Chinese & Greek Automatons (300-400 BC)
EveAlthough records are scant, it is known that automatons date back thousands of years. Chinese craftsmen built a mechanical orchestra during the Han Dynasty (300 B.C.) Such automata were widespread in China by the time of the Sui Dynasty (6'th Century A.D.), when the Shai Shih t'u Ching was written (Book of Hydraulic Excellencies). During the T'ang Dynasty, the Chinese built birds with moving parts, mechanical otters that swallowed fish, and monks begging girls to sing. The skill of the Chinese craftsmen waned after 1386. The Ancient Greeks created some remarkably advanced automatons and mechanical special effects -many of which were used in their temples. Archytas of Taretum (400 B.C.) a friend of Plato, built a wooden pigeon moved by steam. Heron describes the workings of several bird automatons in his "Spiritalia" (150 B.C.) Following the decline of Greece and Rome, interest in automata was re-kindled in Mesopotamia. In the 13'th Century A.D., al-Jazari provided a diagram of a peacock automotan in his treatises.