The literature of the Near East and of the Mediterranean region includes many stories of automata, usually made of brass, which were produced to the order of various potentates.
   King Solomon, who is reputed to have had a fountain of liquid brass in Andaluz—probably a foundry near the Rio Tinto Mines—which played three times a month, and from which were produced various novelties, including a brass throne with two eagles at the back which spread their wings to keep the sun off anybody sitting on it. Another one had two lions’ heads on the armrests which opened their mouths and made a noise when the king pressed on them.
   In the Arabian Nights there is the story of the City of Brass, in the middle of the desert, where mounted automata cut off the heads of anybody who approached them, and this in spite of the fact that there was nobody left alive in the city. Presumably they were activated by counterweights.
   These automata came into use when iron was replacing bronze for weapons, thus leaving the brass founders free to exercise their ingenuity on other things.

Who’s Who in non-classical mythology . . 2014.

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