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  • Writer's pictureAnirudh Kanisetti

Medieval Robots: How India Learned from the Mediterranean and Greek Worlds

From the 10th century onwards, literary records are full of descriptions of astonishing mechanical marvels: from singing birds in the Abbasid court to roaring lions in Constantinople. But most surprising, perhaps, are records of automata in Indian courts - sophisticated devices that reveal a great deal about the Indian continent's connections with the technological trends and refined material culture of the medieval world. Here's the story of how these devices came to India, how they worked, and what they tell us about the globalisation of the times.

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Chaudhuri, Mamata. “Shipbuilding in the Yuktikalpataru and Samarangana Sutradhara.” Indian Journal of History of Science, 1976.

Mayor, Adrienne. Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology. Princeton University Press, 2020.

Ali, Daud. "Bhoja’s Mechanical Garden: Translating Wonder across the Indian Ocean, circa 800–1100 CE." History of Religions 55, no. 4 (2016): 460-493.

Hill, Donald R. "Mechanical Engineering in the Medieval Near East." Scientific American 264, no. 5 (1991): 100-105.

Cohen, Signe. "Romancing the Robot and Other Tales of Mechanical Beings in Ancient Indian Literature." Acta Orientalia 64 (2003): 65-75.

Truitt, Elly Rachel. Medieval Robots: Mechanism, Magic, Nature, and Art. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.

Bur, Tatiana Claudine Danielle. "Mechanical Miracles: Automata in Ancient Greek Religion." Master's thesis, University of Sydney, 2016.



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