Decoding the HeavensJuly 1, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Posted in History, Nonfiction | 1 Comment
Decoding the Heavens, by Jo Marchant, has everything I love in a non-fiction book. It’s fascinating, fast-paced, peopled with memorable characters, and it even includes a mystery.
The topic is the Antikythera mechanism, one of those classic “unsolved mysteries” that conspiracy theorists eat up with a spoon. I’d read about the device before but knew very little about its provenance. Imagine my excitement when this book came along! It delivered beyond my expectations.
The Antikythera mechanism is a geared device found in a shipwreck, from what was evidently the first successful underwater archaeological dig. What’s amazing about it is that from the existing historical record, geared technology should not have been available until many centuries later. How this device got there and what purpose it could have served are questions that have racked many a fine mind. Thankfully, Jo Marchant is here to help ease our curiosity.
My degree is in history, and I studied Greek and Latin. In all the classical history courses I took, the Antikythera mechanism was never mentioned. I have a penchant for anomalies and unexplained findings, partly because mainstream educational institutions seem to gloss over them. It is a fine thing whenever someone undertakes a scholarly investigation of a topic that has often been treated dismissively or skeptically. Decoding the Heavens is truly a welcome read.