Antikythera Mechanism Older than Previously Thought?

Jo Marchant (Decoding the Heavens) writes, inter alia, in a post at New Scientist:

I gave a talk on the device at London’s Royal Institution last night. One new clue I mentioned to the origin of the mechanism comes from the Olympiad dial – there are six sets of games named on the dial, five of which have been deciphered so far. Four of them, including the Olympics, were major games known across the Greek world. But the fifth, Naa, was much smaller, and would only have been of local interest.

The Naa games were held in Dodona in northwestern Greece, so Alexander Jones of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York has suggested that the mechanism must have been made by or for someone from that area.

Intriguingly, this could mean the device is even older than thought. The inscriptions have been dated to around 100 BC, but according to Jones the device may have been made at latest in the early second century BC, because after that the Romans devastated or took over the Greek colonies in the region, so it’s unlikely that people would still have been using the Greek calendar there.

That festival should be called “Naia”, I think, in honour of Zeus Naios. Whatever the case, I’m not sure one can infer that with Aemilius Paulus’ destructive foray into the area around Dodona that a calendar would cease to be used, especially in a religious context — Dodona presumably would be using the calendar of Epirus, about which I don’t think we know very much.

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