(61) Arabic Mechanical Inventions. Arabian Technology.
Industrious and enterprising, the Arabs led the way by their invention and skill to most of the more complicated manufactures of our own times. In metallurgy, their art in tempering and enameling has become justly famous; nor did any sword-blades ever rank higher than those of Damascus, nor any coppersmiths excel those of Baghdad, or gold and silver workmanship that of Oman. Specimens of their skill in porcelain yet remain in Spain and Syria; while the popular words "morocco" and "cordovan" attest their cleverness in preparing and dyeing leather. The pendulum and the semaphoric telegraph, if not invented, as some think, by the Arabs, were certainly introduced by them into Europe, as was also the manufacture of silk and of cotton, and an invention of the highest value -- the mariners compass. As early as 706 A.D. writing-paper was made at Mecca, whence it spread through all the Arabian dominions, and ultimately reached the Western world. In the discovery or use of gunpowder, so far back as the 11th century, the Arab claim to priority is contested by the Byzantines alone.
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