When you hear the words “ancient Greece” what do you think about? Does your mind wander to the very first Olympics? Maybe it recalls the mythology of the Greek gods. It might even remind you of ancient Greece’s role in the development of democracy. It’s true, there are many things we would not have today if it wasn’t for ancient Greece such as vending machines, classical architecture, anchors, sinks, coins and more. But even though most people are aware that many things related to Western culture originated in Greece, there’s much more associated with it than we realize. In fact, if you look around, you’re bound to see or interact with something that has its roots in ancient Greece. Take a look for yourself with these 25 Things We Would Not Have Without Ancient Greece.
Anaximander, one of the most important pre-Socratic philosophers, is credited with the invention of maps and cartography. Despite maps being produced before his time in Egypt, Lydia, the Middle East, and Babylon, they focused exclusively on sole directions, roads, towns, and borders. Anaximander’s innovation was to represent the entire inhabited land known to the ancient Greeks.
Before the development of clearly defined ports in ancient Greece, mariners were guided by fires set on hilltops. Since raising the fire would improve visibility, placing the fire on a platform became a practice that led to the development of the lighthouse. The most famous lighthouse of antiquity was the Pharos of Alexandria, which was built during the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt around 280–247 BCE and designed by the Greek architect Sostratus of Cnidus.
During the sixth century BCE the Greeks invented a way to lift heavy stone blocks onto emerging temple walls, which we know today as a crane. Holes drilled into the stone suggest ropes were attached to the blocks so it could be pulled up.
The first coins were developed independently in Iron Age Anatolia and Archaic Greece around 600–700 BCE. In this way the Greeks became the first to develop coins of different sizes and materials depending on their value which were then used to buy or trade goods.
Clock Towers (and Weather Station)
When people think of clock towers, they usually think of medieval Europe, but in reality the first clock tower was built in ancient Greece. The Tower of the Winds in Athens, right under the Acropolis, was the first clock tower and weather station. It helped local merchants estimate the time of delivery for their products and, at the same time, helped them protect their freight from extreme weather conditions.