MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips

The Ancient Engineers

by Arwen O'Reilly Griffith

Tool photo.

MAKE pal Peter Mui brought this book, by L. Sprague de Camp, in to us because he thought it was right up our alley, and he hit the nail on the head (so to speak). A classic, the book has been reissued many times since it was first published in 1960. This is a fascinating look at history through the eyes of engineers, and places them in the context of their times, quoting liberally from contemporary documents (and sometimes even poetry!) to bring the scene alive.

The Ancient Engineers is a wonderful mixture of excellent research, detailed descriptions, drawings, and photographs. Take some of the assertions with a grain of salt--it is over forty years old, after all--but enjoy de Camp's delight in the ingenuity of his forebears. He paints a fascinating picture of the daring and vision of these early men (and sometimes women) who quite literally built the foundations of our civilization.