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Who is Described as the Father of Robotics and Modern-Day Engineering?

Leonardo Da Vinci has been credited with many inventions and paintings, one of the most influential figures in medieval times. But did you know that he was actually influenced by a man who lived around 300 years before his time but had ideas that surpassed Da Vinci’s?

Ismail Al-Jazari was a Muslim polymath and inventor who flourished during the twelfth century in Turkey. Al-Jazari was credited to several automatons in his time. It is also hypothesized that his works influenced Da Vinci.

Who was Ismail Al-Jazari?

Badīʿ az-Zaman Abū l-ʿIzz ibn Ismāʿīl ibn ar-Razāz Al-Jazarī was born in Turkey, in 1136. He was the son of a humble merchant who also served the royals of Diyarbakir. Al-Jazari was born in what was considered the Islamic golden age, when the Islamic empire was quickly spreading across the Middle East, Africa, and Western Asian regions.

Al-Jazari displayed exceptional intelligence in his early years. It was said that he learned all the verses of the Quran when he was just 13 years old. He then traveled to different regions like Mecca, Medina, Cairo, and Alexandria to quench his thirst for learning. By the time he returned home, Al-Jazari was already an accomplished scholar in the Quran sciences.

He became an established inventor, a mechanical engineer, an artist, and a mathematician, all while taking his father’s place as the chief engineer at the Artuklu Palace. Records show that Al-Jazari served three rulers in his lifetime: Nur Al-Din Muhammad ibn Arslan, Qutb Al-Din Sukman ibn Muhammad, and Nasir A-Din Mahmud ibn-Muhammad.

Through Muhammad’s request, Al-Jazari compiled his ideas and inventions in what is now known as The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices. It was known that Al-Jazari drew ideas from the inventors before his time, noting Archimedes.

He refined the inventors’ ideas and produced his inventions while serving his rulers until he died in 1206. (Source: The Famous People)

The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices

The book is considered as Al-Jazari’s gift to humanity. It contains almost a hundred inventions with clear descriptions of their practical purposes. Al-Jazari described each device and invention in detail, along with the process he took, the number of trials he conducted, the level of skill needed to construct it, and the errors he discovered while constructing them.

It was known that modern-day inventors drew inspiration and borrowed ideas from Al-Jazari’s works to accomplish their mechanical inventions. His book was published en masse at the year of his death, where it was likened to modern-day do-it-yourself books today.

As al-Jazari was interested in inventing numerous things, here are a few of his known works:

Humanoid Robots

Al-Jazari created a robotic servant for the sultan. It was capable of serving water, combs, and towels. He also created a robot that can serve different types of drinks and tea.

Hand-Washing Machines

The father of robotics and modern-day engineering also invented the hand-washing machine, which was engineered to work like today’s flush toilets.

Automated Music Band

Al-Jazari constructed four robots sitting on a boat, possessing different musical instruments, and are capable of playing in sync with each other.


This is probably one of Al-Jazari’s most important inventions. It helped other inventors create numerous devices with the use of a camshaft.

(Source: The Famous People)

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