Kitāb Arshimīdas fī ‘amal al-binkamāt كتاب أرشميدس في عمل البنكامات Archimedes أرشميدس

Or 14270, ff 2v-14r

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The record is made up of ff. 2v-14r. It was created in 28 Shawwāl 691. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: Oriental Manuscripts.

About this record


Treatise on the hydraulic and pneumatic machinery of water-clocks with eighteen diagrams, attributed to Archimedes (Ἀρχιμήδης; أرشميدس; fl. 3rd century BC). The title page gives the title wrongly as كتاب أرشميدس في عمل الساعات ( Kitāb Arshimīdas fī ‘amal al-sā‘āt ). This early known copy of the text was unknown to the text’s translator, Donald R. Hill (1976). The treatise is a compilation material from Greek, Byzantine, Persian and Arabic sources, and some sections may in fact be derived from Archimedes. This copy is defective at the end, and ends abruptly and without a colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. . Numerous owners’ notes are found on f. 2r. There is a partially legible seal on endpaper i recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. .

Begins (f. 2v, lines 1-4):

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وبه أستعلين

قال أرشميدس بعد حمد الله والأنبياء عليه إني لما رأيت

أقاويل الناس في عمل البنكامات غيرنامه (!)

ولا مستقصاة ألعب(!)

هذا الكتاب وعملته على غاية الاستقصاء

Ends (f. 14r, lines 4-5):

... إلى قريب من أسفلها لكيلا يفسد رفع الماء

بشيء من الآلات وهذه صورة الزامر ...

Illustrations (diagrams):

  • Middle section of water-clock, showing from top down the drum, float, float's container and the sump container (f. 4r);
  • Semi-circular plate indicating the twelve signs of the zodiac (f. 5a);
  • Middle section of water clock as on folio 4r, with semi-circular plate indicating the twelve signs of the zodiac attached (f. 4v);
  • Top section of water clock, showing a man's head whose eyes change colour on the hour and a bird's head that drops balls onto a cymbal A percussion instrument consisting of thin round plates. , and the mechanisms that drive these devices (f. 6v);
  • Top section of a water-clock, showing the man's head as on folio 6v, flanked by columns marked to indicated the 24 hours of the day (f. 7v);
  • Automaton representing a bound captive (above) and his executioner holding a sword (below) (f. 8v);
  • Automaton of an executioner on horseback (f. 10r);
  • Statues of men that rise and fall on rods to indicate the hours of the day inscribed on columns, and the mechanism that drives them (f. 10v);
  • Mechanical snakes that emerge from holes at the foot of a mountain on the hour and the mechanism that drives them (f. 12r);
  • A tree containing birds which emit cries on the hour when the snakes on folio 12r emerge from their holes and the mechanism that drives them (f. 13r);
  • Flautist automaton (f. 14r).
Extent and format
ff. 2v-14r
It is part of
Written in
Arabic in Arabic script
Manuscript item

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: Oriental Manuscripts
Access conditions


Archive reference
Or 14270, ff 2v-14r

History of this record

28 Shawwāl 691 (CE, Gregorian)

Related material

Related primary sources

Bodleian Library Marsh 669.

Select Bibliography


  • On the Construction of Water-Clocks. Kitāb Arshimīdas fī ‘amal al-binkamāt , Donald R. Hill ed. and trans., Turner and Devereux Occasional Papers no. 4 (London, Turner and Devereux, 1976)


  • Krause, Max, 'Stambuler Handschriften islamischer Mathematiker (Einge-gangen Juni 1935)', Quellen und Studien zur Geschichte der Mathematik . Abt. B. Astronomie und Physik (Berlin) 3, 1936, pp. 437-532 on p. 442ff [reprinted in: Islamic Mathematicsand Astronomy, vol. 83, Miscellaneous Texts and Studies on Islamic Mathematics and Astronomy VIII, ed. by Fuat Sezgin, Mazen Amawi, Carl Ehrig-Eggert and Eckhard Neubauer (Frankfurt am Main: Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, 1998) pp. 237-332]

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Kitāb Arshimīdas fī ‘amal al-binkamāt كتاب أرشميدس في عمل البنكامات Archimedes أرشميدس, British Library: Oriental Manuscripts, Or 14270, ff 2v-14r, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 23 November 2019]

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