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Ancient Greek vase depicting Olympic runners, c. 525 BC.

SPEAKING OF THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM In today’s Times we learn that the Antikythera Mechanism, the ancient Greek computer-like marvel, not only predicted solar eclipses but also organized the calendar in the four-year cycles of the Olympiad, forerunner of the modern Olympic Games.

According to the current issue of the journal Nature, “the upper subsidiary dial [of the Mechanism] is not a 76-year Callippic dial as previously thought, but follows the four-year cycle of the Olympiad and its associated Panhellenic Games.” If you’d like to decipher the Olympiad dial on the 2,100-year-old thing, go to this page of the Nature article, but familiarize yourself first with the years of the Panhellenic Games (you know, NEMEA, NAA and so on). Then get into an easy chair like an old guy and watch this clip from the History Channel:

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The figures on this amphora represent participants in a foot race at the Panathenaic Games. City-state festivals provided the most exciting entertainment in ancient Greece. At these gatherings Greeks honored the gods with competitions in sports, music, dance, drama, and poetry

Approx 500 BC