Timeline Origins

In the following pages, the development of the lift will be dealt with chronologically, reporting dates in which has been introduced solutions, inventions, innovations that made the lift an increasingly used and safer method of vertical transportation. This timeline is based on the reading of a series of articles and technical texts written by experts from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The starting point and the following steps were initially taken from the American website https://theelevatormuseum.org/ which a in turn refers in part to the same articles and studies of Professor Dr. Lee Gray,

  • 2900 b.C.

    The Great Cheops Pyramid in Giza, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, covered over 13 acres and was built with a maximum height of 146.65 meters. Stones weighing up to five tons were moved into place with primitive lifting mechanisms. Some reports cite the involvement of 4,000 stonemasons and 100,000 workers. 

  • 2500-1000 b.C.

    The Iron Age was born in the Middle East, where solutions were devised for melting iron up to temperatures of 1500 ° C, much higher than those for melting copper. However, the new metal, much harder than bronze, will not be widely used for another 1,000 years. The greater hardness of this worked metal made it possible to create the first weapons and work tools for heavy duty.

  • 1500-500 b.C.

    There is evidence for the use of levers and counterweights to obtain water from the Nile; this system was called shaduf.

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  • 600 b.C.

    The temple of Diana in Ephesus was built using ramps of sandbags to position the nearly 2,000 stone columns supporting the roof.

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  • 285 b.C.

    A 92-meter-high lighthouse on Pharos island in the port of Alexandria, served as a guide for ships in the eastern Mediterranean. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it remained an aid to navigation for 1,600 years.

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  • 236 b.C.

    The Greek mathematician, physicist and inventor Archimedes designed several lifting devices that incorporated winches and hoists. Archimedes was best known for the Archimedes screw with a crank to lift water and other light material. To him we owe the foundations of the study for simple machines.

  • 5 a.D.

    in the treatise De architectura by the Roman architect Vitruvius it is reported how, to build the great monuments still present today, the following were used:
    the pulley / pulley (orbiculus)
    the horizontal axis winch (sucula) or winch,
    the vertical axis (ergata),
    a set of fixed and mobile pulleys comparable to current hoists / sizes (rechamus)
    goats or chariot (rechamum) that derive from the joint application of the pulleys and the winch
    Limestone crane / Vitruvius’ tractoria machine.

    All these primitive machines were evolutions of the machines studied by Archimedes.

  • 80 a.D.

    The elliptical Colosseum of Rome had a 86m x 54m area dedicated to games whose flooring was made of wood and covered with sand that was constantly renewed. The floor was supported by masonry. Under the floor there were 12 communicating corridors and 80 freight elevators to raise beasts, gladiators, sets, etc.

  • 100 a.D.

    A treadmill powered by teams of men, operated blocks and hoists on a crane to lift material. There is proof of this thanks to the reliefs found on the tomb of the Haterii, a family of builders who, in the early second century AD, erected their own sepulcher along the ancient Via Labicana. In one of the reliefs a funerary building in the shape of a temple, is represented; at the top the funeral bier is visible. On the left appears a construction machine, a sort of elevator operated by a large wheel moved by slaves, a clear reference to the work of the clients. The Haterii took part in the construction of important monuments of the Flavian age, proudly exhibited in one of the reliefs.

    From the left are recognizable the propylaeus to the sanctuary of Isis and Serapis in the Campo Marzio and the Colosseum Eriale for the tomb of Haterii.

  • 1203 a.D.

    In the Abbey of Mont St. Michel, on the French coast, a lifting machine with a treadmill powered by donkeys is installed.