Technology Showcase

Visitors to the main Dartmouth Library are being treated this month to a fascinating exhibit on ancient technology and engineering. Students in Prof. Kramer’s CLST 12 course attempted to reproduce some of the most notable achievements of the Greek and Roman world, from engineering feats to the techniques of artisanship. The exhibit will be up through the first part of the summer term.

Items on display were in several different categories. Some illustrate ways of solving practical problems: a drop spindle, cement bricks, a bridge, a water-pump, a crane, and a full-size cross of the type used in many crucifixions. Others demonstrate ingenuity: a water-clock, a wine press, an odometer cart, a small steam engine, and the sunlight-focusing mirrors that are supposed to have set an enemy’s fleet on fire. Several others illustrate techniques that produced items for leisure and decoration: a perfume sample, a painted vase, several beautiful pieces of jewelry, and a display of pigments refined for use in wall paintings. Each item carries a label explaining how it works and what ancient technological achievement it represents.