Method for determining the height of a tower by measuring the shadow, 1534.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A soldier with a crosbow is sending a line to the top of the tower, the length of which has been determined by the soldier lying down. Woodcut from 'De Re Militari' by Roberto Valturio (1405-1475) published in Paris in 1534. Valturio was military engineer to Sigismondo Malatesta, the ruler of Rimini, at whose court this book was written. The first edition appeared in Italian in 1472 and became the standard guide to military leaders during the Renaisance. It was the earliest printed book to show illustrations of a technical nature and included all types of military equipment. These engravings have been attributed to Matteo De' Pasti (c 1420-c 1467) or his school. The woodcuts of this edition are reversed free copies of those illustrations. Some bear the monogram of Jollat (active 1490-1550).