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Archive for the ‘Engineering’ Category

Britannia Bridge – 1846

 

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Robert Stephenson (1803-1859) was a civil engineer famous for his locomotive and railway works, however he was also a bridge builder.  Here is a piece on his building of the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Straits, connecting the isle of Anglesey with mainland north Wales.  Sadly the bridge was destroyed by fire in 1970 and had to be completely rebuilt.

The Britannia Tubular Bridge Across the Menai Straits

Britannia Tubular BridgeRobert Stephenson, so prominently identified with the early history of the locomotive, applied this principle to bridge building.

The Tubular Bridge. A suspension bridge at Conway failed and Stephenson applied to Parliament in [1846] for permission to build a bridge of a new design of which he was the inventor. The permission was secured and in [1847] the Conway Tube bridge was begun.  It was made of boiler iron plates four to eight feet long, about two feet wide, and five eighths inch thick, put together and riveted by hand, forming a tube 412 feet long, 14 feet wide, and 25 feet high in the middle. It weighed 1300 tons, gave satisfaction, and is still in use. The Victoria bridge at Montreal was Stephenson’s masterpiece. This is a quadrangular tubular bridge 16 feet by 22 feet in cross section and 1 1/4 miles long. It was completed in [1859] and cost about $7,000,000.

The tubular bridge served its purpose but it is now known that a different arrangement of the metal will give greater strength for the same weight. The amount of material and workmanship required render them the most costly of all structures, and both the Britannia and the Victoria bridge ruined the companies that built them.

Excerpt from The Marvels of Modern Mechanism and Their Relations to Social Betterment – Jerome Bruce Crabtree – 1901

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Further Reading and External Links

Anglesey History

Railways of North Wales and Britannia Bridge

BBC News Report of Britannia Bridge Fire

The Suez Canal – 1869

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The Suez Canal – 1869

Suez CanalWith ordinary merchant ships, carrying nothing but cargoes of goods that would keep, the question was rather different.  Steam is very much more expensive than sails, and at first, until the pace of the steamships was greatly increased, it was not worth while to spend the extra money on them.  What was done instead for some time was to build better and better sailing vessels called clippers.  But this came to an end with the opening of the Suez Canal, which made a short cut from the Mediterranean to the East.  

Sailing ships could not easily enter the Canal at the Red Sea end, because the wind was almost always against them, and besides, they had to be towed through the Canal, which added a great deal to the cost of going through it, and hindered the other traffic.  So they cannot use the Canal to any extent; and since that time all important cargoes have been carried by steam, though there are still a great many small coasting vessels, and some ocean-going ships, which use sails.  The great mail-carrying steamship companies take cargoes as well as passengers, and there are also any number of smaller companies, firms, and private shipowners who take merchandise about to the most distant ports.  We British have for a long time looked upon the sea as more our affair than anybody else’s; and so it seems quite natural that in spite of rapid progress in America and Germany we are still the great shipping nation of the world, and that goods belonging to many other countries go to and fro under the British flag.

The Admiralty, as we call the authorities who manage our Navy, were less eager than the merchants of the early nineteenth century to take up the new fashions in ships.  They were rather reluctant to part with the wooden sailing battleships and frigates of the kind which had fought at Trafalgar; and indeed we cannot very much wonder at that, for the old ships had served us well.  But before so very long a steamboat had to be built for the Navy, later on a few vessels were made of iron, and then it was only a question of time for the warship to become the huge and wonderful though certainly very ugly machine which it is to-day.  A new and cheap process having been discovered for making steel, this soon replaced iron in shipbuilding; for it was both lighter and stronger to resist the powerful cannon which begun to be used in the Navy. Then steam-power, or afterwards electricity, was used for all sorts of work, such as loading and placing guns, hauling flags, and lowering boats, which in the old days had been done by hand. Any one who goes over a modern warship must be struck by the air of immense power in reserve which is given by the glittering steel and machinery everywhere. It seems as though a force which nobody could resist is waiting to be let loose by the turning of a handle or the pressing of a button.

The old kind of reckless, weather-beaten, naval seaman, kept in order by harsh punishment, whom we may read about in Marryat’s novels, went out of fashion with the wooden ship.

Excerpt from Landmarks of British History  by Lucy Dale – 1910

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Further Reading and External Links

Suez Canal History – Suez Canal Authority

Short Video of Suez Canal History made for a school project

The Steam Locomotive – 1823

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The Steam Locomotive – 1823

ROCKET – Stephensons LocomotiveThe world had gone on for many ages without the use of steam or electricity, or any machinery at all except such very simple things as carts, pumps, and spinning-wheels.  But from the time of the Industrial Revolution this country at any rate seemed as though it could not be happy without constantly pushing on from the start which Watt’s steam-engine and the other things had given it; and as everybody knows, who reads the newspaper reports about airships, scientific men are pushing on now harder than ever.  In the course of the nineteenth century there were many such inventions, and amongst them a few great ones which really changed the whole life of the civilised world. 

The first of these to occur to all our minds is the railway train.  As early as [1769], in point of fact, a Frenchman had got hold of the idea that steam-power might be used for moving things along as well as for working machines, and here and there over England and France a few little engines were used during the next half century to pull trucks over ordinary roads.  But the true locomotive was the invention of George Stephenson, a Northumbrian working man.  He went on for many years with a series of experiments, until he was able to build the engine which he felt quite sure was going to change the the whole face of England.  And although locomotives have of course been improved since Stephenson’s day, they are still on the whole what he made them.  At the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in [1830], only seven year after the very first English line was made, the train went thirty-six miles an hour, which is as fast as we travel in good many parts of Great Britain to-day. 

It is rather amusing now to read of the objections which people made to the introduction of railways.  When the Bill to allow the first line between Stockton and Darlington was before Parliament in [1823], a Duke in the House of Lords opposed it because he thought it would spoil his fox-covers.  Then other people wrote articles about railway trains to show that it would be dreadfully dangerous to go in them, and that a row-boat on the Thames was really quicker and better.  And when the lines were being rapidly made during the next twenty or thirty years, many country towns refused to let one come at all near them.
 
But of course these old-fashioned ideas could not last long.  The canals had been nearly choked with traffic for years already, and railways gave new life to the trade of the country.  It is really not easy to say which class of people the change affected most, whether the merchants and manufacturers who could send goods all over the country so quickly, or the working men who could take their labour where it was wanted.  And the private life of nearly all of us has been made amazingly different now that we can travel, for instance, between Yorkshire and London in four or five hours at the cost of a third-class ticket, instead of taking about three days over the journey in a stage-coach and spending nights at inns on the way.  Most of the places which would not have the railway  first regretted it bitterly afterwards, and very often, when you find a town with the station inconveniently far off, it means that the people there are suffering for the prejudices of their grandparents.  To the British almost more than any other nation it was important to find a way in which this great new force of steam could be used at sea as well as on land.

Excerpt from Landmarks of British History  by Lucy Dale – 1910

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Further Reading and External Links

Robert Stephenson & Co

The Stockton & Darlington Railway

British Railway History – Timeline

 

Automaton Chess-Player

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Automaton Chess-Player

Automaton Chess-PlayerTHIS astonishing piece of mechanism was the invention of Wolfgang de Kempelen, a Hungarian gentleman, and aulic counsellor to the royal chamber of the domains of the emperor in Hungary in [1769].

The room where it is exhibited has an inner apartment, in which appears the figure of a Turk, as large as life, dressed after the Turkish fashion, sitting behind a chest of three feet and a half in length, two feet in breadth; and two feet and a half in height, to which it is attached by the wooden seat on which it sits.  The chest is placed upon four castors, and, together with the figure, may be easily moved to any part of the room.  On the plain surface, formed by the top of the chest, in the centre, is raised an immoveable chess-board of handsome dimensions, upon which the figure has its eyes fixed; its right arm and hand being extended on the chest, and its left arm somewhat raised, as if in the attitude of holding a Turkish pipe, which originally was placed in its hands.

The exhibiter begins by wheeling the chest to the entrance of the apartment within which it stands, and in face of the spectators. He then opens certain doors contrived in the chest, two in front, and two at the back, at the same time pulling out a long shallow drawer at the bottom of the chest, made to contain the chess-men, a cushion for the arm of the figure to rest upon, and some counters.  Two lesser doors, and a green cloth screen, contrived in the body of the figure and its lower parts, are likewise opened, and the Turkish robe which covers them is raised; so that the construction both of the figure and chest internally is displayed.  In this state the automaton is moved round for the examination of the spectators; and to banish all suspicion from the most skeptical mind, that any living subject is concealed within any part of it, the exhibiter introduces a lighted candle into the body of the chest and figure, by which the interior of each is, in a great measure, rendered transparent, and the most secret corner is shown.  Here it may be observed, that the same precaution to remove suspicion is used, if requested, at the close as at the commencement of a game at chess with the automaton.

The chest is divided by a partition into two unequal chambers.  That to the right of the figure is the narrowest, and. occupies scarcely one third of the body of the chest.  It is filled with little wheels, levers, cylinders, and other machinery used in clock-work.  That to the left contains a few wheels, some small barrels with springs, and two quarters of a circle placed horizontally.  The body and lower parts of the figure contain tubes, which seem to be conductors to the machinery.  After a sufficient time, during which each spectator may satisfy his scruples and his curiosity, the exhibiter recloses the doors of the chest and figure, and the drawer at bottom, makes some arrangements in the body of the figure, winds up the works with a key inserted into a small opening on the side of the chest, places a cushion under the left arm of the figure, which now rests upon it, and invites any individual present to play a game of chess.

In playing a game the automaton makes choice of the white pieces, and always has the first move.  These are small advantages towards winning the game, which are cheerfully conceded.  It plays with the left hand, the right arm and hand being constantly extended on the chest, behind which it is seated.  This slight incongruity proceeded from absence of mind in the inventor, who did not perceive his mistake till the machinery of the automaton was too far completed to admit of the mistake being rectified.  At the commencement of a game, the automaton moves its head, as if taking a view of the board; the same motion occurs at the close of a game.  In making a move, it slowly raises its left arm from the cushion placed under it, and directs it towards the square of the piece to be moved.  Its hand and fingers open on touching the piece, which it takes up, and conveys to any proposed square.  The arm then returns with a natural motion to the cushion, upon which it usually rests.  In taking a piece the automaton makes the same motions of the arm and hand to lay hold of the piece, which it conveys from the board; and then returning to its own piece, it takes it up, and places it on the vacant square.  These motions are performed with perfect correctness; and the dexterity with which the arm acts, especially in the different operation of castling, seems to be the result of spontaneous feeling – bending of the shoulder, elbow, and knuckles, and cautiously avoiding to touch any other piece than that which is to be moved, nor ever making a false move.

Excerpt from The Cabinet of Curiosities, or Wonders of the World Displayed – 1840

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Further Reading and External Links

More on Wolfgang von Kempelen’s Chess Turk

Von Kempelen’s Chess Turk recreated

Etruscan Metal Work

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Etruscan Metal Work

Etruscan Metal WorkWITH a single exception – some coarse canvas discovered at Volterra – the whole of the Etruscan antiquities with which I am acquainted are made of mineral substances, whether metal, stone, pottery, or frescoes; these throw considerable light on the customs of this ancient people, for of their literature we have no remains.  Having drawn from nature a variety of objects illustrating the state of art among the Etruscans, I append some engraved sketches here, as showing what metals they were in the habit of working.  Excepting tin and gold, I have no doubt that all the metals employed in the manufacture of these articles were obtained from mines situated in Tuscany; they have, therefore, a direct bearing on this subject.

Before commencing a special description of the engravings, a few cursory remarks on Etruscan art may be acceptable.

The Egyptian forms of the earlier Etruscan alabaster gods, no less point to their intercourse with Africa than the exquisite filagree work introduced by them from Egypt into Italy, where this art seems to have been preserved up to the present time, though, to my mind, the Etruscan ear-ring I have drawn is in no way inferior in point of taste and workmanship to similar productions now made in the manufactories at Genoa.   I feel persuaded that we might become far better acquainted with the social condition of the Etruscans by a more thorough and thoughtful examination of their works of art.  A mere glance at the graceful designs and fine features observable in their statues, leads one to form a very favourable opinion of the Etruscans as compared with the Egyptians.   There is more action in their figures; a fine open brow, a handsome nose and well-chiselled mouth, and eyes which bespeak less of the sensuous and more of the intellectual, take the place of that stern fixedness of expression and the hard features so conspicuous in Egyptian types.  In Etruria, too, we never find representations of monsters half-man, half-beast such as the Egyptian sphinxes. Many other circumstantial evidences might be adduced confirmatory of this remark; thus their mode of writing.   In Egypt, mysterious and complicated hieroglyphics were employed, in which, probably, the priesthood and the members of the government were alone skilled, while the masses were entirely ignorant of any method of embodying their thoughts in a material form.  

I am well aware that some might object that this was during the infancy of knowledge and art, no better means of writing being yet known, but I would give a conclusive argument against such a theory, since the Israelites remained 430 years in Egypt, and we are acquainted with the simplicity of the characters they employed, so that the Egyptian hierarchy, or, at any rate the government, must have had great dealings with the Jews, at least during the time that they lived in the land of Goshen, and they evidently preferred keeping the lower orders in ignorance and slavery, by enshrouding all knowledge under a veil of difficulty and mystery.  In Etruria, on the other hand, we see how, by the simplicity of their alphabet, they early brought the art of writing down to the level of the people.  Finding, as we do, coins struck by numerous cities in Etruria, we learn that these possessed somewhat equal rank, incompatible with the idea that the princes who held sway were under a single despot, such as the Pharaohs.

Excerpt from The Mineral Resources of Central Italy by William Paget Jervis – 1862

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Further Reading and External Links

Etruscan Metalwork Photographs from the Chiusi Museum of Etruscan Archaeology

Discovering Etruscan and Greek Influences

Colonnata Inscription

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Colonnata Inscription

Roman Cippus found at ColonnataIn [1810], an important inscription was found buried in the valley of Colonnata, above Carrara, sculptured on a piece of white marble similar to that quarried on the very spot, and bearing the names of Decius Halerius Agrippa and Caius Sulpicius Galba, consuls in the 8th year of Tiberius, i.e: A.D. 22, being the reign in which Strabo wrote, and showing that Carrara marble was then worked. (S. Quintino, Atti della R. Accademia di Torino, [1823], p.267.)  I noticed two monumental inscriptions about a mile from Miseglia, the property of a gentleman, who had discovered them close to his house; another, of the time of Septimus Severus, was found in the neighbourhood many years ago: numerous others have, doubtless, been destroyed by the villagers, to whom fragments of statuary marble are but as road-metal.  Polvaccio quarry, four miles north-east of Carrara, is acknowledged to date from Roman times, and to be the spot whence the marble for the Pantheon was obtained.  Though originally erected by Agrippa, BC26, that superb building is still in a good state of preservation.  Roman Basso-Relievo at Fantiscritti QuarryBut the most interesting relic at Carrara is the basso-relievo, attributed to Roman times, which I visited at the quarry of Fantiscritti, representing Jupiter, Hercules, and Bacchus standing together.  It is sculptured on the vertical face of the living rock, in a very inaccessible part of the quarry, several hundred feet above the valley.  It has excited great attention from antiquaries, but the age cannot well be determined.  I append an engraving of this inscription, kindly copied for me by Prof. Pelliccia, at Carrara.

Pliny says that Mamurra, a Roman knight, and prefect of Caesar’s smiths in Gaul, incrusted his villa, on the Mons Coelium at Rome, with Lunar marble, all the columns being of the same stone, and that he was the first Roman who thus employed marble for house decoration. (Pliny; Lib. L, cap. 36, sect. 7.) 

On the very reliable authority of Repetti, who was a native of Carrara, the following objects of ancient Rome have been verified to be of Lunar or Carrara marble:

Excerpt from The Mineral Resources of Central Italy by William Paget Jervis – 1862

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Further Reading and External Links

Marble Quarries of the Colonnata Fields

Colonnata History

Coal of Bellingham Bay

 

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COAL OF BELLINGHAM BAY, W. T,

Excerpt from:  Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean by Joseph Henry, Spencer Fullerton Baird – 1856

This coal is found interstratified with sandstones and shales on the shores of Bellingham bay.  Lieutenant W.P. Trowbridge, U.S.A., while superintending the construction of light-houses on that part of the coast, made a careful measurement of the strata of the section in which the beds of coal are exposed, of which the results have been published in the geological report of Mr. W.P. Blake, contained in vol. V, U.S.P.R.S. Reports.

The section exposed, when measured by Lieutenant Trowbridge, consisted of about [2,000 feet] of shales, sandstones, and coal, of which the coal presented the enormous aggregate of 110 feet.  It is possible, however, that the series is, in part, composed of repetitions of the same members, as the strata are inclined at a high angle, and are much convoluted and disturbed in all that region.  

Many of the shales are fossiliferous, and vegetable impressions are particularly abundant. T hese consist, for the most part, of the impressions of dicotyledonous leaves, and are similar in general character; and some of them specifically identical with those collected on Frazer’s river by the United States Exploring Expedition, under Capt. Charles Wilkes.  Among them are species of Platanus, Acer, Alnus, etc, as yet undescribed.  There is also a Taxus, or Taxodium, and a Juniperus.  It is probable that all the dicotyledonous species there represented are extinct.  The coniferae may not be so.  A sufficient number of well marked specimens has, however, not yet been collected to determine this question.

The flora of the coal deposits of Bellingham bay is remarkably like that of the lignite beds of the upper Missouri, the genera being nearly all represented on the Missouri, and some of the species are identical.

The lignite beds of the Missouri are undoubtedly Miocene, and it is very difficult to distinguish some of the species found in them from those of the Miocenes of Austria and of the Island of Mull.

The strata exposed on Bellingham bay, both in their lithological character and their fossils, are closely related to the sandstones and shales of the Columbia and Coose bay, and are, probably, portions of the great San Francisco group, which forms the most striking feature of the geology of the coast mountains.

The mines at Bellingham bay were among the first opened on the western coast, and have already furnished a large quantity of coal for the San Francisco market.

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Further Reading and External Links

Bellingham Coal – Historylink.org

Sir William Bellingham of the Royal Navy

Marbles

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Mineral Riches of Central Italy

Marbles

Marble Mountains CarraraITALY is pre-eminently a marble-producing country.  It is to this fact that we must, in a great measure, ascribe the splendour of her palaces and other public and private structures, in which not only the architectural ornaments, but frequently, as in the case of the cathedral at Milan, the entire edifice, is built of the finest marble.  We almost instinctively associate the names of Greece or of Italy with statuary and other white marbles.  The employment of this stone, so invaluable for ornamental work, from the ease with which it can be chiselled, dates from the remotest antiquity, for we find various works of art sculptured in it by the Greeks and the early inhabitants of Italy.  Long before the foundation of Rome, the Etruscans possessed skilful sculptors, whose productions were afterwards held in high estimation by the Romans.

At the present day, few if any quarries are worked in Greece, so that almost all the statuary and white architectural marble employed throughout Europe and America is derived from the Apuan Alps.

From the circumstance of the marbles at Carrara (Massa Carrara) being found within a few miles of the ancient port of Luna, where it was employed in making the wall of the town, we may understand how the Romans should have turned their attention to it at an early period.

In the 16th century, the excavation of statuary marble was extended to Seravezza (Lucca), a town about ten miles east of Carrara, in the same range of mountains, while only within the last thirty years the marbles above the intermediate town of Massa (Massa Carrara) have been worked.  These towns are situated at the foot of the mountains on the three little rivers, Carrione, Seravezza, and Frigido respectively.  Each of these rivers flows through a deep valley it has cut for itself in the rock, numerous torrents on either side forming so many lateral valleys, so that the mountains have ridges often as sharp as the roof of a house.  Two quarries of white marble also belong to the intermediate commune of Montignoso.  On the north side of the Apuan Alps, behind Carrara and Seravezza, are the two communes of Vagli-sotto and Fivizzano, where the marbles are equally abundant, but have not yet been worked.

Excerpt from The Mineral Resources of Central Italy by William Paget Jervis – 1862

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Further Reading and External Links

The Marble Museum of Carrara

Carrara Marble Minerals

Building The Parthenon

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Building the Parthenon  – 447 BC

Building of the ParthenonThe Parthenon, built entirely of Pentelic marble, is not the most vast of the Greek temples, but its execution is more perfect and it is this which made it the masterpiece of Hellenic art.  A very small detail will show the finish of the work. It is with difficulty and by the assistance of eye and hand that one succeeds in discovering the joints of the tambours forming the colonnade which surrounds the building, so skilfully have these enormous masses been adjusted.  Even in her masons Athens possessed artists.

The interior of the Parthenon contained two halls: the smaller at the back, the opisthodomus, enclosed the public treasure; the larger, or cella, contained the statue of the goddess born without mother from the thought of the master of the gods, and who was as the soul of which the Parthenon was the material casing.  Figures in high relief, about twice life size, adorned the two pediments of the temple.  The frieze, which ran round the cella and opisthodomus at a height of thirteen metres (42 ft., 8 ins.), and to a length of more than one hundred and sixty metres (525 ft.), represented the procession of the great Panathenaea.

The work was finished in 435 B.C.  It is neither the centuries nor the barbarians that have mutilated it.  The Parthenon was still almost intact in 1687, when on the 27th of September Morosini bombarded the citadel.  One of the projectiles, setting fire to the barrels of powder stored in the temple, blew up a part of it; then the Venetian desired that the statues should be taken down from the pediment and he broke them.  Lord Elgin, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, tore down the bas-reliefs of the frieze and the metopes: this was another disaster.  The Ilissus or Cephisus, the Hercules or Theseus, the Charities, “vernal goddesses” called by some the Three Fates, by others Demeter, Core, and Iris are still, though somewhat mutilated, the most precious of our relics of antiquity.  In [1812] some other Englishmen carried off the frieze of the temple of Phigalia (Bassae), built by Ictinus.  All these fragments of masterpieces were sold for hard cash, and it is under the damp and gloomy sky of England that we are reduced to admiring the remains of that which was the imperial mantle which Pericles wrapped about Pallas Athene.  Thus to understand the incomparable magnificence of the Parthenon, we must render back to it in imagination what men have taken away, then place it on its lofty rock, one hundred and fifty six metres (512 ft.) high, whence a magic panorama is unrolled before the eyes, and surround it with the buildings of the Acropolis; the Erechtheum, which exhibited all the graces of art, beside the severe grandeur of the principal temple; the bronze statue of Athene Promachus, “she who fought in the front rank,”  to which the artist gave a colossal height, so that the sailors arriving from the high sea steered by the plume on her helmet and the gold tip of her lance, maris stella; and lower down, at the only place by which the rock was accessible, the wonderful vestibule of the Propylaea and the temple of Victory which formed one of its wings; but, above all, it must be seen wrapped in the blazing light of the eastern sky, compared to which our clearest day is but a twilight.

Excerpt from The Historians’ History of the World Volume 3 by Henry Smith Williams – 1907

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Further Reading and External Links

iTunes U – FREE Video – Ancient Greek History

Visit the Parthenon Sculpture Galleries at the British Museum

Ancient Greece and The Parthenon

The Growth of the Athenian Empire

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The Growth of the Athenian Empire  479-462 BC

A Greek BoatThe history of this time with its rush of events and its startling changes exhibits on the Athenian side a picture of astonishing and almost preternatural energy.  The transition from the Athenian hegemony to the Athenian empire was doubtless gradual, so that no one could determine precisely where the former ends and the latter begins: but it had been consummated before the thirty years’ truce, which was concluded fourteen years before the Peloponnesian War, and it was in fact the substantial cause of that war.  Empire then came to be held by Athens, partly as a fact established, resting on acquiescence rather than attachment or consent in the minds of the subjects, partly as a corollary from necessity of union combined with her superior force: while this latter point, superiority of force as a legitimate title, stood more and more forward, both in the language of her speakers and in the conceptions of her citizens.  Nay, the Athenian orators of the middle of the Peloponnesian War venture to affirm that their empire had been of this same character ever since the repulse of the Persians: an inaccuracy so manifest, that if we could suppose the speech made by the Athenian Euphemus at Camarina in 415 B.C., to have been heard by Themistocles or Aristides fifty years before, it would have been alike offensive to the prudence of the one and to the justice of the other.

The imperial state of Athens, that which she held at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, when her allies, except Chios and Lesbos, were tributary subjects, and when the AEgean Sea was an Athenian lake, was of course the period of her greatest splendour and greatest action upon the Grecian world.  It was also the period most impressive to historians, orators, and philosophers, suggesting the idea of some one state exercising dominion over the AEgean, as the natural condition of Greece, so that if Athens lost such dominion, it would be transferred to Sparta, holding out the dispersed maritime Greeks as a tempting prize for the aggressive schemes of some new conqueror, and even bringing up by association into men’s fancies the mythical Minos of Crete, and others, as having been rulers of the AEgean in times anterior to Athens.

Even those who lived under the full-grown Athenian empire had before them no good accounts of the incidents between 479-450 B.C.; for we may gather from the intimation of Thucydides, as well as from his barrenness of facts, that while there were chroniclers both for the Persian invasion and for the times before, no one cared for the times immediately succeeding.  Hence, the little light which has fallen upon this blank has all been borrowed – if we except the careful Thucydides – from a subsequent age; and the Athenian hegemony has been treated as a mere commencement of the Athenian empire: credit has been given to Athens for a long-sighted ambition, aiming from the Persian War downwards at results which perhaps Themistocles may have partially divined, but which only time and successive accidents opened even to distant view.

Excerpt from The Historians’ History of the World by Henry Smith Williams – 1907

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Further Reading and External Links

iTunes U – FREE Video – Ancient Greek History

More on Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece for History-World.org