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Wind power has been used by humans since antiquity. Great oceans were crossed to explore unknown lands by putting up sails against the wind. At home, wind drove machines that ground grains between stones to produce flour and pumped water from rivers and wells. The first practical windmills went up in Persia, possibly as early as the 5th century AD. These were horizontal windmills with long vertical driveshaft with six to twelve rectangular sails covered in reed matting or cloth, and they were used at homes as well as in grist milling and sugarcane industries. The use of windmills became widespread across the Middle East and Central Asia, and later spread to China, India and the rest of Europe. Some of these earliest examples of vertical windmills can be seen in the town of Nashtifan, where they are still in use.

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