What Is the Archimedes Screw, How Does the Archimedes Screw Work, and What Is It Used For?

Archimedes’ first great mechanical invention was a water pump he invented while still a student in Alexandria.

Transporting water from the source was a huge task in the ancient world, particularly for farmers.

The Archimedes’ screw was so ingenious that it is still used today for irrigation in some countries.

Archimedes used his favorite form, the cylinder, to build his pump. A wooden cylinder was surrounded by thin strips of wood wound around it in the form of a spiral.

This screw was placed inside a larger cylinder and sealed. A handle was attached to the screw at the top, and the bottom was placed in the water at an angle.

When the handle on the pump was turned, the screw would rotate and water trapped in the spiral would move upward.

When it reached the top, it could be collected or simply emptied into an irrigation ditch.

The device was also used to drain excess water from inside ships and thus prevent them from sinking.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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