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  • An Early and Excellent Example of a High-Technology Product Press Release

    Posted by David Foster on April 27th, 2021 (All posts by )

    The poet/historian  Antipater sings the wonderfulness of the vertical waterwheel as a power source:

    Cease from grinding, ye women who toil at the mill

    Sleep late, even if the crowing cocks announce the dawn

    For Demeter has ordered the Nymphs to perform the work of your hands

    And they, leaping down on the top of the wheel, turn its axle which

    With its revolving spokes, turns the heavy concave Nisyrian millstones

    Learning to feast on the products of Demeter without labour

    ( circa 65 bc)


    I would so hire that man for a Marketing Communications job.



    6 Responses to “An Early and Excellent Example of a High-Technology Product Press Release”

    1. Clioman Says:

      Hire Antipater of Sidon in a heartbeat. The problem is, how many of your customers speak/read Attic Greek?

    2. David Foster Says:

      Should be easy to find a good translator…I bet their are a lot of classics professors who would like to escape from the current university environment.

      Now, all I have to do is figure out how to build the time machine…

    3. David Foster Says:

      Speaking of waterpower, it strikes me that given the attacks on fossil fuels throughout the western world…and the refusal to seriously consider nuclear…those states/regions that have unused capacity in hydro plants, or potential hydro resources which are developable, have a big economic advantage.

    4. MCS Says:

      There is a choice of four notable Antipaters in the 1st century BC. There’s the one that was the father of Herod I, The Great, of the New Testament, then there’s Antipater II, son of Herod I. The former was murdered in the aftermath of Julius Caesar’s assassination, the later was executed by his father. And people think politics is rough now days. Then there’s Antipater of Tyre who’s down as a stoic philosopher. And finally there’s Antipater of Thessalonica who is the author.

      Almost as bad as Smith.

      I fear that interesting ad copy is mostly history. Not worth the effort when there are an ever diminishing number of people literate enough to appreciate it. Much easier to pay some athletically gifted cretin for an endorsement. All forms of media seem unable to produce passably coherent copy let alone inspired.

      Then there’s the question of why it took around 4,000 years to go from the nearly useless horizontal water wheel to the vertical. I couldn’t believe it was actually so late until I looked it up. It seems like such an obvious thing and a fairly straight forward application of Archimedes lever principal about 200 years earlier. The tread wheel crane or winch seems to date from the same period.

    5. David Foster Says:

      MCS…my understanding is that the horizontal waterwheels were low-horsepower and were useful for doing the milling for an individual farm or very small village; vertical wheels had considerably higher power potential. So it *may* be that the delayed transition had something to do with forms of social organization as much as with technological innovation per se.

    6. MCS Says:

      Once you’ve thought of it, something that’s essential for a vertical gravity water wheel, where no energy is gained from velocity head, is enough slope in the stream to generate a drop approximately equal to the diameter. This can be from either damming the stream or diverting flow upstream into a more level channel leading to the top of the wheel.

      Either would have been practically impossible on the Egyptian Nile. The same probably goes for the other Mid Eastern rivers. Any flume channel would have had to extend for miles for even a modest fall and damming was completely out of the question. It would have been pretty hard with the existing materials to produce usable power from the very slow current with a horizontal wheel. Searching for Nile water wheels shows many human and animal powered for raising water from the river.

      Greece may have been too dry, with streams too intermittent to stimulate much development.

      It still seems odd that it took so long to invent such a simple device. After all, it’s just a series of buckets on a wheel.

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