Who Invented the First Steam Engine Back in Ancient Greece?

The steam engine is one of the most important inventions in human history. It revolutionized transportation, manufacturing, and energy production.

But who was the first to invent it? Many people believe that the steam engine was first invented during the Industrial Revolution in Europe, but its origins can actually be traced back to ancient Greece.

The Aeolipile

The first recorded steam engine device was called an Aeolipile. It was invented by a mathematician and engineer named Hero of Alexandria in the first century AD.

The Aeolipile was a simple device that consisted of a sphere mounted on a pair of hollow tubes that could rotate around an axis. The tubes were positioned so that they extended tangentially from the sphere and tilted slightly downward. Water was boiled in a container below the sphere, creating steam that traveled through the tubes and caused the sphere to rotate.

The Principles Behind The Aeolipile

The principle behind the Aeolipile is based on two fundamental scientific concepts: steam power and rotational force. Steam power is created when water is heated to its boiling point, causing it to expand into steam.

This expansion generates pressure that can be used to perform work. Rotational force is created when a force is applied at some distance from an axis of rotation.

It’s important to note that while Hero’s Aeolipile may have been the first recorded steam-powered device, it was not used for any practical purpose.


In conclusion, while many people believe that James Watt invented the steam engine during the Industrial Revolution in Europe, its origins can actually be traced back to ancient Greece with Hero of Alexandria’s invention of the Aeolipile. While not used for practical purposes, this invention laid down principles for future developments in steam power technology and set us on a path towards our modern-day understanding of the steam engine.