The Archimedes’ museum in Ancient Olympia
The Archimedes’ museum is permanently hosted in a two-storey building in the center of the city of Ancient Olympia. The Archimedes’ Museum is of the most unique thematic museums in Greece and is dedicated to the great Mathematician, Physicist, Engineer, Astronomer and Inventor in ancient Greece and a genius of the technology of his time. Archimedes passed on great theses of all the ancient sciences and, above all, he became the springboard for the development of modern science. Some of his inventions are in use even today. It is known that Archimedes inspired Da Vinci and even influenced Galileo and Newton.
In the field of mathematics, he invented the infinitesimals and the method of exhaustion, which are the modern Differential and Integral calculus, a numbering system for measuring very large sizes which is similar to the modern exponential – logarithmic system and (without taking into account the recent retrievals from the famous “palimpsest”) he had a “modern” perception of combinatorics and actual infinity that made Leibniz quote, “He who understands Archimedes … will admire less the achievements of the foremost men of later times”.
Similarly, in the field of mechanics, the hydraulic screw, the accurate mechanical planetarium, the winch with gears and endless screw, the dioptra, the odometer, the nautical odometer, the mechanical and the hydraulic paradox, the means to check the purity of gold, the density meter, burning using mirrors, the Roman scale, the giant cranes and the powerful war machines are some of his 24 inventions that are exhibited on the ground floor of the Museum. Located in the central hall is the famous Antikythera mechanism, which recent research has shown indirect fatherhood of the Syracusian man. Also, 24 exceptional inventions from the time of Archimedes, such as the “cinema” and the “robot – servant” of Philon, the most accurate automatic clock, the “hydraulis”, the twin suction force piston pump of Ktesibios, the repeating catapult of Dionysios and more, are exhibited on the first floor of the museum.
The aim of the Archimedes’ museum is to feature, in absolute validity and reliability, this unknown perspective of that great wise man of antiquity and to prove that the technology of the Ancient Greeks during the 3rd century B.C. was shockingly similar to the beginning of our modern technology.
The bolts and nuts, gears and rules, pulleys and belts, sprockets and roller chains, hydraulic controllers and valves, programmers and auto-pilots (which are also parts of the motor in a contemporary automobile), are just some of the inventions of the ancient Greeks which were the foundations of their complex technology. These legacies, identical and irreplaceable, continue today to constitute the building blocks of our modern technology, the development of which would be doubtful without its effortless and undemanding adoption. Only after a millennium of maturation was humanity able to “recover” this remarkable forgotten technology. The exploration of this age, when ownership for peak technology was not claimed, demonstrates, without a doubt, how much more (than we think) the modern Western Technological Civilization owes the Greeks.
The exhibits are accompanied by rich audio-visual material (in Greek and English), such as explanatory labels and giant posters with information, detailed diagrams, photos and complete bibliographical references, while many of the exhibits are interactive. There are projecting stations with video and animation as well as documentaries in which the exhibitor explains the function and the use of the mechanisms. The exhibition (in thematic sections) follows the modern educational perception in Pedagogic and Museum Education so that it acts multileveled, as far as the greatness of ancient Greek technological thought and technique is concerned, in all levels of the educational community and the wider public.