June 13, 2024


Sapiens Digital

9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times

5 min read

History is a great teacher, especially when it comes to engineering. 

Our list of books will enable you to explore the engineering solutions people envisioned hundreds of years ago, which will inspire you to come up with new solutions for today. 

Plus, get ready to be surprised at how ancient principles of engineering are still applicable even today, despite all the technological advancement.

Engineer's Time Travel: 9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times
Source: L. Sprague de Camp/Amazon

This book takes you to the core of ancient engineering. It studies a wide range of ancient engineering marvels from The Pyramids of Giza to the Colosseum of Rome, through the engineers’ eyes of the era.

The book tells us about ancient engineers by their civilizations, having chapters such as the Egyptian engineers, Mesopotamian engineers, Greek engineers, Early Roman engineers, and many more. So, get ready to explore the work of your ancient colleagues thoroughly, for this book will take you to an engineer’s time travel.  

Engineer's Time Travel: 9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times
Source: J.G. Landels/Amazon

Focusing more on ancient Greek and Roman engineering, the two pioneers of Western Civilization, this book explains a lot about engineering, the use of energy sources, watering, transportation, and many other technologies of the ancient world.

The book also explains these technologies by tracking the engineering knowledge that is taken from the great early thinkers such as Plato, Pliny, and Archimedes. Thus, you can get down to the most fundamental principles of ancient engineering developed by these thinkers, and see how this knowledge is applied in both ancient Roman and Greek civilizations. 

Engineer's Time Travel: 9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times
Source: Hendry Hodges/Amazon

The name says it all. The book provides a general outlook over ancient technology, studying some of the major applications in areas such as agriculture, navigation, transportation, and others.

Covering mainly the Roman world, the book explores a lot about ancient technologies from their origins until the fifth century A.D., enriched with many illustrations.

Hodges provides the reader with a general understanding of what was technology like in the ancient age, even in daily lives, so that the scope between the utmost ancient technologies and everyday ancient technologies can clarify the level of advancement in ancient engineering.  

Engineer's Time Travel: 9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times
Source: Bennet Woodcroft/Amazon

Would you like to meet your Roman colleague, Hero?

Being an ancient Greek engineer and mathematician, Hero did most of his work in Roman-ruled Alexandria. Make no mistake, his ‘work’ was not anything near ordinary.

Hero accomplished many breakthroughs in the area of pneumatics; he designed what is thought to be the first steam-powered engine named aelopile (a.k.a. Hero engine), invented the wind wheel, and was a follower of atomist philosophy.

We bet you calculated the area of a triangle using only the lengths of its sides during your school years. Well, it was also another invention from Heron, called Heron’s formula. And some consider him as the father of 3D Geometry, owing to his algorithms in this field.  

Heron wrote a lot of stuff, but not all of it preserved to this day. Fortunately, we still have some of them, and this book is made of the remnants of Hero’s writings. So you will be meeting him in person, and we bet you will like him. 

Engineer's Time Travel: 9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times
Source: Christopher Dunn/Amazon

Pyramids have been a topic of many popular historic discussions, and there are many speculations about their building process, including even aliens as the ones who made them.

Conspiracy theories can be fun sometimes but make no mistake, because this book doesn’t indulge in any myth. Here, you will learn about all the technology, technique, and craftsmanship behind these holy monuments of the Pharaohs.

The study of the book uses many digital analysis tools to provide you with specific information in utmost detail. So, get ready to step beyond the general knowledge about the Pyramids, and explore them thoroughly, discovering the engineering genius behind some of the world’s greatest wonders.   

Engineer's Time Travel: 9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times
Source: Sherwood, Nikolic, Humphrey, Oleson/Amazon

When it comes to history, what’s better than learning it from the original text itself?

Our list includes good sources on ancient Greek and Roman engineering, however, if you would like to read the very texts that historians base their books on, this one is the right book for you. Because here you will get to read from about 200 ancient sources about ancient technology. 

These sources offer a deep study of engineering topics such as energy, basic mechanical devices, hydraulic engineering, household industry, transport, and military technology. So as an engineer, here is a chance to put yourself in your ancient colleagues’ shoes, and read how your ancient colleagues tried to come up with solutions to the hardest engineering problems of the era. 

Engineer's Time Travel: 9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times
Source: Robert Temple/Amazon

Ancient engineering’s finest examples were not limited to the Mediterranean World. 

This book will show you how China, starting with the Ancient Era, had come up with a great many inventions such as the decimal system, printing, paper money, the compass, wheelbarrow, crossbow, the science of immunology, porcelain, matches, rudder, the game of chess
umbrella, brandy and whiskey, the mechanical clock, and many more. 

We believe this book will be a real treasure for your library thanks to the wide range of technology topics it covers about the Ancient Era, specifically from Ancient China. 

Engineer's Time Travel: 9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times
Source: A. Trevor Hodge/Amazon

Ancient Era has many great engineering marvels.

The Pantheon, Colosseum, Bath of Caracalla are some of the most popular ones from Ancient Rome. 

But we will introduce another marvel that made Rome what it was: Aqueducts. These structures are usually left out of historic marvels lists, and yet, made Ancient Rome a powerhouse in terms of agriculture, economy, and culture, being purely engineering marvels on their own.  

They made agriculture possible and supplied water to households, public baths, gardens, and even mines. Aqueducts made the backbone of Roman infrastructure.

And this book offers you an extensive study of the Roman aqueduct, an engineering marvel that made the civilization that dominated the known world for centuries.

Engineer's Time Travel: 9 Books to Explore Engineering in Ancient Times
Source: Tom Jackson/Amazon

Although ancient examples vary in quality and creativity, the history of engineering is older than the ancient world. This book will show you how engineering begins with our oldest ancestors, Homo Habilis. 

The book follows with the ancient era and finalizes with Modern Age engineering. Meanwhile, you will see the evolution of the field by studying a series of 100 articles, which examine the greatest names, inventions, and achievements of engineering from prehistoric times up until today.

Interesting Engineering is a participant of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and various other affiliate programs, and as such there might be affiliate links to the products in this article. By clicking the links and shopping at partner sites, you do not only get the materials you need but also are supporting our website.

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