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Photo by Zane Lee on Unsplash

In the interregnum between ancient Rome and Western Europe, the Byzantine Empire, the Rome of the East, stepped in to fill the void. Its heart was Byzantium (or at different points in its history, Constantinople, and now Istanbul), a city whose opulence and wealth was known for astounding its many visitors. Among its wonders were the mechanical birds, the technology for which was borrowed from the Greeks, that adorned the throne room in artificial trees of gold (or bronze, depending on whom one reads), chirping and singing as foreign dignitaries and other officials approached the emperor.

And it wasn’t just birds. The Byzantine rulers apparently had a small menagerie of automata, with similarly opulent lions and griffins that would twitch their tails and roar as the birds sang, as well as water organs and a mechanical throne that could be lifted and lowered in the throne room of the Great Palace. …


Caitlin Peartree

Aspiring writer interested in the intersection of art, literature, and philosophy.

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