A dioptra (sometimes also named dioptre or diopter, from Greek : διόπτρα) is a classical astronomical and surveying instrument, dating from the 3rd century BC. The dioptra was a sighting tube or, alternatively, a rod with a sight at both ends, attached to a stand. If fitted with protractors, it could be used to measure angles.
Greek astronomers used the dioptra to measure the positions of stars; both Euclid and Geminus refer to the dioptra in their astronomical works.
It continued in use as an effective surveying tool. Adapted to surveying, the dioptra is similar to the theodolite, or surveyor's transit, which dates to the sixteenth century. It is a more accurate version of the groma.
The dioptra may have been sophisticated enough, for example, to construct a tunnel through two opposite points in a mountain. There is some speculation that it may have been used to build the Eupalinian aqueduct. Called "one of the greatest engineering achievements of ancient times," it is a tunnel 1,036 meters (4,000 ft) long, "excavated through Mount Kastro on the Greek island of Samos, in the 6th century BCE" during the reign of Polycrates. Scholars disagree whether the dioptra was available that early.
An entire book about the construction and surveying usage of the dioptra is credited to Hero of Alexandria (also known as Heron; a brief description of the book is available online; see Lahanas link, below). Hero was "one of history’s most ingenious engineers and applied mathematicians."
The dioptra was used extensively on aqueduct building projects. Screw turns on several different parts of the instrument made it easy to calibrate for very precise measurements
The dioptra was replaced as a surveying instrument by the Theodolite.
Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Considered to be the greatest mathematician of ancient history, and one of the greatest of all time, Archimedes anticipated modern calculus and analysis by applying the concept of the infinitely small and the method of exhaustion to derive and rigorously prove a range of geometrical theorems, including: the area of a circle; the surface area and volume of a sphere; area of an ellipse; the area under a parabola; the volume of a segment of a paraboloid of revolution; the volume of a segment of a hyperboloid of revolution; and the area of a spiral.
Eratosthenes of Cyrene was a Greek polymath: a mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist. He was a man of learning, becoming the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria. His work is comparable to what is now known as the study of geography, and he introduced some of the terminology still used today.
Surveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, art, and science of determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional positions of points and the distances and angles between them. A land surveying professional is called a land surveyor. These points are usually on the surface of the Earth, and they are often used to establish maps and boundaries for ownership, locations, such as the designed positions of structural components for construction or the surface location of subsurface features, or other purposes required by government or civil law, such as property sales.
Hydraulics is a technology and applied science using engineering, chemistry, and other sciences involving the mechanical properties and use of liquids. At a very basic level, hydraulics is the liquid counterpart of pneumatics, which concerns gases. Fluid mechanics provides the theoretical foundation for hydraulics, which focuses on the applied engineering using the properties of fluids. In its fluid power applications, hydraulics is used for the generation, control, and transmission of power by the use of pressurized liquids. Hydraulic topics range through some parts of science and most of engineering modules, and cover concepts such as pipe flow, dam design, fluidics and fluid control circuitry. The principles of hydraulics are in use naturally in the human body within the vascular system and erectile tissue. Free surface hydraulics is the branch of hydraulics dealing with free surface flow, such as occurring in rivers, canals, lakes, estuaries and seas. Its sub-field open-channel flow studies the flow in open channels.
Hero of Alexandria was a Greco-Egyptian mathematician and engineer who was active in his native city of Alexandria, Roman Egypt. He is often considered the greatest experimenter of antiquity and his work is representative of the Hellenistic scientific tradition.
An astrolabe is an ancient astronomical instrument that was a handheld model of the universe. Its various functions also make it an elaborate inclinometer and an analogue calculation device capable of working out several kinds of problems in astronomy. Historically used by astronomers, it is able to measure the altitude above the horizon of a celestial body, day or night; it can be used to identify stars or planets, to determine local latitude given local time, to survey, or to triangulate. It was used in classical antiquity, the Islamic Golden Age, the European Middle Ages and the Age of Discovery for all these purposes.
In trigonometry and geometry, triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by forming triangles to the point from known points.
A theodolite is a precision optical instrument for measuring angles between designated visible points in the horizontal and vertical planes. The traditional use has been for land surveying, but they are also used extensively for building and infrastructure construction, and some specialized applications such as meteorology and rocket launching.
The scaphe was a sundial said to have been invented by Aristarchus of Samos. There are no original works still in existence by Aristarchus, but the adjacent image is an image of what it might have looked like; only his would have been made of stone. It consisted of a hemispherical bowl which had a vertical gnomon placed inside it, with the top of the gnomon level with the edge of the bowl. Twelve gradations inscribed perpendicular to the hemisphere indicated the hour of the day.
The history of technology is the history of the invention of tools and techniques and is one of the categories of world history. Technology can refer to methods ranging from as simple as stone tools to the complex genetic engineering and information technology that has emerged since the 1980s. The term technology comes from the Greek word techne, meaning art and craft, and the word logos, meaning word and speech. It was first used to describe applied arts, but it is now used to describe advancements and changes which affect the environment around us.
The digit or finger is an ancient and obsolete non-SI unit of measurement of length. It was originally based on the breadth of a human finger. It was a fundamental unit of length in the Ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Hebrew, Ancient Greek and Roman systems of measurement.
Hero of Byzantium is a name used to refer to the anonymous Byzantine author of two treatises, commonly known as Parangelmata Poliorcetica and Geodesia, composed in the mid-10th century and found in an 11th-century manuscript in the Vatican Library. The first is a poliorketikon, an illustrated manual of siegecraft; the second is a work in practical geometry and ballistics, which makes use of locations around Constantinople to illustrate its points. The manuscript consists of 58 folios and 38 colored illustrations.
The Tunnel of Eupalinos or Eupalinian aqueduct is a tunnel of 1,036 m (3,399 ft) length running through Mount Kastro in Samos, Greece, built in the 6th century BC to serve as an aqueduct. The tunnel is the second known tunnel in history which was excavated from both ends, and the first with a geometry-based approach in doing so. Today it is a popular tourist attraction.
Eupalinos or Eupalinus of Megara was an ancient Greek engineer who built the Tunnel of Eupalinos on Samos Island in the 6th century BC.
The chorobates, described by Vitruvius in Book VIII of the De architectura, was used to measure horizontal planes and was especially important in the construction of aqueducts.
In astronomy, a transit instrument is a small telescope with extremely precisely graduated mount used for the precise observation of star positions. They were previously widely used in astronomical observatories and naval observatories to measure star positions in order to compile nautical almanacs for use by mariners for celestial navigation, and observe star transits to set extremely accurate clocks which were used to set marine chronometers carried on ships to determine longitude, and as primary time standards before atomic clocks. The instruments can be divided into three groups: meridian, zenith, and universal instruments.
Construction surveying or building surveying is to stake out reference points and markers that will guide the construction of new structures such as roads or buildings. These markers are usually staked out according to a suitable coordinate system selected for the project.
In surveying, a gyrotheodolite is an instrument composed of a gyrocompass mounted to a theodolite. It is used to determine the orientation of true north. It is the main instrument for orientation in mine surveying and in tunnel engineering, where astronomical star sights are not visible and GPS does not work.
An aqueduct is a watercourse constructed to carry water from a source to a distribution point far away. In modern engineering, the term aqueduct is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose. The term aqueduct also often refers specifically to a bridge carrying an artificial watercourse. Aqueducts were used in ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, and ancient Rome. In modern times, the largest aqueducts of all have been built in the United States to supply large cities. The simplest aqueducts are small ditches cut into the earth. Much larger channels may be used in modern aqueducts. Aqueducts sometimes run for some or all of their path through tunnels constructed underground. Modern aqueducts may also use pipelines. Historically, agricultural societies have constructed aqueducts to irrigate crops and supply large cities with drinking water.