The Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology is located in the heart of Athens, in a historic Art Nouveau building located on Pindaru Street, in the Kolonaki neighborhood. Since 2018, it offers visitors the opportunity to discover two very interesting aspects of ancient Greek culture through its permanent exhibitions “Ancient Greece – The Origins of Technology” and “Musical Instruments and Toys of Ancient Greece”.
Although the contribution of the ancient Greeks in the fields of philosophy, fine arts and sciences is widely known, there is relatively limited awareness of the technological advances of the time. The goal of this museum is to shed light on this largely obscure aspect of ancient Greek civilization and to show the public that the technology of the ancient Greeks just prior to the end of the ancient Greek world was remarkably similar to the origins of our modern technology.
Some of the most interesting examples include Philo’s automatic servant (the first functional robot in history), as well as the mechanical puppet theater and the hydraulic automatic doors system, both invented by mathematician and engineer Heron of Alexandria. The doors were installed in a temple and opened up when triggered by altar fire.
Other remarkable examples include Ctesibius’ water clock, force pump and counterweight-adjustable mirror and, of course, various inventions by Archimedes, the famous Antikythera mechanism and other astronomical devices, among 400 innovative inventions spanning the period from 2000 BC to the end of ancient Greece are documented.
The museum’s approximately 400 exhibits are functionally and scientifically documented. The 30 years of research and study work of the museum’s founder, Kostas Kotsanas, is based exclusively on careful studies of ancient Greek, Latin and Arabic texts, information from clay pots and other relevant archaeological finds.
The permanent exhibition “Ancient Greece – The Origins of Technology” presents 100 pieces divided into 24 topics, under the themes of Science, Myth and Everyday Life; visitors can enjoy an original educational experience, as many of the exhibits are interactive, based on the principle of experiential learning.
The exhibition “Musical Instruments and Toys of Ancient Greece” includes an impressive collection of 42 reconstructed and fully functional musical instruments of antiquity, the result of many years of research and study by the museum’s founder. Visitors can touch the instruments and listen to the authentic sounds, faithfully reproduced with the help of digital audio media.
In the same room, the “Strategy and Board Games” exhibition area is presented with a selection of fully functional reconstructed games played by children and adults in ancient Greece. These museum exhibits have already been shown in more than 250 cities in Greece and abroad.
The Kotsanas Museum is a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and has been nominated “European Museum of the Year 2019” by the European Museum Forum (EMF). Apart from Athens, the Kotsanas network has two more museums, in Crete and the Peloponnese. The museum’s exhibitions are under the patronage of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Development and Investment of Greece.
N.M. (Translated from an original article in Griechenland Aktuell)