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Ingenious inventions – Innovative ideas

The Aquincum Museum’s new temporary exhibition “Ingenious inventions – Innovative ideas: Episodes from the history of ancient technology” opens to the public on 31 July 2020.

Ancient science developed continuously, but the period between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD saw some especially major technological advances, with scores of innovative ideas. It was almost a technological revolution, and a forgotten one at that. Forgotten, after all, as nowadays we are no longer aware that inventions from the modern period, and perhaps even modern-day machines, tools and appliances are often rooted in Antiquity.  Forgotten also, as certain ideas, perhaps ahead of their time, remained only the experiments of geniuses, consigned to oblivion already in the ancient world. At the same time, other innovations became integral parts of everyday life. Through these innovations, the ancients built aqueducts to bring fresh water from springs to Roman towns; constructed roads which also came to define the later topography; provided streets with sewers; erected enormous vaulted, domed buildings; moved around heavy weights with levers and pulleys; made heating and hot water everyday comforts at least in the baths; pumped water from mines and wells; and measured time. This was also the age when the queen of instruments, the organ, was born. The Aquincum Museum’s new temporary exhibition takes visitors to this forgotten, but exceptionally exciting world.

Visitors can first get a taste of the subject online, and from 31 July 2020 they can see the Ingenious Inventions and Innovative Ideas at the Aquincum Museum’s old exhibition building.

Patientia, virtus, spespatience, resoluteness, hope (From the funerary inscription of aqueduct-builder Nonius Datus. A good motto for all ancient engineers (and modern people)).


We present 2000-year-old innovations in science and technology online, and give tips on how those interested can become ancient engineers.

The first episode – Ctesibius: The barber of Alexandria – the father of pneumatics – can be found here.

The second episode – Philon of Byzantium: Everyone’s favourite science teacher from Antiquity – can be found here.

The third episode – Heron of Alexandria: A real jack of all trades from the ancient world – can be found here.

The fourth episode – Heron of Alexandria II: The world’s first “automobile” and other inventions – can be found here.