Museum of Ancient Inventions: Thunder-Making Machine

Thunder-Making Machine, Egypt,Greece, 100 CE

Used in Greek theater to announce the entrances and exits of the gods, the original thunder-making machine was invented by Heron of Alexandria in the first century CE. Pulling the lever opens a trap door which allows numerous brass balls to cascade down a series of shelves and onto a tin sheet. Originally made on a larger scale than the one shown here, Heron’s thunder-making machine resonated with deep bass tones when the balls were released.

Method of Construction

Constructed by: Amanda Fox ’00

This one-and-a-half foot recreation of the thunder-making machine is made of steel sheets arc welded together, and marbles and ball bearings of various sizes have been substituted for the brass balls.

Science Topics
Inventions & Scientists
Engineering Topics
Social Studies Topics
Ancient History
Music, Art, and Language Arts Topics
Musical Instruments
K-6, Middle School, High School
Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade

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