A Look Back In Time At Early Clocks

by : teahupoo

According to scientists humans have been on the planet for millions of years but it wasn't until a few thousand years ago that some of the ancient civilizations saw the need to know the time of day. It is believed that this became necessary due to the growing religious events and social activities.

One culture that disappeared without leaving behind its developed knowledge was that of the ancient Sumerians but it is believed that the Egyptians began to partition off their day by building obelisks which worked similar to a sundial dividing the day into morning and afternoon. This eventually evolved into a more accurate time keeper with markers around the base to show other divisions of time. The Egyptians are also credited with the development of the sundial which was a portable timepiece. The sundial separated the day into ten parts plus allowed for two twilight hours in the morning and evening.

So what it is that makes something a clock and not just something that casts shadows? One thing necessary to be considered a clock is a repetitive process to show equal divisions of time. The second component that must be present is a way to track the measurements of time and displaying the result.

Another method of timekeeping was the use of water clocks with one of the earliest being found in the tomb of Amenhotep 1 who died around 1500 BC. The ancient Greeks began using them about 1200 years later designing stone vessels with sloping sides allowing the water to drop at a constant rate from a small hole in the bottom. There were measurements marked on the inside of the vessels to delineate the amount of time that had passed. These clocks continued to be used in North Africa well into the 20th century.

Andronikos, a Macedonian astronomer devised a time keeping device he called the Horologion which is now known as the Tower Of The Winds. He constructed the device in the marketplace of Athens around the middle of the first century BC. The device featured sundials and mechanical hour indicators and even displayed the seasons of the year along with astrological dates as well.

The Chinese developed a mechanized clock with one of the most sophisticated being built by Su Sung in 1088. This tower was over thirty feet tall and included an observation deck, an automatically rotating globe and tablets that showed the hour of the day as well as other special times.