In 9th century Spain, Muslim inventor Abbas ibn Firnas designed a flying machine — hundreds of years before da Vinci drew plans of his own.
- Exhibition celebrates 1,000 years of “forgotten” Muslim heritage
- From coffee to cranks, items we couldn’t live without today are Muslim inventions
- Modern hospitals and universities both began in 9th century North Africa
London, England (CNN) — Think of the origins of that staple of modern life, the cup of coffee, and Italy often springs to mind.
But in fact, Yemen is where the ubiquitous brew has its true origins.
Along with the first university, and even the toothbrush, it is among surprising Muslim inventions that have shaped the world we live in today.
The origins of these fundamental ideas and objects — the basis of everything from the bicycle to musical scales — are the focus of “1001 Inventions,” a book celebrating “the forgotten” history of 1,000 years of Muslim heritage.
“There’s a hole in our knowledge, we leap frog from the Renaissance to the Greeks,” professor Salim al-Hassani, Chairman of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilization, and editor of the book told CNN.
“1001 Inventions” is now an exhibition at London’s Science Museum. Hassani hopes the exhibition will highlight the contributions of non-Western cultures — like the Muslim empire that once covered Spain and Portugal, Southern Italy and stretched as far as parts of China — to present day civilization.
Hospitals as we know them today, with wards and teaching centers, come from 9th century Egypt-professor Salim al-Hassani