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8 Ancient Greek Scholars & Their Life-Changing Inventions

We largely recognize Ancient Greek scholars as excellent theoreticians and forget about their accomplishments in practical realms that go beyond philosophy and mathematics. In reality, though, the inventions of the Industrial Revolution and any modern scientific achievements, really, would probably be impossible without the contributions of Ancient Greek scientists and experimenters. The foundations of modern medicine, engineering, biology, and astronomy were set up by these 8 stellar minds more than two thousand years ago.

1. Hippocrates (c. 460-377 BC)

Ancient Greek Scientists Hippocrates (c. 460-377 BC)
You’ve likely heard of the Hippocratic Oath, a code that requires every physician to maintain good ethical standards even today. This oath was invented by an Ancient Greek physician named Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine.
Hippocrates’ greatest contribution was his analytical and scientific approach to medicine. Before that, physical illness was considered a punishment from the gods, and all doctors were also priests. Hippocrates urged physicians to examine the human body and find physical causes for illnesses, and he also gave basic advice to his patients, such as bed rest, hygienic practices, and diet recommendations.

2. Herodotus (c. 484-420 BC)

Ancient Greek Scientists Herodotus (c. 484-420 BC)
Known as the Father of History, the Greek author Herodotus wrote the first narrative history work in Europe. A lifelong traveler and excellent storyteller, Herodotus recorded and later compiled the history of Greece, Egypt, and western Asia from 550 BC to 479 BC.
Unlike his predecessors, who created fragmented or local historical accounts, Herodotus was the first to compile the century-long history of a large geographical region. Amazingly, much of what he wrote was found to be true, and his History of the Greco-Persian Wars is the most accurate account to this day.

3. Aristotle (384-322 BC)

Ancient Greek Scientists Aristotle (384-322 BC)
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Most of us know Aristotle as one of the greatest Greek philosophers, but few of us recognized him as a scientist. In reality, Aristotle had a vast knowledge of biology, chemistry, and even psychology. Among his most famous work is the detailed description of animal species, for which he is credited as the father of zoology.
In addition, Aristotle was the first to categorize living organisms by their complexity - from plants to animals - and much of his theoretical work in biology was largely unsurpassed until the 19th century.

4. Theophrastus (c. 371-287 BC)

Ancient Greek Scientists Theophrastus
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Theophrastus was one of Aristotle’s most famous students and the first botanist in European History. In 323, when Aristotle retired, Theophrastus took over leadership of the Lyceum, Aristotle’s famous academy in Athens. In his most famous works Inquiry Into Plant and Growth of Plants, Theophrastus described and cataloged 500 plant species and categorized them into shrubs, trees, and herbs.

5. Hipparchus (c. 190-120 BC)

Ancient Greek Scientists Hipparchus
Many known Hipparchus as the father of trigonometry, but he was not only a mathematician but also a genius astronomer. Hipparchus recorded around 850 stars, traced the movement of the Moon and the Sun, and accurately predicted the occurrence of Solar and Lunar eclipses. Hipparchus is also believed to have invented an early version of the astrolabe, an instrument used by ancient astronomers to locate stars and planets.

6. Hero of Alexandria (c. 10-70 AD)

Hero of Alexandria (also known as Heron) was a Greco-Egyptian mathematician and engineer who is widely considered as the greatest experimenter of his time. Apart from his many theoretical contributions, Hero built the first known steam engine, also known as Hero's engine, almost two thousand years before the Industrial Revolution.
Although only fragments of his engineering works survived to this day, those that do are pretty impressive. He created a completely mechanical 10-minute play consisting of an intricate system of rotating cylindrical cogwheels, ropes, and knots, as well as a standalone fountain, many mechanical toys, and even a coin-operated vending machine for holy water.

7. Archimedes (c. 287-212 BC)

Ancient Greek Scientists Archimedes

Today, we remember Archimedes as the Greek scientist who took the most famous bath in history. Archimedes famously discovered a method that allows you to determine the volume of an object of an irregular shape by submerging it in water. That law is known as Archimedes' principle in physics, and Archimedes came up with it as he got into a bath and noticed water splashing out as the tub.

We don’t know if this quirky story is true or not, but we know for a fact that Archimedes is one of the greatest mathematicians and engineers in history. Apart from his theoretical accomplishments in geometry and calculus, he came up with a pulley system that allowed people to move heavy loads, constructed the screw pump, and designed a way to use mirrors to reflect light and burn enemy ships.

Related Article: 17 Wise Quotes from Ancient Greek Philosophers

8. Ctesibius (285-222 BC)

The ancient Greek scientist named Ctesibius was responsible for the creation of a great number of very useful inventions. He was the first to use and document compressed air and force pumps, for which he is widely regarded as the Father of Pneumatics.

The discovery of the elasticity of air allowed him to build the first-ever pipe organ. The Greek inventor is also credited for improving the water clock known as the clepsydra. His clock design remained the most accurate clock until the 17th century when the pendulum clock was invented.

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