Leonardo and Water Lifting – Revolution or Evolution?

Leonardo Da Vinci Conference

Leonardo and Water Lifting – Revolution or Evolution?Dr. Chaim Shulman, Amcor Industries (CEO) (ret.)


The popular history of Renaissance technology depicts Leonardo as the genius-inventor struggling against convention and tradition, who brought forth revolutionary water driven machines and technology. This view however is in conflict with extant literature by many other architects, engineers and artists that flourished earlier than Leonardo, who were also designing machines during the Renaissance.

The somewhat obscure published works of these artist-engineers contradicts the theory that the technical work in this area by Leonardo da Vinci was singular and unique. Two of the principal documents that support this evolution theory are the notebooks of two natives from Siena: Mariano di Jacopo (Taccola) and Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

What is striking about the drawings of Taccola, Francesco and Leonardo is the emergence of perspective and isometric views of machines, reaching fantastic levels in the work of Leonardo. His illustrations look so much more real and natural that one can understand the conclusion of earlier readers of his work that he was the inventor of all these devices instead of a developer of existing machines designs to which he might have had access. Graphic evidence of this evolution will be submitted in the presentation.