Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Al-Jazari's automata

In the early 13th century, the Muslim engineer Al-Jazari designed complex clockwork devices such as the peacock fountain depicted above, which was both ornamental and functional:
Al-Jazari's peacock fountain was a more sophisticated hand washing device, featuring humanoid automata as servants which offer soap and towels. Pulling a plug on the peacock's tail releases water out of the beak, and as the dirty water from the basin fills the hollow base a float rises and actuates a linkage, which makes a servant figure appear from behind a door under the peacock and offer soap. When more water is used, a second float at a higher level trips and causes the appearance of a second servant figure, this time with a towel!
His other designs include robotic musicians and the elephant clock, of which a modern replica exists in Dubai

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