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Engineering in the Ancient World, Revised Edition

March 15th, 2011

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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.


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Engineering Books 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.
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  1. Ian K O’Malley
    March 18th, 2011 at 15:57 | #1

    Rating

    Mr. Landels brings together two of the world’s oldest academic endeavors, history and engineering. This is short volume is a quick read yet serves as a valuable reference tool. Landels provides a wonderful historic background for each piece of technology discussed in the book. The breadth of actual technolgy is not as great as one would want (unfortunately limited to ships, lifting devises, some seige engines and water procurement machines… yet to the author’s credit the actual knowledge on complex technology of the ancient world is limited) but the technology that is covered is both well explained with many diagrams and placed into a historic perspective. To this reader, the last chapter serves as an invaluable reference for the simple fact the author provides short biographies of four ancient writers; Hero, Pliny the Elder, Frontinus and Virtuvius which leaves one starving for more knowlegde of aforementioned subjects. If you have any interest in the classics, history of the ancient world or the development of technology,…. please add this to your library.

  2. Paul Emmons
    March 19th, 2011 at 08:14 | #2

    Rating

    I’m delighted that Amazon lets us read freely the very first paragraph of the book, which sets a sobering context for all that follows. The gist of it should be memorized by everyone who gets a high school diploma: The energy in just one gallon of gasoline (which we take for granted and think little of burning) is equivalent to the hard labor of ninety men for an hour.

    Only in the past century or two has anyone other than a ruler, high-ranking military officer, or unusually successful businessman enjoyed such power at his beck and call. Our sources for it are all too finite and will not last forever, as we are only beginning to realize. A reader who keeps this in mind will be amazed at what the ancients were able to achieve with the limited energy resources at their disposal: manual labor, beasts of burden, wind, and water– as the author goes on to describe. By and large they were, after all, just as intelligent as we are. They knew a few tricks that we would do well not to forget. Before long the human race may need them again.

  3. Anonymous
    March 22nd, 2011 at 06:39 | #3

    Rating

    A very enlightening volume, although it occasionally left me behind and parts will have to be reread when I have looked up some mechanical engineering concepts- but this did not happen often enough to interrupt my enjoyment. A particularly fascinating section briefly discusses why the Greeks didn’t quite get to concept of a the steam engine.

    Very worthwhile and, sadly, all too brief.

  4. Lord Ulrich
    March 23rd, 2011 at 16:25 | #4

    Rating

    This book brings to light the knowledge ancient engineers possessed. This book does get a bit technical, however I believe most people should be able to follow the basic mechanics discussed at least well enough to get the gist of the discussion. I think this is a great book to review engineering mechanics for those trained under a more modern school.

    To provide some perspective I am a Civil Engineer, and I had to think back to my basic classes to completely comprehend some of the sections of this book. However not quite understanding most of those sections is not going prevent you from following the basic concept of this book.

  5. Michal Ruzek
    March 29th, 2011 at 18:44 | #5

    Rating

    This is a very amazing which treats a rare subject. There is a lot of books about ancient times, but very few about the science put into practise in the times. This book brings very sophisticated look into the problems and successes of ancient engineers. Their solutions are somewhat ingenious, but there are also problems which could not be solved without the necessary equipment. J.G.Landers has done a great job looking into all that scarce sources related to engineering in the ancient times.

    Dont hesitate and buy this book.

    Michal Ruzek, Czech Republic

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