9. A Mysterious Box Full of Gears
The Antikythera Wreck was an archaeological treasure trove, and in 1901 divers recovered marble and bronze statues, coins, jewelry, glass artifacts, and over 200 amphorae, some of them intact. They also brought up some finely worked vases, other high end goods, and some of the era’s most prized works of art. Among the objects recovered was a wooden box 13.4 inches high, 7.1 inches wide, and 3.4 inches in depth. Inside was a severely corroded lump of bronze that began to disintegrate as soon as it was removed from the water. All items from the Antikythera Wreck were taken to a museum in Athens. There, the wooden box and its contents were initially ignored, while archaeologists focused on the restoration of more identifiable treasures, such as the statues, jewels, and coins.
A year later, however, an archaeologist named Valerios Stais took a closer look at the wooden box’s contents, and was surprised to discover what he identified as a gear. The corroded lump of bronze, which initially consisted of four main lump fragments, was subjected to further examination. As researchers painstakingly cleared the corrosion and encrustation, the four main lumps became 82 distinct pieces, and included among them were many more gears. All in all, the box contained about 30 meshing bronze gears, the largest of which measured about 5.5 inches in diameter, and had 223 teeth.