Amazing Ancient Greek Technology on display in Athens

Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology

Everywhere you turn in the Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, which opened in January 2018 in Athens, you will be not only fascinated but stunned by the inventions created in ancient Greece - progressive mechanisms that most people have never heard of, let alone imagined. Inventions that most of us assume were first thought up in the modern, industrial age were actually being used as far back as 500 BC. 

Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology


Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology

The museum is named after the mechanical engineer Kostas Kotsanas, who since his university years dedicated himself to studying academic texts in Latin, Arabic and Greek as well as studying paintings on vessels and other artefacts. The 145 exhibits to be admired at the museum were all built by him using materials as close to the original ones as possible, some of which, like the Antikythera Mechanism, can even be interacted with by visitors. Kotsanas began his mission of introducing ancient Greek technology to the world some 20 years ago by presenting his reproductions in a travelling exhibit around the country and eventually around the world - in Europe, Asia, Australia and the US. During these 20 years he also created two smaller museums, one in Katakolo, Ilia in the Peloponnese, and one in Ancient Olympia that is dedicated to 45 inventions by Archimides.

Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology

Kotsanas has reproduced remarkable items that were used in every area of life in classical times - from the first door security system created for homes, (which functions with a hydraulic mechanism and makes a shrill alarm sound when the door is opened) to complex and ingenious telecommunications systems placed up atop hills for soldiers to communicate, telegram-style, during war, to Plato’s alarm clock and Philos of Byzantium’s unbelievable robot servant, a life-sized, robed woman who poured wine and water for guests at symposiums when they placed their cup in her hand.

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Visitors can learn, via informational texts and videos, how Hellenic technology enhanced and advanced sport, theatre, religion, home life, mathematical and medical advancement, astronomy, agriculture and other areas in ancient Greece.  


It is astounding that we as Greeks and the world at wide know so much about ancient Greece’s philosophy, democracy and medicine but almost nothing at all about its advanced technology; seeing the Antikythera Mechanism, considered mankind’s first computing mechanism, or the Aeolosphere of Heron (the first steam machine in history, which could have led Greece into the industrial revolution had it not been occupied by the Romans), or the ‘static’ Automatic Theatre of Heron of Alexandria, described by the museum as “the first cinema”, with its moving sets, dolphins flying out of the sea and goddesses floating across the stage, and the above-mentioned Servant of Philo robot, is truly mind-boggling. 

 The museum is run by polite and educated staff, including Kostas Kotsanas’ son Panayiotis (his other son makes models of the exhibits for the gift-shop, also available online) who can explain the mechanics of each exhibit in detail or offer a guided tour to groups.

Still in the making is the basement floor that will be dedicated to the mathematical inventions of Archimides, while the top floor has a room dedicated to musical instruments. From the Hydraulis (organ) of Ktesibios, described as the first keyboard, and Pythagoras’ four-stringed Helicon as well as his Monochord, to Apollo’s guitar, Sappho’s lyre and the Copper-phone (aka the first drum-set, by Hippasus of Metapontum), as well as cymbals, flutes, bells and chimes. Next door to the music room a cafe where visitors will be served cakes with ancient Greek emblems and can play games like the puzzle of Ostomachion, the Enneas board game and chess-like Polis. And as if all that is not enough, each of the steps leading up to the cafe will play a note from the Song of Seikilos, the only complete ancient Greek musical composition.

A: 6 Pindarou Street, Athens, Greece

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Alexia Amvrazi

Alexia Amvrazi enjoys the thrill of discovering beauty in the world around her. With a passionately hands-on approach to Greece's travel, gastronomy, holistic living, culture, innovation and creativity, for 20 years she has explored and shared her findings with the world on all aspects of the country and its people via writing, radio, blogs and videos. Although her childhood and early youth in Italy, Egypt and England left her feeling somewhat root-less, she is by now firmly connected to her native land, bravely weathering the hurricane known as the Greek crisis!

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