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An engineer was, in period, the term for a practical scientist and artificer, someone who could design and construct (few engineers would trust somoen else to build their designs, as opposed to stealing them) mechanical contrivances.

The ealiest engineers were probably the designers of the pyramids, and the machines which helped build them; the major development came in Roman times, when the creation of aquaducts also enabled the systematic use of water power, for mills, worshops, factories and so forth.

Engineers also designed and built the war engines of the classical and medieval eras -- catapults, ballista, trebuchets and the like. In the Ottoman Empire they also developed the first cannon-type weapons.