A man in this sculpture is a Greek god called Hephaestus. He was regarded as the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen and artisans. Amongst many of his marvelous creations, myths also feature various artificial beings.
It is said that Hephaestus made ancient robots to help him in his workshop. Greek mythology also states that a bronze giant called Talos was made by Hephaestus as well. This bronze giant would patrol around the island and throw rocks at enemy ships.
A roman counterpart of Hephaestus is called Vulcan. Vulcan was also regarded as the god of craftsmen and technology. The roman mythology states that Vulcan made slave-girls of gold for himself.
Also there are ancient stories of Chinese origin that features ancient robots. Usually these stories suggest that told events actually took place at some time in past in the real world. Creations vary by their application but they all are stated to be created artificially. Also their possibilities are quite stunning – dancing, singing, recognition of environment.
The most famous Chinese story of this kind can be found in Lie Zi text. The text itself is written in 3rd century BC but the tale takes place in 10th century BC. The story is about an encounter between an artificer called Yan Shi and a king Mu of Zhou.
It is said that Yan Shi demonstrated an artificial man to the king. The man could walk, sing and dance and it was indistinguishable from a real human. Moreover, it is said that it had bones and realistic organs that functioned the way Chinese traditional medicine suggests a human body functions.
Whether there are some bits of truth in these stories we can’t tell for sure. Supposedly, these stories are fiction. In either case, stories like that demonstrate our fascination about artificially made beings that was with us also in antiquity.
Concept of artificial servants and companions date at least as far back as the ancient legends of Cadmus, who sowed dragon teeth that turned into soldiers, and the myth of Pygmalion whose statue of Galatea came to life. Many ancient mythologies included artificial people, such as the talking mechanical handmaidens built by the Greek god Hephaestus (Vulcan to the Romans) out of gold, the clay golems of Jewish legend and clay giants of Norse legend. Chinese legend relates that in the 10th century BC, Yan Shi made an automaton resembling a human in an account from the Lie Zi text.
In Greek mythology, Hephaestus created utilitarian three-legged tables that could move about under their own power and a bronze man, Talos, that defended Crete. Talos was eventually destroyed by Media who cast a lightning bolt at his single vein of lead. To take the golden fleece Jason was also required to tame two fire breathing bulls with bronze hooves; and like Cadmus he sowed the teeth of a dragon into soldiers.
The Indian Lokapannatti (11th/12th century) tells the story of King Ajatashatru of Magadha, who gathered the Buddha’s relics and hid them in an underground stupa. The Buddha’s relics were protected by mechanical robots (bhuta vahana yanta), from the kingdom of Roma visaya, until they were disarmed by King Ashoka. In the Egyptian legend of Rocail, the younger brother of Seth created a palace and a sepulcher containing autonomous statues that lived out the lives of men so realistically they were mistaken for having souls. …
In Christian legend, several of the men associated with the introduction of Arabic learning (and, through it, the reintroduction of Aristotle and Hero‘s works) to medieval Europe devised brazen heads that could answer questions posed to them. Albertus Magnus was supposed to have constructed an entire android who could perform some domestic tasks but it was destroyed by Albert’s student Thomas Aquinas for disturbing his thought. The most famous legend concerned a bronze head devised by Roger Bacon which was destroyed or scrapped after he missed its moment of operation.
Automata were popular in the imaginary worlds of medieval literature. For instance, the Middle Dutch tale Roman van Walewein (“The Romance of Walewein”, early 13th century) described mechanical birds and angels producing sound by means of systems of pipes.
Concepts akin to a robot can be found as long ago as the 4th century BC, when the Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum postulated a mechanical bird he called “The Pigeon” which was propelled by steam. Yet another early automaton was the clepsydra, made in 250 BC by Ctesibius of Alexandria, a physicist and inventor from Ptolemaic Egypt. Hero of Alexandria (10–70 AD) made numerous innovations in the field of automata, including one that allegedly could speak.
Taking up the earlier reference in Homer‘s Iliad, Aristotle speculated in his Politics (ca. 322 BC, book 1, part 4) that automatons could someday bring about human equality by making possible the abolition of slavery:
– There is only one condition in which we can imagine managers not needing subordinates, and masters not needing slaves. This condition would be that each instrument could do its own work, at the word of command or by intelligent anticipation, like the statues of Daedalus or the tripods made by Hephaestus, of which Homer relates that “Of their own motion they entered the conclave of Gods on Olympus”, as if a shuttle should weave of itself, and a plectrum should do its own harp playing.
In ancient China, an account on automata is found in the Lie Zi text, written in the 3rd century BC, in which King Mu of Zhou (1023–957 BC) is presented with a life-size, human-shaped mechanical figure by Yan Shi, an “artificer”.
Al-Jazari (1136–1206), a Muslim inventor during the Artuqid dynasty, designed and constructed a number of automatic machines, including kitchen appliances and musical automata powered by water. One particularly complex automaton included four automatic musicians that floated on a lake.
Hero’s works on automata were translated into Latin amid the 12th century Renaissance. The early 13th-century artist-engineer Villard de Honnecourt sketched plans for several automata. At the end of the thirteenth century, Robert II, Count of Artois, built a pleasure garden at his castle at Hesdin that incorporated a number of robots, humanoid and animal.  
One of the first recorded designs of a humanoid robot was made by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) in around 1495. Da Vinci’s notebooks, rediscovered in the 1950s, contain detailed drawings of a mechanical knight in armour which was able to sit up, wave its arms and move its head and jaw. The design is likely to be based on his anatomical research recorded in the Vitruvian Man but it is not known whether he attempted to build the robot (see: Leonardo’s robot). In 1533, Johannes Müller von Königsberg created an automaton eagle and fly made of iron; both could fly. John Dee is also known for creating a wooden beetle, capable of flying.
Around 1700, many automatons were built including ones capable of acting, drawing, flying, and playing music; some of the most famous works of the period were created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1737, including an automaton flute player, tambourine player, and his most famous work, “The Digesting Duck“. Vaucanson’s duck was powered by weights and was capable of imitating a real duck by flapping its wings (over 400 parts were in each of the wings alone), eat grain, digest it, and defecate by excreting matter stored in a hidden compartment.
The Japanese craftsman Hisashige Tanaka, known as “Japan’s Edison”, created an array of extremely complex mechanical toys, some of which were capable of serving tea, firing arrows drawn from a quiver, or even painting a Japanese kanji character. The landmark text Karakuri Zui (Illustrated Machinery) was published in 1796.
Ancient India and Robotics:
In Vastu Shastra, Shukla gives extensive material from a book called Samarangana-Sutradhara. It is a text on architecture by a king named Bhoja, who compiled the work about AD 1050. Western Europe was at that time in the Dark Ages, after the downfall of the Roman Empire. Like other Sanskrit texts of this period, it includes knowledge from more ancient traditional sources. The text is about vastu, but one section of it deals with yantras. In Sanskrit, the word yantra can refer either to geometric diagrams (which possess spiritual or subtle material powers) or to machines (which manifest those powers in mechanical form). Here we are concerned with the latter. There are some descriptions of some pretty surprising yantras, or machines, in this work. The connection with architecture is that these machines were taken into consideration in the construction of monumental buildings, just as today buildings are designed taking into consideration the kinds of vehicles and machines that would be used in and around the building.
Yantras are devices that control the action of elements according to some plan. According to the Samarangana-Sutradhara, the primary elements that form yantras are called the bijas, or seeds, of the devices. These elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether. In each yantra, a particular bija element is dominant. For example, we might say that the modern internal combustion engine is a yantra in which earth (in the form of metal) is the bija. The metal is arranged so as to generate energy from fire and air, and the energy is used to propel a vehicle.
The yantras described in the Samarangana-Sutradhara were apparently quite complex. Some of them were made of metal. Some of them are described as svayam vahaka, or self-propelled, with the propulsion mechanism hidden from view. Some of the ideal characteristics of yantras listed in Shukla’s translation are “well knit contruction,” “smoothness and fineness of appearance,” and “functional efficiency.” Among the robotlike yantras described in the text were “men machines serving as servants,” and “soldier machines.” Shukla (p. 591) notes that according to the text, “Each part of their figures is made and fitted separately, with holes and pins, so that the thighs, eyes, neck, hands, wrists, forearms and fingers can act according to the need.”
In addition to describing these humanlike automatic machines, the Samarangana-Sutradhara also describes vimanas, or flying machines. The text gives some hints about the construction of one kind of vimana, which resembles modern jet propelled aircraft or spacecraft. The text says: “Make a huge birdlike shape with a wing on each side.” There was a compartment in this vimana for a passenger.The text also says there should be a space in the body of the craft for a fuel called para and a source of fire. The combination of air, fuel, and fire generated power to propel the vimana. The text says that “with its power so generated, the machine will go a great distance in the sky.” The text goes on to describe a similar flying machine of larger size, powered by fire and four containers of the fuel para. Mercury is also mentioned in connection with the para fuel. The text itself says that it only gives brief descriptions of the vimanas and other yantras, because the techniques of actually constructing them were only to be passed secretly from masters to properly qualified students.
There is another text called the Vaiminka Shastra that also mentions flying craft, vimanas. I have always been a little suspicious of this text, because it is said to be a channeled text. It was supposedly channeled in India from 1918 to 1923 by Pandit Subbaraya Shastry, who said it originated from the ancient sage Maharshi Bharadvaja. Shastry dictated the words he mentally accessed to an associate, who wrote them down. The transcript of Shastry’s dictation remained very much unknown to the public, until 1952, when G. R. Josyer announced he had discovered it in a collection of manuscripts at the Rajakiya Sanskrit Library in Baroda, India. Subsequently, he published an English translation.
However, I find actual historical documents, like the Samarangana-Sutradhara, more credible than the Vaimanika Shastra. The Shrimad Bhagavatam (also called the Bhagavata Purana), which is older than the Samarangana-Sutradhara, contains accounts of many kinds of vimanas. There are different kinds of vimanas because, according to the Vedic literature, we inhabit a multilevel cosmos with different conditions at each level. The simplest divisions are those of gross matter, subtle matter, and pure consciousness, or spirit. All three levels are inhabited. The level of pure consciousness, or spirit, is inhabited by liberated beings with spiritual bodies; the level of subtle matter is inhabited by demigods with subtle material bodies; and the level of gross matter is inhabited by beings like us, with gross material bodies. There are different kinds of vimanas suitable for traveling on each level and for traveling from one level to another. There are vimanas made of ordinary matter; there are vimanas made of subtle material elements; and there are vimanas made of spiritual elements.
The Shrimad Bhagavatam describes a massive vimana operated by a despotic king named Shalva. It was manufactured from iron by a demonic engineer named Maya Danava. Shalva used the craft for warfare, attacking cities on earth with his weapons. The movements of the craft were amazing and resemble the UFO flight patterns reported by modern observers. The Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.72.21-22) says, “At one moment the . . . airship built by Maya Danava appeared in many identical forms, and the next moment it was again only one. Sometimes it was visible, and sometimes not. Thus Salva’s opponents could never be sure where it was. From one moment to the next the . . . airship appeared on the earth, in the sky, on a mountain peak, or in the water. Like a whirling, flaming baton, it never remained in any one place.” Another such vimana is described elsewhere in Shrimad Bhagavatam (8.10.16-17): “This beautifully decorated airplane had been manufactured by the demon Maya and was equipped with weapons for all types of combat. It was inconceivable and indescribable. Indeed, it was sometimes visible and sometimes not.” The Shrimad Bhagavatam also describes other vimanas used by the demigods, who inhabit the subtle material realm of existence. Beyond that is the spiritual level, which in the Vedic cosmology is called Vaikuntha. The Shrimad Bhagavatam (2.9.13) says: “The Vaikuntha planets are also surrounded by various airplanes, all glowing and brilliantly situated. These airplanes belong to the great mahatmas or devotees of the Lord.” There are many hundreds of such accounts of vimanas in the ancient Sanskrit writings of India.
It is interesting that the observations of modern UFO researchers have parallels in the ancient Sanskrit writings of India.
The Elements and Yantra
According to Bhoja : Yantra is machine through which one controls the Bhuta make them serve the particular purpose , Also the Mahabhuta like the earth, the water , the air , the fire and the ether though interdependent in their operations and movements , when brought to act in a particular way is Yantra.
Earth, Water,Fire and Air are the four elements for which Akasha (Ether) acts as substratum (Ether acts as asmi ,ie which is associated with other elements) as well as the Subsidiary bijas (amsa) or elemental factors in the innovation of Yantra. Bhoja declares that the yantra and its bija are inseparable like body and soul (atmiva bijam sarvesam pratyekamparanyapi). The bijas cannot function independently but in combination with one another . All yantras therefore work with the help of 2,3 or 4 other bijas . One principal and other are its allies it is to be noted that 4 bijas have not alliance with each other.
The principal bija is the one who has more proportion or degree than the other elements.The permutation and combination in these bijas results in innumerable innovations in Yantras .
~Think Studio Captive Research.