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The History of Cranes: Helping us Reach New Heights

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You probably know that cranes are an essential part of modern life; building, shipping, construction and many more industries are dependent upon cranes to do the heavy lifting. But did you know that the history of cranes begins in Ancient Greece? How about the role of the Roman Empire in crane technology advances?

Early Cranes

Cranes were first seen in Ancient Greece in the 4th century BC, where evidence of Lewis chains was found by archeologists at important temple sites. Lewis chains or Lewis irons are chained, metal devices used for lifting heavy stone blocks into place. Finding holes in temple blocks, some weighing up to 20 metric tons, tells archeologists that some sort of crane-like lifting machine was in use during this time. The classic winch and pulley system came soon after, changing the way some of Ancient Greece’s most famous buildings were constructed.

Fast forward to the Roman Empire, and we see the first use of treadwheel cranes, simple winch and pulley constructions, usually with a single-boom jib. The Romans increased the size of the jib and number of pulleys over the history of the empire, allowing single or teams of workers to increase their lifting capacity up to 3,000 kg per person. Later Roman cranes lifted stones up to 60 tons!

Industrial Revolution

Fast forward a few centuries, and the industrial revolution took crane technology to a whole new level. It is in this time where the first hydraulic cranes and built and used. The inventor of the hydraulic crane, Sir William Armstrong, believed his innovation would change lifting and loading in his local Newcastle, England. He was right; Armstrong quickly received crane orders from all over Europe. His design for a hydraulic shaft, sent down by highly pressurized water, proved to be a far more efficient method of lifting heavy loads at the waterside.

Cranes Today

Today, hydraulic cranes are used all over the world and range from truck-mounted cranes, telescopic cranes, deck cranes, loader cranes and more! These modern cranes still rely on many elements of ancient and historical cranes, albeit with many technological advances!

Unfortunately, we’re low on treadwheel stock. But you can check out Equippo’s selection of modern used cranes for sale here.