Al-Jazari is best known as the first Arab mechanical engineer. He earned popularity for inventing machines. He was not only an engineer by his occupation but also an inventor, scientist, a skilled worker of handmade designs, and a mathematician. He worked on the concepts behind the moving parts of machines of earlier Greek and Muslim scholars. Al-Jazari gathered his lifetime work and wrote it in a book.
Biography – Life Span
Al-Jazari was born at Cizre, Anatolia region of Turkey in 1136 AD. He is nick named as ‘Al-Jazari’ his full name is very long that is “Badi Az-Zaman Abul Ismail Ibn Ar-Razaz Al-Jazari”. Like many other Muslim scholars, he was also born in the Golden Age of Islam. He was interested in machines since his young age. His imagination made him an expert in making machines. His father worked at Artuklu Palace in Turkey. Al-Jazari followed his father and became the chief engineer after him at the same palace under the rule of General Saladin Ayubi.
Although the Greek scientist Archimedes had laid the basis of mechanical engineering by inventing basic machines, Al-Jazari expanded his work. He invented around a hundred mechanical instruments. Most of them were designed in such a way that they worked automatically – means to run without human support.
After a hard work of his complete life, he wrote a book in the last year of his life. The book serves as the best guide to understand how machines are built and run. Besides, he invented many new machines that were used in controlling the flow of water, time clocks, and musical instruments. Apart from Archimedes’ work, he also studied Banu Musa brothers’ contribution in making water fountains. Al-Jazari died in 1206 AD in Turkey.
Discoveries and Contributions
Al-Jazari paid huge contributions to mechanical engineering. He invented many new parts of machines. Among many of his discoveries are some mechanical parts like shaft – a straight rod to move the object around, and a pump – to raise the water to heights. These parts were used by him in his following discoveries:
- Al-Jazari’s most famous invention is the Elephant Clock. It was invented to record the passage of time like modern time clocks. Before this, he also invented a water clock and a candle clock.
- His other well-known invention was the water-raising machine. This machine was used in ponds, rivers or flowing canals to raise the water. The machine contained bowls to fill the water and release it on earth to flow.
- He also invented the musical robotic band in which a group of dummy people played music. The robotic band worked when water fell in one tank at one time. The dummy below that tank was pushed by water and played music.
- Al-Jazari is known as the ‘Father of Robotics’ today. Because he was the first to design machines that ran in repeating rounds by themselves.
- He wrote a book in 1206 known as ‘The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices’. This book gives basic knowledge of how to build machines and their parts. Around a hundred mechanical devices are introduced in this book and the ways to build and run them.
- After a few centuries, Leonardo Da Vinci, an Italian scientist, was inspired by Al-Jazari’s work and used it in his inventions.