List of inventions in the medieval Islamic world
|History of technology|
A number of inventions were made in the medieval Islamic world, especially during the "Islamic Golden Age" (9th to 13th centuries), and, to a lesser extent, in the late medieval period in the Ottoman Empire and the Emirate of Granada, Safavid Persia and the Mughal Empire empires.[clarification needed]
Science and technology in the Islamic world was mostly focussed on the adoption and preservation of knowledge from Greco-Roman antiquity, India, Persia and China, but in some cases, improvements and innovations were made. Such innovations are listed below, in chronological order.
- 8th century
- Tin-glazing: The tin-glazing of ceramics was invented by Muslim potters in 8th-century Basra, Iraq. The first examples of this technique can be found as blue-painted ware in 8th-century Basra. The oldest fragments found to-date were excavated from the palace of Samarra about 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Baghdad.
- 9th century
- Lusterware: Lustre glazes were applied to pottery in Mesopotamia in the 9th century; the technique soon became popular in Persia and Syria. Earlier uses of lustre are known.
- Frequency analysis in cryptology: the first known recorded explanation of cryptanalysis was given by Al-Kindi (also known as "Alkindus" in Europe), in A Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages. This treatise includes the first description of the method of frequency analysis.
- 10th century
- Vertical-axle windmill: A small wind wheel operating an organ is described as early as the 1st century AD by Hero of Alexandria. The first vertical-axle windmills were eventually built in Sistan, Persia as described by Muslim geographers. These windmills had long vertical driveshafts with rectangle shaped blades. They may have been constructed as early as the time of the second Rashidun caliph Umar (634-644 AD), though some argue that this account may have been a 10th-century amendment. Made of six to twelve sails covered in reed matting or cloth material, these windmills were used to grind grains and draw up water, and used in the gristmilling and sugarcane industries. Horizontal axle windmills of the type generally used today, however, were developed in Northwestern Europe in the 1180s.
- 11th century
- 12th century
- Bridge mill: The bridge mill was a unique type of watermill that was built as part of the superstructure of a bridge. The earliest record of a bridge mill is from Córdoba, Spain in the 12th century.
- Hybrid trebuchet: The term Al-Ghadban (The Furious One) was applied to the hybrid trebuchet, though the usage of the term was not consistent and may have taken on a broader meaning. The first record of a counterweight trebuchet was in the 12th century from Mardi ibn Ali al-Tarsusi while talking of the conquests of Saladin.
- 13th century
- Rocket technology was adopted from China in the 13th century. In c. 1275, Hasan al-Rammah described "...an egg which moves itself and burns."
- Fritware: It refers to a type of pottery which was first developed in the Near East, beginning in the late 1st millennium, for which frit was a significant ingredient. A recipe for "fritware" dating to c. 1300 AD written by Abu’l Qasim reports that the ratio of quartz to "frit-glass" to white clay is 10:1:1. This type of pottery has also been referred to as "stonepaste" and "faience" among other names. A 9th-century corpus of "proto-stonepaste" from Baghdad has "relict glass fragments" in its fabric.
Emirate of Granada
- 14th century
- Hispano-Moresque ware: This was a style of Islamic pottery created in Islamic Spain, after the Moors had introduced two ceramic techniques to Europe: glazing with an opaque white tin-glaze, and painting in metallic lusters. Hispano-Moresque ware was distinguished from the pottery of Christendom by the Islamic character of its decoration.
- 15th century
- Coffee: The earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of the Yemen in southern Arabia. It was in Yemen that coffee beans were first roasted and brewed as they are today. From Mocha, coffee spread to Egypt and North Africa, and by the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia and Turkey. From the Muslim world, coffee drinking spread to Italy, then to the rest of Europe, and coffee plants were transported by the Dutch to the East Indies and to the Americas.
- Iznik pottery: Produced in Ottoman Turkey as early as the 15th century AD It consists of a body, slip, and glaze, where the body and glaze are "quartz-frit." The "frits" in both cases "are unusual in that they contain lead oxide as well as soda"; the lead oxide would help reduce the thermal expansion coefficient of the ceramic. Microscopic analysis reveals that the material that has been labeled "frit" is "interstitial glass" which serves to connect the quartz particles.
- 16th century
- Hookah or waterpipe: according to Cyril Elgood (PP.41, 110), the physician Irfan Shaikh, at the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar I (1542-1605) invented the Hookah or waterpipe used most commonly for smoking tobacco.
- Marching band and military band: The marching band and military band both have their origins in the Ottoman military band, performed by the Janissary since the 16th century.
- Islamic Golden Age
- Timeline of science and engineering in the Islamic world
- Science in medieval Islam
- Science in the medieval Islamic world
- Islamic attitudes towards science
- Medicine in the medieval Islamic world
- Islamic arts
- Islamic economics
- Islamic literature
- Islamic philosophy
- Islamic technology
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The traction trebuchet, invented by the Chinese sometime before the fourth century B.C., was partially superseded at the beginning of the eighth century by the hybrid trebuchet. This machine appears to have originated in the realms of Islam under the impetus of the Islamic conquest movements.
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- Qatar Digital Library - an online portal providing access to previously digitised British Library archive materials relating to Gulf history and Arabic science
- 1001 Inventions: Discover The Muslim Heritage In Our World
- "How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs" by De Lacy O'Leary