Ancient Greek Technology

Topics: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Greek alphabet Pages: 7 (2537 words) Published: January 31, 2006
When most people talk about ancient Greek civilization, they usually think about the humanities (philosophy and literature) that flourished in ancient Greece. They know Plato and his theories about the ideal forms, they admire the depth of Aristotle's thought. However, few people heard about the contribution of the Ancient Greeks in other sciences like medicine, which was made by Hippocrates, or mathematics and geometry by Pythagoras, Euclid and Archimedes and fewer know about technological achievements of the Ancient Greeks. Among these achievements we can find automatic doors, steam engine, air and water pumps, gears, astrolabes and clocks. The work principle of some of these inventions is still used nowadays. So in this work I want to describe some inventions of the Ancient Greeks and to find out why technology didn't develop further, what the reasons were. Unfortunately, all original Greek texts were destroyed. So when we talk about Greek texts actually we mean Byzantine copies and copies of Arabs, who translated the originals and extended them in their own researches. Thus many scientific works, investigations and inventions did not reach us. Ancient technology served for religion. When a believer presented gifts to a God, the God should thank him. Otherwise, the believer would go to another God (they had polytheism at that time, polytheism means a lot of Gods). In such way some priests could loose people who come and give presents to the God. And today everybody knows that these gifts were taken by priests for their own use. Thus today church is one of the richest organizations. So to keep believers priests widely used technology. For example: in some temples certain doors opened automatically when the fire was lit on the altar (pic.1) and even certain statues began moving. "It is said that Heron … had constructed mechanisms that sounded the trumpets of a temple when the altars were lit. The interior of temple was sprayed with scented water, metallic birds began singing and some statues began flying. It is also said that the lighting conditions in and around the temple were regulated, creating artificial fog, when necessary". Heron was a Greek mathematician, engineer and inventor of the first century BC. He lived in Alexandria and worked as shoemaker. He is better known as an inventor of the hydraulic mechanisms. Heron was also a good mathematician. He wrote a book called "Metrika", which included different mathematical formulas. He built the world's first steam engine (pic.2) . This steam engine consisted of a closed, spherical container, filled with water. When the water was heated and began to boil, the stream was released by two nozzles which were installed in a polar alignment. The container was made so that it could rotate and the steam release caused a rotating motion of the container that could be used as a steam engine for various applications. This invention used the Newton's Third Law of motion: "Every action produces a reaction equal in force and opposite in direction". But Heron didn't know that. Ctesibius of Alexandria was a Greek physicist and inventor living around 285 – 222 BC. Unfortunately, we have little information about his life and his work. When he was a young boy, he dropped a lead ball in a tube and, when the air escaped, there was a loud sound because the ball compressed the air. Owing to this fact Ctesibius understood that air was also a substance, so his inventions were based on this fact. Ctesibius invented the ‘clepsydra', which means water thieve, or water clock (pic.3) . He used three containers. One of the containers was used to keep another container always at the same level. This was made by applying a float with valve. When the level of the water fell below, the float with valve went down and the water from the above container began to fill the second container. Then the water flowed into the third container and the level of the water in this container showed the time for...

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