Who would have thought that mechanical realistic automons would have been built as far back as the 16th century?
The Mechanical Monk
The 16th century “mechanical monk” may have been the result of King Phillip II of Spain keeping up his end of a holy bargain. According to legend, Phillip II’s son and heir suffered a head injury, and the King vowed to the heavens that he would deliver a miracle if the boy were spared. When the Prince recovered, Phillip II commissioned a clockmaker and inventor named Juanelo Turriano to build a lifelike recreation of beloved Franciscan friar Diego de Alcalá (later Saint Diego). Completed sometime in the 1560s, Turriano’s 15-inch-tall automaton is powered by a wound spring and uses an assortment of iron cams and levers to move on three small wheels concealed beneath its monk’s robe. Artificial feet step up and down to imitate walking, and the friar’s eyes, lips and head all move in lifelike gestures. Working together, these elements give the impression of a monk deep in prayer. The robot can walk in a square pattern mouthing devotionals, nodding its head and occasionally beating its chest with its right arm and kissing a rosary and cross with its left. The 450-year-old device is still operational today, and is held at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
I reckon the next time we get to thinking we have come up with something new and wonderful, we need to go and study the history books a bit more, ya know? The past is a lot more colorful than we originally thought!
Coffee in the kitchen this morning!