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On his visit to Constantinople in 949 ambassador Liutprand of Cremona described automata in the emperor Theophilos' palace, including "lions, made either of bronze or wood covered with gold, which struck the ground with their tails and roared with open mouth and quivering tongue," "a tree of gilded bronze, its branches filled with birds, likewise made of bronze gilded over, and these emitted cries appropriate to their species" and "the emperor’s throne" itself, which "was made in such a cunning manner that at one moment it was down on the ground, while at another it rose higher and was to be seen up in the air." Similar automata in the throne room (singing birds, roaring and moving lions) were described by Luitprand's contemporary Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who later became emperor, in his book Περὶ τῆς Βασιλείου Τάξεως.
In the mid-8th century, the first wind powered automata were built: "statues that turned with the wind over the domes of the four gates and the palace complex of the Round City of Baghdad".
When the user pulls the lever, the water drains and the automaton refills the basin.
His "peacock fountain" was another more sophisticated hand washing device featuring humanoid automata as servants who offer soap and towels. Rosheim describes it as follows: "Pulling a plug on the peacock's tail releases water out of the beak; as the dirty water from the basin fills the hollow base a float rises and actuates a linkage which makes a servant figure appear from behind a door under the peacock and offer soap.
And, indeed, it turned out to be only a construction of leather, wood, glue and lacquer, variously coloured white, black, red and blue.
According to Jewish legend, Solomon used his wisdom to design a throne with mechanical animals which hailed him as king when he ascended it; upon sitting down an eagle would place a crown upon his head, and a dove would bring him a Torah scroll.
It's also said that when King Solomon stepped upon the throne, a mechanism was set in motion.
As soon as he stepped upon the first step, a golden ox and a golden lion each stretched out one foot to support him and help him rise to the next step.
On each side, the animals helped the King up until he was comfortably seated upon the throne.
In ancient China, a curious account of automata is found in the Lie Zi text, written in the 3rd century BC.