The Ancient Engineers Author: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 leis... more »ure 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.« less