Amanda Skofstad | August 30, 2019
As modern Greeks undertake to reconstruct the Parthenon, largely using stone material from the site’s ruins, a question naturally arises: How did ancient Greeks construct massive temples and other buildings — lifting and placing one heavy block at a time, and up multiple rows in a wall — without modern advanced machinery?
Scholars agree that Greek contributions to culture and building technology are myriad, with the crane being the most significant and enduring. But when and how did these machines enter the picture?
New research by Alessandro Pierattini, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame, adds nuance to the broadly accepted view that the crane was not in use until 515 B.C. by demonstrating how forerunners to the machine were experimented with as early as 700-650 B.C.
“The foremost discovery of the Greeks in building technology is the crane,” Pierattini said. “No previous civilizations are known to have used it, and it has remained central to building construction without remarkable changes for nearly 25 centuries — because it was perfect.”
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