The device now known as the ‘Antikythera mechanism‘ — because of where it was discovered in the early 1900s — is a complex clockwork mechanism that is believed to have been constructed in the late second century BC.
One of the most amazing things about this presumably unique bronze artefact is that nothing like it was made until the 14th century, almost 1500 years after its manufacture.
Among other things, it could be used to predict eclipses decades in advance.
The quality and complexity of its manufacture suggests that it has undiscovered predecessors. Certainly, its intricate design must have been the end result of a great many years’ effort in various disciplines, including mathematics, astronomy and metalworking.
If you’ve read my earlier post ‘Total solar eclipse: coincidence?‘ you’ll see where I’m going with this; I see it as possible proof that humanity’s fascination with the heavens in general, and eclipses in particular, may be directly responsible for the development of our intellect.