Dutch merchant Johan Wema, whose letters lay unattended for many years in the National Archives of the Netherlands, became an unexpected key to a sensational discovery about robotics from the time of Ivan the Terrible. Historian Peter Dancy, who was interested in Russia, discovered Wem’s notes in the archive, which revealed secrets of trade and communication with the Russian court. This discovery sparked the researcher’s interest in robots of the time.
Wema described in detail the sale of large shipments of books, both manuscript and printed, to the Tsar’s court. The amount of the transaction was huge for those times and required a fleet of merchant ships to deliver the cargo. This indicated that Ivan the Terrible had an interest in the sciences and culture. However, the most surprising discovery was the mention of an “iron man” who served at the table and in the palace, performing the duties of a servant.
Researchers Peter Dancy and Steve Lennart, a robotics expert, set out to further investigate this phenomenon. They dug through the archives and found several more records and letters that confirmed the existence of robots in Russia at the time. One of the merchant-authors described Russian curiosities and amazing songs sung by the “iron man”.
This discovery turned the perception of the development of robotics upside down. Previously, it was believed that the first robots appeared only in the XIX century. However, thanks to records and letters from archives, it became clear that robots were known and used as early as the 16th century.
Many historians and scientists were shocked by this discovery. They began to question how the Russian court of that time was able to create such robots and what technologies were used. This caused a new wave of research and debate in the scientific community.
However, despite the best efforts of researchers, details about the “iron man” and its functionality remain unknown. Perhaps more detailed descriptions of these robots have been lost over time.
This discovery also raises questions about how robotics developed in Russia and what impact it has had on modern technology. Many scholars believe that the history of robotics is not as straightforward as previously thought, and that early advances in the field were much more advanced than we have assumed.