Athens Inventions

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Athens was the largest city in ancient Greece. Many inventions date to the early city, and some are still in use today. Records from that time indicate that most occurred during the fifth century B.C., and some of the more well-known inventions occurred after the Roman Empire came into power.

1 Democracy

In the early 500s B.C., about 30,000 people lived in Athens. At this time, a way of government was invented that the Greeks called "rule by the people," or "democracy," as we know it today. Although the citizens of Athens were free to express themselves in public, only men could vote and have a say in the city’s policies.

Women, slaves and foreigners couldn't be citizens. About 5,000 citizens would meet every 10 days or so to vote on new laws. However, the government in Athens was considered a representative body for the entire society and justice was a priority.

2 Architecture

Subjected to the religious cults practiced by the ancient Athenians, architecture was considered the most prominent technology developed in Athens. Architecture was non-existent in Greece from about 1200 B.C. to the 7th century B.C. After this time, the Greeks started building public structures.

Common materials used for building were wood, mud bricks or clay, limestone, marble, terracotta, and metals such as bronze. Architects of the period constructed five types of buildings: civic, domestic, religious, funerary or recreational. From the sixth century B.C. onward, Greek temples and other significant buildings were built mostly of stone. A few examples have survived.

3 Public Works

The Athenians brought water to the city through an underground aqueduct that originated at Mount Pentelikos. They distributed the water throughout the city using terracotta pipes. Such public works projects helped boost the economy of Athens and led the city into a more sanitary way of life.

The public works system of planning was invented by Hippodamus of Miletus, and his invention was greatly admired during this period. This water-supply system helped in deciding where cities were to be built.

4 Water Clock

The water clock was invented in Athens. Because the city was a democratic society and a litigious one, daily trials had to be limited and timed. The water clock included upper and lower vessels, and water was emptied from one into the other. This took several minutes.

During a trail in which a large sum of money was involved, more time was needed to conduct the proceeding. So the Greeks used the simple system of emptying 10 vessels, since this took longer.

Based in Maryland, Lisa Proulx has been a freelance writer for more than 10 years. She is a writer and columnist for the "Brunswick Citizen" and a play critic for "The Frederick Gazette." A former columnist for the "Mountain Xpress" in Asheville, N.C., Proulx was also the senior writer for Vegas Radio WTRI.