> Water Clocks, Sundials and Fire Clocks
> Otos, the Sundial Town
dijous, 15 de maig de 2008
They are instruments that allow us to organise our daily activities and are absolutely indispensable in the increasingly fast world in which we live. They're watches and clocks, the stars of the 13th Catalonia Watch and Clock Fair at Sant Feliu de Codines (Vallès Oriental) this Sunday, 18 May.
Whilst last year's fair focused on mystery clocks and watches (i.e. clocks and watches which work in a way that is hard to explain), this year's event goes back to the very beginning and looks at elemental clocks, clocks based on the four universal elements, as the Ancients saw them: water, air, fire and earth.
At the 'Elemental Clock and the Measurement of Time' exhibition, visitors will be able to see water clocks, sundials, sand clocks, and oil clocks, incense… The exhibition opens on Saturday, followed the next day by a bric-a-brac market, with the traditional stalls selling clocks and watches in and around the town's Plaça del Rellotge.
This year's Catalonia Watch and Clock Fair aims to show visitors instruments for measuring time that preceded mechanical clocks, which appeared in the first half of the 14th century and that were perfected in the modern era with the introduction of the pendulum (thanks to discoveries by the physicists Galileo and Christiaan Huygens).
More recent times, during the 20th century, have seen the invention of two devises of extraordinary precision: the quartz clock and the atomic clock.
The first instruments for measuring time were sundials. The oldest consisted of a stylus, or gnomon, fixed onto a flat surface: the longitude and the direction of the shadow made by the gnomon indicated the time. The oldest sundial dates back to 1500 BC, during the time of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (the Egyptians at that time already had a calendar based on 365 days and divided the day into 24 hours). Later, the technique was perfected by the Greeks and Arabs.
Water Clocks, Sundials and Fire Clocks
Also around 1500 BC the first water clocks (or clepsydras) appeared, used during the night, when sundials could not be seen. Used up until the appearance of mechanical clocks, water clocks measured time based on different water levels as water it passed from one vessel to another via a small hole. Sand clocks work in a similar way: time was measured by the length of time required for a certain quantity of sand to pass from one container to another. The so-called fire clocks were based on the time needed for a flammable substance to burn. This principle was used in medieval monasteries which used candles and oil lamps.
Otos, the Sundial Town
Otos, the Sundial Town. That is the name of the cultural and tourism initiative in the town of Otos (in the Vall d'Albaida), which has eight original sundials created by well-known artists from Valencia including Andreu Alfaro. In fact, there is a great sundial tradition throughout the Vall d'Albaida: there were 120 recorded in the 1998 catalogue. The desire to preserve and renew this deep-rooted tradition has led the region to create a sundial tour.
> Tríptic de la iniciativa turístico-cultural Otos, el poble dels rellotges de sol.
> Ruta dels rellotges de sol per la Vall d'Albaida.
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