History of the Sundial

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"In today's complex digital world, the sundial has become a forgotten timepiece. While not as convenient as a wristwatch, a sundial links timekeeping to its ancient celestial origins, and a well-designed one can accurately tell time to the minute." (Mayall, 1994)

The sundial dates back to the Egyptian Period, around 1500 B.C. It was also used in ancient Greece and Rome. In central Europe it was the most commonly used method to determine the time, even after the mechanical clock was developed in the 14th century. The sundial was actually used to check and adjust the time on mechanical clocks until late into the 19th century.
The oldest dial known c. 1500 B.C.
The sundial is considered to be the first scientific instrument. It makes it possible to visualise our 4-dimensional world - the three dimensions and time.
Sundials come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny pocket dials to huge, meter high dials in observatories or sundial parks. Although their main purpose is to tell the time, they are often used as focus points in gardens, as art in the form of sculptures and even as jewelry.

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  © Helga Nordhoff