I do not often write on such recent historical matters but this case is really fascinating, involving not just history and archaeology but also astronomy and sophisticated mechanics that anticipate modern computers.
The Antikythera mechanism: astonishing ancient technical and astronomical science
Jo Marchant, Ancient astronomy: Mechanical inspiration. Nature News, 2010. Open access (article).
See also: GrrlScientist’s article at Punctuated Equilibrium blog at The Guardian: The Antikythera Mechanism. This is what I want for Christmas!
This last article (found via Archaeology in Europe), features a fancy video of a Lego reconstruction of the mechanism (which is pretty curious indeed) but more interesting are maybe the following two videos from Nature YouTube channel:
It is lovely, I understand, to see how these ancient peoples had such a complex understanding of Astronomy, being able to predict eclipses with high detail. But maybe even more fascinating is that they were already building elaborate clock mechanisms for that purpose, devices not known to have existed otherwise until the eve of Modern Age.
In the last video it is suggested that the astro-clock could have been invented by Archimedes of Syracuse, whom we know was the most celebrated scientific genius of Antiquity. The geography suggested by the mechanism is one of the Ionian Sea, not the Aegean or the East Mediterranean, however the date is from a century after Archimedes died. Yet they ponder if there could have been an Archimedean school in Syracuse for some time, which was in fact producing these technological marvels, whose knowledge was later lost.
It is also impressive to realize how technology may be lost, maybe because of lack of demand or socio-cultural drive. Ancient Greeks also knew of other marvels such as rudimentary steam engines, which never had much of an impact in that society overall – yet they would change everything two millennia later.