Which Two Devices Were Used in Ancient Times to Measure Time?

In ancient times, measuring time was a crucial aspect of everyday life. People relied on various devices to keep track of time, which helped them in scheduling their tasks and activities.

While today we have advanced tools and gadgets to measure time accurately, in ancient times, people used simple devices that relied on natural phenomena. Let’s take a look at two such devices that were commonly used in ancient times.


One of the earliest devices used to measure time was the sundial. The sundial was a simple device that used the position of the sun to determine the time of day.

It consisted of a flat surface with an angled rod or pointer known as a gnomon. The gnomon would cast a shadow on the surface, and by observing the position of the shadow, people could determine the time of day.

The sundial was widely used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Different types of sundials were developed over time, including portable ones that could be carried around and larger ones built into buildings or structures.

Water Clock

Another device commonly used in ancient times to measure time was the water clock. The water clock or clepsydra was a more sophisticated instrument than the sundial but worked on similar principles.

A typical water clock had two containers with small openings at their bases. One container would be filled with water which would flow through a small opening into another container below it over time.

The water level in the second container would rise gradually until it reached a marked level indicating an hour had passed. The water clocks were usually marked with lines representing different times or hours.

Water clocks were widely used by Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans as well as Persians and Chinese civilizations.


In conclusion, while we have advanced tools and gadgets today to measure time accurately, it is fascinating to learn about these simpler yet effective devices used in ancient times. The sundial and water clock were two such devices that people relied on for centuries to keep track of time. These devices may have been basic, but they played a critical role in daily life and helped people plan their activities with precision.