List of Spanish inventions and discoveries

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The following list is composed of items, techniques and processes that were invented by or discovered by people from Spain.

Inventions from the Golden Age of Al Andalus[edit]

  • Alcohol distillation
  • Animal Testing, first recorded use of animals for medical testing was done by Ibn Zuhr, known as Avenzoar, (1094-1162).
  • Antiseptics were in used as early as the 10th century in hospitals in Islamic Spain. Special protocols, in Al Andalus, were used to keep hygiene before and after surgery.
  • Botany, Spanish botanist, like Ibn al-Baitar, created hundreds of works/catalogs on the various plants in not only Europe but the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In these works many processes for extracting essential oils, drugs as well as their uses can be found.
  • Brass type movable printer press/first printing device in Europe, first invented in Muslim Spain 100 years prior to the invention of printing press, by Johannes Gutenburg of Germany, in 1454.
  • Ectopic pregnancy - first described by Al-Zahrawi (936–1013 AD).
  • Eye glasses, first invented by Ibn Firnas in the 9th century. [1]
  • Glass mirrors, used in Islamic Spain as early as 11th century - 200 years prior to the Venetians.
  • Inheritance of traits first proposed by Abu Al-Zahrawi (936–1013 AD) more than 800 years before Austrian monk, Mendel. Al-Zahrawi was first to record and suggest that hemophilia was an inherited disease.
  • Invention and design of first flying machine, by Ibn Firnas during the 9th century, about 800 years before Leonardo da Vinci. Firnas was said to have tested his machine from the top of the tallest minaret in Cordoba.[2]
  • Inhalation anesthesia, invented by al-Zahrawi and Ibn Zuhr. Used a sponge soaked with narcotic drugs and placed it on patients face.
  • Ligatures, described in the work of al-Zarawi (936-1013 AD), Kitab al-Tasrif, one of the most influential books in early modern medicine. Describes the process of performing a ligature on blood vessels.
  • Metronome, invented by Ibn Firnas (9th century)
  • Mercuric oxide, first synthesized by Abu al-Qasim al-Qurtubi al-Majriti (10th century).
  • Migraine surgery, first performed by al-Zahrawi (936–1013 AD).
  • Modern surgery. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (936–1013 AD), better known in the west as Albucasis, is regarded as the father of modern surgery and is the most quoted surgeon of all times. Albucasis invented over 200 tools for use in surgery - many still in use today.
  • Pathology - various Muslim physicians in Spain were crucial in the development of modern medicine. Pathology, obviously was an important development in medicine. The first correct proposal of the nature of disease was described by al-Zahrawi and Ibn Zuhr.
  • Pharmacopoeia (book of medicine). During the 14th century, the physician from Malaga, Ibn Baytar, wrote a pharmacopoeia naming over 1400 different drugs and their uses in medicine. This book was written 200years before the supposed first pharmacopoeia was written by German scholar in 1542.
  • Speed of sound, was proposed by physicist from Cordoba, Ibn Hazm (994-1064 AD). Ibn Hazm argued and calculated the speed of sound by echoes in the Mosque of Cordoba. He is also credited as being the first to propose that thunder was a production of lightening.
  • Spherical Earth Theory by Ibn Hazm (994-1064 AD).
  • Water and weight driven mechanical clocks, by Spanish Muslim engineers sometime between 900-1200 AD. According to historian Will Durant, a watch like device was invented by Ibn Firnas.

Construction and architecture[edit]

  • Artificio de Juanelo by engineer Juanelo Turriano (1500-1585) in the 16th century, designed to supply the city with a source of readily available water by lifting it. At the time they were considered engineering wonders.[3]




Medicine and Genetics[edit]

Drawing by Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1899) of neurons in the pigeon cerebellum



Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro, build in the U.S. under Cierva license, 1961.


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ The new model of the hydraulic machine known as El Artificio de Juanelo in three-dimensional computer simulation
  4. ^ "Biography of Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure Orfila (1787–1853)". U.S. National Library of Medicine. 
  5. ^ Cintas, Pedro (2004). "The Road to Chemical Names and Eponyms: Discovery, Priority, and Credit". Angewandte Chemie International Edition 43 (44): 5888–94. doi:10.1002/anie.200330074. PMID 15376297. 
  6. ^ Schufle, Joseph A. (1975). "Juan Jose D'Elhuyar, Discoverer of Tungsten". Journal of Chemical Education 52 (5): 325. doi:10.1021/ed052p325.1. 
  7. ^ Weeks, M. E. (1968). Discovery of the Elements (7 ed.). Journal of Chemical Education. pp. 385–407. ISBN 0-8486-8579-2. OCLC 23991202. 
  8. ^ Fernando Salmón (2010). Robert E. Bjork, ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-19-866262-4. 
  9. ^ D. Campbell, Arabian Medicine and Its Influence on the Middle Ages, p. 5.
  10. ^ "Milestones:Early Developments in Remote-Control, 1901 - GHN: IEEE Global History Network". 2007-03-15. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  11. ^ Randell, Brian. "From Analytical Engine to Electronic Digital Computer: The Contributions of Ludgate, Torres, and Bush". Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  12. ^ Gaceta de la Actualidad Técnica. Year II, No. 14, September 1955
  13. ^ Giraud, Bibli. Sacr., II 334-336 (gives list of his writings)
  14. ^ Pagden, Anthony (1991). Vitoria: Political Writings (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought). UK: Cambridge University Press. p. xvi. ISBN 0-521-36714-X. 
  15. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959". 
  16. ^ "History of Neuroscience". Society for Neuroscience. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  17. ^ "Pio del Rio Hortega". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  18. ^ 2011 “The love for truth. Life and work of Michael Servetus”, (El amor a la verdad. Vida y obra de Miguel Servet.), printed by Navarro y Navarro, Zaragoza, collaboration with the Government of Navarra, Department of Institutional Relations and Education of the Government of Navarra, 607 pp, 64 of them illustrations, p 215-228 & 62nd illustration (XLVII)
  19. ^ a b The man who got Spanish women off their knees has died
  20. ^ (Spanish)manuel jalon inventor fregona
  21. ^ Spanish National Library - La Esfera, December 28, 1918
  22. ^ García, Manuel (1855). "Observations on the Human Voice". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 7: 399–410. doi:10.1098/rspl.1854.0094. JSTOR 111815. Retrieved 28 August 2010. 
  23. ^ Walsh, James J. Science in the Philippines, New York.
  24. ^ Warren, James Francis (2009). "Scientific Superman: Father José Algué, Jesuit Meteorology, and the Philippines under American Rule, 1897-1924." In Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State, Part VIII, University of Wisconsin Press.
  25. ^ Vector Flight
  26. ^ Garcia, Nicholas (2007). Mas alla de la Leyenda Negra. Valencia: Universidad de Valencia. pp. 443–454. ISBN 9788437067919. 
  27. ^ Cargill Hall, R. (1986). History of rocketry and astronautics: proceedings of the third through the sixth History Symposia of the International Academy of Astronautics, Volumen 1. NASA conference publication. American Astronautical Society by Univelt, p. 85. ISBN 0-87703-260-2
  28. ^ A steam powered submarine: the Ictíneo Low-tech Magazine, 24 August 2008
  29. ^ Humble 1981, p. 174.
  30. ^
  31. ^ Torres and his remarkable automatic devices. Issue 2079 of Scientific American, 1915