Reconstructions of little-known ancient Greek mechanical inventions now have their own museum in Athens, with the recent opening of the Kostas Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology.
This is the third museum to be set up for ancient Greek technological achievements in the country by Kostas Kotsanas, the Patras University engineer.
The first one opened in Ancient Olympia in 2003 while the second opened to its west in Katakolo in 2013. The Athens museum dedicated to ancient Greek technology also focuses 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.
“My father’s interest began 30 years ago, when he was an engineer at the University of Patras,” Kostas Kotsanas’ son, Panagiotis, told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) in an interview.
Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology shows brilliance of ancient technology
“He started focusing on ancient Greek technology, studying the sources and reconstructing” what he found, he added.
Beyond the Antikythera Mechanism, the world’s first computer found in a shipwreck off Antikythera that received a lot of publicity worldwide, few other mechanical inventions of the ancient Greeks are widely known to the general public.
Some of these include the astrolabe, serving as an ancient GPS created by Ptolemy; the oldest keyboard instrument of Dion invented by Ktesibios of Alexandria; and the hydraulis, Archimedes’ hydraulic ticking clock.
Philon created the palintonos, the first giant catapult in history while Heron of Alexandria invented the automated door for a temple following a sacrifice. It was the world’s first automation of a building.
Yet, there are others, too, such as Heron’s aeolosphere, the first steam engine in the world, as well as his self-propelled puppet theater.
Historically accurate replicas have been displayed around the world
Panagiotis Kotsanas, who is a chemical engineer of the National Metsovio University (Polytechneio) and responsible for traveling exhibits, said that the objects sent to exhibits abroad are replicas designed for that purpose.
Kotsanas said the family had held exhibits in Athens, but did not organize them themselves and did not have their own space.
The Athens museum, he said, will charge an entrance fee unlike the other two museums that are housed in municipal buildings and free to the public, “because we rent the building and we have to pay staff.”
The funding comes from the fifteen-year-old cultural nonprofit organization the family has set up to promote the research of ancient Greek technology.
The inventions have traveled to most continents and have been shown at museums, the European Patent Office at the Hague, universities, and the National Library of France among other locations.
Those who can’t make it to Greece can virtually “walk” through the halls of the museum online through one of the museum’s virtual tours.