Origin of Compound Pulley Systems

Though the invention of the pulleys has not been pinpointed to a certain date or region, the perfection of the compound pulley system to reduce effort and increase mechanical power was done so by the Greeks. In fact, Archimedes is said to have perfected the use of a pulley for a crane and thus creating the first-ever block-and-tackle system. A story retold by many demonstrates his prowess in this. He once claimed, “Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth” to  King Hieron. A ship, that weighed two tons, which was intended as a gift to the Egyptian empire was built however yet to be hauled into the sea. When challenged to do so, Archimedes designed a complex system of compound pulleys, a rotating helix, and ropes, and thus was successful in his task.


Monahan, John. “Archimedes Coins "Eureka!" in the Nude--and Other Crazy Ah-Ha Moments of Science.” Scientific American, 7 Dec. 2010, www.scientificamerican.com/article/archimedes-coins-eureka/.

Archimedes and the Simple Machines That Moved the World." Science and Its Times: Understanding the Social Significance of Scientific Discovery. . Encyclopedia.com. 8 Mar. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons, public domain                          https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Archimedes_(Idealportrait).jpg

** Note:- Though the timeline states 400 CE, it is in fact 400 BCE. This is because the timeline does not support BCE

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

circa. 400 to circa. 400