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Interesting ancient inventions

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:39 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Salvete Sodales!

Though we already have a thread dedicated to 'normal' archeological news, I felt the need to create a thread dedicated to all the truly bizarre and strange archeological finds.

I'll get things started:

The Antikythera mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism, is an ancient mechanical calculator (also described as the first known mechanical computer) designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was discovered in the Antikythera wreck off the Greek island of Antikythera, between Kythera and Crete, in 1901. Subsequent investigation, dated it to about 150–100 BC; and hypothesised that it was on board a ship that sank en route from the Greek island of Rhodes to Rome. Technological artifacts of similar complexity did not reappear until a thousand years later.

Additional reading:
Wikipedia article
National Geographic
World Mysteries article


The Aeolipile

An aeolipile (or aeolipyle, or eolipile), a rocket style jet engine invented in the first century by Hero of Alexandria, is considered to be the first recorded steam engine or reaction steam turbine. The name—derived from the Greek words "aeolos" and "pila"—translates to "the ball of Aeolus" ; Aeolus being the Greek god of the wind.

Additional reading:
Wikipedia article
Damn Interesting article (this one includes several other claims I'd like to read more about. In particular a coin-operated vending machine for holy water and a fully automatic machine gun for arrows).


Feel free to share your interesting finds!

Valete bene,

Re: Interesting ancient inventions

PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:34 am
by L. Livia Plauta
Salve Draco,
I've seen a serious documentary film about some the inventions you mention here. I think they were by Hyeron of Syracuse. The documentary reconstructed the eolipila, the water-vending machine, and another mechanism to open temple doors automatically during sacrifices (set off by the fire heat).
They were all reconstructed in reality, and proved to work very well.