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Full Version: Some Illustrations of Ancient Siege Machines
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The British Library has made some colour photos of illustrations from a sixteenth century manuscript of ancient artillery texts online. If you want to see what scholars like Schramm and Marsden had to work with, and why they paid much more attention to the text than the illustrations, you can have a look here.
We can't except book copiers to be Da Vinci, can we? Tongue Most copying was done by monastic people that have no idea what they are copying. It is quite possible that image is distorted in transition. Still, those images help tremendously I think. Anyone with slight knowledge about artillery of ancients could easily identify below image as arrow firing torsion weapon, ballista.

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Quote:Most copying was done by monastic people that have no idea what they are copying.

I've often wondered why monks did this. What was there in the life of a monk that might require the laborious and rather faulty copying of a book about siege engines?

Meanwhile, the illustrations are great. The one on the blog page looks to be the famous Helepolis, with some bungled attempt at a winch mechanism in the chassis, and even a sort of extendable claw of some sort...
I suspect that they, or more often their monastery, were paid as copyists, they were the most literate people available. Also, an abbot or bishop trying to curry favour with a local prince might order a military book to be copied in order to be given as a present.
Quote:We can't except book copiers to be Da Vinci, can we? Tongue Most copying was done by monastic people that have no idea what they are copying. It is quite possible that image is distorted in transition. Still, those images help tremendously I think. Anyone with slight knowledge about artillery of ancients could easily identify below image as arrow firing torsion weapon, ballista.

[Image: K065792.jpg]
The illuminations are lovely and make me think of some 20th century art. I just would not want to try to build a siege tower based on one.

It is curious how the notches in the sides of the frame which receive the arms of the engine survive!

Quote:I suspect that they, or more often their monastery, were paid as copyists, they were the most literate people available. Also, an abbot or bishop trying to curry favour with a local prince might order a military book to be copied in order to be given as a present.
Indeed, in the second half of the middle ages some Catholic monasteries relied on bookselling for a significant proportion of their income, while big towns had a street of copyists and illuminators. For the first half of the middle ages, I think that the names to look for are Cassiodorus and Alcuin.

The manuscript which preserved three of the Greek tacticians and Aeneas Tacticus was made for the imperial library. I'm not a Byzantine expert, but I can imagine Caesar making a polite request to the Patriarch or the abbot of a big monastery who set some monks to work.
Eventhough majority of drawings are problematic if not enigmatic, there are some illustrations exceedingly well presented such as a traction trebuchet in Manuscript Maciejowski Bible 1244-1254,here.
However, this is understandable that artist could see the machine in case of trebuchet but there is no such option for ancient machinery.

This manuscript is from Bibliotheque Nationale, Cod. Gr. 2442, ft. 93r-94v & 99v-100r, Paris seems better.

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