Reblogged from Paula Read at champagnewhisky:
It should come as no surprise that one of the earliest tools humans used to tell time was water. After all, it’s what we are, what we need to live.
A clepsydra is an ancient clock system that, at its most basic, uses two bowls, one nested inside another. The outer bowl is filled with water; the empty inner bowl has a hole at the bottom which allows a controlled flow of water to seep in.
Once the inner bowl has filled with water, it is emptied and placed on the surface of the water again until it sinks.
Timekeepers as early as 500 BC kept an eye on the water flowing from one bowl to another to determine fair distribution of irrigation resources between farmers (in ancient Persia, by using water channels known as qanats). Needless to say, the position of timekeeper was important, and subject to oversight by other village elders to ensure parity.
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