The many brilliant technological inventions of the ancient Greeks come alive — interactively — during new virtual tours of the collection of Athens’ Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology.
Presented as a new tool for the public to enjoy the astounding ancient inventions displayed at the Museum, the new show is called “Ancient Greece – the Origins of Our Technologies.”
In an announcement, the Museum says “Heron, Philon, Archimedes, Ktesibios, Pythagoras and Hipparchos invite you to discover the cutting edge technology of antiquity through their inventions.
“From the automatic hydraulic clock of Ktesibios to the Antikythera Calculating Mechanism, we observe that the foundations for many conquests of modern civilization, such as steam and gas propulsion, the computer and robotic constructions, had already been laid by the ancient Greek world.
“Philon’s automatic servant and ‘magic’ wine jug, Archimedes’ hydraulic screw, and so much more come to illuminate unknown aspects of everyday life in public and private life.”
Museum of Ancient Greek Technology awarded in 2019
The Kostas Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, located on Pindarou Street in central Athens, features working reconstructions of brilliant but little-known ancient Greek mechanical inventions — many of which were almost lost forever.
The Museum was nominated as the “European Museum of 2019” by the European Museum Forum.
This is the third museum in Greece to be recognized for presenting ancient Greek technological achievements. However, all of these museums were founded by Costas Kotsanas, a brilliant Patras University engineer who was on a mission to bring these intricate machines back to life.
The first museum opened at the site of Ancient Olympia in 2003 and the second in Katakolo in 2013.
The Athens museum has a particular focus on musical instruments and games.
Not widely known in Greece, the museums have nevertheless been showered with invitations by foreign museums and institutes as far away as Asia, and been visited by many foreign tourists in Greece.
“Robotic servants” and “automatic cinemas”
Born in Seliana, Achaia, in 1963, Kotsanas studied mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic University of Patras. The 300-odd exhibits in his remarkable museums contain operating models of ancient Greek inventions, from the “robot-servant machine” of Philon to the “Cinema of Heron.”
“My father’s interest began 30 years ago, when he was an engineer at the University of Patras,” Kostas Kotsanas’ son, Panagiotis, told the press in an interview.
“He started focusing on ancient Greek technology, studying the sources and reconstructing” what he found, he added.
There is an automatic clock in Kotsanas’ collection that was invented by the mathematic genius Ktesibios, and even an early form of steam engine — made entirely of bronze.
The Antikythera Machine — the world first computer
The museum also has a model of the priceless treasure, the “Antikythera Machine,” found in a shipwreck off a small Greek island, which was actually a form of analog computer made of bronze and used to compute the movements of the stars.
The Athens museum’s funding comes from the 15-year-old cultural nonprofit organization which the Kotsanas family itself created to promote ancient Greek technology.
Beyond the Antikythera Mechanism, a few other mechanical inventions of the ancient Greeks are part of the fascinating collection.
Astrolabe and first steam engine in the world
Apart from these jaw-dropping inventions, the collection includes:
– The astrolabe, serving as an ancient GPS, invented by Ptolemy
– The automated opening of a temple’s doors following a sacrifice, which was the world’s first automation of a building, by Heron of Alexandria
– The aeolosphere, which was the first steam engine in the world, by Heron
– The palintonos, the first giant catapult in history, by Philon
– The hydraulis, the oldest keyboard instrument of Dion, by Ktesibios of Alexandria
– The hydraulic-powered ticking clock, by Archimedes
The European Museum Forum is a cultural organization founded in 1977 under the Council of Europe. It is an independent, non-profit charity, registered in the United Kingdom.
Since its inception, its objective has been to recognize the best museum practices across Europe and to encourage innovative developments in the museum sector.
The inventions at the Museum have traveled as part of special exhibitions to most continents, and been shown at scores of museums, as well as the European Patent Office at the Hague, universities and the National Library of France.
The Kostas Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology is located at Pindarou 6 & Akadimias, in the Kolonaki area. Tel.: 211 411 0044, 690 72 92 002. You may buy an electronic ticket for the virtual tours via this link.
The digital tour of the exhibition is interactive and educational and is aimed at visitors of all ages.