Nov 25, 2023

The Hydraulic Telegraph Of Aeneas: A Telecommunication Used In Ancient Greece

Posted by in categories: military, mobile phones

Telecommunication goes back a lot further than you might expect. While the word has become synonymous with television broadcasting and phone communication, it really describes any communication system over a distance, and could include smoke signals. These simple signals were used to convey messages from “the enemy is approaching” to the fact that a whale has beached itself and can be butchered for meat.

While some ancient cultures varied smoke colors to convey further information, there’s only so much you can get across with a big fire. One particularly cool ancient version of telecommunication, which aimed to convey more precise meanings, was the hydraulic telegraph, used in Ancient Greece in around 350 BCE.

The idea – thought to have been invented by Aeneas of Stymphalus, a writer on the military at the time – was simple, but neat. Each person you want to communicate with is given a jar of the same size, filled with the same amount of water. Inside the jar is a floating rod, on which was inscribed identical messages that are useful to pass along.

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