Scientists say they may have solved the puzzle produced by the 1900 discovery off Greece of a bronze mechanism created in 80 B.C.
The "Antikythera Mechanism" was discovered on the wreck of a cargo ship off the tiny Greek island of Antikythera, The Scotsman reported.
But now a team of British and Greek researchers report finding a hidden inscription on the machine that might determine the purpose of the shoe box-sized mechanism, which some scientists believe might be the world's oldest astronomy computer.
The team believes the machine might have been used to predict the motion of the planets, although the mechanism involving more than 30 wheels and dials represents a technical prowess not to be replicated for thousands of years, The Scotsman said.
The scientists used three-dimensional X-ray technology to read the inscriptions that have gone unseen for more than 2,000 years.
Xenophon Moussas, a researcher at Athens University, told The Scotsman the inscription indicates the machine was used to track planetary bodies.
Said Moussas: "It is a puzzle concerning astronomical and mathematical knowledge in antiquity. The mechanism could rewrite certain chapters in this area."
Copyright 2006 by United Press International
Explore further: Eastern Oregon dig uncovers ancient stone tool