The Muslim scientists of this age were unrivaled in the world. Perhaps among their greatest feats were the famous waterlocks of Toledo:
Their action was as follows. At the moment when the new moon appeared on the horizon, water began to flow into the basins by means of subterranean pipes, so that there would be at daybreak the fourth of a seventh part, and at the end of the day half a seventh part, of the water required to fill the basins.
In this proportion the water would continue to flow until seven days and as many nights of the months were elapsed, when both basins would be half filled; the same process during the following seven days and nights would make the two basins quite full, at the same time that the moon was at its full.
However, on the fifteenth night of the month, when the moon began to wane, the basins would also begin to lose every day and night half a seventh part of their water until by the twenty-first day of the month they would be empty and when the moon reached her twenty-ninth night not a drop of water would remain in them;
It being worthy to remark that, should anyone go to any of the basins when they were not filled, and pour water into them with a view to quicken its filling, the basins would immediately absorb the additional water and retain no more than the just quantity, and, on the contrary were anyone to try when they were nearly filled, to extract any or the whole of their water the moment he raised his hands from the work: the basins would pour out sufficient water to fill the vacuum in an instant.
P. de Gayangos, "Muhammadan Dynasties in Spain," Vol. I, 1840.
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Copyright © Ahmad Thomson, 1989. All Rights Reserved
Excerpts from Ahmad Thomson's book on the subject of Islam in Spain, 1989.
"Islam in Andalus," Revised Edition by A. Thomson and M. Ata'ur-Rahim, Ta-Ha Publishers, London, 1996.