Bronze Gears and Ethereal Spheres: The Antikythera Mechanism and Ancient Greek Cosmology

When and Where

Thursday, September 15, 2022 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Campbell Conference Facility
1 Devonshire Place, Toronto. ON M5S 3K7


Alexander Jones


2022 Wiegand Memorial Foundation Lecture

Among the mechanical inventions produced by the ancient Greeks were devices that simulated the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets as they can be observed from the Earth over spans of time ranging from single days to centuries. Such devices are referred to in Greek and Latin literature from the first century BCE onward, and fragments of an actual specimen, the Antikythera Mechanism, were recovered in 1901 from the site of a first-century BCE shipwreck. In this lecture, I will consider how such devices might have been used, and in particular how the very notion that a mechanism produced by human craft and intellect could mimic complex astronomical phenomena affected ancient discussions of cosmology including the nature and possible divinity of the heavenly bodies.

Alexander Jones is an author and historian whose work centres on the history and transmission of the mathematical sciences, especially astronomy.

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Jackman Humanities Institute


1 Devonshire Place, Toronto. ON M5S 3K7