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Oh, yes! Greeks used GPS to navigate earth since ancient times

Posted by moodhacker on February 8, 2017 at 6:45 PM

Professor Emeritus of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki Cartography Department Evangelos Livieratos revealed that ancient Greeks living off the coast of Ionia - known nowadays as Asia Minor - from the city of Melitus were the first to use stars and their relationship with the earth’s surface like a GPS system to aid them in navigating around the Earth

According to the professor's presentation at the Gerovasili Museum, these ancient Ionian Greeks were essentially the first to adopt a form of GPS system in global history during the 7th Century BC since they utilized the position of the stars as satellites through their relationship to the earth’s surface.

Mr. Livieratos explained that the first known depiction of a map dates back to 30,000 BC and was discovered in northern Italy as a rock inscription.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: Fyodor Bronnikov License: CC-BY-SA  Profesor explains their contribution to geography

"The rock inscriptions possibly portray some shacks, a curve which might be a natural barrier (mountain, forest or river) and on the other side of the curve animals”, the professor noted adding that. "Before the satellites, for thousands of years people were doing roughly the same thing as satellites do today, using the stars. They not only used the stars, but their relationship with the earth’s surface, much like satellites do today.”

He also underlined that a couple of centuries after the Ionian Greeks used this method to navigate, ancient people described and understood the sphere

."A physical 3-dimensional sphere with meridians and parallels was invented around the era of Hipparhcus in the 2nd Century BC" according to the professor who also related that "Ptolemy, the Greek mathematician, astronomer and geographer was the first to compile a detailed map/book of the 7,000 known places of his time and that is why he is considered the father of Geography.”

 astrolabe of Ptolemy (the... G.P.S. of the ancient Greeks)

It was an exceptional astronomical instrument which depicted the celestial sphere and was used for the measurement of geographic length (longitude) and width (latitude) of the observed stars from any part of the Earth but also reversely as locator of place (GPS) and also for the measurement of the Sun – Moon distance.

It consisted of seven concentric interlocking rings. The 7th ring (exterior) was fixed in the level of the meridian and it had four marks that defined the horizontal and vertical. The 6th was graduated and it turned freely in the level of the meridian with points 0ο and 90ο to represent the equator and the pole respectively and it was placed in the direction of the earth axis.

The 5th was turned in the direction of the Sun. The 4th was articulated in the earth axis and observed the daily rotation of the astral sphere. The 3rd was graduated and was articulated to the precedent at a distance of approximately 66ο from the poles. It was placed in the ecliptic zodiac; it had the names of the star signs (zodiacs) and was used for the reading of geographic lengths of stars.

The 2nd was graduated, turned round a vertical axis in the level of the ecliptic and was used for the reading of geographic width of stars. Finally, the 1st ring (internal) had the aiming device.

SOURCES: "Ptolemy, Mathematical Syntaxis", "Pappus of Alexandria, Annotation in the Books 5 and 6 of the Mathematical Syntaxis".


photo ( and on top of page ) AST51. An ancient astronomer from a 19th century illustration.

Categories: Best of Greece, Greece Cultural Heritage, So Special Greece

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