Egyptian sundials are considered to be the first portable timepiece. Historians believe the device came into use around 1500 B.C. to measure the passage of "hours."
Sundials divided a sunlit day into 10 parts plus two "twilight hours" in the morning and evening.
When the long stem with 5 variably spaced marks was oriented east and west in the morning, an elevated crossbar on the east end cast a moving shadow over the marks.
At noon, the device was turned in the opposite direction to measure the afternoon "hours."
Now a group of scientists have discovered on of the world's oldest Egyptian sundials.
During archaeological excavations in the Kings' Valley in Upper Egypt a team of researchers from the University of Basel made an in intriguing discovery.
The sundial was found while the team was clearing the entrance to one of the tombs.
The researchers found a flattened piece of limestone (so-called Ostracon) on which a semicircle in black color had been drawn.
The semicircle is divided into twelve sections of about 15 degrees each.
A dent in the middle of the approximately 16 centimeter long horizontal baseline served to insert a wooden or metal bolt that would cast a shadow to show the
hours of the day. Small dots in the middle of each section were used for even more detailed time measuring.
Significant find: After thousands of years the Egyptian sun dial was brought back to light. Credit: University of Basel
The sun dial was found in an area of stone huts that were used in the 13th century BC to house the men working at the construction of the graves.
The sundial was possibly used to measure their work hours. However, the division of the sun path into hours also played a crucial
role in the so-called netherworld guides that were drawn onto the walls of the royal tombs.
These guides are illustrated texts that chronologically describe the nightly progression of the sun-god through the underworld.
Thus, the su dial could also have served to further visualize this phenomenon.
During this year's excavation in cooperation with the Egyptian authorities and with the help of students of the University of
Basel over 500 mostly fragmentary objects that had been recovered in former seasons were documented and prepared for further scientific examination.
This also includes all the material of the lower strata of tomb KV 64 found in 2012.
The coffin found in the tomb contains an intact mummy of a woman named Nehemes-Bastet.
Inside the roughly 3500 year old tomb Basel researchers had discovered a sarcophagus that was holding the mummy of a woman named Nehemes-Bastet,
a temple singer during Egypt's 22nd Dynasty (approximately 945 - 712BC), according to an inscription in the tomb.
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