I'm playing the latest installment of the Tomb Raider, where you uncover secrets of ancient Incas and Maya. The game is full of huge stone doors that open only when you go through an elaborate sequence and so on. It's pretty obvious to me that what's portrayed in the game is an artistic exaggeration, but it led me to wondering about the elaborate mechanisms that did in fact exist. Now, I'm mostly interested in large and even gigantic mechanisms, but if you have anything interesting of the Antikythera's size, feel free to share too.

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    How do I compare the "elaborateness" of two mechanisms? – Mark C. Wallace Nov 25 '18 at 14:03
  • Number of moving parts, the size and importance of the task, etc. Academic discussion is now what I had in mind, this is more of a pop-science question. Within reason use whatever measure that leads to an interesting (in your personal opinion) example. – user75619 Nov 25 '18 at 14:24
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    Welcome to History:SE. Questions which attract answers based primarily on opinion are expressly off-topic on this site. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. – sempaiscuba Nov 25 '18 at 15:20
  • @Mark C. Wallace: Aqueducts weren't quite continent-spanning, the longest being in the neighborhood of 500 km: romanaqueducts.info/aquastat/aquastatlength.htm OTOH, would you consider a road system to be a mechanism? – jamesqf Nov 25 '18 at 17:46

One has to distinguish the things for which we have direct archaeological evidence, the things which can be reliably reconstructed from literature sources, and the things which are mentioned in the literature but with inadequate description such that we have no idea how they really looked.

To the first type belongs the Antikythera mechanism.

Examples of second kind are artillery pieces, and various machines described in the book of Heron.

Examples of the third kind are Archimedes planetarium and especially the enormous warships of Hellenistic era. See, for example, Leontophoros, Tessarakonteres.

All these things belong to the Hellenistic epoch.

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