Sunday, April 12, 2009

Automta in antiquity article from SPIEGEL Online

Automta in antiquity article from Speigel Online
The German magazine SPIEGELhas published an article on automata in antiquity. least that's what I believe it is about. I cannot read German. Nevertheless, they have a number of wonderful drawings and photographs that accompany the article.

Once again the credit must go to Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik for finding this great resource.

Shown above is a diagram of Hero of Alexandria's clever method for automatically opening temple doors. The fire in the pot, creates pressure in the large water tank. This causes water to spill into the bucket, the weight of which works against the counterweight to rotate the vertical axle attached to the temple door. Very clever. Done with the right amount of ceremony, this must have seemed very magical indeed to the ancient Greeks.

Here is a link to the photoset associated with the article. If you are able to read German, you might also like to read the original article on automata in antiquity.

[ Thanks once again to Falk Keuten! ]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dug, please make a little correction: it is
SPIEGEL magazine (not Speigel), like your TIME magazine. The SPIEGEL has much of the articles in a english version, but unfortunetely not this
Greeets, Falk

April 12, 2009 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger judyofthewoods said...

Great scoop - love the image. You got the mechanics almost right, but according to the article, the heat from the fire of the sacrifice expands the air in the vessel and pushes water into the bucket, which gets heavier etc., and as the air cools down, the process is reversed and the doors close. Neat idea.

April 13, 2009 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Dug North said...


Thanks for the correction!

All the Best,

Dug North

April 13, 2009 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger Alain said...

As always love your posts, love the blog - it's still one the only RSS feeds I look at almost every day. If you use Google Translate you can get a pretty good automatic translation of the article. BTW If you are interested the other 2 blogs I put on par with yours is Seth Godin's
and Smashing Magazine
Both resources that compliment your venture. Thanks again for keeping it interesting

April 14, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

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