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The technology of the Byzantine Empire

The technology of the Byzantine Empire

In the Eastern Roman Empire, mechanics and shows were important.

What you’ll learn

The technology of the Byzantine Empire

  • Students will learn about the different mechanical technology used by the Byzantine Empire.
  • Music instruments, automata, hydraulic lifting machines, and more were all made by the Byzantines.
  • Art, technology, craftsmanship, and engineering all come together in this unique class.
  • A slide with a lot of vocabulary is at the end of the class.


  • College-level students who are interested in art history, engineering, and politics are a good fit for this class, too.


A new era began when the Roman Emperor Constantine built Constantinople on the old Greek site of Byzantium in the 4th century CE. This new era saw a distinct Christian identity fuse with the Roman imperial cult of the state. Mechanical technology played a big part in the awe and wonder that the Byzantine Empire tried to instil in its people. Sound, whether it came from the different lengths of a pipe organ or from the hidden bellows inside a brazen animal, was an important part of the senses in Byzantine spectacles.

The movement made possible by steam or compressed air made sense to medieval people who didn’t know about mechanics. Moveable thrones made from gold and trees made from jewels are some of the wonders of the history of Byzantine art and technology. Animal automata and musical organs that preserved technology from the Hellenistic era (when the Roman Empire of the West was still in power) are also wonders.

Who this course is for:

  • This course is intended for adult learners of all levels.

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