Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Time Gentlemen, Please!"

A good precept I like for the student of history is "everything you know is wrong". It's more often true than you'd think, I find, in that even relatively solid areas of knowledge often have greater layers than you'd expect. One example is time. We are all educated in understanding and using time, but often unthinking of some of the more remarkable aspects of it (we use it in in base 60) and unaware of how different it has been throughout history to how we understand it.

For instance, the 'wrist sundial' is a perennial trope in cartoons and humour, but as seen in this illustration from History Today, something like it did really exist.

Time's shadow: ivory pocket sundial by Hans Troeschel, Germany, 1592. AKG Images/De Agostini Picture Library

This post was inspired by an excellent short article from History Today, here which has fascinating details different to another excellent podcast here from 'In Our Time' on the BBC - here.

History Today Link

BBC In Our Time Link


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