The hourglass: useful almost anywhere


Hourglasses played an important role in maritime history, because they are not easily affected by the swaying of a ship or environmental changes such as temperature; and so for many centuries they were used to measure time during sea voyages.
Both Columbus and Magellan are known to have taken several hourglasses with them on their voyages, and Magellan’s logbook even mentions him using as many as eighteen. Also, because they are silent timepieces, hourglasses were widely used on church pulpits. Hourglasses are said to have been introduced to Japan from Europe around the mid-16th century.

Some theories date the invention of the hourglass as far back as the 8th century, but at the very latest its existence has been verified in frescos painted in the 1300s.

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