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New book – Ingenious inventions – Innovative ideas

You can now purchase the book based on the ICOM Hungarian National Committee “Museum Education Award” winning and Pulszky Society “Exhibition of the Year 2021” nominated exhibition at the Aquincum Museum.

Gabriella Fényes: Ingenious inventions – Innovative ideas. Episodes from the history of ancient technology

For technology, the period between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD was an especially productive stage in the development of ancient science. This period saw the birth of countless innovative ideas in what almost amounted to a technological revolution, and a forgotten revolution at that. Nowadays, after all, we are no longer aware of how the inventions of the modern period, and perhaps even the machines, tools and appliances that we use today are often rooted in Antiquity. It was also forgotten, as certain ideas, perhaps ahead of their time,  remained only the experiments of geniuses and consigned to oblivion already in the ancient world. At the same time, however, other innovations came to be used in everyday life, making the lives of people better, easier or more beautiful.

The ancient engineers drew plans, used a uniform system of measurement, determined gradients, constructed angles and right-angles, and measured time and the distance travelled. They built aqueducts to bring fresh water from springs to Roman cities, constructed roads which also came to define the later topography, provided streets with sewers, raised enormous vaulted and domed buildings, and moved around heavy weights with hoists and pulleys. They made heating and hot water everyday comforts in the baths, and pumped water from mines and wells. They created various machines and devices and invented the organ. This was also the age when the first ‘robots’ were built and plans for the world’s first ‘car’ were made. The book introduces readers to this forgotten, but exceptionally exciting world with the help of ancient eyewitness accounts as well as archaeological finds from Aquincum, the ancient settlement which lay in what is now Budapest. The technical knowledge of the period, after all, was not only available in Rome or the scientific hub of the ancient world, in faraway Alexandria. Its material remains can be found throughout the Hellenistic world and the Roman Empire, and so in Aquincum as well.  Placed in the context of technological history, these archaeological finds begin to talk and make posterity stand in awe of the technological feats of the past.

The book can now be purchased at the Aquincum Museum for 1075 HUF!