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Two thousand years ago, Hero of Alexandria described the building of primitive robots called automata, in particular a mobile shrine that performed rituals such as sacrifices and libations. Hero claims that his text is a DIY guide to building such automata. As part of the team for the Leverhulme-funded project Hero of Alexandria and his Theatrical Automata (https://automata.arts.gla.ac.uk/), I tested Hero’s devices and his claims by building Hero’s mobile automaton in a computer-aided design (CAD) package. I will present the results of this digital experimental archaeology and discuss to what extent Hero's text is a technical treatise, exaggeration/self-aggrandisement and/or a playful work of imagination.
Dr Keenan-Jones' research focuses on the relationship between environment, technology and society in the Roman world and he has current projects on the role of climate in Roman history and on using past water management to inform current practice around the world. Before taking up the position at UQ, he held postdoctoral positions at the Collegium de Lyon (2017-2018), University of Glasgow (2014 - 2017) and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (2011-2014). Duncan's doctoral thesis (Macquarie University, 2011), investigated the creation and social and environmental impacts of a unique, regional water supply network. Before his Masters of Arts in Ancient History (Macquarie, 2006), Duncan completed an honours degree in chemical engineering.