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Inventors and Inventions
The Greeks: Masters of Invention, Part 1



The Greeks: Masters of Invention, Part 1
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.73

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    ballista, caltrop, caltrops, earthenware, trireme, propulsion, pliers, launched, attackers, rails, mines, tongs, design, inventor, lever, overland
     content words:    Even Archimedes, Corinthian Gulf, Saronic Gulf


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The Greeks: Masters of Invention, Part 1
By Mary Lynn Bushong
  

1     Sometimes when we look at the lives of people from long ago, we think they must have lived in primitive conditions. Sometimes that is true. Many times, it's not. The Greeks were great inventors, and their inventions covered a wide range of objects for both war and peace.
 
2     When Archimedes studied how the lever worked, the principles transferred to other inventions that worked basically the same way. Some of those include scissors, pliers, and even tongs. Even Archimedes' claw used a lever to help lift ships out of the water. It also used a block and tackle arrangement (also invented by Archimedes) to make it easier for the crane to lift heavy loads.
 
3     Many of the inventions the Greeks came up with were used to make war. Catapults were used by the Persians, but the Greeks perfected their design and usefulness. They also invented the ballista, which looked like a huge cross bow.
 
4     Greek fire was a chemical combination that would explode into flames on impact with a ship. It was used two ways. The first was as a sea mine. Barrels were filled with the mixture and anchored in areas where attacking ships would go. Sometimes the barrels were launched from catapults.
 
5     At about 330 B.C. caltrops were invented to stop Persian war elephants. While elephants look tough, their feet are sensitive. Caltrops were a group of four spikes that were seated on a central sphere. No matter which way the caltrop fell, three spikes would rest on the ground and one would point straight up. Different designs of caltrops have been used for centuries, and versions are still used today.

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