Archimedes: His 3 Most Famous Inventions

Born287 B.C.
Died212 B.C.
Famous Quote“Man has always learned from the past”
Known ForStarting field of mathematics, Large scale engineer, numerous inventions
Region Of WorldItaly/Sicily, 3rd Century B.C.

In the 3rd century B.C Archimedes was the world’s most famous inventor. Having already pioneered applying mathematics to real world practical applications Archimedes would go on to build 3 world famous inventions.

The 3 most famous inventions of Archimedes were the Archimedes’ Screw, Heat Ray, and anti-ship claw. Each of these inventions would go on to make Archimedes incredibly famous both in his own time and up to today.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 most famous inventions of Archimedes.

Archimedes Screw

One of Archimedes’ most famous inventions was the development of the Archimedes screw. This invention was designed to easily pump water up against gravity.

In the 3rd century B.C. Archimedes was tasked by King Hiero II to build the world’s largest ship; The Syracusia. This ship was so massive that it would have its own temple, garden, and wartime training facility.

However there was one major problem. Ship making was not perfect in 3rd century Italy. As ships got larger they would start to leak water through their hull. For about 1,500 years this was the major limiting factor on sea faring ships.

The king Hiero II would not settle for less of a ship however and he tasked Archimedes with fixing the issue of the ship’s hull taking on water.

Archimedes would design his now famous invention, the Archimedes Screw. This screw would sit in the bottom part of the massive ship and a worker would turn the screw using a hand crank.

The water in the cylinder would be slowly pumped out of the ship. Thus fixing the problem of the ship taking on too much water.

Today Archimedes is remembered for this famous invention. Around the world people still use Archimedes Screw to pump water up surfaces easily.

Heat Ray To Sink Ships

One of the most famous inventions of Archimedes was his use of bronze circular shields to reflect and focus light to create a heat ray.

During the siege of Syracuse it is reported that Archimedes used a series of these heat rays to catch Roman ships on fire and sink them.

While historians have never uncovered one of these devices we know of their use by the ancient Greek architect Anthemius of Tralles who designed the Hagia Sophia. Further, we have first hand accounts by the 2nd century B.C. author Lucian who describes the massive amounts of fires.

Archimedes himself would have positioned several polished shields around the city of Syracuse during its siege from 214-212 B.C. Each of these shields would be focused on one ship at a time and eventually the ship would catch fire.

Several modern researchers have attempted to recreate this invention to different degrees of success. However all researchers have been astonished at the success of polished metal on the ability to catch wood on fire from a distance.

Today when people speak of Archimedes’s inventions one of the most famous ones continues to be his heat ray. Today modern navy’s are experimenting with designing a modern version that could defend ships by focusing light rays.

As such the heat ray remains one of Archimedes most famous inventions.

The Ship Breaking Claw

One of the most famous inventions of Archimedes is his ship breaking claw.

A crane on the wall of the ancient city of Syracuse would swing out over an enemy ship and drop an iron claw onto it. Then soldiers would hoist the ship up out of the water and drop it back down, cracking the hull and sinking the ship.

The ancient Roman historian Livy recounts that under the cover of darkness the Roman navy began their attack on the fortress city of Syracuse. Once the ships got close enough to the walls of the city Archimedes’ invention, the claw, would swing out and sink many ships.

Livy attributes the high casualty rate sustained during the second Punic war to these devices. As such this now famous invention of Archimedes struck fear into the minds of the Romans. The city was not taken and a two year siege started to take the city.

The Archimedes Claw remains up to today one of Archimedes most famous inventions.


There you have it; an entire article that goes over the top 3 most famous inventions of Archimedes.

Archimedes would defend his home city of Syracuse against the fleet of Rome. However in 214 B.C the city would eventually succumb to the superior power of Rome.

The Roman commander Marcus Claudius Marcellus ordered that Archimedes would not be harmed in the capture of Syracuse. However, an unnamed Roman soldier found the then 78 year old Archimedes in his study and killed him.

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