Modern society always seems to put itself above the ancient societies that preceeded it, but without their inventions, we wouldn't be what we are today, and we certainly would not have what we have today. The ancient Hellens were masters of literature, art, philosophy, mathematics, geometry, astronomy, medicine and many other sciences, but they also constructed some inventions we use to this day. Here is a list of 25 of them. How many were you aware of?

Anchor: the Hellenic contribution to ship construction is huge. You've heard of the Argo, right? The Hellens were also some of the firsts who made long sea voyages and who build ships that could not be brought to shore, thus forcing them to find a way to tie their ships down when there was nothing to tie them to. Anchors of huge stones have been around since the Bronze Age, but the Hellens were the first to solve the problem in a technological manner. Most often these anchors--often referred to 'teeth' (ὀδὁντες, dentes) in Hellenic poetry--consisted of sacks or buckets which were filled with stones, although later versions were made of stone and already had the shape of anchors so well know today. Every ship had several anchors.

Alarm Clock: the ancient Greek philosopher Plato (428–348 BC) was most likely the first to possess an alarm clock. It was a water clock of some design that, when having counted to the desired time, played something with the sound of a water organ. Ctesibius (285–222 BC) had a device which would drop balls of some sort onto a metal plate at a specified time, thus waking up the sleeping party.

Automatic Doors: Heron of Alexandria created a hydraulic system, based on steam power, which automatically opened the doors to an Alexandrian temple. The engine used air from a closed chamber heated by an altar fire to displace water from a sealed vessel; the water was collected and its weight, pulling on a rope, opened temple doors.

Catapult: accounts of Hellenic versions of the catapult date back to 399 BC. They often shot out arrow-shaped projectiles, not boulders, but the mechanism was very much the same as the later medieval catapults.

Cement: cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. Although the word is Roman, the Hellens already had a version of it, adding limestone to a mixture of clay, water and sand. It was used from 100 BC onwards, and mostly in what is now the coast of Turkey.

Central Heating: although the Romans perfected the design, the ancient Hellens already had a system in place where a fire heated up air, which was then forced through pipes hidden under the floor. The air warmed up the floor and, in turn, the room. Slaves kept the fire burning, of course.

Clock Tower: the ancient  Tower of the Winds dates back to about 100 BC. It housed a water clock which was connected to eight sundials on the outside of the tower. The entire mechanism has since vanished, but the tower remains, including the depictions of the eight wind deities: Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Eurus (E), Apeliotes (SE), Notus (S), Livas (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW). I have seen the Tower of the Winds in person, and it's beautiful. It's also (one of the) first clock towers of the world.

Coin Money: long before the rule of the Hellens, we developed a trade system that relied on a token, not goods. Commodity money was born, but the Hellens were the first to develop coins of different sizes and materials and put a value on various trading goods.

Crane: in the sixth century BC, the Hellens invented a way to lift the heavy stone blocks onto the emerging temple walls: a crane. Holes drilled into the stone suggest ropes were attached to the blocks, and pulled up to be fitted in place.

Crossbow: like the catapult, crossbows emerged in ancient Hellas and were a favored weapon. The arrows they fired traveled far, were absolutely deadly, and the weapon was relatively easy to load.

Lighthouse: the famous lighthouse of Alexandria was constructed around 300 BC, by Sostratus of Cnidus. With a height around 400 ft (120 m), it stood as one of the tallest man-made structures on Earth for many centuries. It was one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Maps: Anaximander, who lived from 610 to 546 BC, was the first to create maps with the concept of latitude and longitude, and it were later Hellens Eratosthenes and Strabo who created maps of the entire known world at the time, which--granted--was not the known world as we know it today.

Odometer: an odometer--as car enthusiasts will most likely know--is an instrument that indicates distance traveled by a vehicle. In ancient Hellas, it was used to measure the distance between cities. Although the actual device was never recovered, some of the measurements were. They were so accurate that some form of technology had to be involved.

Plumbing: in the 400s BC, Athens began to develop highly extensive plumbing systems for baths and fountains, as well as for personal use within individual homes. Many houses in ancient Greece were equipped with closets or latrines that drained into a sewer beneath the street. They seemed to have been flushed by waste water. Some of the sewers were fitted with ventilating shafts.

Sinks: the ancient Hellens were the first to have an automated sink with running water, so both hands could be washed at the same time.

Showers: especially in gymnasia, large, communal, showers could be found. As it wasn't manly to wash with anything but cold water, it was doubtful the water was heated. There are also vase paintings of female athletes using showers.

Spiral Staircase: Temple A at Selinunte, Italy, was special. It was build around 480 BC. Selinunte was one of the most important of the Greek colonies in Sicily. There were five temples, but of only the 'E'-temple, it is sure whom it was dedicated to: Hera. Who the A-temple was dedicated to is not clear, but it had a unique design feature: the first spiral staircase in history.

Steam Engine: it was a children's toy, designed by Heron of Alexandria. He called it an aeolipile; a cylinder, arranged to rotate on its axis, having oppositely bent or curved nozzles projecting from it. When the cylinder is pressurized, steam blows through the nozzles and the aeolipile spins around. It was the first steam-powered anything, and extraordinary in its own way.

Surveying tools: the Hellens were well aware that a building needed a solid foundation, and a city needed proper planning in order to stand safely for a long time. More on the latter below, but for both, it was incredibly important to pick out a good building site. In order to do this, the Hellens devised many tools to test the soil, measure out the slope of the ground, and gather other valuable information before building their structures. It shows; much of what stood then, survives to this day, more or less intact.

Thermometer: Philo of Byzantium was a Hellenic Jewish philosopher who discovered that air expanded when heated.He attached a tube to a hollow sphere and extended it over a jug of water. When the device was in the sun, air expanded out of the sphere and into the water, creating bubbles. When he put the device in the shade, nothing happened. Around that same time (+/- 50 AD) Heron of Alexandra worked on the first thermometer for medicine.

Umbrella: they were made from larger bones, wood or plant leaves, and used to block rain or sun. While they certainly were not up to par with modern umbrella's, they served their purpose well.

Urban Planning: in the Hellenic city of Miletus, a grid formation was used for residential and public streets and areas. This was around 400s BC.

Vending Machine: Heron of Alexandria made another contribution to our current wellbeing. He invented the original vending machine. It dispensed water when a coin was put in. When the coin went in, it fell on a pan that was itself attached to a lever, which opened a valve. The pan would tilt until the coin fell off, thereby turning off the water.

Water Mill: even back in the day, power was needed to set mechanisms to work. In 300 BC, in Perachora, the first waterwheel was most likely created, and toothed gearing is also attributed to the Hellens, who managed to set in motion various devices with it.

Wheelbarrow: it seems like something someone in the stone age would have come up with, but it wasn't. The Hellens were the first to create a one wheeled cart around 400 BC. They were used on many construction sites throughout ancient Hellas, and who can blame them? Every little bit helps when you're creating massive temples.