This instrument is powered by water and was invented by the Ancient Greeks

9 November 2017, 12:53 | Updated: 9 November 2017, 15:21

This instrument is a kind of pipe organ powered by water – and it was first invented by the Ancient Greeks. Now, these musicians are bringing its haunting sound to the 21st century

The very earliest type of water organ, the hydraulis, was invented by Ctesibius of Alexandria, an engineer who lived in the 3rd century BC.

They grew in popularity and were taken up across Europe and the Middle East.

Water organs reached their height in the 16th and 17th century when they were a regular feature in gardens and palaces. The most famous was at the Villa d’Este in Tivoli. It was six metres high and was powered by a water fall.

Now, Delphian Records has teamed up with the European Music Archeology Project (EMAP) to resurrect some of the forgotten instruments of Europe, and bring their haunting sounds to a 21st century audience – including this water organ. 

it was recreated by Justus Willberg and will feature on the final recording in the Delphian Records/EMAP series.

The series also included music recording on bone flutes – the oldest musical instruments in the world. Find out more about the series here.