Technology in the Islamic World

  • Donald R. Hill
Reference work entry

Hydraulic engineering was the most important technology of medieval Islam. Irrigation schemes supported a thriving agriculture and such schemes involved the construction of canals and qanats (see below), dams and water‐raising machines. At the other end of the chain, water power was needed to process the raw agricultural products. In this article, we will begin with a survey of hydraulic engineering which will give us an overview of many of the significant aspects of Islamic technology.

Following this, a brief summary of a few other technologies will help us to appreciate the richness and diversity of Islamic material culture. The brevity of this summary is because of limited space and should not mislead readers into thinking that these technologies were insignificant, either in the social life of Islam or in the history of technology.

In Egypt, basin irrigation was in general use. This consists of leveling large plots of land adjacent to a river or canal, and surrounding each plot by...

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  • Donald R. Hill

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