||Richard W. Unger
||Rutgers University Press
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Charles Wilson, the renowned historian of the European economy, is reputed to have said that history is making the past dull in order to get it right. There is a great danger thai in dissecting the way artists showed Noah building ships in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that some of the fun of the art, some of the play inherent in making pictures, has been lost. The task itself, though all too long in coming to fruition, has not been dull. My work on Noah began as part of a search for new illustrations of ships and shipbuilding in the Middle Ages. In the process I found material both for my own study of the history of technology and for art history. What has emerged is an effort to understand how artists in medieval Europe understood and approached technical matters. The example of Noah the shipbuilder is no more than an example of the more general phenomenon. What 1 found was not consistent with what historians of technology, historians of ideas, or art historians have said in the past. In this case it may be that matters were more simple than they appear. The artists were influenced by what they saw, by what went on around them...