NASHVILLE, TN – (May 20, 2021) – The Parthenon, in partnership with the Centennial Park Conservancy, will present The Antikythera Mechanism in the Parthenon’s West Gallery from Friday, June 4, through Sunday, September 26. The exhibit tells the story of one of antiquity's most significant technological artifacts. A virtual gallery highlight tour will be held on the Centennial Park Conservancy’s Facebook page on Wednesday, June 9 at 6 PM.
In 1900, a group of sponge divers working near the tiny Greek island of Antikythera were amazed to discover an ancient shipwreck loaded with treasure. Among the recovered statues and jewelry was a crumbling bronze remnant with traces of mechanical dials and gearwheels. The fragments were so badly corroded that scant metal remained, but over a century later, the Antikythera Mechanism, as the pieces became known, continues to capture the imagination. Scholars believe it once took the form of 37 bronze gearwheels in a wooden case with pointers on a large front dial that calculated the movements of the sun, moon and planets through the sky, while spiral dials on the back functioned as a calendar and predicted future eclipses. Thought to have been created around 150 BCE, the mechanism is often called the world’s first analog computer. It is an amazing document of ancient Greek advancements in astronomy, mathematics, and technology that did not appear in Europe again for roughly another 1500 years.
The Antikythera Mechanism exhibit will feature both a reproduction and replica of the mechanism along with an illustrated narrative of its history on wall panels. Exhibition panels and content will be supported by the scholarship of Dr. Xenophon Moussas of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, who is providing a “reproduction” of the Antikythera mechanism as it would have looked when it was made in the 1st c. BCE. This reconstruction is the result of 100 years of study by leading scientists and archaeologists and features bronze dials in a wooden case to frame the gears of the mechanism. The Parthenon is also commissioning a custom 3D printed replica of the Antikythera Mechanism to show the difference between the interpretive reproduction and how the artifact looked upon discovery on the ocean floor. Mounted on custom cabinetry, the replica will be interactive for visitors. The contrast between reproduction and replica will tell the story of this incredible archeological find and offer visitors the opportunity to understand how the Antikythera Mechanism was discovered then interpreted by experts.
According to Dr. Moussas, the Antikythera Mechanism is, “One of the greatest discoveries of ancient artifacts globally. It proves that humans conceived and constructed a mechanical cosmos much earlier than believed. An epitome of Greek natural philosophy, it models the universe using mathematics, following the Pythagorean doctrine that numbers determine everything and describe nature.”
During the course of the exhibition, The Parthenon will present a series of Symposia providing an opportunity for the public to learn more about archaeological conservation, underwater archaeology, and great archaeological discoveries and how they all relate to the Antikythera Mechanism. All Symposia will be free to the public and held virtually via Zoom. More information and registration links will be announced in early June.
- June 16 at 11 AM - Great Archaeological Discoveries with Dr. Steven L. Tuck, a Professor in the College of Arts & Science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
- July 21 at 10 AM - Conserving the Antikythera Mechanism with Dr. Georgianna Moraitou. Dr. Moraitou is the Head of Conservation at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, part of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. She has a Ph.D. from the National Technical University of Athens, Deterioration and Protection of Ancient Glass.
- August 18 at 11 AM - Underwater Archaeology Basics with Dr. Anne Duray. Dr. Duray holds a Ph.D. in Classics with an Archaeology track from Stanford University and is an Editorial Assistant for the American Journal of Archaeology, and served as a Lecturer at the Archaeology Center at Stanford University.
The Parthenon is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 AM to 7 PM, Friday and Saturday 9 AM to 4:30 PM, and Sunday from 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM. The Parthenon will be open on Mondays from 9 AM to 7 PM starting June 7. The indoor mask mandate in Davidson County expired on May 14. Metro Public Health Department continues to strongly recommend masks for those who are unvaccinated when in crowds, indoors, and when unable to socially distance.
The Parthenon thanks The Memorial Foundation, the Sandra Schatten Foundation, Humanities Tennessee, Tennessee Arts Commission, The Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy Nashville, K20Connect, Centennial Park Conservancy, and Metro Parks for generously underwriting this exhibit.
ABOUT THE PARTHENON
The Parthenon, owned and operated by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County’s Parks and Recreation Department, is the city of Nashville’s longest-lived art museum. Opened as a museum in 1931, its galleries are the home of the distinguished Cowan Collection of American art and feature several temporary exhibitions per year. The galleries are housed on the lower level of the Parthenon, the world’s only full-scale replica of the fifth-century BCE temple in Athens, Greece. Beloved symbol of civic pride to Nashvillians since its original manifestation as the art building for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897, it welcomes hundreds of thousands of Nashvillians and visitors to the city per year. The Parthenon is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 AM to 4:30 PM and Sundays 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM. Admission to the Parthenon is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors 62 and over; and $8 for children 4-17. Children under 4 are admitted free. Admission includes access to all exhibitions and the Parthenon’s upper level, graced by a colossal statue of the goddess Athena.
ABOUT CENTENNIAL PARK CONSERVANCY
Centennial Park Conservancy is 501(c)(3) not-for-profit profit organization that works in partnership with Metro Parks to fund and present a variety of enriching programs in the Parthenon and Centennial Park that make a widespread imprint on the Nashville community and our visitors. The organization’s mission is to preserve, enhance and share the Parthenon and Centennial Park so that all future generations may benefit from these enriching cultural and educational landmarks.
ABOUT METRO PARKS AND RECREATION
The Parks and Recreation Department offers a variety of facilities and programs throughout Davidson County. Currently, Metro Parks oversees 15,114 acres of open space, including 184 parks and 85 miles of greenways. It is the department’s mission to sustainably and equitably provide everyone in Nashville with an inviting network of parks and greenways that offer health, wellness and quality of life through recreation, conservation and community.