In 1901, Greek sponge divers recovered from a shipwreck of circa 70-50 BCE a remarkable bronze device with gears now known to the world as the Antikythera Mechanism. Recently, a group of researchers known as the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project has examined this badly corroded and brittle device with modern technologies that have revealed finely engraved inscriptions on the Mechanism’s inner surfaces that have not been seen in over 2,000 years (see T. Freeth et alii, Nature 444, November 2006, pp. 587-591 and Supplementary Information pp. 1-27; Nature 454, July 2008, pp. 614-617 and Supplementary Information, pp. 1-44; and ISAW Papers 4, Preprint February 2012, located online at http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17002562/isaw-papers-4-preprint/isaw-papers-4.h…). Through these new technologies it is now known that the back of the device housed a Saros Eclipse-prediction Dial, a Games Dial (that listed several athletic games in a four-year cycle that was similar to, but not identical to, an Olympiad, including the Isthmia, Olympia, Pythia, Nemea, Naa, and one other set of games in Year 4 that they could not identify but which I have now deciphered), and a specific Greek lunisolar calendar that was regulated according to the 235 months of the Metonic cycle and probably also the 76 years of the Callippic cycle. The names and orders of the months of this calendar are: Phoinikaios, Kraneios, Lanotropios, Machaneus, Dodekateus, Eukleios, Artemisios, Psydreus, Gameilios, Agrianios, Panamos and Apellaios. The authors who published these results (see especially T. Freeth, A. Jones et al., Nature 454, 2008, pp. 614-617 and Supplementary Information, pp. 1-44), argued that this lunisolar calendar belonged to Corinth or one of its colonies, including Syracuse the home of Archimedes (who is known to have made celestial orreries), or to a city of Epirus, and that this lunisolar calendar commenced one month after the autumnal equinox, or roughly October.
This talk will demonstrate that the calendar is indeed that of Corinth, or of one of Corinth’s colonies in NW Greece, or of a member of the Epirote League. In particular, I will reject the argument recently put forward by P. Cabanes, Tekmeria 10, 2010, pp. 249-260 that the calendar of the Mechanism and that of Epirus were different. Instead, I will argue that the Epirote League adopted this calendar mostly unchanged from one of Corinth’s colonies in Epirus, possibly from Ambrakia in the time of Pyrrhos. I will also offer some new explanations for the names of some of the months (particularly Kraneios and Lanotropios), I will reject the existence of other alleged month names in the calendars of Corinthian colonies and the cities of Epirus (especially Haliotropios and possibly Datyios), and I will demonstrate that Syracuse’s calendar, while related, was not the same as that on the Mechanism. In addition, with the help of my collaborator John D. Morgan’s work, I will argue that the start date of the calendar on the Mechanism must be backed up one or two months to begin in late summer and I will have general comments about using the comparative method to reconstruct ancient calendars that will modify Pritchett’s argument (AJA 50, 1946, pp. 358-360) that the calendar of one Doric city cannot be used to reconstruct the calendar of another. Finally, I will also reveal the heretofore-unidentified game in year 4 on the Games Dial.
All these new findings will have a significant impact on our understanding of what I call the Corinthian Family of Calendars (and thus Corinthian history and religion), ancient calendars in general, the provenance of the Mechanism (which does not have to be the same as the calendar), as well as calibrating the starting time of the world’s oldest known analogue computer