Monday, January 13, 2014

Ancient Robots

We think of the robot as a twentieth century conceptual invention. The word robot was introduced to the public by the Czech writer Karel ńĆapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), published in 1920. However the idea of the robot, as an artificial human or life form can be traced back to classical antiquity.

Legend has it that Hephaestus, the ancient Greek god of fire, metalworking and handicrafts, “forged” two dozen copper tripods, which could move about the place “on the golden wheels” as if they were self-propelled (or automatic?). The devices are said to have been used for rendering services to gods who visited Hephaestus. Could they be some kind of a remote-controlled robot or automatic means of transporting?

Today on Far Future Horizons we present “Ancient Robots” an episode from the acclaimed History Channel documentary series “Ancient Discoveries”.

Ancient Discoveries, is a series that focuses on ancient technologies. The show's theme is that many inventions which are thought to be modern have ancient roots or in some cases may have been lost and then reinvented. The program is a follow-up to a special originally broadcast in 2005 which focused on technologies from the Ancient Roman era such as the Antikythera mechanism and inventors such as Heron of Alexandria. Episodes of the regular series have expanded to cover other areas such as Egypt, China and East Asia, and the Islamic world.

In today’s instalment we will exam ancient robotics. This episode takes a look at the automata of ancient China, the Hellenistic engineers Heron and Philon, the Arabic engineer Al-Jazari, and the robots constructed by Leonardo da Vinci

Ancient Discoveries is one documentary series you will want to add to your collection and is available on DVD from

Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Robots

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