What Are the Time Measuring Devices Used in Ancient Times?

Time measurement is an essential aspect of human life, and it has been for centuries. Time measuring devices have evolved over time, from the earliest forms of the sundial to the modern-day atomic clock. In this article, we will be exploring the various time measuring devices used in ancient times.


The sundial is one of the oldest time measuring devices used by ancient civilizations. It was a device that used the position of the sun to measure time.

The sundial consists of a flat plate with markings indicating hours and a gnomon (a raised pointer) that casts a shadow on the plate. As the sun moves across the sky, the shadow moves along with it, indicating different times of day.

Water Clock

The water clock, also known as a clepsydra, was another time measuring device used in ancient times. It was commonly used in Egypt and Greece and consisted of a container with markings on its side indicating hours.

Water would flow from an upper container to a lower container via a small hole in between them at a constant rate. The level of water in the lower container would indicate the hour.

Candle Clock

The candle clock was another device used to measure time in ancient times. It consists of candles marked at specific intervals with each interval corresponding to an hour or half-hour. As the candle burns down to each mark, it indicates how much time has passed.


The hourglass is another device that was widely used in ancient times for measuring time. It consisted of two glass bulbs connected by a narrow neck that allowed sand to pass through from one bulb to another at a constant rate. The amount of sand remaining in one bulb would indicate how much time had passed.


In conclusion, these are some of the most commonly used time measuring devices used in ancient times. As technology has evolved, these devices have become obsolete, and we now have more accurate and sophisticated time measuring devices like the atomic clock. However, these ancient devices played a significant role in the development of our understanding of time and how to measure it accurately.