The Antikhytera Celestial Machine:

from the virtual model to a real one.



I worked in a minuscule workshop, with far less space than the smallest of the past space stations, near my home on the Ligurian sea. After so many months of troublesome work and experience, I can confirm the Murphy's Law basic statement (all that can go wrong, will do). And now, I think I would be easily enabled for a space mission.



mechanic workshop & CNC

View of the workshop (when in order). Its main tool is an old modified lathe with step-motor control, assembled from miscellaneous parts.

bronze sheet

Cutting the larger wheels from bronze sheet.

bronze gear cutting

Semi-automated cutting of a 32-teeth gear.

Screen from a BASIC program for carriage movements

Screen from a BASIC program for carriage movements.

bronze gears

As soon as I cut the first gears for a Price model, I discovered more recent versions of the Machine. Some of them have been discarded since.


bronze gears

A lot of gears, many of which with nearly the same teeth number... trying to keep them sorted.


eccentric pair for lunar anomaly

The eccentric pair for lunar anomaly, with pin-and-slot coupling.


bronze eccentric pair on apsidal wheel

The eccentric pair on the apsidal double-wheel. Three arbors are mounted coaxially; holes in the hollow ones should improve lubricant retain and circulation. An extra brass cylinder acts as a bushing, to avoid bronze-to-bronze contact.


Positioning the axles

Positioning the axles on a reference plexiglass plate.

brass bushings

Arbors mounted into brass bushings.


Bench-drill running tests

Bench-drill running tests.


assembly tests

The first assembly tests: painstaking "assemble-disassemble-correct-reassemble" sequences.

Antikythera finished Machine: front dial (zodiac & solar calendar)

Finished Machine: front dial (zodiac & solar calendar).

Antikythera finished Machine: back dial (Metonic/Callippic and saros/exeligmos cycles)

Finished Machine: back dial (Metonic/Callippic and saros/exeligmos cycles).


Antikythera finished Machine: on display at the  Planetario di Milano
Antikythera finished Machine: on display at the  Planetario di Milano

On display at the Planetario di Milano (may 10, 2007); the crank handle, Sun and Moon are not visible because moving during the exposure. At the end of the lecture, participants were allowed to run it directly.





The author