10 Μαΐου 2019

11 Greek Inventions That Changed the World for Good

Find out some of the most important Greek inventions and discoveries that are still used by people all over the globe.

By Kashyap Vyas / 
Interesting Engineering

‘Greece: the cradle of Western civilization’. ‘Greece: home of the original Olympic games’. ‘Athens: the birthplace of democracy’. You must have heard these quotes and sayings sometime, somewhere, right? Well, that’s just the beginning. There are many useful inventions that have ancient Greek origins, and the best part is; they are still being used today. Do you wish to get an insight into some of the amazing innovations by Greeks? Read on!

The Greeks did it first and better

Today, some of the Greek inventions are being used in our daily lives, whereas others are used by the professionals in their respective fields – but, their findings in the area of astronomy, mathematics, and geography have actually pioneered the age of science.

Not only have they gifted the world with important discoveries, but the outstanding leaders like Alexander the Great and Pericles have also motivated other thousands of well-disciplined people to create history with their remarkable creations.

In short, by being the father of science, or the father of zoology or the father of medicine, Greece has contributed significantly to the modern world discoveries and inventions.

It’s time to take a glance at them. Below are some of the interesting and amazing inventions that reflect their contribution in the best possible way. These inventions have been mentioned in no particular order.

1. Olympics 

Today, the Olympic Games are a global phenomenon. But, do you know where it got originated from? The first record of the Olympics being played was on the big and wide plains of Olympia in ancient Greece in 776 B.C. The modern Olympic started in 1896 by Pierre de Coubertin after been extensively inspired by the ancient Olympics.

Different games like Isthmos occurred every two years and Pythian every four years. People from all over Greece came over to watch these games, and the winners were given olive leaf wreaths or crowns as a prize.

Olympics of today has drawn a lot of inspiration from the rich Greece heritage, and it still remains one of the most popular inventions from the Greeks.

2. Astrolabe
Source: Andrew Dunn/Wikimedia Commons

The astrolabe is one of the significant ancient Greece inventions. It is an instrument used to make astronomical measurements like altitudes of celestial bodies. Not only this, but it also provided information on the where the sun, planets and some of the stars are located.

This invention was widely used in the early Middle Ages in Europe. Later in the mid-15th century, the astrolabes also began to be used in celestial navigation by the mariners. By far, this has been one of the valuable contributions made by Greece in the field of astronomy. 

3. Theatre

Today, watching a play, movie or musical shows is one major source of entertainment for the people across the globe. However, did you know that the theatre was introduced by the ancient Greeks?

Yes, they not only invented theatres but also created multiple genres like tragedy, comedy and the satirical ones. The plays began to be performed in the ancient theatres in Athens, and later other cities began to build them.

4. Water Clock

The water clock, known as Clepsydra was introduced by ancient Greek around the year 325 BC. The sundial was the first timepiece but had a drawback that it could only function when the sun was out.

So, the water clock solved this limitation of the sundial. How? The water clock created the concept of time. It began to be majorly used in courtrooms where the time of the lawyers and the witnesses’ speeches could be known as soon as the water supply ran out of the vessel. Once it gets empty, it means that the speaker had run out of time. In this way, it solved the issue of the sundial and helped the people to measure time.

5. Greek Fire 
Source: Gts-tg/Wikimedia Commons

Greek fire is considered to be one of the history’s best-kept military secrets which came into existence in the 7th century. The major reason behind this creation was protecting Constantinople from Arabs. Greek fire was a flaming liquid that was extremely difficult to stop. It had the potential to destroy a fleet of soldiers at once.

A lot of research was carried on at a later stage to figure out the ingredients of this Greek fire, and the majority of the scholars believe it to be the combination of quicklime and naphtha or turpentine. 

6. Levers 

The credit for impressive constructions of the ancient era goes to the lever. Invented by the Greek mathematician Archimedes in 260 BC, it used the pulley system to lift heavier objects.

Today, many of our basic tools use levers as they have the characteristic of using the lowest amount of force to haul heavier objects. 

7. Crane 

Cranes are the ultimate help when you need to lift heavy objects high up while constructing a building or while transferring supplies from one place to another. Today, we cannot imagine the world without cranes.

But, did you know when and who invented it? The archeological discoveries state that in the late 6th century BC, use of tongs and lewis irons appeared on stone blocks of Greek temples. Not only this but later, with the winch and pulley hoist becoming popular, the Greeks began using cranes in small teams to get the work done easily without putting in many efforts. Further, more advanced compound pulley systems got introduced that assisted in building a stronger Greek empire. 

8. Pap Smear

George Papanikolaou – a veteran of Greece’s medical corps created the cervical screening method. This test detects the cervical changes before cancer actually develops. This, in turn, enabled the doctors to treat it early and hence, it became curable.

The introduction of the Pap smear test reduced the deaths due to cervical cancer by almost 70% over the last 50 years. Thus, Greece has gifted the world incredible inventions even in the field of medicine.

9. Water Mill 
Source: Gts-tg/Wikimedia Commons

Today, it’s hard to imagine that earlier, water mill didn’t exist. After all, the use of water power turned simple grains like wheat and rice into an important staple food.

This entire process became much easier with this simple invention, which was not the case before.

10. Archimedes Screw

As the name says, Archimedes Screw was invented by the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes in order to remove water from the hold of a large ship. It has a tube looped around a rod, set at an angle with the bottom end in water. It had a handle at the top, and when it is rotated, the entire device turns up and water gets collected in the tube that is further transported upwards.

The Archimedes screw is being successfully used for so many centuries with its major usage being raising irrigation water as well as for land drainage. Additionally, it is even able to move water that contains sand, mud or gravel. 

11. Catapult 
Source: Ron L. Toms/Wikimedia Commons

The catapult was introduced in Greece by Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse in 399 BC. This is a device that assists in throwing heavy objects or arrows over a large distance; hence, ballista – a type of catapult was used as a major weapon of warfare for over a thousand years.

Later, wheels were added to it by the Romans in order to make it more maneuverable. 

The inventions by Greeks don’t end here

Greeks have bestowed the world with many other inventions. From an alarm clock, computer, shower, plumbing, automatic doors, cartography, odometer, stadium, and columns to the arch bridge, heron, calipers, bellow, hand fan and more, the list just goes on!

There’s no doubt that the Greek society as a whole, inspired achievements that eventually shaped the ancient western civilization. They performed exceedingly well in different areas including arts, science, philosophy, architecture and many more and gifted the world with incredible innovations that are still used by the people all across the globe. 

May, 09th 2019 

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