Greece is known for its picturesque and pristine beaches and not to mention the Greek mythology with numerous Gods, Goddesses, demigods, and their epic stories. And, most certainly, the Greeks are also known for their inventions, versions of which we still use.
Greece, officially known as the Hellenic Republic is a country in the southeastern part of Europe. The country shares its borders with Albania, the Republic of Macedonia; the northern neighbor is Bulgaria and to the east lies Turkey. Greece has one of the longest coastlines in the world which measures an amazing 14,880 km in length placing it at the tenth position in this respect. Athens is the capital city of Greece.
Greece today is one of the most powerful countries in the European continent and it is safe to say that modern Greece traces its roots back to ancient Greece. Greek civilization is considered to be the birthplace of many astonishing discoveries and some of these ancient Greek inventions are used even today by man. While some of them laid the foundations of a better future.
List of Greek Inventions
The Olympic Games
Olympic games are more than just a mere discovery, they are a global phenomenon. The Olympic games host participants of more than 165 countries around the world. The first record of the Olympics being played was on the big and wide plains of Olympia in ancient Greece in 776 B.C. These games were played in honor of their prime Greek God Zeus and it featured events such as running and wrestling. These games lasted for an entire day, then in 472 B.C. new games were added and the event was extended to five days. Olympics today have drawn a lot of inspiration from this rich heritage. This remains one of the most popular inventions by the Greek people used today.
The concept of money is considered as one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind. Even before the barter services were introduced in ancient India, a part of ancient Greek people known as the Lydians were using circular metal pieces, the ancient Greek coins for trade which credits the Greeks with the discovery of money.
Research has shown that maps in the western literature were first produced in 6200 B.C. The first Greek scholar to invent a geographical map was Anaximander (610-546 BC) and the concept of longitude and latitude was introduced by a Greek geographer called Dikaiarch (350-290 BC). Maps are one of the most ancient Greek inventions that are used today.
Historians claim that ancient Greeks of Alexandria knew that when air is heated it expands and Philo of Byzantium who was alive when Christ was born invented the thermoscope; which had a similar concept like Galileo’s air thermometer but it was Galileo who put the scale besides the tube and converted the device into a scientific instrument which distinguishes between temperature and heat.
Heron, also known as hero, an ancient Greek engineer who lived during the first century AD invented the steam engine. He made it as a toy and named it “aeolipile”. The steam was generated in a pot filled with water which was covered and placed on fire; the pot was connected with two tubes which collected the steam and allowed it to collect into a ball of metal. The metallic ball had two outlets from where the steam was released. As the steam passed through these tubes the metal ball rotated. In 1698, taking inspiration from Heron’s steam engine, Thomas Savery built it once again.
“The square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides”; this is the world-famous Pythagoras theorem proposed by the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (582-500 BC). This theorem was a major benchmark in the fields of mathematics, geometry and astronomy. Pythagoras’s teacher, mathematician Thales discovered the first mathematical deductions and developed the science of irrational numbers and axiomatic theory. The first book ever written on geometry was written by a Greek mathematician Euclid in 300 B.C.
Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 BC), also known as the father of modern medicine, wrote the world-famous “Hippocratic Oath”. This oath prohibited doctors from performing abortions and unnecessary surgeries and stops them from having any sexual relations with their patients. According to the oath any private information divulged to the doctors should be secretive. This oath was a compulsion to all doctors till 1948 until the World Medical Association banned it and produced a new restatement called the ‘Declaration of Geneva’.
George Papanicolaou (1883-1962), a Greek American doctor first detected cervical cancer in 1943 by a gynecological procedure known as the Pap Smear test which was named after him.
Theater and Music
The ancient Greeks developed theater to portray qualities such as patriotism, respect to their holy Gods, equality and hospitality; thus instilling these values in their children. This became a ritual in 6 B.C. when they started performing in groups to educate people. Thespsis (a performer) while performing with the group broke away and started performing solo thus giving birth to solo performances. Ancient Greeks were ardent followers of art. In 468 B.C. a writer, called Sophocles created the greatest masterpiece of tragedy in Greek history Odepius Rex. Ancient Greeks had a special place for music in their lives. They invented musical instruments such as Pan Pipes which laid the foundations of the invention of the modern flute. Greece’s greatest music composer Michael Theodorakis has won global acclaim with his masterpieces like Epiphania and Zorba.
The Greek born mathematician Archimedes (287-212 B.C.) invented an ingenious water pump which is globally known as the Archimedes Screw. It consists of a tube looped around a rod, set at an angle with the bottom end in water. It had a handle at the top. When the handle is rotated, the entire device turns up and water is collected in the tube, which is transported upwards. Archimedes also invented levers in around 260 B.C. Many of our basic instruments like tongs, nutcracker and scissors are based on his principles.
The Greeks also made valuable contributions to the field of astronomy. They developed astrolabe, an instrument used to decide the position of the sun and the stars in the sky. It was first used in 200 BC by astronomers in Greece.
The Greeks used wood or big bones of animals to protect themselves from the sun or rain. Later they started using big leaves; thus laying the basis of inventing an umbrella. Finally in 1852 Samuel Fox an English inventor invented steel umbrella which we use today.
Yes, it was the ancient Greeks that came up with the idea of an alarm clock. The alarm clock was created in 200 BC by Ctesibius (285 to 222 BC). The traditional alarm clock was made with a dial and a pointer for the time and it had an alarm system that would drop pebbles into a gong at a pre-set time.
The Greeks have also made a huge contribution to the shipping industry. The first anchor was invented by Eupalamas and it was made of wood. In 592 B.C. Anacharsis invented the first metal anchor.
The ancient Greek civilization was considered as one of the most dominant civilizations of its time. Dionysus the Elder of Syracuse 399 B.C. a warrior famous for his bloody battles invented the catapult which eventually became the most lethal weapon used in battles for many centuries. The catapult was a weapon that was used to fire arrows or big stones at the enemy. It is one of the ancient Greek weapons which laid the foundations of many of the modern weapons used today. I hope this article gives you an insight into the Greek inventions and their inventors and expands your knowledge base, just like I did mine, by writing it.