A mind-boggling revelation for our understanding of technological history.
...like a real-life Da Vinci Code...beyond the solution to a technological mystery, she raises questions about civilisation's relationship with knowledge.
"...a racy narrative...delivered with classy style and a sure touch. Read full article
Marvellous... elegant... In Marchant's hands, a book that could have been a historical autopsy for tech nerds blossoms into an epic of forgotten geniuses, lost treasure, death-defying underwater exploration and egomaniacal scientists. Read full article
Los Angeles Times
The secrets of an ancient computer are unlocked... Jo Marchant tackles the struggle to understand the machine with gusto. Read full article
Jo Marchant offers a talented pen and a nose for intrigue in her recounting of the marvelous device...this work showcases the artistic elements possible in well-crafted journalism... a spirited glimpse of how the world of today can so often be shaped by the ideas and manifestations of the past. Read full article
Marchant's account is engagingly human, detailing the quirks, obsessions and ego clashes that have developed among scientists and engineers who have devoted careers and sometimes fortunes to understanding the instrument...captures both the endless elusiveness of the past and our ever-evolving attempts to understand it. Read full article
A wonderful book Read full article
A mystery story perhaps unlike any other... A top-notch portrayal... demonstrates the triumph of and need for rational thought and the scientific method over more seductive easy explanations for such mysteries. Read full article
Simply put, something so sophisticated should not have existed so long ago. Marchant weaves together multiple threads, from the fall of Rome to the advent of the Atomic Age, to tell the story of archaeologists, physicists, and even fishermen whose unflagging curiosity finally revealed the artifact's purpose. Read full article
An enthralling tale of research and reconstruction that positions the birth of applied scientific technology among the Greeks a full half-millennium earlier than previously thought...Archaeology, conceptual thinking, mathematics and the successful reconstruction of the mechanism all are engrossingly presented. Read full article
Makes the 'Indiana Jones' adventure movies seem boring...The story is absolutely amazing, as told by a talented and gifted writer...A most thoroughly enjoyable experience and one that leaves you in awe and wonder! Read full article
American Author's Association
A lively and engaging account, almost addictive reading... An accessible and enjoyable book.
The device was a work of genius - and art - to rival anything Greek culture produced in bronze, gold, or marble.
Fascinating…intelligent…an intriguing journey into science, archaeology and history. Read full article
Dan Agin, Huffington Post
Science readers will be entranced by Marchant’s vibrant depiction of the characters in this remarkable story of ancient technology.
Booklist (American Library Association)
[A] gripping detective story...unlocks the mysteries of an amazing example of ancient technology. Read full article
History Book Club
This globe-trotting, era-spanning mystery should absorb armchair scientists of all kinds. Read full article
Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
Compelling...engaging...assumes no prior knowledge of astronomy, ancient Greece or clockwork. It's a great read, and tells a story that really should be better known.
BBC Sky at Night magazine
Riveting...consistently accessible...A valuable, fast-moving look at the history - and mystery - of the world's first analog computer.
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A dizzyingly brilliant thing...Whatever else it might once have told its creators, the Antikythera mechanism bears a chilling message for our technological age. Read full article
Marchant brilliantly explores the cast of characters who have become captivated by the Antikythera mechanism. The book bristles with scientific obsession, intense rivalry and low skullduggery and will furnish you with a wealth of tell-your-friends-at-dinner-parties type facts. I ended up falling under the Antikythera mechanism's spell too. Read full article
James Randerson, The Guardian
A fabulous piece of storytelling, thick with plot, intrigue, science, historical colour and metaphysical speculation. The mechanism is fascinating - but the larger question of why its knowledge was lost, and what else with it, is mind-blowing. Read full article
If you are interested in ancient Greece, in the history of clocks and calendars, in astronomy and archaeology, and especially in the history of science and instrumentation, but above all in a few enjoyable stories, then this book will delight you. Read full article
Sunken treasure. A mysterious artefact. Scrambled inscriptions. Warring academic egos. Technology 1,000 years before its time. The tale...sounds like pulp fiction. But it is all true. Read full article
Suppose that when Neil Armstrong opened the door of the lunar lander and looked out on the surface of the moon, he had seen an old steam engine. That's the kind of shock the Antikythera mechanism gave to scientists and historians... a thrilling book. Read full article
The Japan Times
Excellent... Redolent with excitement... It's a wonderful subject and an entrancing book. Recommended.Read full article
Marchant blends the story of the Antikythera mechanism, the people bewitched by it, the 100-year race to understand it, with the history, chemistry, archaeology, astronomy, engineering behind it. The account is sprinkled with the magic dust of an Indiana Jones adventure. Read full article
A wonderful tale about the Antikythera mechanism... Jo Marchant marshals drama, and tells of the research to solve the puzzle. Perfect for anyone interested in the history of astronomy or even astrology, in the history of science and instruments, in archaeology and ancient Greece and Rome. Delightful. Read full article
Marchant's narrative takes on a human-interest angle as these scientists' stories unfold, given the obsession they shared and the rivalries that grew up between some of them... an informative and thoroughly researched book that avoids sensationalising the subject. Read full article
Scotland on Sunday
Jo Marchant...narrates the century-long quest to understand the purpose of the mechanism as if it were a dynastic saga, complete with jealous rivals, personal tragedies and lifelong obsessions. It's a gripping story and, as much still remains unknown about the world's earliest computer, it's one that is far from over.BBC Focus Magazine
An engagingly written piece of popular science journalism... I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic.Quest magazine
Inspiring, thought-provoking, and well done. Those with an interest in ancient history and technology will enjoy it very much.Read full article
Chicago Boyz blog
Fascinating, beautifully written - such clarity & pace - really good stuff.A. C. Grayling
Professor of philosophy, Birkbeck College, London
Though it is more than 2,000 years old, the Antikythera Mechanism represents a level
that our technology did not match until the 18th century, and must therefore rank
as one of the greatest basic mechanical inventions of all time. I hope this book
will rekindle interest in this artefact, which still remains under-rated.Arthur
Decoding the Heavens is Marchant's first book and is aimed squarely at the non-scientific reader, but is serious about the science. Her gripping and varied account will propel the mechanism to greater fame, although it may never achieve the celebrity of the Rosetta Stone that it probably deserves. Read full article
A Roman-era history work, archaeological study, mathematical analysis and detective novel, all rolled into one... Make sure you have several hours blanked out - you won't be able to put it down. Read full article
David H Bailey
Mathematician and computer scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National
The Science Show
- In the Autumn of 1900, sponge divers in the Mediterranean discovered an Ancient Greek shipwreck dating from around 70 BC. They picked up what appeared to be a formless lump of corroded rock. It turned out to be the most stunning scientific artefact we have from antiquity. For more than a century this 'Antikythera mechanism' puzzled academics. It was ancient clockwork, unmatched in complexity for 1,000 years - but who could have made it, and what was it for? Now, more than 2,000 years after the device was lost at sea, scientists have pieced together its intricate workings and revealed its secrets. Jo Marchant tells the full story of the 100-year quest to understand this ancient computer in her book, in Decoding the Heavens.
- Listen to Podcast
- The "Antikythera Mechanism" is a small decaying box of technology so far ahead of its time, that some scientists are re-thinking the history of human knowledge. But they've been baffled by the purpose of this box's many gears and wheels. It can duplicate the night skies and anticipate eclipses. But for whom, and why? And how did mankind lose sight of a technology some say could have changed the course of history? Well this ancient whodunit is the subject of a new book entitled "Decoding The Heavens: A 2000-Year-Old Computer and the Century-Long Search To Discover Its Secrets." The author is British journalist Jo Marchant and she joined Rick from CBC's London studio.
- Listen to Podcast - [you have to scroll down a bit]
Start The Week podcast
- This week Andrew Marr is joined by Stefan Aust, Sara Maitland, James Hall and Jo Marchant... Science journalist Jo Marchant tells the story of the Antikythera mechanism, a mechanical 'computer' designed to calculate astronomical positions, which was found in 1901 at the site of an ancient Greek shipwreck of around 70 BC.
- Listen to Podcast
Weekly podcast: The Antikythera mechanism
- We talk to the author of a new book that traces the 2000 year history of the world's first computer, from ancient Greece, via the bottom of the sea, to 3D X-ray analysis in the pages of Nature.
- Listen to weekly showListen to extended interview
Science Weekly: The world's first computer
- Jo Marchant joins the pod to talk about what some say is the world's first computer. Her book, Decoding the Heavens, looks at the mysterious Antikythera mechanism which was found in the Mediterranean more than a century ago.
- Listen to Science Weekly PodCast