The ''hippaphesis'' of Kleoitas

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The ''hippaphesis'' of Kleoitas


It was a brilliant mechanism that allowed the different time but fair start of chariots and horses in chariot races and horse races at the hippodrome of Ancient Olympia. The mechanism ensured the starting of many chariots that were arrayed in pairs, one behind the other, in the extensive starting line of the hippodrome, which had the form of a prow of a boat (Λ). The operator of the mechanism unlatched the sand clepsydra at the end of the starting line therefore the bronze dolphin lowered slowly turning the drums in an altar with ropes while a bronze eagle that was on this raised to the sky. Simultaneously, with the help of timed ropes in calculated time intervals (depending on the time needed to cover the distance between each chariot) the rope obstacles from the tracks fell in succession and the chariots set off.

SOURCES: "Pausanias, Hellados Periegesis(Eliaka), VI 10-16"