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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Engineers and Automaton-Makers of Alexandria: Ctesibius, Philon, Heron

The Automata hold a special position in the history of Technology and particularly in the history of Technology of ancient Greece. The mythic anthropocentric conception that envisages engines-works of gods- with human shape and motion is gradually realized and becomes an applied, instructive science, which comprises all the branches of Mechanics in the Hellenistic age. The main representatives of this new science, the Automatopoetiki (art, science and technology of making Automata), are the Alexandrian engineers Ctesibius, Philon of Byzantium and Heron of Alexandria. Heads of the famous Bibliotheca of Alexandria and teachers at the Museum of the same city, they have collected the most important examples from the history of Automata, connected Mathematics with Mechanics, studied the problems of automotion and programming and programming and disseminated the art of Automata making. They have manufactured not only self-regulated lamps and automatic slot-machines, but also automatic fountains and theatres “in order to facilitate the human’s life and to cause surprise and admiration” to quote Heron.