Machine for raising water from a well, 1588.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Copper-plate engraving from 'Le diverse et artificiose machine' (The various and ingenious machines) by Agostino Ramelli (1531-c 1600) published in Paris in 1588. Ramelli served as an engineer under the Duke of Anjou and later under Henry III of France. The book has many excellently engraved copper-prints and was written in Italian and French. The prints mainly show machines for drawing water, agricultural and military purposes. A few of Ramelli's designs are linked with earlier engineers such as Hero of Alexandria. Not all of Ramelli's designs are practical, but the various types of gearing, roller-bearings, chain-transmision and other parts are still of much interest. With this machine 'water can be drawn from a well with the help of one man alone'.