Studies in Medieval Islamic Technology: From Philo to al-Jazari – from Alexandria to Diyar Bakr, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Studies in Medieval Islamic Technology

From Philo to al-Jazari – from Alexandria to Diyar Bakr, 1st Edition

By Donald R. Hill, edited by David King


400 pages

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Hardback: 9780860786061
pub: 1998-12-21
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These studies represent the major contributions to the history of Islamic technology during the second half of the 20th century beside Donald Hill’s separate publications on the mechanical devices of Pseudo-Apollonios, the Banu Musa and al-Jazari. A gifted linguist who was trained as a historian of Islamic civilisation, and also a professional engineer, Hill achieved his goal of setting his subject on a solid basis. The papers reprinted here include his early studies of the trebuchet and the camel and horse, several overviews of different aspects of Islamic technology, articles on specific topics such as the Cairo Nilometer and al-Biruni’s geared luni-solar device, and the first notice of an extremely important Andalusian treatise on mechanical devices discovered in 1975.


'For those interested in Islamic technology and engineering there is one person whose name is synonymous with research in this field…This volume not only gives due prominence to Hill’s rich work, but will also serve as a useful tool for anybody interested in technology and engineering and facilitate access to an important aspect of the Islamic civilization.' Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Sciences, Vol. 49, No. 2, No. 142 'Besides being a precious testimony ot the multifaceted work of a major historian of Islamic technology, these articles can be recommended to anybody interested in the history of medieval science and technology.' Mesa Bulletin '… this fine collection of articles should enrich the education of anyone who has the slightest interest in issues dealing with the history of technology from ancient times to the Renaissance.' Technology and Culture

Table of Contents

Contents: Donald Routledge Hill (1922-1994);Donald Routledge Hill - publications; Islamic Technology (General): Islamic fine technology and its influence on the development of European horology; Medieval Arabic mechanical technology; From Philo to al-Jazari; Arabic fine technology and its influence on European mechanical engineering; Arabic mechanical engineering: survey of the historical sources; Information on engineering in the works of Muslim geographers; Mining technology; Hydraulic machines; Greek Technology: Les oevres de Héron et leur contexte historique; Construction of a fluting machine by Apollonius the Carpenter; Islamic Technology (Specific): The nilometer; The Banu Musa and their Book of Ingenious Devices; Qusta ibn Luqa; Al-Biruni’s Mechanical Calendar; Al-Jazari; Notice of an important al-Jazari manuscript; Technology in Andalusia: A treatise on machines by Ibn Mu’adh Abu ’Abdallah al-Jayyani; Andalusian technology; Technology and War: Trebuchets; The camel and the horse and the early Arab conquests; Indexes.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General