Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 17 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article treats some practical applications of the physical principles, for example water clocks, astronomical instruments, and hodometers. The so-called five simple machines were known and discussed by Greek engineers and scientists from at least the late third century bc onward, perhaps beginning with Philo of Byzantium. Many automata were certainly intended to cause astonishment, but the ultimate intent of these miracles was doubtless to illustrate physical and mechanical principles. The article discusses the land hodometer of Vitruvius. The technology of the Roman Empire is mainly associated with large, low-technology machines based on Hellenistic inventions. But various types of evidence prove that the knowledge of automata and other gadgets was passed on. The direct technology transfer that took place from the Roman Empire to medieval Western Europe as far as water-mills and similar machines are concerned, had apparently no counterparts in high technology.

Keywords: water clocks, astronomical instruments, land hodometer, Vitruvius, automata, Roman Empire, Western Europe

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.