Ancient Greek armour exhibit at the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology in Athens

Museum of Ancient Greek Technology Athens

The hi-tech inventions of the ancient greeks.
Visitors have the chance to see and touch over 100 fully functional reconstructions of ancient Greek inventions, accompanied by rich audio-visual material.

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Where is the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology Athens

The Museum of Ancient Greek Technology Athens is based in a rather unique historic Art Nouveau building, just 150m from Syntagma Square and the National History Museum.

The building itself once belonged to the family of Queen Aspasia Manou, the wife of Alexander I.

The museum is on several floors and is split into two main themes: Ancient Greek Technology and Ancient Greek Musical Instruments and Games.

Ancient Greek Technology

Perhaps the best permanent exhibits are “Ancient Greece, The Origins of Technologies”. There are around 35 categories, including:

  • agricultural technology
  • astronomy
  • automatic navigation
  • computing
  • cryptography
  • gadgets
  • hydraulic technology
  • jet propulsion
  • lifting machines
  • mapping
  • measuring time
  • medical technology
  • pulling machines
  • robotics
  • telecommunication
  • wind and hydrologic energy

Visitors have the chance to see and touch over 100 fully functional reconstructions of ancient Greek inventions, accompanied by rich audio-visual material, from the robot – servant of Philon to the cinema of Heron and from the automatic clock of Ktesibios to the analogue computer of Antikythera. Each exhibit is a stimulus to relate technology and science and their role in the everyday life of the people of ancient Greece.

Ancient Greek Musical Instruments

There are 42 fully functional, reassembled musical instruments, such as the helicon and the sixth string of Pythagoras, the lyre of Hermes, the guitar of Apollo, the Homeric phorminx, the harp of Sappho, the Ptolemaic helicon, the Pan flute, the hydraulis of Ktesibios and others.

Additionally, the museum presents a specific space for periodical exhibitions, each time dedicated to different aspects of the admirable technology of the Ancient Greeks, such as the Archimedes exhibition or Ancient Greek games, Ancient Greek automation, Ancient Greek shipbuilding, Ancient Greek siege engines, Ancient Greek astronomy and many others.

At the same time, the museum premises provides, at varying levels, educational programs and workshops within the framework of the museum philosophy, such as workshops in the fields of robotics, arts, natural sciences, mathematics, and others.

The automatic Servant of Philon

This was a human-like robot in the form of a maid that held a jug of wine in her right hand. When the visitor placed a cup in the palm of her left hand, she automatically poured wine and then poured water into the cup, mixing it when desired.

Inside the maid, there are two airtight containers (with wine and water). At their bottom, there are two tubes leading their content through her right hand to the lip of the jug of wine. Two air pipes start at the top of the containers, go through their bottom and lead curved into her stomach. Her left arm is linked, through the articulation, to her shoulders. At the same time, a winding rod (spring) that is positioned in an extension of the restraining rod raises it. 

Two pipes start at the same point (joint) and come down (going through and freeing the curved perforated ends of the air pipes). The joint pipes have two holes or tears at their ends, with the hole in contact with the container of wine preceding that which is connected with the water container. 

When the cup is placed into the maid’s palm, her hand comes down, and the joint tubes are lifted. The hole in one pipe is aligned with the air pipe of the wine container, air enters the container, and the wine flows from the tube into the cup. 

When the cup of wine is half-full, the hand (due to weight) descends further, and the passage of the air pipe of wine obstructs, and the flow stops. At the same time, the other tube is aligned with the air pipe of the water container, and it begins to flow, thus diluting the wine. 

When the cup is full, the hand (due to weight) descends further, the passage of the air pipe with water obstructs, and the flow stops. Also, suppose the cup is removed at any moment. In that case, the left-hand rises, the tubes of the joint descend, cutting off the air pipes, creating a vacuum in the containers and stopping the liquid flow. The maid then fills the cup with wine or diluted with water of desired quantity depending on the time it is pulled from her palm.

 

The Inventions of Archimedes

Is a genuinely remarkable defensive war machine invented by Archimedes to face Roman ships in the siege of Syracuse. 

It consisted of a jointed beam based on a rotating vertical beam or platform. At one end of the beam was a grappling hook (“iron hand”) which hovered by a chain, and at the other end a sliding counterweight. 

When not used, the machine was laid alongside the wall in a horizontal position (so as not to be visible from the sea), wound and secured by rope and a manual winch (for balancing the counterweight). 

When a ship approached the wall, operators threw the hook against it and rotated the vertical beam (via horizontal levers). When the hook caught the ship, the operator, by pulling a special lever (“kataklis”) released the rope balancing the counterweight and the end of the beam, which had the counterweight, descended to the ground while the other end, which had the hook, ascended overthrowing or elevating the hooked ship. 

With the slope of the horizontal beam, the counterweight slid rearwards, executing even more torque and tilt to the beam. When the sliding counterweight reached the end, and after the beam stabilised, the operators cut the rope holding the chain of the hook so that the hovering ship would be crushed against the water or adjacent rocks.

Other Exhibits I Recommend

  • The automatics of Heron
  • The automatics of Philon of Byzandium
  • The mythical automatics of the ancient Greeks
  • The inventions of Ktesibios
  • The inventions of Archimedes
  • The elevating mechanisms of the ancient Greeks
  • The technology of the ancient Greek theatre
  • The hydraulic technology of the ancient Greeks
  • Measuring instruments, tools and machines of the ancient Greeks
  • Telecommunication of the ancient Greeks
  • The astronomical measuring instruments of the ancient Greeks
  • The siege technology of the ancient Greeks
  • The textile technology of the ancient Greeks
  • The agricultural technology of the ancient Greeks
  • The medical technology of the ancient Greeks
  • The sports technology of the ancient Greeks
  • The nautical technology of the ancient Greeks
  • The flight machines of the ancient Greeks
  • The musical instruments of ancient Greeks
  • The toys of the ancient Greeks
  • Measurements with a man as a measure
  • The geometric kinematic mechanisms of the ancient Greeks

Summer (April 1st to October 31st)

Monday – Sunday 09:00 – 18:00

Winter (November 1st to March 31st)

Monday – Sunday 09:00 – 17:00

Closed

January 1st, March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, December 25th and 26th

My photos of the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology Athens

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