Artifacts of the Arabic-Islamic Renaissance (800–1200)
Edited by Siegfried Zielinski. Text by Mohammed Abattouy, Ulrich Alertz, Salim T.S. Al-Hassani, Nadia Ambrosetti, Ayhan Aytes, Baruch Gottlieb, Claus-Peter Haase, Daniel Irrgang, Clemens Jahn, Susanne Rühling, George Saliba, Imad Samir, Mona Sanjakdar Chaarani, Peter Weibel, Siegfried Zielinski.
The first Renaissance did not take place in Europe, but in Mesopotamia: Arabic-Islamic culture functioned as a mediator between classical antiquity and the early modern age in Europe. This volume, edited by renowned theorist Siegfried Zielinski, explores the rich and fascinating world of the automata that were developed and built during the golden age of the Arabic-Islamic cultures, the period from the early 9th to the 13th century. These machines, built to glorify God, draw mainly on the traditions of Greek Alexandria and Byzantium. They introduced spectacular innovations, which did not emerge in Europe until the modern era: permanent energy supply, universalism and programmability. Additionally, four of the master manuscripts of automata construction from Baghdad, Kurdistan and Andalusia are presented here: the Kitab ait Hiyal (Book of Ingenious Devices, circa 850 AD) by Banu Musa Ibn-akir; the Kitab al-urghanun (Book of the Organ, from the same period), a precedent for all modern programmable music automata; the Kitab fi ma’rifat al-hiyal al-handasiyya (Compendium on the Theory and Practice of the Mechanical Arts, 1206 AD) by the Kurdish engineer Al-Jazari; and the Kitab al-Asrar fi Nataij al Afkar (Book of Secrets) by the Andalusian engineer Ali Ibn Khalaf al-Muradi.