Ancient Egyptian Automata from an 1876 Perspective

The following two images are taken from an anonymous volume of 1876 entitled Ancient Egypt, published by Dodd, Mead and Company. This is a small book probably intended for children. They are reproduced here to illustrate ancient Egyptian articulated figures.

The first illustration is entitled in the original "Stone Polisher; an Egyptian Toy." The second has no title, but is called in the text a crocodile and described thus: "The mouth of the crocodile works with a string, and shuts with a snap when this is pulled."

These images are no doubt quite inaccurate. They represent a 19th century popular illustrator's idea of ancient Egyptian automata, not the automata themselves. Still, they are the best I could do here.

Mary Hillier (Automata & Mechanical Toys: An Illustrated History. London: Bloomsbury Books, 1976) refers to similar articulated figures as being from approximately 2000 BCE.

Egyptian Stone Polisher Automaton

Egyptian Crocodile Automaton

A Gallery of Antiquarian Technology