Robert Hannah

in The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199734856
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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  • Classical Studies
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Examining the instruments of timekeeping provides a gateway into the ancient mentalité about time. This trend is worth pursuing, as it is the instruments themselves that most likely can tell what ordinary people thought on a daily basis about time. Antikythera Mechanism was originally identified as a “calendar computer,” and it has often subsequently been misinterpreted as a navigational aid, simply because it was recovered from a shipwreck. Parapegmata were associated with forecasting, although of weather rather than other events. The earliest surviving Greek sundial is reported. The major timekeeping mechanism in the classical world, the water clock, initially did not rely on emulating the motions of celestial bodies. So while future studies will undoubtedly continue the present trend of discussing ancient artifacts from a sociological perspective, there is room still for the basic scientific, analytical description of those very same objects.

Keywords: timekeeping; Antikythera Mechanism; parapegmata; Greek sundial; water clock

Article.  8637 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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