How Did People Know When To Get Up in the Morning Before Alarm Clocks? | Summary and Q&A

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April 22, 2019
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How Did People Know When To Get Up in the Morning Before Alarm Clocks?

TL;DR

Humans have relied on various methods to keep time, from observing the movement of the sun to the invention of mechanical clocks.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did ancient civilizations measure time at night?

Ancient Egyptians observed a set of stars to mark the passage of time, using 18 stars for twilight and 12 stars to divide the darkness into equal parts.

Q: What system of timekeeping did the Babylonians use?

The Babylonians used a similar star-based system like the Egyptians and also had seasonally-adjusted hours, with 60 minutes only during the spring and fall equinoxes.

Q: When did mechanical clocks first appear in Europe?

The first recorded mechanical clock in medieval Europe was constructed in 996 in Magdeburg, Germany.

Q: When did the concept of minutes become widely known?

Clocks displaying minutes and the division of an hour into 60 minutes became well known by the 17th century.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Ancient civilizations divided the Sun's cycle into periods, but variations in daylight and night-time led to the development of star-based timekeeping systems.

  • The Babylonians and Greeks introduced seasonally-adjusted and equal length hours, respectively.

  • Mechanical clocks were developed in medieval Europe, initially for religious purposes, and later became smaller and more accessible.

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