Was The Byzantine Empire Responsible For Lasting Advances In Technology?

When we think of cultural influences, none is greater than the Roman Empire. Then again, we usually attribute a great number of technological advancements to the Romans too, when perhaps the Byzantine Empire (or the Eastern Holy Roman Empire after the western half fell into disarray and disintegrated completely) had a greater lasting influence on modern-day technology. 

The resourcefulness of the ancient Byzantines was nothing short of astounding.

We rarely give them credit for inventions in warfare, which continued to help the empire remain dominant for many centuries. They devised a counterweight trebuchet, which was used during the siege of Zevgminon in 1165. It was likely used nearly a century earlier, perhaps invented during the reign of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.

The hand-trebuchet allowed individuals to sling small projectiles at the enemy. Similar units were used by many eastern countries against those who lived in Ancient Rome for many years, but the Byzantines perfected the device to make these attacks more easily manipulated — and far more destructive. The Byzantines may have used this device as early as the 10th century.

Not much is known about Greek fire, save for that it was likely the inspiration behind Game of Thrones’s Wildfire, which was used during the imaginative Battle of Blackwater Bay. In real life, Greek fire was routinely known as “sea fire,” “liquid fire,” and a variety of other names. Scholars believe it was primarily used in naval warfare, but we do know that the devices used to expel the flammable weapon could be carried by individual soldiers on the field as well.

The modern-day hospital was first conceived by the Byzantines, although they were much different back then. They were likely sanctuaries for the poor or injured, or a literal death bed, most likely provided by churches. Eventually, they were built to offer actual medical care.

The Byzantines were also known to have used cisterns for storing water. These cisterns were enormous! One such storage container is now used as a soccer stadium, which should give you some idea of the scale to which these were built. 

Icons were important to those who lived in the empire. Christianity spread throughout the Byzantine Empire. Had you ventured there at the height of its glory, you would have experienced a colorful world, indeed. Mosaics, eccentric men of the cloth, eunuchs, wealth and gold. At the peak of it all, Roman engineering led to the creation of the Hagia Sophia in modern-day Istanbul. It was built in 537 AD. 

Certainly, the advancements of the Byzantine societies were worthy of being remembered.