The prolific scribe John Mauromates (fl. 1541–65), originally from Corfu, was active in Venice in the middle of the 16th century. He copied a wide range of texts, including theological treatises, such as Additional 21983, and the present work, Harley 5605, which contains Hero of Alexandria’s works Pneumatika and Automaton-making. The text is written in Mauromates’ neat hand, adorned with simple initials and headpieces in red. Additionally, the text throughout is accompanied by diagrams of the various machines described, done in ink.
The manuscript was made in Italy, most likely in Venice. It later came into the possession of Nicolas Joseph Foucault (1643–1721), Marquis de Magny, statesman and archaeologist. It was purchased for the Harleian library by Edward Harley in 1729, and became part of the Harley Collection, which forms one of the foundation collections of the British Library.