submitted 2 months ago by BackOnMyBS to c/nostupidquestions

The sun dial worked during daylight, but how did people agree on what time it was at night before clocks were invented?

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[-] MIDItheKID 16 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

Oh hey! I actually read into this recently. It came from wondering what exactly "The Witching Hour" was, and apparently it was invented by Christians and it's between 3am and 4am. I thought "oh hey that's interesting when did that start?", and then when I read that it may have started back in 1535 I was like "Wait how the fuck did they know it was 3am in 1535? When were clocks invented?!"

So that's when I found out that mechanical clocks actually date back to the 1300s

So then I was like "well how did they tell time at night before that?" and it ends up that all the way back in the 16th century BC, they had these things called water clocks. So basically, they had figured out the sun dial a few hundred years before that, and while tracking an hour, they had 2 vessels, one full of water and the other empty. They would have the water flow from one to the other so that when the top vessel was empty, x amount of time had passed (for sake of simplicity call it a hour), then they would pour the water back into the top vessel to measure the next hour, and they were able to do this without the sun. It was basically the same concept of an hourglass (which actually didn't come around until 1000 AD) but with water.

And before sundials and water clocks? I dunno. I guess they just went to sleep when the sun went down, and woke up when it came up, and didn't plan things around specific times. Sounds pretty nice, honestly.

this post was submitted on 26 Feb 2024
183 points (98.4% liked)

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