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Home Zone

How ideas from Muslim civilisation have influenced everyday life today.

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From gardens to games, fashions to fabrics, clocks to cameras, today’s home life is packed with influences from early Muslim civilisation. In this zone of the exhibition, find out how men and women of many faiths developed ideas and technologies that improved their own societies – and continue to affect the way we live now.

Did you know...


...that the fountain pen was developed in the 10th century in Egypt by order of Caliph Al-Mu’izz?

...that early Muslim perfume-makers extracted fragrances from plants and flowers using distillation?


In This Zone

See a reconstruction of the spectacular Elephant Clock designed by engineer Al-Jazari in the 12th century, which incorporated technologies from many ancient civilisations, and pioneered automation

• Find out about the breakthrough made using a camera obscura, the forefather of the modern camera, which relied on the proof of Ibn al-Haytham that we see objects when reflected light enters our eyes (rather than our eyes sending out invisible rays)

• Play a computer game and see if you can spot the modern-day inventions influenced by centuries-old discoveries from Muslim civilisation

• Meet 11th-century physicist Ibn al-Haytham in our film, and hear about how he set the scene for the development of experimental science and the work of Roger Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci and Johannes Kepler

• See a model of Al-Jazari’s Scribe Clock and find out about its clever water-powered mechanism

• Investigate a reconstruction of a typical ancient courtyard house which used ingenious systems to provide inhabitants with natural ventilation and cooling

• Discover the comical trick devices containing ingenuous fluid control systems, made by the 9th-century Banu Musa brothers

• Hear how chess came to the Persian court via India, and spread across Muslim civilisation

• Investigate how today’s toilet soap, shampoo and toothbrushes all have links with the distant past

• Find out how our clothes, carpets and even coffee-drinking have been influenced by other civilisations