Greek and Muslim Automata: Influence of Greek Knowledge in Medieval Islamic Science
By Michela Cigola
Proceedings: 2nd International Conference on Ancient Greek Technology (Athens, 2006)
Abstract: Aim of this work is to delineate the history of automatas from antiquity to Middle Ages, focusing the attention on two authors: al Jazari and Heron of Alexandria. The development of the work will be carried out by the analysis of drawings from ancient texts.
Introduction: Construction of the first automaton, a flying dove, can be attributed to Architas of Tarantum (a pupil of Pythagoras, mathematician an musician, 5th century BC) but it an be presumed that mechanical devices were used much earlier to give an ‘illusion’ of life to men and animals during religious ceremonies and in theatrical performances with the deus ex machina. We find documentary evidence of the established presence of mechanisms and automata in Greek antiquity in various authors, including Aristotle.