Watermills were vital mechanical pieces of equipment that were first built in ancient Greece's hilly areas around the 3rd century BC. It was basically a water-powered mill for grinding grain, similar to the device that is still in use today. It was a groundbreaking invention in those days and helped in the process of milling and graining whole grains without the need of human force to achieve the task.
The early water mill consisted of one horizontal winged-wheel, a vertical axle, and two horizontal millstones. The big wheel used a relatively small amount of water to roll it on its axis and to mechanically move the grinding stone. The useful invention led to the production of edible food staples like rice, cereals, pulses, and flour. The water mill went through various modifications over the centuries and has helped people mill different raw materials.
Historical references, particularly by British historian M.J.T. Lewis, state that the Greek scientist and author Philon of Byzantion (ca. 280-220 BC) is likely to have invented the first water mill. He has even mentioned in his book, Pneumatica.
4. The Alarm Clock
A majority of us have used the traditional alarm clocks while growing up and it is still one of the most commonly used gadgets in countless homes. This origin of this device, too, dates back to ancient Greece. The first alarm clock was created in ancient Greece, by Ctesibus (285–222 BC), a Hellenistic engineer and inventor. He mounted his clepsydras, or water clock, with a dial and pointer to indicate the time. Ctesibus then developed a system of dropping peddles, which were set to end at a specific time intervals, on a gong to make a sound. This went on to become the first alarm clock.
Later, ancient Greek philosopher Plato (428–348 BC) made his own version of an alarm clock with vessels. Water would be first poured into a top vessel which would trickle down at a specified rate to another bowl with an axial pipette. When this second bowl filled, its water would swiftly fall into a third closed vessel, forcing air to come whistling out through a tube. It is said that Plato used the clock at night for indicating the beginning of his lectures at dawn. This might have been the first known awakening device in human history.
5. The Olympics
The Olympic Games are a global phenomenon today. However, they started way back in ancient Greece. The ancient Games were staged in Olympia, Greece, from 776 BC through 393 AD and were dedicated to the Olympian gods. But at their heart, the Games were a religious festival that included a plethora of interesting games like running, jumping and throwing events, plus boxing, wrestling, pankration (a sort of mixed martial art which combined boxing and wrestling) and chariot racing.
Initially, the Games lasted for a full five days and were viewed by at least 40,000 spectators packed into the stadium each day. People from all over Greece attended the Games, which was held once every four years, with a lot of excitement and the winners were given olive leaf wreaths or crowns as a prize.
The first modern Olympics began in 1896 and the founder of the International Olympic Committee, Pierre de Coubertin, is said to have taken extensive inspiration from the ancient Olympic Games.
6. Greek Fire
Developed in the 7th century, Greek fire was a devastating and secret weapon that helped protect the Byzantine Empire for many centuries. The formula for the weapon was closely guarded and passed from emperor to emperor until the fall of the empire in 1453.
Historians later discovered that it was an incendiary weapon, a flaming liquid, that was extremely hard to contain and couldn’t even be put out after using water. In fact, it would burn even more forcefully after coming in contact with water and would stick to anything it would touch. Also called “sea fire” and “liquid fire” by the Byzantines, the liquid was heated, pressurized, and then delivered through a tube called a siphon. It was also thrown in pots or ship-mounted tubes.
Researchers have tried to figure out the ingredients of this Greek fire for years and it is believed that it was made from a combination of quicklime and naphtha or turpentine. In many ways, Greek fire was the ancestor of napalm, a deadly incendiary substance of 20th-century warfare.
While the earliest known evidence of cartography (the study and practice of making maps) points towards ancient Babylon as early as the ninth century BC, it was not accurate and only displayed a small piece of land. It was the ancient Greeks who then formed the earliest paper maps that were used for navigation, and to outline certain areas of the Earth. A Greek philosopher, Anaximander, is credited to have made the first map of the world which included Europe, Asia, Libya, and the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Curiously, though, he believed that the earth was cylindrical and suspended in space and showed it likewise in his map.
Later on, when many of Anaximander’s theories were proved to be wrong, Hecataeus of Miletus created a map based on the philosopher’s work but with various improvements. The first person in history to include geographical coordinates into maps was Dicaearchus, a Greek geographer. This made finding locations easier. Herodotus, Eratosthenes, and Ptolemy were other well-known Greek mapmakers and their works were based on explorer observations and mathematical calculations. All of them played a significant part in creating accurate maps of the world and helping travel and navigation in ancient times.
Today, we can’t imagine a world without theater, movies, or musical shows. But if it wasn’t for the Ancient Greeks, theater may not have even existed. Several historians have traced the proper development of theater to the city-state of Athens. The word “theater”, in fact, has its roots in an Ancient Greek word théatron or "a place for viewing". Ancient Greek theater provided a great platform for many of today’s theatrical genres and traditions.
Greek theater was first established 6th century BC and commenced with festivals in Athens honoring the Greek god, Dionysus. Back then, ancient hymns, called dithyrambs, were sung in honor of the god. The Theater of Dionysius, which is still located near the Acropolis in Greece, was at the core of this festival. Interestingly, in ancient Greek theater, only three actors performed on stage at a time, where each performer was allowed to play multiple roles in the work’s production.
While there are no existing plays from the 6th century BC, historians have found that the earliest known actor was Thespis, from whom the term “thespian” originated and who went on to be known as the Father of Tragedy.
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