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This article covers the history of Egypt technology, from Ancient Egyptian technology, to the Persian and Hellenistic periods, to medieval Islamic technology, to modern Egyptian technology.

Dynastic Egypt

The Dynastic era of Ancient Egypt is dated from the 4th millennium BC up until the Persian conquest in the 6th century BC.

The characteristics of ancient Egyptians are indicated by a set of artifacts and customs that lasted for thousands of years. The Egyptians invented and used many basic machines, such as the ramp and the lever, to aid construction processes. They used rope truss to stiffen the beam of ships. Egyptian paper, made from papyrus, and pottery were mass-produced and exported throughout the Mediterranean basin. The wheel, however, did not arrive until foreign influence introduced the chariot in the 16th century BC. The Egyptians also played an important role in developing Mediterranean maritime technology, including ship and lighthouse.

Significant advances in ancient Egypt during the dynastic period include astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. Their geometry was a necessary outgrowth of surveying to preserve the layout and ownership of farmland, which was flooded annually by the Nile River. The 3,4,5 right triangle and other rules of thumb served to represent rectilinear structures, and the post and lintel architecture of Egypt. Egypt also was a center of alchemy research for much of the western world.

Overview

The characteristics of Ancient Egyptian technology are indicated by a set of artifacts and customs that lasted for thousands of years. The Egyptians invented and used many simple machine, such as the ramp and the lever, to aid construction processes. The Egyptians also played an important role in developing Mediterranean maritime technology including ships and lighthouses.

The Egyptians invented and used many simple machines, such as the ramp to aid construction processes. They were among the first to extract gold by large-scale mining using fire-setting, and the first recognisable map, the Turin papyrus shows the plan of one such mine in Nubia.

Egyptian paper, made from papyrus, and pottery were mass-produced and exported throughout the Mediterranean basin. The wheel, however, did not arrive until foreign invaders introduced the chariot. They developed Mediterranean maritime technology including ships and lighthouses.

Paper and writing

The word paper comes from the Greek term for the ancient Egypt writing material called papyrus, which was formed from beaten strips of papyrus plants. Papyrus was produced as early as 3000 BC in Egypt, and later sold to ancient Greece and Rome. The establishment of the Library of Alexandria limited the supply of papyrus for others. As a result, according to the Roman historian Pliny (Natural History records, xiii.21), parchment was adopted under the patronage of Eumenes II of Pergamon to build his rival library at Pergamon.

Egyptian hieroglyphs, a phonetic writing system, served as the basis for the Phoenician alphabet from which later alphabets were derived. With this ability, writing and record keeping, the Egyptians developed one of the —if not the— first decimal system.[1][2][3]

The city of Alexandria retained preeminence for its records and scrolls with its library. That ancient library was damaged by fire when it fell under Roman rule,[4] and was destroyed completely by 642 CE.[5][6] With it, a huge amount of antique literature, history, and knowledge was lost.

Structures and construction

Buildings

Many temples from Ancient Egypt are still standing today. Some are in ruin from wear and tear, while others have been lost entirely. The Egyptian structures are among the largest constructions ever conceived and built by humans. They constitute one of the most potent and enduring symbols of Ancient Egyptian civilization. Temples and tombs built by a pharaoh famous for her projects, Hatshepsut, were massive and included many colossal statues of her. Pharaoh Tutankhamun's rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings was full of jewellery and antiques. In some late myths, Ptah was identified as the primordial mound and had called creation into being, he was considered the deity of craftsmen, and in particular, of stone-based crafts. Imhotep, who was included in the Egyptian pantheon, was the first documented engineer.[7]

In Hellenistic Egypt]], lighthouse technology was developed, the most famous example being the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Alexandria was a port for the ships that traded the goods manufactured in Egypt or imported into Egypt. A giant cantilevered hoist lifted cargo to and from ships. The lighthouse itself was designed and built in the 3rd century BC (between 285 and 247 BC) on the island of Pharos in Alexandria, Egypt, which has since become a peninsula. This lighthouse was renowned in its time and knowledge of it was never lost. A 2006 drawing of it created from the study of many references, is shown at the right.

Monuments

The Nile valley has been the site of one of the most influential civilizations in the world with its architectural monuments, which include the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx—among the largest and most famous buildings in the world.

Egypt.Giza.Sphinx.01

Giza Plateau, Cairo. Khafre's pyramid in the background

The most famous pyramids are the Egyptian pyramids—huge structures built of brick or stone, some of which are among the largest constructions by humans. Pyramids functioned as tombs for pharaohs. In Ancient Egypt, a pyramid was referred to as mer, literally "place of ascendance." The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest in Egypt and one of the largest in the world. The base is over 13 acres (Expression error: Unexpected < operator. m2) in area. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the only one of the seven to survive into modern times. The Ancient Egyptians capped the peaks of their pyramids with gold and covered their faces with polished white limestone, although many of the stones used for the finishing purpose have fallen or been removed for use on other structures over the millennia.

The Red Pyramid of Egypt (c.26th century BC), named for the light crimson hue of its exposed granite surfaces, is the third largest of Egyptian pyramids. The Pyramid of Menkaure, likely dating to the same era, was constructed of limestone and granite blocks. The Great Pyramid of Giza (c. 2580 BC) contains a huge granite sarcophagus fashioned of "Red Aswan Granite." The mostly ruined Black Pyramid dating from the reign of Amenemhat III once had a polished granite pyramidion or capstone, now on display in the main hall of the Cairo Museum (see Dahshur). Other uses in Ancient Egypt,[8] include columns, door lintels, sills, jambs, and wall and floor veneer.

The ancient Egyptians had some of the first monumental stone buildings (such as in Saqqara). How the Egyptians worked the solid granite is still a matter of debate. Dr. Patrick Hunt[9] has postulated that the Egyptians used emery shown to have higher hardness on the Mohs scale. Regarding construction, of the various methods possibly used by builders, the lever moved and uplifted obelisks weighing more than 100 tons.

Obelisks and pillars

Obelisks were a prominent part of the architecture of the ancient Egyptians, who placed them in pairs at the entrances of various monuments and important buildings, such as temples. In 1902, Encyclopædia Britannica wrote, "The earliest temple obelisk still in position is that of Senusret I of the XIIth Dynasty at Heliopolis (68 feet high)". The word "obelisk" is of Greek rather than Egyptian origin because Herodotus, the great traveler, was the first writer to describe the objects. Twenty-nine ancient Egyptian obelisks are known to have survived, plus the unfinished obelisk being built by Hatshepsut to celebrate her sixteenth year as pharaoh. It broke while being carved out of the quarry and was abandoned when another one was begun to replace it. The broken one was found at Aswan and provides the only insight into the methods of how they were hewn. The obelisk symbolized the sky deity Ra and during the brief religious reformation of Akhenaten, was said to be a petrified ray of the Aten, the sun disk. It is hypothesized by New York University Egyptologist Patricia Blackwell Gary and [Astronomy senior editor Richard Talcott that the shapes of the ancient Egyptian pyramid and Obelisk were derived from natural phenomena associated with the sun (the sun-god Ra being the Egyptians' greatest deity).[10] It was also thought that the deity existed within the structure. The Egyptians also used pillars extensively.

It is unknown whether the Ancient Egyptians had kites, but a team led by Maureen Clemmons and Mory Gharib raised a 5,900-pound, foot (Expression error: Unexpected < operator. m) obelisk into vertical position with a kite, a system of pulleys, and a support frame.[11] Maureen Clemmons developed the idea that the ancient Egyptians used kites for work.[11] Ramps have been reported as being widely used in Ancient Egypt. A ramp is an inclined plane, or a plane surface set at an angle (other than a right angle) against a horizontal surface. The inclined plane permits one to overcome a large resistance by applying a relatively small force through a longer distance than the load is to be raised. In civil engineering the slope (ratio of rise/run) is often referred to as a grade or gradient. An inclined plane is one of the commonly-recognized simple machines. Maureen Clemmons subsequently lead a team of researchers demonstrating a kite made of natural material and reinforced with shellac (which according to their research pulled with 97% the efficiency of nylon), in a 9 mph wind, would easily pull an average 2-ton pyramid stone up the 1st two courses of a pyramid (in collaboration with Cal Poly, Pomona, on a 53-stone pyramid built in Rosamond, CA).

Navigation and ship building

The Ancient Egyptians had knowledge to some extent of sail construction. This is governed by the science of aerodynamics.[12] The earliest Egyptian sails were simply placed to catch the wind and push a vessel.[13] Later Egyptian sails dating to 2400 BCE were built with the recognition that ships could sail against the wind using the side wind.[13][14] Queen Hatshepsut oversaw the preparations and funding of an expedition of five ships, each measuring seventy feet long, and with several sails. Various others exist, also.

Ancient Egyptians had experience with building a variety of ships.[15][16][17] Some of them survive to this day as Khufu Solar Ship.[18] The ships were found in many areas of Egypt as the Abydos boats[19][20][21] and remnants of other ships were found near the pyramids.[20][22][23]

Sneferu's ancient cedar wood ship Praise of the Two Lands is the first reference recorded to a ship being referred to by name.[24]

Although quarter rudders were the norm in Nile navigation, the Egyptians were the first to use also stern-mounted rudders.

Irrigation and agriculture

Irrigation as the artificial application of water to the soil was used to some extent in Ancient Egypt, a hydraulic civilization (which entails hydraulic engineering).[25] In crop production it is mainly used to replace missing rainfall in periods of drought, as opposed to reliance on direct rainfall (referred to as dryland farming or as rainfed farming). There is evidence of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhat III in the Twelfth Dynasty (about 1800 BCE) using the natural lake of the Fayûm as a reservoir to store surpluses of water for use during the dry seasons, as the lake swelled annually from the annual flooding of the Nile.[26]

Glassworking

Egyptian knowledge of glassmaking was advanced.[27] The earliest known glass beads from Egypt were made during the New Kingdom around 1500 BC and were produced in a variety of colors. They were made by winding molten glass around a metal bar and were highly prized as a trading commodity, especially blue beads, which were believed to have magical powers. The Egyptians made small jars and bottles using the core-formed method. Glass threads were wound around a bag of sand tied to a rod. The glass was continually reheated to fuse the threads together. The glass-covered sand bag was kept in motion until the required shape and thickness was achieved. The rod was allowed to cool, then finally the bag was punctured and the rod removed. The Egyptians also created the first colored glass rods which they used to create colorful beads and decorations. They also worked with cast glass, which was produced by pouring molten glass into a mold, much like iron and the more modern crucible steel.[28]

Astronomy

The Egyptians were a practical people and this is reflected in their astronomy[29] in contrast to Babylonia where the first astronomical texts were written in astrological terms.[30] Even before Upper and Lower Egypt were unified in 3000 BCE, observations of the night sky had influenced the development of a religion in which many of its principal deities were heavenly bodies. In Lower Egypt, priests built circular mud-brick walls with which to make a false horizon where they could mark the position of the sun as it rose at dawn, and then with a plumb-bob note the northern or southern turning points (solstices). This allowed them to discover that the sun disc, personified as Ra, took 365 days to travel from his birthplace at the winter solstice and back to it. Meanwhile in Upper Egypt a lunar calendar was being developed based on the behavior of the moon and the reappearance of Sirius in its Heliacal Rising after its annual absence of about 70 days.[31]

After unification, problems with trying to work with two calendars (both depending upon constant observation) led to a merged, simplified civil calendar with twelve 30 day months, three seasons of four months each, plus an extra five days, giving a 365 year day but with no way of accounting for the extra quarter day each year. Day and night were split into 24 units, each personified by a deity. A sundial found on Seti I's cenotaph with instructions for its use shows us that the daylight hours were at one time split into 10 units, with 12 hours for the night and an hour for the morning and evening twilights.[32] However, by Seti I's time day and night were normally divided into 12 hours each, the length of which would vary according to the time of year.

Key to much of this was the motion of the sun god Ra and his annual movement along the horizon at sunrise. Out of Egyptian myths such as those around Ra and the sky goddess Nut came the development of the Egyptian calendar, time keeping, and even concepts of royalty. An astronomical ceiling in the burial chamber of Ramesses VI shows the sun being born from Nut in the morning, traveling along her body during the day and being swallowed at night.

During the Fifth Dynasty six kings built sun temples in honour of Ra. The temple complexes built by Niuserre at Abu Gurab and Userkaf at Abusir have been excavated and have astronomical alignments, and the roofs of some of the buildings could have been used by observers to view the stars, calculate the hours at night and predict the sunrise for religious festivals.[33]

File:Dendera.jpg

Claims have been made that precession of the equinoxes was known in Ancient Egypt prior to the time of Hipparchus.[34] This has been disputed however on the grounds that pre-Hipparchus texts do not mention precession and that "it is only by cunning interpretation of ancient myths and images, which are ostensibly about something else, that precession can be discerned in them, aided by some pretty esoteric numerological speculation involving the 72 years that mark one degree of shift in the zodiacal system and any number of permutations by multiplication, division, and addition." [35]

Note however that the observation that a stellar alignment has grown wrong does not necessarily mean that the Egyptians understood or even cared what was going on. For instance, from the Middle Kingdom on they used a table with entries for each month to tell the time of night from the passing of constellations: these went in error after a few centuries because of their calendar and precession, but were copied (with scribal errors) for long after they lost their practical usefulness or possibly the understanding of them.

Medicine

The Edwin Smith papyrus is one of the first medical documents still extant, and perhaps the earliest document which attempts to describe and analyze the brain: given this, it might be seen as the very beginnings of neuroscience. However, medical historians believe that ancient Egyptian pharmacology was largely ineffective.[36] According to a paper published by Michael D. Parkins, 72% of 260 medical prescriptions in the Hearst Papyrus had no curative elements.[37] According to Michael D. Parkins, sewage pharmacology first began in ancient Egypt and was continued through the Middle Ages,[36] and while the use of animal dung can have curative properties,[38] it is not without its risk. Practices such as applying cow dung to wounds, ear piercing, tattooing, and chronic ear infections were important factors in developing tetanus.[39] Frank J. Snoek wrote that Egyptian medicine used fly specks, lizard blood, swine teeth, and other such remedies which he believes could have been harmful.[40]

Mummification of the dead was not always practiced in Egypt. Once the practice began, an individual was placed at a final resting place through a set of rituals and protocol. The Egyptian funeral was a complex ceremony including various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in honor of the deceased. The poor, who could not afford expensive tombs, were buried in shallow graves in the sand, and because of the arid environment they were often naturally mummified.

Other developments

The Egyptians developed a variety of furniture. There in the lands of ancient Egypt is the first evidence for stools, beds, and tables (such as from the tombs similar to Tutenkhamen's). Recovered Ancient Egyptian furniture includes a third millennium BC. bed discovered in the Tarkhan Tomb, a c.2550 BC. gilded set from the tomb of Queen Hetepheres I, and a c. 1550 BC. stool from Thebes.

The Egyptians had some form of understanding electric phenomena from observing lightning and interacting with electric fish (such as the Malapterurus electricus) or other animals (such as electric eel).[41] The comment about lightning appears to come from a misunderstanding of a text referring to "high poles covered with copper plates" to argue this[42] but Dr. Bolko Stern has written in detail explaining why the copper covered tops of poles (which were lower than the associated pylons) do not relate to electricity or lightning, arguing that no evidence of anything used to manipulate electricity had been found in Egypt and that this was not a technical installation.[43]

Some of those exploring ancient technology have suggested that there were electric lights used in Ancient Egypt. Engineers have constructed a working model based on their interpretation of a relief found in the Hathor temple at the Dendera Temple complex.[44] Authors (such as Peter Krassa and Reinhard Habeck) have produced a basic theory of the device's operation.[44] The standard explanation, however, for the Dendera light, which comprises three stone reliefs (one single and a double representation) is that the depicted image represents a lotus leaf and flower from which a sacred snake is spawned in accordance with Egyptian mythological beliefs. This sacred snake sometimes is identified as the Milky Way (the snake) in the night sky (the leaf, lotus, or "bulb") that became identified with Hathor because of her similar association in creation.

Other technology

Technology Date Description
Lock, cylinder lockpin tumbler lock c. 4th millenium BC The basic principles of the pin tumbler lock may date as far back as 4000 BC in Egypt; the lock consisted of a wood post affixed to the door, and a horizontal bolt that slid into the post. The bolt had vertical openings into which a set of pins fit. These could be lifted, using a key, to a sufficient height to allow the bolt to move and unlock the door.[45][1]
Plumbing c. 25th century BC Excavations in ancient Egypt have revealed extensive plumbing systems for baths as well as for personal use. [2] Plumbing was later adopted by the Greeks in the 5th century BC.
Chalk line c. 3rd millenium BC “Snapping a line,” a technique familiar in ancient Egypt, is employed in modern building construction. The procedure uses a taut, chalk-covered cord that is stretched between two points; the cord deposits a straight line of chalk when it is plucked and snapped onto the surface. Chalk lines have been in use since ancient Egypt, and used continuously by builders in various cultures since. After 5,000 years the only change in this technique is that, whereas the Egyptians used wet red or yellow ochre, modern craftsmen employ white and red chalks in addition to wet ochre. [3]
Paved road and street 3rd millennium BC The world's oldest known paved road was laid in Egypt some time between 2600 BC and 2200 BC.[46]
Cranepulley, Shaduf c. 2000 BC The Shaduf was originally developed in Ancient Egypt, and appears on a Sargonid seal of c. 2000 BC.[47] It became widespread in Egypt since at least New Kingdom times in the 14th century BC. [4] It was an early example of a pulley [5] and crane, [6] and is still used in many areas of Africa and Asia to draw water.
Shower c. 2nd millennium BC There is evidence of early upper class Egyptian and Mesopotamians having indoor shower rooms where servants would bathe them in the privacy of their own homes.[48]
Urban planning c. 19th century BC El-Lahun is one of the first known towns in the world to have a rectangular grid plan.
Cartography c. 1160 BC Ancient Egyptian maps that have survived show an emphasis on geometry and well-developed surveying techniques, perhaps stimulated by the need to re-establish the exact boundaries of properties after the annual Nile floods. The Turin Papyrus Map, dated c. 1160 BC, shows the mountains east of the Nile where gold and silver were mined, along with the location of the miners' shelters, wells, and the road network that linked the region with the mainland. Its originality can be seen in the map's inscriptions, its precise orientation, and the use of colour.

Persian Egypt

The Persian era of Egyptian history is dated from the 6th century BC to the 4th century BC.

Water technology

Most rivers in Iran are seasonal and have traditionally not been able to supply the needs of urban settlements. Major rivers like the Arvand, Aras, Zayandeh, Sefid and Atrak were few and far between in the vast lands of Persian antiquity.

With the growth of urban settlements during the ages, locally dug deep wells (up to 100 meters deep) could no longer keep up with the demand, leading to the systematic digging of a specialized network of canals known as Qanat.

Qanat water management system

The Qanat, a water management system used for irrigation, originated in pre-Achaemenid Persia. The oldest and largest known qanat is in the Iranian city of Gonabad, which, after 2,700 years, still provides drinking and agricultural water to nearly 40,000 people.[49]

There are four main oases in the Egyptian desert. The Kharga Oasis is one that has been extensively studied. There is evidence that as early as the second half of the 5th century BC, water brought in qanats was being used. The qanats were excavated through water-bearing sandstone rock, which seeps into the channel, with water collected in a basin behind a small dam at the end. The width is approximately 60 cm, but the height ranges from 5 to 9 meters; it is likely that the qanat was deepened to enhance seepage when the water table dropped (as is also seen in Iran). From there the water was used to irrigate fields.[50][51]

There is another instructive structure located at the Kharga oasis. A well that apparently dried up was improved by driving a side shaft through the easily penetrated sandstone (presumably in the direction of greatest water seepage) into the hill of Ayn-Manâwîr to allow collection of additional water. After this side shaft had been extended, another vertical shaft was driven to intersect the side shaft. Side chambers were built, and holes bored into the rock — presumably at points where water seeped from the rocks — are evident.[51]

Ab anbar

Ab Anbars have a long history in Iran, and there are still some ab anbars remaining today from the 13th century. These reservoirs would be subterranean spaces that were connected to the network of kariz in the city. A typical residential ab anbar would be located in the enclosed garden, have the capacity to hold 50 cubic meters, would be filled once every two weeks, and have its inside surfaces cleaned from sediments once a year (called layeh-rubi).

Saqia water wheel

The Saqia, or ox-driven water wheel, was most likely introduced in Persian Egypt during the 6th or 5th centuries BC.[52]

Technology

Technology Date Description
Rutway c. 1st millenium BC The ancient Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians constructed roads with artificial wheel-ruts deliberately cut into rock. The ruts were spaced apart from each other the same distance as the wheelspan of an ordinary carriage, and thus constituted grooves that guided the carriages on the rutway. The largest number of preserved stone trackways, over 150, are found on Malta.[53]
Lever c. 1st millenium BC In ancient Egypt, constructors used the lever to move and uplift obelisks weighing more than 100 tons.[54] They were later mentioned by Archimedes in the 3rd century BC. "Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it"[note 1] is a remark of Archimedes who formally stated the correct mathematical principle of levers (quoted by Pappus of Alexandria).[55]
Saqia water wheel c. 6th-5th century BC The Saqia, or ox-driven water wheel, was most likely introduced in Persian Egypt during the 6th or 5th centuries BC.[52]
Highway c. 500 BC Around 500 BC, Darius the Great started an extensive road system for the Persian Empire, including the famous Royal Road which was one of the finest highways of its time. The road was used even after Roman times. Because of the road's superior quality, mail couriers could travel 2,699 kilometres (Expression error: Unexpected < operator. mi) in seven days.
Qanat water management system c. 5th century BC Introduced by Persian Empire. The Kharga Oasis is one that has been extensively studied. There is evidence that as early as the second half of the 5th century BC, water brought in qanats was being used.
Ab Anbar c. 5th century BC Possibly introduced by Persian Empire.
Winch c. 5th century BC The earliest literary reference to a winch can be found in the account of Herodotus of Halicarnassus on the Persian Wars (Histories 7.36), where he describes how wooden winches were used to tighten the cables for a pontoon bridge across the Hellespont in 480 BC. Winches may are believed to have been employed even earlier in Assyria. By the 4th century BC, winch and pulley hoists were regarded by Aristotle as common for architectural use in the ancient world (Mech. 18; 853b10-13).[56]

Hellenistic Egypt

Under Hellenistic rule from the 4th century BC to the 1st century BC, Egypt was one of the most prosperous regions of the Hellenistic civilization. The ancient Egyptian city of Rhakotis was renovated as Alexandria, which became the largest city around the Mediterranean Basin. Under Roman rule, from the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD, Egypt was one of the most prosperous regions of the Roman Empire, with Alexandria being second only to ancient Rome in size.

The water wheel originates from Egypt, where it appeared by the 3rd century BC.[57][58] This is seen as an evolution of the paddle-driven water-lifting wheels that had been known in Egypt a century earlier.[57][59] According to John Peter Oleson, both the compartmented wheel and the hydraulic Noria may have been invented in Egypt by the 4th century BC, with the Sakia being invented there a century later. This is supported by archeological finds at Faiyum, Egypt, where the oldest archeological evidence of a water-wheel has been found, in the form of a Sakia dating back to the 3rd century BC. A papyrus dating to the 2nd century BC also found in Faiyum mentions a water wheel used for irrigation, a 2nd-century BC fresco found at Alexandria depicts a compartmented Sakia, and the writings of Callixenus of Rhodes mention the use of a Sakia in Ptolemaic Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy IV in the late 3rd century BC.[58]

Ancient Greek technology was often inspired by the need to improve weapons and tactics in war. Ancient Roman technology is a set of artifacts and customs which supported Roman civilization and made the expansion of Roman commerce and Roman military possible over nearly a thousand years. Egyptian science and technology played an instrumental role in both the Greek and Roman civilizations.

Overview

During the Hellenistic period, Egypt invented many technologies and improved upon pre-existing technologies. The Hellenized Egyptian engineer Heron of Alexandria developed a basic steam-powered device and demonstrated knowledge of mechanic and pneumatic systems. Archimedes, who studied in Egypt, developed several machines. The citizens of Hellenistic Egypt were able to combine scientific research with the development of new technologies. One example is the screw-pump; this technology was conceptualized in mathematics, then built. Other technologies that were developed during wikipedia:Hellenistic period include the ballistae, the piston pump, and primitive analog computers like the astrolabe. Hellenistic architects were responsible for building domes, and explored the golden ratio and its relationship with geometry and architecture.

Apart from Hero of Alexandria's steam aeolipile, Egyptian technicians at the time built watermills and windwheels. Water power was later used extensively in in the Middle Ages.

Other developments during this era include torsion catapults, pneumatic catapults, crossbows, cranes, rutways, organs, the keyboard mechanism, gears, differential gears, screws, refined parchment, showers, dry docks, diving bells, odometer and astrolabes. In architecture, engineers constructed monumental lighthouses such as the Pharos and devised central heating systems.

Automata like vending machines, automatic doors and other ingenious devices were built by Hellenistic Egyptian engineers as Ctesibius, Philo of Byzantium and Heron. Egyptian technological treatises written in Greek were scrupuously studied by later Arabic/Islamic scholars and influenced further technological advances.

Water technology

One of the foundations for many modern technological achievements would include water resources, like drinking water. Some fields that were encompassed in the area of water resources (mainly for urban use), would include such areas as groundwater exploitation, construction of aqueducts for water supply, storm water and wastewater sewerage systems, flood protection and drainage, construction and use of fountains, baths and other sanitary and purgatory facilities, and even recreational uses of water.[60]

Watermill and water wheel

According to a number of historians of technology, the water wheel likely originated from somewhere in the ancient Near East during the last few centuries BC. According to Terry S. Reynolds and R. J. Forbes, it may have originated there in the 3rd century BC for use in moving millstones and small-scale corn grinding.[61] Reynolds suggests that the first water wheels were Norias and, by the 2nd century BC, evolved into the vertical watermill in Syria and Asia Minor, from where it spread to ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.[62] S. Avitsur also supports a Near-Eastern origin for the watermill.[63] The Saqia, or ox-driven water wheel, was most likely introduced in Persian Egypt during the 6th or 5th centuries BC.[52] According to Donald Routledge Hill, water-powered Norias have been used in the Near East since at least 200 BC.[64]

The water wheel was traditionally dated to the last century BC in the eastern Mediterranean, particularly in Asia Minor, but recent scholarship assigns the appearance of the water wheel to an earlier date in ancient Egypt, where it appeared by the 3rd century BC.[57][58] This is seen as an evolution of the paddle-driven water-lifting wheels that had been known in Egypt a century earlier.[57][59] According to John Peter Oleson, both the compartmented wheel and the hydraulic Noria may have been invented in Egypt by the 4th century BC, with the Sakia being invented there a century later. This is supported by archeological finds at Faiyum, Egypt, where the oldest archeological evidence of a water-wheel has been found, in the form of a Sakia dating back to the 3rd century BC. A papyrus dating to the 2nd century BC also found in Faiyum mentions a water wheel used for irrigation, a 2nd-century BC fresco found at Alexandria depicts a compartmented Sakia, and the writings of Callixenus of Rhodes mention the use of a Sakia in [[Ptolemaic Dynasty|Ptolemaic Egypt]] during the reign of Ptolemy IV in the late 3rd century BC.[58]

Unlike other water-lifting devices and pumps of the period, the invention of the compartmented wheel cannot be traced to any particular engineer and may have been made in the late 4th century BC in a rural context away from the metropolis of Alexandria.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag.</nowiki>

Nubians from after about 400 BC used wheels for spinning pottery and as water wheels.[65][66] It is thought that Nubian waterwheels may have been ox-driven[67] It is also known that Nubians used horse-driven chariots imported from Egypt.[68]

Technology

Technology Date Description
Central heating c. 4th century BC Warmed by heated air that was circulated through flues laid in the floor.
Lead sheathing c. 4th century BC To protect a ships hull from boring creatures.
Caliper c. 4th century BC Possibly introduced by Greeks.
Spiral staircase c. 4th century BC Possibly introduced by Greeks.
Truss roof c. 4th century BC Possibly introduced by Greeks.
Water-lifting wheel c. 4th century BC The paddle-driven water-lifting wheel had been known in Egypt since at least the 4th century BC.[57][59]
Compartmented wheel c. 4th century BC The invention of the compartmented wheel in Egypt may have been made in the late 4th century BC in a rural context away from the metropolis of Alexandria.[69]
Hydraulic Noria and Sakia c. 4th-3rd centuries BC According to John Peter Oleson, both the compartmented wheel and the hydraulic Noria may have been invented in Egypt by the 4th century BC, with the Sakia being invented there a century later. This is supported by archeological finds at Faiyum, Egypt, where the oldest archeological evidence of a water-wheel has been found, in the form of a Sakia dating back to the 3rd century BC. A 2nd-century BC fresco found at Alexandria depicts a compartmented Sakia, and the writings of Callixenus of Rhodes mention the use of a Sakia in Ptolemaic Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy IV in the late 3rd century BC.[58]
Gear and gearing c. 4th-3rd centuries BC Gearing was developed in Egypt around the 4th or 3rd centuries BC.<ref>{{cite journal |first=M. J. T. |last=Lewis |title=Gearing in the Ancient World |journal=Endeavour |volume=17 |issue=3 |year=1993 |pages=110–115 [p. 110] |doi=10.1016/0160-9327(93)90099-O }}</ref>[7]
Watermill and water wheel c. 3rd century BC The water wheel originates from Egypt, where it appeared by the 3rd century BC.[57][58] This is supported by archeological finds at Faiyum, Egypt, where the oldest archeological evidence of a water-wheel has been found, in the form of a Sakia dating back to the 3rd century BC. A papyrus dating to the 2nd century BC also found in Faiyum mentions a water wheel used for irrigation, a 2nd-century BC fresco found at Alexandria depicts a compartmented Sakia, and the writings of Callixenus of Rhodes mention the use of a Sakia in Ptolemaic Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy IV in the late 3rd century BC.[58] A water wheel is also believed to have been described by Philo of Byzantium (c. 280–220 BC), though his description may have been a later Arabic interpolation.[70]
Escapement c. 3rd century BC Described by Hellenistic Egyptian citizen Philo of Byzantium (c. 280–220 BC), a resident of Alexandria, in his technical treatise Pneumatics (chapter 31), as part of a washstand automaton for guests washing their hands. Philon's comment that "its construction is similar to that of clocks" indicates that such escapement mechanisms were already integrated in Egyptian water clocks.<ref name="Lewis 2000 356f.">{{Cite book | last = Lewis | first = Michael | year = 2000 | contribution = Theoretical Hydraulics, Automata, and Water Clocks | editor-last = Wikander | editor-first = Örjan | editor-link = Örjan Wikander | title = Handbook of Ancient Water Technology | series = Technology and Change in History | publication-place = Leiden | volume = 2 | pages = 343–369 (356f.) | isbn = 90-04-11123-9 }}</ref>
Canal lock early 3rd century BC Built into Ancient Suez Canal under Ptolemy II (283–246 BC)<ref>{{cite journal|author=Moore, Frank Gardner |year=1950|title=Three Canal Projects, Roman and Byzantine|journal=American Journal of Archaeology|volume=54|issue=2|pages=97–111 (99–101)|doi=10.2307/500198}}</ref><ref>Froriep, Siegfried (1986): "Ein Wasserweg in Bithynien. Bemühungen der Römer, Byzantiner und Osmanen", ''Antike Welt'', 2nd Special Edition, pp.&nbsp;39–50 (46)</ref><ref>Schörner, Hadwiga (2000): "Künstliche Schiffahrtskanäle in der Antike. Der sogenannte antike Suez-Kanal", ''Skyllis'', Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.&nbsp;28–43 (33–35, 39)</ref>
Ancient Suez Canal early 3rd century BC Opened by engineers under Ptolemy II (283–246 BC), following earlier, probably only partly successful attempts[71]
Astrolabe and analog computer c. 3rd century BC First used around 200 BC by astronomers. Used to determine the altitude of objects in the sky. It is an early example of an analog computer. Later analog computers a century later were designed to calculate astronomical positions used to predict lunar and solar eclipses based on Babylonian arithmetic-progression cycles.
Lighthouse c. 3rd century BC The Lighthouse of Alexandria
Alarm clock 3rd century BC The Hellenistic Egyptian citizen and engineer, Ctesibius (fl. 285–222 BC), described a device that fitted clepsydras with dial and pointer for indicating the time, and added elaborate "alarm systems, which could be made to drop pebbles on a gong, or blow trumpets (by forcing bell-jars down into water and taking the compressed air through a beating reed) at pre-set times" (Vitruv 11.11).<ref>{{Cite journal | last = Landels | first = John G. | year = 1979 | title = Water-Clocks and Time Measurement in Classical Antiquity | periodical = Endeavour | volume = 3 | issue = 1 | pages = 32–37 [35] | doi = 10.1016/0160-9327(79)90007-3 }} </ref>
Odometer c. 3rd century BC Odometer, a device used in late Hellenistic times and the Roman era for indicating distance traveled by a vehicle was invented sometime in the 3rd century BC. Some historians attribute it to Hellenistic Egyptian citizen Hero of Alexandria. It helped revolutionize the building of roads and travelling by them by accurately measuring distance and being able to illustrate this with a milestone.
Chain drive 3rd century BC Described by Philo of Byzantium. The device powered a repeating crossbow, the first known of its kind.[72]
Cannon c. 3rd century BC Hellenistic Egyptian citizen, Ctesibius of Alexandria, described a primitive form of the cannon, operated by compressed air.
Double-action principle 3rd century BC Universal mechanical principle which was described by engineer Ctesibius as part of a double-action piston pump which later was developed further by Heron to a fire hose (see below).[73]
Three-masted ship (mizzen) c. 240 BC: First recorded for Syracusia as well as other merchant ships under Hiero II.<ref>[[Lionel Casson|Casson, Lionel]] (1995): "Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World", Johns Hopkins University Press, pp.&nbsp;242, fn. 75, ISBN 978-0-8018-5130-8.</ref> It only sailed once, to Alexandria in Ptolemaic Egypt.
Gimbal c. 3rd century BC Hellenistic Egyptian citizen Philo of Byzantium (280–220 BC) described an eight-sided ink pot with an opening on each side, which can be turned so that any face is on top, dip in a pen and ink it-yet the ink never runs out through the holes of the side. This was done by the suspension of the inkwell at the center, which was mounted on a series of concentric metal rings which remained stationary no matter which way the pot turns itself.[74]
Dry dock c. 200 BC Invented in Ptolemaic Egypt some time after the death of Ptolemy IV Philopator (reigned 221–204 BC), as recorded by Athenaeus of Naucratis.
Fore-and-aft rig (spritsail) 2nd century BC Spritsails, the earliest fore-and-aft rigs, appeared in the 2nd century BC in the Mediterranean Sea.<ref name="Casson 1995, 243–245">[[Lionel Casson|Casson, Lionel]] (1995): "Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World", Johns Hopkins University Press, pp.&nbsp;243–245, ISBN 978-0-8018-5130-8.</ref>
Air and water pumps c. 2nd century BC Ctesibius and various other Hellenistic Egyptians of Alexandria of the period developed and put to practical use various air and water pumps which served a variety of purposes, such as a water organ.
Sakia gear 2nd century BC First appeared in 2nd-BC Hellenistic Egypt where pictorial evidence already showed it fully developed<ref>[[John Peter Oleson|Oleson, John Peter]] (2000): "Water-Lifting", in: Örjan Wikander: "Handbook of Ancient Water Technology", Technology and Change in History, Vol. 2, Brill, Leiden, pp.&nbsp;217–302 (234, 270), ISBN 90-04-11123-9.</ref>
Surveying tools c. 2nd century BC Various records relating to mentions of surveying tools have been discovered, mostly in Egyptian Alexandrian sources. These greatly helped the development of the precision of Roman aqueducts.
Fire hose 1st century BC Invented by Hellenized Egyptian engineer Hero of Alexandria, on the basis of the double action piston pump earlier described by Ctesibius.[73] Allowed for more efficient fire fighting.
Vending machine 1st century BC The first vending machine was described by Hellenized Egyptian engineer Hero of Alexandria. His machine accepted a coin and then dispensed a fixed amount of holy water. When the coin was deposited, it fell upon a pan attached to a lever. The lever opened up a valve which let some water flow out. The pan continued to tilt with the weight of the coin until it fell off, at which point a counter-weight would snap the lever back up and turn off the valve.[73]
Wind vane 50 BC Featured atop a wind vane in the form of a bronze Triton holding a rod in his outstretched hand rotating to the wind blowing. Below, its frieze was adorned with the eight wind deities. The 8 m high structure also featured sundial and a water clock inside dates from around 50 BC.<ref>Noble, Joseph V. and de Solla Price, Derek J. (1968). "The Water Clock in the Tower of the Winds". American Journal of Archaeology 72 (4): 345–355 (353). DOI:10.2307/503828.

</ref> |- |Clock tower |c. 1st century BC | |- |Automatic door |c. 1st century AD |Hero of Alexandria, a 1st-century Hellenized Egyptian inventor from Alexandria, Egypt, created schematics for automatic doors to be used in a temple with the aid of steam power.[73] |- |Steam power |c. 1st century AD |Hellenized Egyptian engineer Hero of Alexandria's Aeolipile. |} The characteristics of ancient Egyptian technology are indicated by a set of artifacts and customs that lasted for thousands of years. The Egyptians invented and used many simple machines, such as the ramp and the lever, to aid construction processes. They used rope trusses to stiffen the beam of ships. Egyptian paper, made from papyrus, and pottery were mass-produced and exported throughout the Mediterranean basin. The wheel, however, did not arrive until foreign influence introduced the chariot in the 16th century BC. The Egyptians also played an important role in developing Mediterranean maritime technology including ships and lighthouses.

References

  • Leslie C. Kaplan, "Technology of Ancient Egypt. 2004, 24 pages. ISBN 0-8239-6785-9
  • Denys Allen Stocks "Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt". Routledge, 2003. 336 pages. ISBN 0-415-30664-7
  • Katheryn A. Bard" Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt By Katheryn A. Bard". Routledge, 1999. 968 pages. ISBN 0-415-18589-0
  • R. J. Forbes, "Studies in Ancient Technology". 1966.
  • Örjan Wikander, "Handbook of Ancient Water Technology". 2000.
  • Patricia Blackwell Gary and Richard Talcott (June 2006). "Stargazing in Ancient Egypt". Astronomy: 62–7.
  • Evans, James. The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Pannekoek, A. A History of Astronomy. New York: Dover, 1961.
  • Parker Richard A. "Egyptian Astronomy, Astrology, and Calendrical Reckoning". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 15: 706–727.
  • Budge, E. A. Wallis. Egyptian Religion. Kessinger Publishing, 1900.
  • Budge, E. A. Wallis. The Gods of the Egyptians Volume 1 of 2. New York: Dover Publications, 1969 (original in 1904).

Further reading

  • Anzovin, Steven et al., Famous First Facts (International Edition), H. W. Wilson Company, 2000, ISBN 0-8242-0958-3
  • David, Rosalie A., H.G.M. Edwards and D.W. Farwell (2001). "Raman Spectroscopic Analysis of Ancient Egyptian Pigments". Archaeometry 43 (4): 461–473. DOI:10.1111/1475-4754.00029.
  • Earl, Bryan (Summer 1995). "Tin Smelting at the Oriental Institute". The Oriental Institute News and Notes 146.
  • Gourdin, W.H. and W.D. Kingery (1975). "The Beginnings of Pyrotechnology: Neolithic and Egyptian Lime Plaster". Journal of Field Archaeology.
  • Alfred Lucas. 1962. Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, 4th Edition. London: Edward Arnold Publishers.
  • Meyer, Carol. Bir Umm Fawakhir (1997). "Insights into Ancient Egyptian Mining". JOM 49 (3): 64–8. DOI:10.1007/BF02914661.
  • Nicholson, Paul T. and Ian Shaw, eds. 2000. Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology. University Press, Cambridge.
  • Pulak, C. A (1998). "The Uluburun Shipwreck: An Overview". International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 27 (3): 188–224. DOI:10.1111/j.1095-9270.1998.tb00803.x.
  • Scheel, Bernd. 1989. Egyptian Metalworking and Tools. Haverfordwest, Great Britain: Shire Publications Ltd.
  • Shaw, Ian. Editor. 2000. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Shortland, A.J. (2004). "Evaporites of the Wadi Natrun: Seasonal and Annual Variation and its Implication for Ancient Exploitation". Archaeometry 46 (4): 497–516. DOI:10.1111/j.1475-4754.2004.00170.x.
  • Davis, Virginia. "Mines and Quarries of Ancient Egypt, an Introduction" Online article
  • Institutt for Arkeologi, Kunsthistorie og Konservering website, in English at [8]

External links

References

Ancient

  • Leslie C. Kaplan, "Technology of Ancient Egypt. 2004, 24 pages. ISBN 0-8239-6785-9
  • Denys Allen Stocks "Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt". Routledge, 2003. 336 pages. ISBN 0-415-30664-7
  • Katheryn A. Bard" Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt By Katheryn A. Bard". Routledge, 1999. 968 pages. ISBN 0-415-18589-0
  • R. J. Forbes, "Studies in Ancient Technology". 1966.
  • Örjan Wikander, "Handbook of Ancient Water Technology". 2000.
  • Patricia Blackwell Gary and Richard Talcott (June 2006). "Stargazing in Ancient Egypt". Astronomy: 62–7.
  • Evans, James. The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Pannekoek, A. A History of Astronomy. New York: Dover, 1961.
  • Parker Richard A. "Egyptian Astronomy, Astrology, and Calendrical Reckoning". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 15: 706–727.
  • Tomkins, Peter. Secrets of the Great Pyramid. With an appendix by Livio Catullo Stecchini. New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1971.
  • Budge, E. A. Wallis. Egyptian Religion. Kessinger Publishing, 1900.
  • Budge, E. A. Wallis. The Gods of the Egyptians Volume 1 of 2. New York: Dover Publications, 1969 (original in 1904).
  • Kotsanas, Kosatas (2009), "Familiar and unfamiliar aspects of Ancient Greek Technology" (ISBN 978-9963-9270-2-9)
  • Kotsanas, Kosatas (2008) -"Ancient Greek Technology" (ISBN 978-960-930859-5)

Islamic

  • Boyer, Carl B. (1991), A History of Mathematics (Second Edition ed.), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., ISBN 0471543977 
  • Gaudiosi, Monica M. (April 1988), "The Influence of the Islamic Law of Waqf on the Development of the Trust in England: The Case of Merton College", University of Pennsylvania Law Review 136 (4): 1231–1261 
  • Hudson, A. (2003), Equity and Trusts (3rd ed.), London: Cavendish Publishing, ISBN 1-85941-729-9 
  • Kennedy, Edward S. (1962), "Review: The Observatory in Islam and Its Place in the General History of the Observatory by Aydin Sayili", Isis 53 (2): 237–239 
  • Khaleefa, Omar (1999), "Who Is the Founder of Psychophysics and Experimental Psychology?", American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 16 (2) 
  • McGrail, Sean (2004), Boats of the World, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199271860 
  • Mott, Lawrence V. (May 1991), The Development of the Rudder, A.D. 100-1337: A Technological Tale, Thesis, Texas A&M University
  • Omar, Saleh Beshara (1977), Ibn al-Haytham's Optics: A Study of the Origins of Experimental Science, Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, ISBN 0-88297-015-1 
  • Rashed, Roshdi; Morelon, Régis (1996), Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Routledge, ISBN 0415124107 
  • Steffens, Bradley (2006), Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, ISBN 1599350246 

Further reading

  • Anzovin, Steven et al., Famous First Facts (International Edition), H. W. Wilson Company, 2000, ISBN 0-8242-0958-3
  • David, Rosalie A., H.G.M. Edwards and D.W. Farwell (2001). "Raman Spectroscopic Analysis of Ancient Egyptian Pigments". Archaeometry 43 (4): 461–473. DOI:10.1111/1475-4754.00029.
  • Earl, Bryan (Summer 1995). "Tin Smelting at the Oriental Institute". The Oriental Institute News and Notes 146.
  • Gourdin, W.H. and W.D. Kingery (1975). "The Beginnings of Pyrotechnology: Neolithic and Egyptian Lime Plaster". Journal of Field Archaeology.
  • Lucas, Alfred. 1962. Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, 4th Edition. London: Edward Arnold Publishers.
  • Meyer, Carol. Bir Umm Fawakhir (1997). "Insights into Ancient Egyptian Mining". JOM 49 (3): 64–8. DOI:10.1007/BF02914661.
  • Nicholson, Paul T. and Ian Shaw, eds. 2000. Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology. University Press, Cambridge.
  • Pulak, C. A (1998). "The Uluburun Shipwreck: An Overview". International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 27 (3): 188–224. DOI:10.1111/j.1095-9270.1998.tb00803.x.
  • Scheel, Bernd. 1989. Egyptian Metalworking and Tools. Haverfordwest, Great Britain: Shire Publications Ltd.
  • Shaw, Ian. Editor. 2000. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Shortland, A.J. (2004). "Evaporites of the Wadi Natrun: Seasonal and Annual Variation and its Implication for Ancient Exploitation". Archaeometry 46 (4): 497–516. DOI:10.1111/j.1475-4754.2004.00170.x.
  • Davis, Virginia. "Mines and Quarries of Ancient Egypt, an Introduction" Online article
  • Institutt for Arkeologi, Kunsthistorie og Konservering website, in English at [9]

External links


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