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An ancient automata replica, Switzerland. Source: YouTube Screenshot / Great Big Story.

Building Ancient Robot Automata in Switzerland (Video)


Dwelling in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland, François Junod has dedicated his life to crafting animated sculptures, or automata. His fascination with mechanics started during his childhood and grew stronger when he discovered automata, blending the artistic aspects of mechanics and sculpture. This art form is not merely about aesthetics; it is about the poetry, magic, and storytelling encapsulated in the creation. Automata are animated sculptures, ‘magic’ objects that are entirely distinct from industrial robots, even though they also move mechanically.

Junod was intrigued by the complexity of automata, especially those developed in the late 18th century. This era saw the rise of complex animated figures, drawing from earlier concepts known in the time of the ancient Greeks. The creation of an automaton is a multi-disciplinary process, involving sculpture, mechanics, tailoring, and woodworking. The aesthetic design is just the beginning; the real challenge lies in figuring out how to achieve the desired movements. The journey of creating an automaton can take over three years, with much of this time spent fine-tuning the mechanisms. For Junod, there are no limits to this art form; it's all about continuous evolution and the endless pursuit of discovery.

Top image: An ancient automata replica, Switzerland. Source: YouTube Screenshot / Great Big Story.

By Joanna Gillan

Joanna Gillan's picture


Joanna Gillan is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. 

Joanna completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) degree in Australia and published research in the field of Educational Psychology. She has a rich and varied career, ranging from teaching... Read More

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