Technology of ancient Greece

The Antikythera mechanism, the solar clock from Philippi and Hiron’s odometer are all famous ancient Greek inventions that continue to fascinate scientists from around the world who research the way they worked and the technologies they used. These are a few of the small marvels that will be explored at the Second International Conference on Ancient Technology, which starts Monday in Athens and has attracted experts from Greece and abroad. Overshadowed The conference is being held October 17-20 at the War Museum and will be accompanied by an exhibition (which is open to the public) in the museum’s amphitheater. Among the items on display will be models of measuring instruments, pumps, metalwork and automats. The conference is jointly organized by the Technical Chamber of Greece, the Association of Ancient Greek Technology Studies (AAGTS), the Science Center and Technology Museum, the National Technical University and the Greek Archaeologists’ Association. The conference aims to make more people aware of ancient Greek technology, «which has been overshadowed by achievements of ancient Greek philosophy and the arts,» as AAGTS general secretary Klairi Palyvou told Kathimerini. «The conference is being held to give a forum to those who study ancient Greek technology, to present original work and to discuss and exchange ideas,» she added. The first conference was held in Thessaloniki in 1997. «Our first contact was in the nature of getting acquainted. What emerged was that there is great interest, and from people who come from various disciplines – archaeologists, mechanics, engineers and teachers,» Palyvou said. Around 100 distinguished speakers from Greece and abroad will participate, including Christos Doumas, professor of prehistoric archaeology at the University of Athens, who will speak on the technology and economy of Thera in the Bronze Age; Stefanos Geroulanos, professor of the history of medicine at the University of Ioannina, who will peak on surgical tools in ancient times; Joost Knauss, professor of hydraulics at the Technical University of Munich, speaking on Mycenean underground well-houses in Mycenae, Tiryns and Ithaca; and James Muhly, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, speaking on the beginnings of iron metallurgy in the Eastern Mediterranean. An entire session will be devoted to the mechanism of Antikythera: Dr Michael Wright of the British Science Museum will present his new model and the latest developments in his research.