These Are Not Your Mother’s Sundials: Or, Time and Astronomy’s Authority

A perpetual calendar to keep track of religious festivals and lunar phases.
A perpetual calendar to keep track of religious festivals and lunar phases.
  • Article
  • 26 pages
  • Level: university

A discussion by Sara Schechner of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, regarding sundials in the collection of the Adler Planetarium. This essay was published in The Science of Time 2016: Time in Astronomy & Society, Past, Present and Future, of which Fr. Pavel Gabor, S. J., an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory, is a co-author. Schechner writes:

Drawing upon the exquisite collection of sundials and time-finding instruments at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago—currently being catalogued by the author—this essay offers examples of sundials made of silver, gilt brass, ivory, wood, and stone between 1500 and 1900. They were designed to be portable or fixed, pocket-sized, or monumental, but all did more than tell the time. By critically examining them, we can see the influence of the cultures in which they were made and used. These material objects tell stories of race, empire, labor, religion, fashion, and politics. And by so doing, the sundials exhibit the relationship of time in these concerns.

Click here for a preview of this article, courtesy of Google Books.

 

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