, cutting-edge scanning equipment has helped scientists decipher the device's ancient Greek inscriptions, revealing that the device was a "kind of philosopher's guide to the galaxy, and perhaps the world's oldest mechanical computer."

The team says the mechanism was a calendar of the sun and the moon that showed the phases of the moon, the position of the sun and the moon in the zodiac, the position of the planets, and predicted eclipses. Nothing of the sort was known to be made for well over 1,000 years.

"It was not a research tool, something that an astronomer would use to do computations, or even an astrologer to do prognostications, but something that you would use to teach about the cosmos and our place in the cosmos," Jones said. "It's like a textbook of astronomy as it was understood then, which connected the movements of the sky and the planets with the lives of the ancient Greeks and their environment.I would see it as more something that might be a philosopher's instructional device."

A recreation of the Antikythera Mechanism. Credit: Wikimedia/Mogi

Head over to Phys.org to read the full study.

Feature image via Wikimedia