Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Last night we watched the documentry I'd expected to see the night before on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It was part of a 5 part series from the BBC called Secrets of the Ancients that explores different artifacts of the ancient world and then builds big models to test how they worked. In this episode they were exploring how water might have gotten up to the top tiers of the Garden.

Two ideas were presented for the transport of water. The first was a shadoof.

The other method proposed was a water or Archimedes screw.

There wasn't much on the Gardens (how could there be?) but quite a bit on the construction of a tiered model, working the shadoofs and building the water screws. One part dealt with casting a bronze water screw. When they got to the point of poring the molten bronze Harry thought it was fantastic and declared that he wanted to 'pour fire'. Catherine seems to think lately that blacksmithing is just about the neatest occupation in the world so maybe the two of them could set up shop.

With the discussion of screws and shadoofs it's no surprise that the video turned out to be a great resource for looking at simple machines. The shadoof is a lever, the screw and inclined plane. Various methods for turning the screw included a pulley and gear.

In short, if you can find a copy at your local library, grab it. The kids and I gathered some ideas for a few things we'd like to build and try and it inspired a lot of discussion. Great stuff.

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