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The Elephant Clock

The elephant clock was a medieval invention by Ismail al-Jazari (1136–1206) . Its moving parts were automated using a water-powered timer ...

The elephant clock was a medieval invention by Ismail al-Jazari (1136–1206). Its moving parts were automated using a water-powered timer inspired by an Indian mechanism known as ghatika – the clock’s timer was a bowl that would slowly sink into a hidden water tank. Apart from telling the time, this grand beautiful water-powered clock was a symbol of status, grandeur, and wealth. The clock incorporated a figure of a scribe and his pen that move to indicate the number of minutes past the hour. The clock had many intricate parts. The clock reflected cultural and technological influences from across Muslim civilization. As it included, in addition to the Indian timer technology, an Egyptian phoenix, Greek hydraulic technology, Chinese dragons, an Indian elephant and mechanical human figurines in Arabian dress. A modern full-size working reproduction can be found as a centrepiece in the Ibn Battuta Mall, a shopping mall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.