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Arabic Mechanical Engineering: Survey of the Historical sources

  • Donald Hill (a1)

The first and more important section of this article lists all the known treatises in Arabic on Fine Technology – water-clocks, automata, pumps, trick vessels, fountains, etc. The ideas, techniques and components in these treatises are of great importance in the history of machine technology. For each treatise information is given on the provenance of MSS, editions in Arabic and translations, paraphrases or commentaries in modern European languages. In addition to treatises by Arabic writers, similar information is also given on Greek mechanical treatises if these have survived only in Arabic versions.

The second section deals with utilitarian machines such as mills and water-raising machines. The various sources of information about these machines is discussed, including Arabic works on geography and travel, iconography and archaeology.

La première section de cet article et la plus importante énumère tous les traités connus en arabe portant sur la technologie d'agrément – horloges à eau, automates, pompes, ‘vases merveilleux’, fontaines, etc. Les idées, les techniques et les mécanismes que l'on rencontre dans ces traités sont d'une grande importance pour l'histoire de la technologie. Pour chacun de ces traités, des renseignements sont donnés concernant la localisation des manuscrits, les éditions en arabe et les traductions, paraphrases et commentaires existant en langues européennes. On trouvera en outre des renseignements similaires sur les traités de mécanique grecs qui n'ont survécu que dans des versions arabes.

La seconde section traite des machines utilitaires telles que les moulins et les machines à élever l'eau. Les diverses sources d'information concernant ce type de machines sont discutées, y compris les livres de géographie et de voyages, l'iconographie et l'archeologie.

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Silvio A. Bedini , ‘The Compartmented Cylindrical Clepsydra’, Technology & Culture 3, (Spring1962), pp. 115–41.

A.P. Mills in ‘The Mercury Clock of the Libros del Saber’, Annals of Science, 45 (1988), pp. 329–44 doubted, on the evidence of a reconstruction he had made of the Libros del Saber clock, whether such clocks would be accurate timekeepers. This view is, however, contradicted by the fact that the falling drum clepsydra in its various forms was extremely popular in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a cheap and reliable timekeeper;

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Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0957-4239
  • EISSN: 1474-0524
  • URL: /core/journals/arabic-sciences-and-philosophy
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