A research project and an exhibition by

Curators and chief scientific advisors
Massimiliano Lisa
Mario Taddei
Edoardo Zanon

Interpretation and reconstruction of machines
Mario Taddei
Edoardo Zanon

Massimiliano Lisa

Three-dimensional reconstructions
Giuseppe Canino
Emanuele Degli Antoni
Mario Taddei
Edoardo Zanon

Physical models
Mario Taddei
Edoardo Zanon
Alessandro Pettazzi
Alessandro Vivaldi
Antonio Buonarota

Original texts
Hocine Benchina
Soha Bayoumi
Jolanda Guardi
Massimiliano Lisa
Ahmed Ragab
Mario Taddei
Edoardo Zanon

Italian translations and edition in Arabic
Jolanda Guardi
Hocine Benchina

English translations
Ahmed Ragab

English editing and proofreading
Chris Ashcraft
Soha Bayoumi

French translations
Ahmed Ragab
Soha Bayoumi

French editing and proofreading
Matthieu Fintz
Pauline Chetcuti
Alexandra Hagondokoff
Thibaud Smerko

Digital photography of the manuscript
Roberto Bigano

Software visual design
Mario Taddei
Edoardo Zanon

Software production and montage
Antonio Buonarota
Emanuele Degli Antoni
Andrea de Michelis
Edoardo Zanon

Video editing and direction
Massimiliano Lisa

Voice overs in the videos
Alain Ghazal
James Herron
Dario Viganò

Sound design (for the software)
Emanuele Degli Antoni
Antonio Buonarota

Setup and technologies

We wish to thank
Abdulla Al Najjar - Qatar Museums Authority
Maha Al-Hajri - Qatar Museums Authority
Franca Arduini - Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana di Firenze

The Book of Secrets is a manuscript dating back to the year 1000. It is a priceless manuscript, as it includes descriptions and drawings of more than thirty ingenious devices including mechanical apparatuses, water clocks, automatic calendars and war machines. It was copied in 1266 (in Toledo) from an original dating back to the eleventh century by the Andalusian engineer Ibn Khalaf al-Muradi. It is an extraordinarily important manuscript in the field of the history of science, because it represents one of the earliest written and drawn testimonies about complex ancient machines and has never before been studied or divulged.

The auspices of the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, has allowed the funding of an entire research group that, after months of work, has given exceptional results. The complexity of the manuscript had prevented many experts from interpreting it. Thanks to the competence and the technology of the Italian research center Leonardo3, the manuscript has, for the first time, been transcribed (in Arabic) and translated (into Italian, English and French). Moreover, all its machines have been interpreted and reconstructed.

All the work that has been presented in a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, and it was one of its main attractions on the occasion of its inauguration on November 22, 2008. The exhibition presents a digital and interactive reconstruction of the manuscript, explaining all its machines to the public, thanks to tridimensional models animated through a holographic touch screen. Two machines of the Book of Secrets were physically reconstructed: The Fortress Demolisher (Figure 23, f. 35v) and the Clock with Three Characters (Figure 11, f. 21r). An edition including a case with the book (in Arabic, English, French and Italian), a facsimile and a DVD-ROM will help reveal this unique work to the whole world.

The curators of this work are the founders of Leonardo3, Massimiliano Lisa, Mario Taddei and Edoardo Zanon. All the interpretations of the machines are owed to Zanon and Taddei.

The project and the exhibition were funded by the Qatar Museums Authority chaired by Her Excellence Sheika Mayassa bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and directed by Abdulla Al Najjar.


Funded by

thanks to the sponsorship of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The project were funded by the Qatar Museums Authority chaired by Her Excellence Sheika Mayassa bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and directed by Abdulla Al Najjar

Museum of Islamic Art
Doha - Qatar

The Book of Secrets
The Physical Models
The Virtual Book

Video of the project (English - 69 MB - streaming)
Video of the project (French - 76 MB - streaming)
Video of the project (Arabic - 90 MB - streaming)
Press release (English)
Press release (Arabic)
Press release (French)

The Museum of Islamic Art of Doha at night

The box of The Book of Secrets designed by Leonardo3 has been used during the official cerimony for the opening of the museum

The Emir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani with Her Highness and the CEO of QMA during the opening

Massimiliano Lisa (L3), Her Excellence Sheika Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Mario Taddei (L3) and Edoardo Zanon (L3)

An image of the exhibition - the holographic touch-screen

The holographic touch-screen devoted to the Book of Secrets

An informative interactive station about the project

The screen of the interactive station devoted to the Clock with three Characters

One visitor interacts with the Book of Secrets

The physical model of the Fortress Demolisher

Robert de Niro attended the opening

The holographic touch-screen with the proprietary technology L3 Digital Codex

From the exhibition - the L3 Flat Tables devoted to the Book of Secrets

The big interactive holographic screen used in the exhibition

A view on part of the exhibiting space - everything has been custom designed by Leonardo3





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