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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/192

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

PRIMITIVE CLOCKS.
By FREDERIC G. MATHER.

THE story is that King Alfred had no better way to tell the time than by burning twelve candles, each of which lasted two hours; and, when all the twelve were gone, another day had passed. Long before the time of Alfred, and long before the time of Christ, the shadow of the sun told the hour of the day, by means of a sundial. The old Chaldeans so placed a hollow hemisphere, with a bead in the center, that the shadow of the bead on the inner surface told the hour of the day. Other kinds of dials were afterward made with a tablet of wood or straight piece of metal. On the tablets were marked the different hours. When the shadow came to the mark IX., it was nine o'clock in the morning. The dial was sometimes placed near the ground, or in towers or buildings. You see, in the picture, two sundials

PSM V29 D192 A sun dial clock in ottawa canada.jpg

that are on the Gray and Black Nunnery in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. The old clock on the eastern end of Faneuil Hall in Boston was formerly a dial of this kind; and on some of the old church-towers in England you may see them to-day. Aside from the kinds mentioned, the dials now in existence are intended more for ornament