Archimedes' Screw, Egypt, 250 BCE

by Elaine Totman, AC, and Liz Tuohy-Sheen, '97

object on temporary loan


Named for its inventor, the Greek mathematician Archimedes (237-212 BCE), the Archimedes screw is a device for raising water. Essentially, it is a large screw, open at both ends and encased lengthwise in a watertight covering. When one end of the screw is placed in water and the screw is elevated at an angle and then turned, water trapped in the air pockets between the threads rises from the open lower end, up the length of the screw, and is released through the open upper end. Used over 2000 years ago by the Egyptians for irrigation, the Archimedes screw is still in use today, ranging in size from a quarter of an inch to twelve feet in diameter.

<< Museum Directory
<< Previous Invention
Methods & Sources >>
Next Invention >>