In his classic book, J. G. Landels describes the technological advances of the Greeks and Romans with erudition and enthusiasm. He provides an important introduction to engineering, writing about power and energy sources, water engineering, cranes, and transportation devises. From aqueducts to catapults, he attempts to envision machines as they may have worked in the ancient world. He then traces the path of knowledge taken by early thinkers—including Plato, Pliny, and Archimedes—in developing early theories of engineering and physics.
When Landels wrote the first edition (1978), he was a classicist (Reading U., England) working with the engineering department to make working replicas of ancient machines and testing them in the field. For students of classical civilization and lay readers interested in the history of technology or in bewildering the police at street demonstrations, he offers insight into the mechanical skills of ancient Greece and Rome. He has left the main text untouched, but appended how to built a trireme and some additional thoughts and expanded and updated the bibliography to some extent. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Within the limitations of power available to them, ancient Greeks and Romans made remarkable machines--which were not improved on until the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Romans was their water engineering, with aqueducts to carry water for miles to feed their municipal plumbing systems. Landels draws on evidence from archaeological discoveries and literary sources, as well as his own experience of engineering, to show how these machines were developed
J. G. Landels, now retired, was a Senior Lecturer in Classics at Reading University. His work, in collaboration with the Engineering Department, involved making working replicas of ancient machines and testing them in the field.