- Pewter · Glass
The apparent motion of the sun was used to measure real time for thousands of years. In ancient times, the hours were generally temporal or unequal: the period of light, from dawn to sunset, and that of darkness were both divided into twelve hours, the duration of which varied from season to season. Vergil's "Solem quis dicere falsum audeat" went unchallenged down the centuries until Parisian clockmakers adopted the controversial motto "Solis mendaces arguit horas", the subject of which is the mechanical clock that demonstrated the falsity of solar hours. Artificial truth thus prevailed over natural truth. Clocks contributed towards developing the philosophy of time, first as passive instruments as they adapted to earthly and celestial phenomena and to human requirements, and then as an increasingly independent source of information. The history of clocks is part of the history of the measurement of time, of the various methods and instruments devised for this purpose: sundials, igneous clocks, water clocks, hourglasses, clepsammias and astrolabes. The Latin word horologium comprised all the instruments used to measure time and this ambiguity has caused confusion and errors. Mechanical clocks appeared after the others but rapidly replaced them. Only recently have they been undermined by electric clocks and those based on the discoveries of atomic physics. Though research has been made into ancient timepieces and similar instruments to find clues to where and when the mechanical clock was invented, no conclusive elements have been found. It is unlikely that they were invented by an individual and there is no supporting evidence for it. This makes it even more difficult to establish where they developed. The time they were invented is also vague but most scholars agree on the second or the third quarter of the thirteenth century.