Ancient Engineersby L. Sprague de Camp
From the dawn of history to the rise of the scientific method in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, invention and technology advanced with painful slowness. The reason was not that men were stupid during those thousands of years—it was the fact that most people were simply too busy trying to keep alive. The imagination and daring that leisure and security could divert to other ends were limited to a tiny group. It is about these brave men—whose genius enabled the Egyptians to build their pyramids, the Phoenicians to cross stormy seas, the Romans to erect magnificent public buildings—that this carefully researched and fascinatingly written account of the advance of early technology has been written.
Mr. de Camp describes the methods used by early irrigators, architects, and military engineers to build and maintain structures to serve their rulers' wants. He tells, for example, how the Pharaohs erected obelisks and pyramids, how Nebuchadnezzar fortified Babylon, how Dionysios' ordnance department invented the catapult, how the Chinese built the Great Wall, and how the Romans fashioned their roads, baths, sewers, and aqueducts. He recounts many intriguing anecdotes: an Assyrian king putting up no-parking signs in Nineveh; Plato inventing a water clock with an alarm to signal the start of his classes; Heron of Alexandria designing a coin-operated holy-water fountain; a Chinese emperor composing a poem to be inscribed on a clock invented by one of his civil servants.
The Ancient Engineers will delight students of technology and invention for its accurate portrayal of the foundations of modern engineering as well as lovers of history for its penetrating look at the material background of civilization and its unusual explanations of the world's social evolution.
- Sterling Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.80(w) x 8.48(h) x 1.46(d)
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The subtitle of this book is 'Technology and invention from the Earliest Times to the Renaissance'. As this is the first book I ever read in this topic, I found it extremely interesting. Mr. De Camp covers the development of structural, water (delivery and clocks) and many other technologies. The importance of the written word in expanding technology is illustrated by Mr. De Camp. My only critique is that at times Mr. De Camp covers swatches of time too quickly and sometimes uses terms I am not familiar with (I'm getting the dictionary out now). But, these same citations increases one's desire to learn more about these civilizations. Definitely a book one should read if one is interested in how things develop, particularly technology.
The Ancient Engineers is a very informative book. It discusses 'Technology and invention from the earliest times to the Renaissance,' and is packed with useful information for historians and those who enjoy history. De Camp begins his nonfiction book interestingly, discussing Ancient life and the probability of something being invented. He talks about how when there are more people and more people with more leisure time, the chances of someone inventing something or there being a break-through in science increases dramatically. This book is highly recommended to all, although since it can be boring to those uninterested in history or reading, don't read it unless you're a reading or history maven. If you do like medieval warfare and technology though, this book will be of the greatest use.
This book presents a unique blend of history, sociology, and technology that I feel is a 'must read' for our techno-centric society. I write this review simply becuase I often go back to search particular sections of my well worn paperback¿so much so that I am now getting a hardback copy to put in my company's library.
This book has a lot more than engineering and possibly, if you expect too much engineering, you will be disappointed. It is a good, different analytical perspective on history, from an engineers point of view, offering much of what is usually lacking in academic recorded history.