Travels in Greece

Museum of Ancient Greek Technology in Katakolon

We received an email today regarding the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology which resides on the main square of Katakolon opposite the train station and next to the church. The last time we were in Katakolo in the summer of 2009 it appeared very shut and we were told that it was unlikely to re-open, but the email seems to negate that news.

About the museum of Ancient Greek Technology

The Museum of Ancient Greek Technology in Katakolon operates under the auspices of the Municipality of Pyrgos and includes approximately 200 reliably operating models of mechanisms and inventions of the ancient Greek wonder after research, study and construction by Kostas Kotsanas. It is the most reliable and plenary exhibition of its kind in the world.

The exhibits are accompanied by rich audio-visual material such as, explanatory labels and giant posters with opulent information, analytical diagrams, photos and complete bibliographical references (in both Greek and English) while some 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 (categorized in thematic units) follows the modern educational perception in Pedagogic and Museum Education so that it acts multi-leveled as far as the greatness of ancient Greek technological thought and technique are concerned, not only for all rungs of the educational community but also the wider public.

Many of the exhibits and study on which the constructions are based have been presented at international conventions and exhibitions, while periodic exhibitions of the museum have been realized in both Greece and abroad.

The aim of the exhibition is to familiarize the public with the unbelievable technological achievements of the ancient Greeks giving the visitor the opportunity to discover that the ancient Greeks had:

  1. invented a “cinema” capable of presenting, automatically, the plot of a myth with moving picture and sound
  2. devised (unfortunately, only as entertainment) automotive vehicles (automobiles) with automatic drive, a gear box, hydraulic programmed valves and other complex components
  3. used operating robots with the purpose of serving them
  4. invented the beginning of the steam engine
  5. used complex yet accurate measuring instruments which permitted them to calculate the diameter of the Earth and the Sun-Earth distance or even to open up tunnels, kilometers long from both sides of a mountain
  6. conceived ingenious slot machines
  7. used complex elevating mechanisms to build extremely high constructions with only minimal manpower
  8. had automatic clocks (and alarm clocks) which worked without interruption or human interference, etc.

Furthermore, this exhibition is another opportunity to vitiate the false views of some researchers about the allegedly lacking “technophilia” of the ancient Greeks and their abhorrence towards the “brutal” skills. For example, how surprised one feels when learning that the “aeolosphere” of Heron with the addition of a pulley, for the driving motion, (by one of his students or himself) would have led (if the political, economical and social conditions of the time and the intervention of the allegedly “practical” Romans had allowed) to the Industrial Revolution, 1500 years earlier, with unpredictable consequences for humanity.

The museum exhibits are categorized in units and the tour includes

  1. the unit with 27 ancient Greek clocks where the clock of Ctesibius (a hydraulic wonder) prevails
  2. the unit with the amazing “magical” automatics of the Alexandrian engineers and the imposing human size “automatic maid”, the first operating robot in history
  3. the unit with static and mobile automatic theatres of Heron (the “television” and the automatic “puppet theatre” of the ancient Greeks, respectively)
  4. the unit with the inventions of Archimedes (the most significant scientist of all ages)
  5. the unit with the impressive telecommunication of the ancient Greeks as well as their cryptographic methods
  6. the unit with the ancient Greek agricultural, textile and athletic technology with the impressive “loom of Penelope” and the “hysplex”, i.e. the starting mechanism which prevented the false start of the athletes (both in actual size)
  7. the unit with the construction methods of the ancient Greek architectural wonder where each type of crane is most impressive
  8. the unit with the ancillary mechanisms of the ancient Greek theatre (”Deus ex machine”, “rotating prismatic constructions”, etc.)
  9. the unit with the measuring instruments, tools and machines of the ancient Greeks
  10. the unit with their hydraulic and agricultural technology
  11. the unit with the ancient Greek siege technology (their “armored vehicles” and “artillery”) such as, the helepolis of Epimachos, the tortoise and borer of Diades, the polybolos catapult of Dionysius, etc.
  12. the unit with the ancient Greek nautical technology where the historical evolution of the Greek ship is presented (e.g. the dugout boat, the papyrella, the holkas, the pentecounter, the bireme, the trireme, etc.).

More information is available at www.kotsanas.com. If you dont have enough time to make Olympia or if you just want to hang around Katakolon go check them out, and drop us a line with your thoughts!


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10 responses so far

  • Maurice, Sep 13, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Went to the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology on Friday 9 Sept 2011. It seems to have irregular hours but be open when there is a cruise ship in (9-3 the day we went). Absolutely brilliant for anyone of a mechanical or scientific bent, and even if you’re not, the theatrical devices and automata will at least be entertaining. Besides the models in glass cases, there are some videos of them in action and some of the simpler ones were being demonstrated. Great value at 2 euros.

  • admin, Sep 13, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Maurice you are the Katakolo expert, thanks for all the great comments! You should consider writing a few articles for us!! :P :)

  • Ashley, Nov 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Hello,
    This is a very helpful site for projects. you should do a lot more. I know that this has helped me for my project keep up the great work

  • admin, Nov 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks for the kind words!… what is the project?? The site http://www.kotsanas.com has a lot more details on the individual pieces on display.

  • cathammer, Aug 3, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Visited July, 2012 during a cruise ship stop. We had previously been to Olympia, so just stayed in town & are glad we decided to give this little museum a look.

    It’s a jewel, especially if you’re a gear-head or history buff….or even if you’re not (my wife enjoyed it, & she’s not particularly mechanically inclined). Even kids will enjoy the exhibits, some of which can be hands on and/or demonstrated by the staff. They did an amazingly nice job on the reproductions and models, and the multiple media presentations (video, labels, multi-language explanation sheets, etc.) make it very easy to understand and appreciate the displays, most of which are actually operational.

    I don’t know that there’s anything like it anywhere else in the region, even in Athens. I was impressed. Even if you’re going to Olympia, do yourself a favor & stop by this place too, if you have the time, instead of knocking around the typical tourist junk shops lining the streets.

  • Travels in Greece, Aug 3, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Thanks for the update, and agreed, the museum certainly is a hidden jewel!

  • Matija Radic, Sep 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    I have never encountered so much information in one singe area. The museum is a hit for such a small village as Katakolon

  • Aleksejs, Sep 30, 2012 at 12:02 am

    I’m arriving to Katakolo onboard Costa Fascinosa on October 17, 2012. I had no plans regarding the island whatsoever until Google pointed me to this site! I assume clever & rich people will go to Olympia as part of ship excursions (which are freaking expensive), so I’m thinking of making a visit to a winery estate, and now I’ve got one more wish – this Museum of ancient gadgets ;-) There’s very little info regarding this place, I cannot even find its exact address to check with Google maps. Do you know by any chance how to gain admittance there and how much is a ticket?

  • Travels in Greece, Sep 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Alek,

    The museum is at the end of the shops and very close to the train ticket office, you can see it easily from there. The museum is open everyday when a cruise ship is in port. Entrance is free (yes completely free!), you can leave a donation or buy the great book on ancient greek technology to help support it if you like. Have fun!

  • biologa biologa, Jul 19, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    this museum is near from church but, is it also near to the museum of ancient greek musical instruments? thanks…