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From Antikythera to Isfahan: Clockwork Gearing in Ancient Greece and Medieval Islam
The chance discovery in 1900 of an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera led to the recovery of the earliest known example of precision gearing. Our illustrated talk will tell a fascinating story of how the combined efforts of archaeologists, historians of science and scientists themselves have led to the reconstruction of an ancient Greek geared calendar-computer and a complete revision of our views of Greek technology. From this mechanism we will follow the history of precision gearing through Byzantium and the Islamic medieval period. We will conclude with the geared astrolabes of al-Biruni and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr of Isfahan, which also simulate celestial cycles by geared mechanisms.
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