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The 1st-century AD multiple mill complex of Barbegal in southern France has been described as "the greatest known concentration of mechanical power in the ancient world".
A variety of industrial watermills were used in the Islamic world, including gristmills, hullers, sawmills, shipmills, stamp mills, steel mills, sugar mills, and tide mills.
By the 11th century, every province throughout the Islamic world had these industrial watermills in operation, from al-Andalus and North Africa to the Middle East and Central Asia.
Muslim and Middle Eastern Christian engineers also used crankshafts and water turbines, gears in watermills and water-raising machines, and dams as a source of water, used to provide additional power to watermills and water-raising machines.
Although to date only a few dozen Roman mills are archaeologically traced, the widespread use of aqueducts in the period suggests that many remain to be discovered.
Recent excavations in Roman London, for example, have uncovered what appears to be a tide mill together with a possible sequence of mills worked by an aqueduct running along the side of the River Fleet. Such processes are needed in the production of many material goods, including flour, lumber, paper, textiles, and many metal products.