THE ANCIENT ENGINEERS by L. Sprague De Camp

THE ANCIENT ENGINEERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One wouldn't have thought the history of engineering could produce so ascinating a record, but the indefatigable Sprague de Camp has done just that. Studded with the off-hand gossipy glitter of a sophisticated scholar (Aristotle had a lisp; the pyramids were not built by hordes of slaves, etc.), and quoting all the ancients from the most obscure poets to Herodotus or Plutarch, the book proves a startling exploration into the evolution of technology, and consequently, of civilization. Starting with the 1000 years before Christ when it all began via the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia, it ends with Galileo and the beginnings of modern science. The technocrats, as de Camp presents them, comined both organizational and theoretical principles; some were inventors, some contractors; all could transform the imagination into a physical reality and all worked immune to the rise and fall of governments, religions and, at times, the arts. The achievements discussed include the Mesopotamian canal systems, ydrostatics in the Hellenistic Age (closest in spirit to our own), emperor- engineers like Hadrian, the Arabian Ma'rib dam, China and the discovery of papermaking (discovered, incidentally, by a eunuch), the advances of the othic era and bridgebuilding and cathedrals, and lastly Brunelleschi's famed uomo of Florence. Of especial note are such universal geniuses as Egypt's mhotep, Archimedes and Da Vinci, though the latter along with Roger Bacon and Christian supernaturalism are subjected to some unflattering deflations. A pleasurable treasury.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1963
ISBN: 0345482875
Publisher: Doubleday