Author describes the publication history of the Arabic translation of the work by Heron of Alexandria (1st century CE) on lifting heavy objects with little effort, a book of which the original Greek version is largely lost. He describes the rôle the manuscript (MS Leiden Or. 51, acquired in 1629, a longtime unicum) has played in the Europe of the Enlightenment. Arabist Jan Jacob Reiske (1716-1774) and King Frederick of Prussia had plans to translate the text into a European language. Finally Carra de Vaux published the Arabic text in 1893. New editions and translations have been produced since then, and more manuscripts of the Arabic text have come to light.