Scholar: Leonardo designed diving bell

Sept. 1, 2006 at 12:24 AM
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MONTECATINI DI TERME, Italy, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Scholars cited in an Italian exhibition say Leonardo da Vinci designed a diving bell and dreamed of using it to become rich through naval warfare.

Alessandro Vezzosi, who is in charge of the Leonardo museum in his birthplace, Vinci, told the Italian news agency Ansa he learned of the artist-inventor's dreams by close study of two of his works -- the Codex Atlanticus and the Codex Hammer. In the first, Leonardo lays out plans for the diving bell and its potential use to sink ships, while doing well for himself by sharing the ransoms of wealthy prisoners captured after the sinkings.

In the later work, Leonardo says he kept all his plans for sea warfare secret "to prevent blood flowing across the bottom of the seas."

"The story of Leonardo's little-known invention reveals how the artist was initially lured by the prospect of riches but in the end repented and rediscovered his profound ethical sensibility," Vezzosi said.

"Leonardo: Myth and Truth" will be on display through Oct. 10.

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