Title page to an Italian edition of Hero of Alexandria's 'Pneumatics', 1589.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraved title page from 'Gli artifitiosi et curiosi moti spiritali di Herrone' (commonly called 'Pneumatics') by the Greek, Hero of Alexandria (active 1st century AD), published in Ferrara in 1589. Much of Hero's work remained unknown in Europe until it was reintroduced from the Islamic world in the 13th century. 'Pneumatics' was one of the most popular works on ancient technology during the Renaisance. Hero employs serious theoretical discusion and detailed directions for constructing ingenious machines and practical instruments. Although we can be sure how they worked, their appearance is les certain. The engravings had been copied and redrawn from previous examples since the thirteenth century.