A trip through time - Keeping Time
Have you noticed that as man evolved over time, the complexity of his lifestyle evolved right along with him? New questions were asked, new discoveries were made, and new technologies were created to keep pace with man's burgeoning quest for new and better. The methods used for measuring time were no exception. They evolved dramatically as well since they were first introduced.
It is believed that as early as the last ice age -- twenty thousand years ago -- models of the first calendars were poked into the sand with sticks by Vikings hoping to chronicle the cycles of the moon. The Sumerians divided the year into thirty-day months and the Egyptians created the concept of a three-hundred-and-sixty-five day year, long before the first year of the Common Era (also known as “AD”) began.
There was really no call for people to know what time of the day it was until approximately five thousand years ago. That is when the first sundials and water clocks came into existence in order to service that need.
As civilization progressed, so to did the desire to increase the accuracy with which time was recorded. Advancements in technology and the development of human ability allowed this to happen. Rising from all this is the ongoing story of the advent of calendars and clocks, starting as early as Stonehenge and continuing on past the age of digital watches.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Last updated: April 30, 2002.