Stephen Ressler Ph.D.

Stephen Ressler Ph.D. >

Technology in the Classical World
Episode 1 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Begin your exploration of ancient Greek and Roman engineering by probing the technological edge that allowed the Greeks to beat the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. Then survey the aims of the course and preview an impressive piece of…
The Most Celebrated Edifice—The Pantheon
Episode 9 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Conclude your study of great classical-era structures by examining the greatest of them all: the Pantheon in Rome. Imitated but never equaled, this temple to all the gods incorporates Greek as well as quintessentially Roman architectural features. The stupendous dome…
Engineering a Roman Aqueduct
Episode 13 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Design an aqueduct for a hypothetical Roman town. First identify a water source. Then consider its elevation and distance to the town, the possible terrain profiles for a channel, and the appropriate type of aqueduct. Conclude by examining the complex…
Go with the Flow—Urban Water Distribution
Episode 14 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Trace the flow of water through a major city such as Rome--from the aqueduct to water towers, public fountains, buildings and private residences, and ultimately to sewers. Among the questions you consider: Did the widespread use of lead pipes create…
From Quarry to Temple—Building in Stone
Episode 3 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Gain a deeper appreciation for the ancient world's most important construction material by following a block of stone from a quarry to its final resting place in the wall of a Greek temple. Learn how stone blocks were extracted from…
The Substance of Technology—Materials
Episode 2 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Study the engineering materials available in classical antiquity. First look at the simple physics of compression and tension. Then consider six specific materials: stone, wood, clay, copper, bronze, and iron. Examine how they came into use and how their properties…
Construction Revolution—Arches and Concrete
Episode 6 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Learn how the physics of the arch solves the problem of the tensile weakness of stone. Then see how standard bricks and concrete greatly simplify and reduce the cost of monumental building. These technologies were the key to Rome's construction…
Machines at Sea—Ancient Ships
Episode 22 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Spurred by their dependence on maritime trade, the ancient Greeks became masters of nautical engineering. Follow the development of their ship design and sailing techniques, which were adopted by the Romans and paved the way for the great age of…
Construction in Transition—The Colosseum
Episode 7 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Built in the A.D. 70s, the Colosseum reflects a transitional period of Roman building technology. Follow the construction of this mammoth arena from the ground up. Begin with the geometry of the building. Then focus on its blend of traditional…
From Source to City—Water Supply Systems
Episode 12 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Delve into the history of water supply technologies. The Greeks solved the problem of transporting water across deep valleys by building inverted siphons. By contrast, the Romans preferred to use arcaded aqueduct bridges whenever possible. Why was this apparently extravagant…
The Genesis of a New Imperial Architecture
Episode 8 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Focus on two structures--Nero's Golden House and Trajan's Market--which are emblematic of Rome's bold new imperial architecture during the 1st and early 2nd centuries. These buildings feature complex vaulted and domed structures, asymmetrical floor plans, and striking interior spaces.
Cities by Design—The Rise of Urban Planning
Episode 10 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Start a series of episodes on infrastructure in the classical world with a look at city planning. The Piraeus in Greece was an influential early example. Analyze the Roman approach to creating a rational order for their cities. Also learn…
From Temple to Basilica—Timber Roof Systems
Episode 5 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
No wooden roof of a Greek temple has survived from antiquity, yet we can surmise a great deal about how these impressive structures were engineered. Trace how Greek and later Roman architects covered large interior spaces with increasingly sophisticated timber…
Stone Masonry Perfected—The Greek Temple
Episode 4 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Focus on the classical-era temple, one of the crowning achievements of Hellenic civilization. Where did it originate? Why are the many examples so architecturally consistent? What were the principles of Greek temple design? And what were its structural limitations?
Machines at War—Siege Towers and Rams
Episode 20 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Focus on the ancient world's most technologically intensive form of warfare--the siege--which provided a powerful stimulus for the development of large-scale machines such as siege towers and rams. Analyze several famous sieges, including the Roman attack on Jotapata during the…
Reconstructing the Greek Trireme
Episode 23 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
The trireme, a swift warship with three banks of oars, ruled the Mediterranean Sea in the 5th century B.C., when the Athenian empire was at its height. Yet only sparse evidence remains for what these vessels were like. Follow a…
Connecting the Empire—Roads and Bridges
Episode 11 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
At its height, the Roman Empire had 75,000 miles of public roads, organized into a system that incorporated way-stations, milestones, triumphal arches, and upward of 1,000 bridges. Investigate how the Romans created this impressive transportation network, parts of which have…
Paradigm and Paragon—Imperial Roman Baths
Episode 15 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Complete your exploration of classical-era infrastructure by exploring one of the ancient world's finest examples of an engineered system: the imperial Roman baths. Focus on the magnificent Baths of Caracalla, finished in A.D. 235, by spotlighting the major steps in…
Harnessing Animal Power—Land Transportation
Episode 16 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Begin a sequence of eight episodes on machines in the ancient world. After an introduction to the simple machines described by the Greeks, focus on land transport employing the wheel and axle. Discover that wagon technology reached a high level…
Machines at War—Evolution of the Catapult
Episode 21 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Trace the evolution of the catapult, which overcomes the inherent human physiological limitations associated with the bow and arrow. From hand-operated crossbows, catapults progressed to giant artillery pieces able to shoot enormous arrows and hurl heavy projectiles. Revisit a type…