Since Price’s assessment, modern X-ray and 3D mapping technology have allowed scientists to peer deeper into the remains of the mechanism and learn even more of its secrets.
In the 2000s, researchers revealed text — a kind of instruction manual — inscribed on parts of the mechanism that had never been seen before.
The text — written in tiny typeface but legible ancient Greek — helped them complete the puzzle of what the machine did and how it was operated. In all, it’s astounding.
The mechanism had several dials and clock faces, each which served a different function for measuring movements of the sun, moon, stars, and planets, but they were all operated by one main crank:
Little stone or glass orbs that would have moved across the machine’s face to show the motion of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter in the night sky
The position of the sun and moon, relative to the 12 constellations of the zodiac
Another dial forecasting solar and lunar eclipses — and, oddly, predictions about their color. (Researchers guess that different colored eclipses were considered omens of the future. The ancient Greeks were a little superstitious.)
A solar calendar, charting the 365 days of the year
A lunar calendar, counting a 19-year lunar cycle
A tiny pearl-size ball that rotated to show you the phase of the moon
And this is pretty neat: another dial of the mechanism that counted down the days to regularly scheduled sporting events around the Greek isles, like the Olympics