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date: 19 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter surveys what we know of the ancient disciplines of mechanics (the movements of masses) and pneumatics (the movements of “pneuma,” or “breath,” meaning air or steam, including water or other liquids). Mechanics possessed two aspects: a theoretical-mathematical, and a practical-functional. Didactic mechanical literature is partly understood by reading; comprehension requires it be performed. Machines were made or described for various purposes, and archaeological finds are fragmentary, so conclusions must be tentative. The medical machines described in several texts were intended for use. If no piece of an ancient lathe survives, the lathe-marks on objects prove its use. Complex machines such as the Antikythera device and musical organs powered by water pressure were built; texts survive describing the water-organ. Philon of Byzantium and Heron both supplied instructions for the manufacture of amusing and practical devices, including water pumps.

Keywords: Antikythera, Apollonius of Perge, Archimedes, Athenaios Mechanicus, catapults, Heron of Alexandria, lathes, Pappus, Philon of Byzantium, pneuma

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