Cultural Roots of Technology: An Interdisciplinary Study of Automated Systems from the Antiquity to the Renaissance

Sources data base

Providing a historical reconstruction as wide and accurate as possible can certainly help to understand links of similarity and cause among characters and events, though far in time and space. However, especially as regards the prehistoric and medieval periods, sources often appear very different in importance and tradition, and by scarcity. They also are not uniform, because of their inherent variety, and therefore difficult to compare in several respects.

This need to ensure as much uniformity and consistency as possible in sources data gathering, with the aim of subsequent comparisons and analysis, suggested to uniformly organize information about automata in a data base, where a large amount of data (text, source reference, images, biographical information about the author, historical data about the device, for example) related to each instance could be stored. Data base entries have been designed to contain, where reachable, both the original author name and texts in the language of the culture in which they appeared, and in English translation, for reasons of accessibility. Wherever no English version was available, it has been specially made.

If the author’s name was unknown, instead of leaving blank author name field, that would be common to many entries even not related to each other, we preferred to insert a descriptive name, like “French anonymous”, sometimes followed by the century.

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