History of the Threaded Fastener pt.1

When looking into the very first fastener ever made, I found a range of different hypotheses as to where it all began.

Type in on Google, ‘inventor of the screw’ and King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (ruler of one of the first super powers recorded between 605 and 562 BC) is claimed to have been the inventor. Why? He was the man who created one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens. Historians and archaeologists suggest that a screw pump was used to irrigate water to the gardens.

This is only a suggestion as they believe the first ever screw pump found through archaeological and pictorial evidence is in the Hellenistic period (Between the death of Alexandra the Great and the start of the Roman Empire). The standard view is that the screw pump is a Greek invention, and most probably by the polymath Archimedes, hence the name Archimedes’ screw. Archimedes’ screw is supposedly the improved version of Nebuchadnezzar’s invention. Archimedes was born in 287 BC and died in 212 BC. Some Historians are sceptical that this is the first threaded fastener though, because the pump resembles a screw, but is not a screw in the usual sense of the word.

Another suggestion is that Greek mathematician, and good friend of the famous philosopher
Plato, Archytas of Tarentum (428-350 BC) described the screw in its usual sense. However there is no solid proof and is just a hypothesis.

As I said in my opening remarks, there is no clear pointer as to who the real inventor was. Personally I prefer the idea of Nebuchadnezzar as the inventor because if this is the case, threaded fasteners were the reason for the sustainability of one of the ancient world wonders, and beautiful architectural design.

Visit our news page next Monday for part 2 of our study in the history of the threaded fastener!

Sources: ‘Mechanical Movements’ by Henry T Brown, ‘Sennacharib, Archimedes & Water Screw’ by Stephanie Dalley & John Oleson, and Wikipedia

archimedes-screwarchytas-of-tarentum 

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Posted in History