Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 389–396 | Cite as

Windmills: Ancestors of the wind power generation

  • Cesare Rossi
  • Flavio Russo
  • Sergio Savino
Research Article


A brief description of the windmills from the second millennium BC to the Renaissance is presented. This survey is a part of several studies conducted by the authors on technology in the ancient world. The windmills are the first motor, other than human muscles, and are the ancestors of the modern wind turbines. Some authors’ virtual reconstructions of old windmills are also presented. The paper shows that the operating principle of many modern machines had already been conceived in the ancient times by using a technology that was more advanced than expected, but with two main differences, as follows: Similar tasks were accomplished by using much less energy; and the environmental impact was nil or very low. Modern designers should sometimes consider simplicity rather than the use of a large amount of energy.


windmills ancient machines history of windmill 


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial Engineering University of Naples “Federico II” via ClaudioNaplesItaly
  2. 2.Consultant of Ufficio Storico Stato Maggiore EsercitoTorre Del GrecoItaly

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