• Donald R. Hill
Reference work entry
Al‐Jazarī, Badī˒ al‐Zamān Abū'l‐‘Izz Isma˓il ibn Al‐Razzāz, was an engineer who worked in al‐Jazira during the latter part of the twelfth century. His reputation rests upon his book, Kitāb fī ma˓rifat al‐ḥiyal alhan‐dasiyya (The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices), which he composed in 1206 on the orders of his master Nāsir al‐Dīn Maḥmūd, a prince of the Artuqid dynasty of Diyar Bakr. All that we know of his life is what he tells us in the introduction to his book, namely that at the time of writing he had been in the service of the ruling family for 25 years. The book is divided into six categories ( naw˓). Each of the first four contains ten chapters ( shakl), and the last two consist of only five each. The categories are as follows:
  1. 1.

    Water clocks and candle clocks

  2. 2.

    Vessels and pitchers for use in carousals or celebrations

  3. 3.

    Vessels and basins for hand washing and phlebotomy

  4. 4.

    Fountains and musical automata

  5. 5.

    Water lifting machines

  6. 6.




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  1. al‐Hassan, Ahmad Y., ed. Kitāb al‐ḥiyal (The Arabic Edition). Aleppo: Institute for the History of Arabic Science, 1981.Google Scholar
  2. Hill, Donald R., trans. The Book of Ingenious Devices by the Banū Mūsā (The English Edition of Kitāb al‐ḥiyal). Dordrecht: Reidel, 1979.Google Scholar
  3. Hill, Donald R. Arabic Mechanical Engineering: Survey of the Historical Sources. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 1.2 (1991): 167–86.Google Scholar
  4. King, David A. and Donald R. Hill, ed. Studies in Medieval Islamic Technology: From Philo to al‐Jazari, from Alexandria to Diyar Bakr. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 1998.Google Scholar

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  • Donald R. Hill

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