Wondrous Machines

Now Open

Inspired by the enduring appeal of machines and robots, the exhibition Wondrous Machines brings to life Hero of Alexandria’s automaton, a self-animated and self-propelling ancient Dionysiac shrine created in the first century CE. The exhibition both explores the sensory spectacles created by ancient automata, and by incorporating 3D printed replicas and digital animations of Hero’s shrine, examines how simple components such as falling weights, screws, cords, pulleys, and axles were used to create complex and spectacular machines by ancient engineers. The exhibition also introduces the University of Queensland’s TGR (Tiny Giant Robot), whose technology owes its origins to the research and experimentation of ancient Greco-Roman mechanists and engineers, such as Hero. 

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Curated by: Dr Janette McWilliam, Dr Duncan Keenan-Jones, Associate Professor Pauline Pounds, Mr James Donaldson, Ms Charlotte Mann and Dr Marie Boden

Animations: Dr Marie Boden, Ms Sanjana Bhatnagar, Ms Lorraine Han, Mr Joshua Scarsbrook and Ms Shaden Aldakheel 

3D Printing: Associate Professor Pauline Pounds 

3D Models: Based on plans of the shrine created in 2016 by Dr Keenan-Jones at the University of Glasgow as part of a Leverhulme Funded research project ‘Hero of Alexandria and his Theatrical Automata’ (with Dr Ruffell (PI), Dr McGookin and Dr Grillo)

The Exhibition is funded by a major grant from the QUEX Institute (UQ and Exeter), and with the support of the support of the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. This exhibition is the first event in an ongoing series that will explore the theme of Digital Worlds and Disruptive Technologies from multi-disciplinary perspectives with colleagues from the Centre for Knowledge in Culture in Antiquity and Beyond (University of Exeter, Dr Gabriele ), The RD Milns Antiquities Museum (UQ), Classics and Ancient History (UQ and the University of Glasgow), Philosophy (UQ, Exeter and UCLA), and ITEE and Robotics (UQ)

QUEX Project Team: Dr Janette McWilliam (UQ), Dr Gabriele Galluzzo (Exeter), Dr Duncan Keenan-Jones (UQ), Associate Professor Pauline Pounds (UQ), Dr Marie Boden (UQ), Dr Maria Gerolemou (Exeter), Mr James Donaldson (UQ), Professor Deborah Brown (UQ), Dr David Leith (Exeter), Professor Barbara Borg (Exeter), Professor Isabelle Ruffell (Glasgow), Professor Calvin Normore (UCLA)