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Museum of Ancient Greek Technology – Review

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Museum of Ancient Greek technology Athens - pin it

During our visit to Athens with kids, we were looking for things to do in Athens with kids. One of our discoveries was the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology read below to learn if you should visit it as well.

Museum of Ancient Greek Technology – Introduction

The Museum of Ancient Greek Technology is a little private museum displaying the works of its founder. Kostas Kotsanas (b 1963) is an engineer who has not only made a life’s work of researching the technology of Ancient Greece but who has made working models of many of them. The whole place is the product of personal labour of love, and this comes across in everything from the displays to the character of the staff.

Museum of Greek Technology – Location

The museum sits in an attractive small street in a neighbourhood of coffee shops and pretty squares, quite close to Syntagma Square (Changing of the Guard). There is no discount for EU membership, though surprisingly the receptionist volunteered to give us a two-for-one discount for “being twins” The entrance fee depends on how many exhibitions you want to see.

Different displays in the Museum

Museum has 3 exhibitions – entry to each cost 4 EURO

  • Ancient Greek Technology
  • Ancient Greek Musical Instruments
  • An exhibition about Nikolai Tesla

We opted for Ancient Greek Technology and Ancient Greek Musical Instruments but gave a miss to the current temporary exhibitions dedicated to Nikolai Tesla. We have nothing against the genius who invented the radio a day or two before or after Marconi – read our Facts About Greece, but we were here for Ancient Greek. We weren’t disappointed.

There was a (free) English Speaking guide who joined us to demonstrate a machine which dispenses a measure of water in return for a coin. Sometimes after that, he accompanied us to demonstrate, and sometimes he left us to explore by ourselves. It didn’t really matter. There are very clear English and Greek descriptions of everything and about half of the exhibits, which are recreated from drawings or archaic remnants are available either for visitors to play with or for the guide to demonstrate.

Ancient Greek Technology

For example, we lifted heavy weights with pulley-geared cranes, lifted water with an Archimedes screw, set off a warbling burglar alarm by going through a door, and played a tune on an adjustable barber’s mirror(!) On the other hand, the repeating self-loading heavy crossbow was thankfully not available for little hands. Plato’s ear-splitting alarm clock and the mysterious automatic temple opening doors were both demonstrated for us by the guide, whilst workings of the ancient cinema and automaton wine waitress (!) were shown by explanatory videos.

Ancient waitress

The scariest exhibits were in the case dedicated to surgical equipment. It included a cranium hole-saw for brain surgery and an extremely heavy-duty vaginal speculum.

Downstairs there is a beautiful big model of the ship Archimedes designed and amazingly was built. With an estimated displacement of between 300-400 tons, it was much larger than the Greek Trireme standard warship which displaced about 45 tons. And it is estimated that it took about 60 times as much material to construct. It included luxury passenger suites, a steam bath, a fish farm, berths for 400 marines as well as more than a thousand oarsmen, stone throwing catapults, cranes, grappling irons, and several masts with sails. It floated (of course) as Archimedes knew it would from his famous “eureka” insight, and was launched by its designer fully laden with goods and passengers with only one hand turning the handle of a worm-drive winch of his own invention.

Ancient Greek Musical Instruments

Also on the same level is the musical instrument display.  It has several beautifully recreated instruments including lyres, harps and mandolin-like instruments. Less astonishing than the technological exhibits perhaps, but they were all beautifully presented and even included something very like a church organ using pumped air controlled by a keyboard to make notes. 

We also saw looms, astrolabes, the first long-distance digital communication system, and we played board games and something like a tangram but with lots more pieces.

Museum of Ancient Greek Technology – informations

Museum of Ancient Greek Technology – Conclusion

Our girls loved this place.  After two and a half hours inside (we had to drag them out) we discussed it on our walk back to the parking place. The Twins had already awarded it “best science museum, worldwide, ever” and spent the rest of the walk skipping along and giggling about whether anywhere else even came close. This museum is a wow of a place for kids of all ages up to retirement and beyond.

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Ania James

photographer, traveller, mother of twin girls, wife, worldschooler, rulebreaker

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