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Antique old time keeping devices

08-07-2017 07:00 AM | Pooja Nevewani | My Indian Dream

Antique old time keeping devices | My Indian Dream

Image Source

Image is of the ancient water clock used.

Now we have digital watches as well as wall and wrist watches to tell us the exact time. But so was not the case earlier. Ancient people used to take help of celestial bodies like stars, the sun to predict the time of the day. It is obvious that they can’t make up to predict precise time. Even if their methods were not precise, the geniuses of the devices they used for time keeping is phenomenal. Along with the beautiful antique structures, they had an intelligent algorithm on which they worked. Let us know some of these devices.

Water clocks

This is one of the most ancient time keeping device used by man right in the 16th century B.C. The method was simple. The clocks displayed time on the basis if the steady flow of water. A Large bowl was filled with water completely and it has a spout at the bottom from where the water used to flow outwards. The inside of the bowl was marked with time readings. As the water flowed out of the bowl, it would show the amount of passed. But this method wasn’t that accurate because as soon as the bowl was almost left with very little water, the decrease in the pressure on water made it trickle slowly, thereby giving improper time estimations.

Incense Clocks

This is a very special type of clocks that originated in the 6th century in ancient China. The method made use of incense sticks for estimating time. Sticks would be made short for estimating shorter periods of time and long spiral sticks were used for estimating time for an entire day. The sticks were also beautifully ornated. There would be a string wrapped along the length of the stick. On lighting the stick, it would release pleasant incense and the string would burn that would make a gong after completion pf every hour. The uniqueness about these sticks was that they would have different incense bands for different hours; thus one can immediately know the completion of an hour with the change in the fragrance!


Mekhet was the invention of Intellectual Egyptians. We all know the rich history Egyptians have when it comes to their extraordinary inventions. Merkhet was an astronomical tool in the ancient Egypt. Egyptians used to track time with the help of Sun during the days, but at nights Merkhet was their aid for time keeping. Merkhet used stars as a guide to estimate time. The device has a string with a weight attached to its one end so that it remains straight. This straight string was their aid. Two Merkhets would be aligned with respect to the North Star, such that they formed some imaginary meridian for the sky. The time would be eventually estimated so as to how many stars crossed the line.  

There are many such antique clocks namely the Rolling ball clock, astronomical clock, candle clock, the elephant clock, automaton clock as so on. Each had their unique intellectual way of estimating time.  

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