Humboldt State University ® Department of Chemistry

Medieval Science


Scientific Instruments

Richard A. Paselk

This site was created to share my interests in ancient instruments and to support my lectures and workshops on instruments. It is my hope that the materials at this site will aid my workshop students by enabling them to review our work together. Others should note that information, techniques, and tricks may have been conveyed during workshops that are not duplicated here. For those who wish to further explore Medieval and Renaissance scientific instruments I also provide information about a number of my other projects. You will find tables of calculations, exploded views, suggestions on construction etc. I have also listed some of my favorite resources: books I have used in learning about the history of these instruments, as well as how to calculate, lay-out, and fabricate Medieval and Renaissance scientific instruments.

    • Workshops: Handouts/overviews/projects from workshops.
    • Instruments: Example instruments I have made over the years with information on materials used, construction details etc.
    • References: various print resources on the nature of ancient instruments and their construction.

Since I was a child I have had a strong interest in how we humans understand and measure our world. Consequently I have played with and collected measuring instruments for almost as long as I can remember. This interest in turn lead me to pursue the types of measurements made by earlier cultures, in particular Medieval Europe, and how they made them. Such instruments are rare, and most of us have little opportunity to see, let alone handle or own such artifacts. Thus since the mid-1980's I have been occasionally building my own working replicas of ancient scientific and philosophical instruments. For equally long I have been giving occasional lectures on the origins and use of these devices. In 1998 I began giving workshops on making one's own simple model instruments.

My instruments have been displayed at a number of different venues in addition to my workshops.


I may be contacted by: e-mail -; mail - Richard Paselk, Department of Chemistry, Humboldt State University, CA 95521; or telephone - (707) 826-5719.


© R. Paselk

Last modified 25 April 2004