Quite a few movies with archaeology have as part of the plot ancient traps with elaborate automation that are triggered by pressing or lifting something (e.g. Indiana Jones and "Les rivières pourpres 2 - Les anges de l'apocalypse").

Are these ideas based on anything real? Is there any documented ancient automation on this scale? Has any survived to this day?

I am not thinking of technology that you can have in your hand (like Antikythera mechanism), but something where you activate it and something surprising/dangerous happens which is human sized (e.g. secret door opens, stone rolls to crush you, or arrows fired against you).

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero_of_Alexandria#Inventions
    – SJuan76
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 10:49
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    Welcome to History:SE! Please take the tour and read the help center. Please help us to help you and edit your question to provide more information on what you have read on this subject and where, what made you are ask this question, and any problems you are having understanding your research. If you need help, you can view our How to Ask page. Especially useful would be the information whether you want to know sth about ancient mechanisms that would still function (as a threat/deterrent) today. Thanks! Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 15:43

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I thought that I provided an answer to this question, but I can't find it.

The First Emperor of China died in 210 BC and was buried in an elaborate tomb described about a century later by the Grand Historian of China.

In the ninth month, the First Emperor was interred at Mount Li. When the First Emperor first came to the throne, the digging and preparation work began at Mount Li. Later, when he had unified his empire, 700,000 men were sent there from all over his empire. They dug through three layers of groundwater, and poured in bronze for the outer coffin. Palaces and scenic towers for a hundred officials were constructed, and the tomb was filled with rare artifacts and wonderful treasure. Craftsmen were ordered to make crossbows and arrows primed to shoot at anyone who enters the tomb. Mercury was used to simulate the hundred rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow River, and the great sea, and set to flow mechanically. Above were representation of the heavenly constellations, below, the features of the land. Candles were made from fat of "man-fish", which is calculated to burn and not extinguish for a long time. The Second Emperor said: "It would be inappropriate for the concubines of the late emperor who have no sons to be out free", ordered that they should accompany the dead, and a great many died. After the burial, it was suggested that it would be a serious breach if the craftsmen who constructed the mechanical devices and knew of its treasures were to divulge those secrets. Therefore after the funeral ceremonies had completed and the treasures hidden away, the inner passageway was blocked, and the outer gate lowered, immediately trapping all the workers and craftsmen inside. None could escape. Trees and vegetations were then planted on the tomb mound such that it resembles a hill.

— Sima Qian, Shiji, Chapter 6.[5][6]


To repeat:

Craftsmen were ordered to make crossbows and arrows primed to shoot at anyone who enters the tomb.

So this is a very famous direct historical claim - possibly correct - that in one case automatic weapons were installed in a tomb. Of course that claim has not yet been verified by archaeology.

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