Ancient Greek History

Ancient Greek Inventions You Need to Know

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Ancient Athens Coin (reverse)Most of us know how innovative the Ancient Greeks really were. They highly valued intellectual thought, particularly concerning the arts, theater, science, and mathematics. However, did you know that they were inventors, too? Here’s a list of some of the top inventions that were developed in Ancient Greece. Some of them will surprise you!

Archimedes Screw

Archimedes was a mathematician, scientist, and engineer. Though he has many inventions credited to his name, the Archimedes Screw is by far the most influential. It’s main purpose was to help lift water out of the ground. This invention was so clever, in fact, that it is actually still used today! Many modern day irrigation systems rely on it to help get the water out of the ground.

First Railway

Did you know that the Ancient Greeks invented the railway? Sure, it doesn’t meet our modern expectations of a railway because modern trains weren’t established until much later. However, they did have a system of rails and tracks that helped people transport goods. A man named Elinder of Corinth built this version in 600 BC. Its main purpose was to help push ships on land from one body of water to the other.

First Vending Machines

Although we think of the classic vending machine as a modern invention, it’s actually been around since Ancient Greece. First developed by Hero from Alexandria, these early machines allowed people to drop a coin in a slot. However, rather than dispensing treats, it actually poured out holy water from a nearby shrine! The premise, however, is the same as our modern versions.

Steam Engine

Did you know that the Greeks actually invented the steam engine? Or rather, they came very close to getting the steam engine to work. Hero, the individual who also invented the first vending machine, came up with a concept of a steam-driven engine. He actually got it to work. At the time, no one really understood how to apply his invention. It went unused. However, the general premise is the same as the modern steam engine.

First Money

Prior to the Ancient Greeks, most business transactions took place through bater arrangements. However, the Greeks realized that this system was rather cumbersome. From this, they established the first currency. Greek colonies in Asia Minor began using the first currency around 600 BC. Until 350 BC when paper currency was invented, only coins were used. This made merchant transactions a lot easier!


Though the Ancient Greeks, particularly the Athenians, are credited as having the first democracy is up for debate, they are credited with the first European democracy. There is some evidence that a form of democracy was present in Africa before it was established in Greece, for example. The Athenian democracy also wasn’t a perfect system. In particular, women weren’t given any rights. However, the Athenian model for democracy has been highly influential in helping modern nations establishes their democracies.

As you can see, the Ancient Greeks invented things that are still being used today!

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