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Geomantic Instrument from Medieval Caliphate

I found this under the wikipedia entry for ‘geomancy’  today. Now I want to build it.



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  1. Bianca Namori Bianca Namori March 30, 2011

    If you build it…they will come.

  2. Aeolus Cleanslate Aeolus Cleanslate March 30, 2011

    How wonderful. Our modern age leaves us with the impression that technology develops in a linear way, but clearly it goes in bumps and waves if they were building control panels of such elegance in 1241 (and we didn’t see anything similar for a half century or more, an entire culture away).

    In my dark moments I worry about how much we’ve forgotten about how to work the technology we already have (how many of us could build a crystal radio set if we had to?). The people who actually do understand it are few in number, geographically scattered, and perched on top of a stack of supply chains and support industries that would render their knowhow irrelevant if they collapsed. Scary thoughts.

  3. Kimika Ying Kimika Ying March 31, 2011

    “More power, alchemist!”

    “It can not endure the stress, Noble Born!  If I proceed there will certainly be a terrible conflagration!”



    Scary thoughts indeed, Mr. Cleanslate. And I wish the ebb and flow of technology and culture were better taught in school. The idea the progress in not inevitable and that it’s up to us to keep things going.



  4. Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 2, 2011

    Brilliant and beautiful indeed- and, it seems, inscribed in more than
    one language as well?  I recognize the arabic, but what are these other
    sigils? They seem completely unfamiliar to me.

    As for ancient
    technologies, I refrain from waxing verbose on that subject, despite
    it’s fascination for me. Suffice to say, the modern schools of thought
    do not readily accept any evidence that is contrary to their current
    “rational” explanations of the precise unfolding of history. Heavens
    forbid-  how could they possibly have gotten any of it wrong!  The
    greeks with their batteries and electroplating alone are heresy,
    nevermind the evidences of phoenician oceanic travel, (as if we didn’t
    know they were an advanced sea-faring people…) the physical evidences
    of the truths of Vedic writings which indisputably define complex
    culture and religious orders active as much as an “impossible” 7000
    years past… My apologies-  I said I would refrain. I restrain myself.

    The object is fantastic. What precisely does it do?

      • Aeolus Cleanslate Aeolus Cleanslate April 2, 2011

        I am rapt. That’s what our machines need: detailed yet vague, first-person inscriptions about their intended purpose inscribed on their control surfaces.

        It seems a lot of energy in premodern societies was spent trying to divine the future. Clearly, the relative value of divination in their culture was far higher than ours. But do you ever wonder if they were on to something that we’re clueless about? What if their machines integrated some technology that we’re unaware of that made them actually *work*? We scoff at the intricate pointlessness of their creations, but maybe the joke is on us? Sounds like a match for a short story to me.

      • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 2, 2011

        Wonderful! Thank you, Mr. Pearse, for the additional information. This article makes no reference though, to the language or languages inscribed thereupon, though. I wonder if this presumes that the languages are both one and the same, simply in different styles, or perhaps that the unknown second language is no language at all, but merely a numeric or emblamatic marking system…. Further information is no doubt still required.


        (Appended) I spoke too quickly-  it seems, according to one Emily Shovelton that the inscriptions are… “…in kufic
        script above 16 of the 19 dials list the positions or ‘houses’ of the
        geomantic science, such as ‘House of property and wages’ or ‘House of
        enemies and envious people’.”

        Source: [;ISL;uk;Mus01;18;en&cp]


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