This research project investigates the emergence of hydromechanics in the context of water management systems from antiquity to the Middle Ages.
The origin of the scales and of weighing, one of the first measurement technologies in the development of human culture, remains obscure to this day. Standardized finished products provide indirect evidence dating the scale to the middle of the 5th millennium BC. It is reasonable to assume that the scales emerged parallel to the development of copper and gold metallurgy, if not sooner.
There is conclusive evidence that equal-armed scales were used in Egypt beginning around 3000 BC. The first metrological system can be shown to have emerged in Babylon around the same time. By mapping all surviving evidence of scales and weighing practices in the Atlas of Innovations, we will lay the foundation for a better understanding of the emergence and spread of the scales and of metrology.
The project investigates the emergence and development of balance scales with variable arm-length of which the so-called Roman steelyard is the most well-known.
The project is focused on ancient Greek and Roman stationary sundials. The key objectives are to identify methods of constructions and factors that determined their layouts, and to explore the development and diffusion of the different types in a long time perspective in a changing setting.