Alexandria, 50 AD

Hero of Alexandria’s Moving Automaton Theatre
Reconstruction: Museo del Sidecar, Cingoli (Macerata)
Materials: wood (poplar, fir), iron, bronze, hemp, glass beads, leather, colored pigments, metal oxides, stone dust, beeswax, natural glues, millet

The mechanism that drives the initial movement of the small theater, which was intended to feature the Dionysian rite, is concealed in a cabinet-shaped structure mounted on a wheeled base. Before the beginning of the show, the theater travels along a straight line, moved by a counterweight placed in a container filled with millet. Once the bottom is opened, the millet comes out little by little as in a sand-glass: the counterweight lowers and drags the winch, which sets the wheels in motion. At this point, the little theater begins to come alive with the representation of the rite: a sacrifice is followed by celebration scenes and noises. Once the show is over, the theater returns to its initial position.