[time-nuts] Pre-industrial timekeeping accuracy RE: Lifetime of glass containers

David t_list_1_only at braw.co.uk
Mon Jun 15 22:49:16 UTC 2009

I'm getting slightly suspicious about the assumptions as to what was
available 2000 years ago, the remarkable Antikythera Mechanism points to
some technologies of 2000 years ago being almost up to medieval European
standards. Clearly Antikythera indicates there were a few stunning items
around, the fact that there is virtually no trace remaining of anything else
indicates the technology was very rare in its own time but its hard to
imagine a mechanisim like this being invented from nowhere to solely to make
one item and not pointing to small numbers of other intricate instruments
being made. The people who made the Antikythera Mechanism would surely have
been motivated to attempt timekeeping, Antikythera shows a competent
technology had been developed, we are very lucky to have any evidence after
2 millenia of such a rare device. Links:




> Returning to a more time-nuts-y topic..
> What sort of time measurement accuracy would folks 2000 years 
> ago have had?
> For instance, were they aware of the (relative) constancy of 
> the swings of a pendulum of constant length?
> I remember stories from school about Galileo using his pulse 
> as a clock. They're probably apocryphal, and I would think 
> that he would have easy access to other things that tick once 
> a second or there abouts (dripping water, etc, if not swings 
> of a pendulum).  
> I'm also familiar with the famous Shakespearean anachronism 
> of the striking clock in "Julius Caesar", and the usual 
> commentary says the Romans had only sundials and clepsydra.  
> So how good is a clepsydra?  What if we go back a 1000 years?  

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