How Was Time Measured in Ancient Times for Kids?

Time is an important concept that humans have been measuring for thousands of years. In ancient times, people used different methods to measure time. Let’s take a look at some of the ways time was measured in ancient times.


One of the earliest devices used to measure time was a sundial. A sundial works by casting a shadow on a marked surface, indicating the time of day based on the position of the sun in the sky. Ancient Egyptians used sundials as early as 1500 BCE, and they were widely used throughout ancient Greece and Rome.

Water Clocks

Another method used to measure time was a water clock, also known as a clepsydra. Water clocks worked by measuring the flow of water from one container to another, indicating how much time had passed. The oldest known water clock dates back to ancient Egypt around 1500 BCE.

Candle Clocks

Candle clocks were another method used to measure time in ancient times. They worked by marking intervals on a candle and measuring how long it took for each interval to burn down. These types of clocks were widely used in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE).


Hourglasses, or sandglasses, were another popular way to measure time in ancient times. They worked by allowing sand to flow from one bulb to another through a narrow passage, measuring out specific amounts of time. Hourglasses were first invented in ancient Greece and Rome around 300 BCE.


Overall, people in ancient times had several methods available for measuring time, including sundials, water clocks, candle clocks, and hourglasses. While these methods may seem outdated compared to modern technology like digital watches and atomic clocks, they played an important role in helping people keep track of time and coordinate their activities.