Advertisement

Mobility Ahead of Its Time: A Fifteenth-Century Austrian Pocket Sundial as a Trailblazing Instrument for Time Measurement on Travels

  • Ronald SalzerEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA, volume 35)

Abstract

Recent excavations in the late medieval castle of Grafendorf in Austria revealed an equatorial sundial, consisting of a brass hour ring with engraved Arabic numerals and a revolvable gnomon. Epigraphic analogies suggest a dating around 1450, which is remarkably early, as the equatorial sundial was first described in 1431. Iconographic analogies not only support this dating but along with some complete museum pieces also reveal that the Grafendorf find was without a doubt part of a composite instrument of the following makeup: a closable box containing a compass, a retractable equatorial sundial, and a nocturnal. These parts added up to a highly functional, portable 3-in-1 instrument that was ideal for journeys and allowed its user to measure the correct time day and night, 365 days a year and even on wide travels. This certainly was a feat for the second half of the fifteenth century, where the majority of people still relied on modestly exact church clocks.

The Austrian pocket sundial is the only one of its type found in the course of an archaeological excavation. The historical background of Grafendorf castle around 1500 offers two owners of international format, who traveled through major parts of Europe and can therefore be considered perfect customers for such a groundbreaking timekeeping device. While it could have been used in Grafendorf for various reasons, this instrument nonetheless exemplifies the changing sense of time and the increasing need for precise individual timekeeping even abroad on the eve of the Late Middle Ages.

Keywords

Sixteenth Century British Museum Fifteenth Century Scallop Shell Noble Family 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Bales, E. (2007). NMS–D40DC2. A Medieval Astrolabe. London (June 20, 2012). http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/192080.
  2. Bassermann-Jordan, E. (1961). Uhren: Ein Handbuch für Sammler und Liebhaber. Bibliothek für Kunst- und Antiquitätenfreunde 7. Braunschweig: Klinkhardt & Biermann.Google Scholar
  3. Bixa, U. (2008). Die Porträtbüsten des Wilhelm von Zelking und der Margaretha von Sandizell in der Sierndorfer Schlosskapelle. Unpublished diploma thesis, University of Vienna, 2008.Google Scholar
  4. Bizer, C. (2006). Oberflächenfunde von Burgen der Schwäbischen Alb. Ein Beitrag zur Keramik- und Burgenforschung. Forschungen und Berichte der Archäologie des Mittelalters in Baden-Württemberg 26. Stuttgart: Theiss.Google Scholar
  5. British Sundial Society (2012). BSS Glossary A–Z: E–equinoxes. London (February 15, 2012). http://www.sundialsoc.org.uk/Glossary/alpha-new.php#E
  6. Brown, A. (2009). SF–5EA704. Nocturnal. Portable Antiquities Scheme/The British Museum. London (February 15, 2012). http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/270555.
  7. Dohrn-van Rossum, G. (1989). Naturzeit und Zeitmessung in der vorindustriellen Welt. In D. Syndram (Ed.), Wissenschaftliche Instrumente und Sonnenuhren: Kataloge der Kunstgewerbesammlung der Stadt Bielefeld/Stiftung Huelsmann 1 (pp. 50–57). München: Callwey.Google Scholar
  8. Epact. IN 34224, 2012. Scientific Instruments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, Inventory Number 34224. Oxford (February 15, 2012). http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=75521&Search=%Google Scholar
  9. Epact. IN 46855 (2012). Scientific Instruments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, Inventory Number 46855. Oxford (February 15, 2012). http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=91780
  10. Epact. IN 48304 (2012). Scientific instruments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, Inventory Number 48304. Oxford (February 15, 2012). http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=25274&Search=nocturnal
  11. Epact. IN 50896 (2012). Scientific instruments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, Inventory Number 50896. Oxford (February 15, 2012). http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=16035&Search=nocturnal
  12. Gebuhr, R. (2007). Jarina und Liubusua. Kulturhistorische Studie zur Archäologiefrühgeschichtlicher Burgen im Elbe-Elster-Raum. Studien zur Archäologie Europas 6. Bonn: Habelt.Google Scholar
  13. Kaltenberger, A. (2003). Eine datierte Taschensonnenuhr von der Ruine Wildenstein bei Bad Ischl, Oberösterreich. Beiträge zur Mittelalterarchäologie in Österreich, Beiheft, 6, 29–43.Google Scholar
  14. Kühnel, H. (1984). Zeitbegriff und Zeitmessung. In H. Kühnel (Ed.), Alltag im Spätmittelalter (pp. 9–16). Graz, Wien, Köln: Edition Kaleidoskop.Google Scholar
  15. Niederstätter, A. (2004). Das Jahrhundert der Mitte: An der Wende vom Mittelalter zur Neuzeit. Österreichische Geschichte 1400–1522. Wien: Ueberreuter.Google Scholar
  16. Puls, J. (2004). HAMP–831705. A Medieval nocturnal. London (February 15, 2012). http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/83544
  17. Salzer, R. (2011). Des Kaisers süße Propaganda. Ein Habsburgerwappenmodel für Festbäckerei aus der Burg Grafendorf in Stockerau, Niederösterreich. Beiträge zur Mittelalterarchäologie in Österreich, 27, 135–144.Google Scholar
  18. Salzer, R. (2012a). Die Burg auf dem Felsen. Ein Burgmodell aus der Burg Grafendorf in Stockerau, Niederösterreich. Archäologie Österreichs, 23(1), 34–36.Google Scholar
  19. Salzer, R. (2012b). Die spätmittelalterliche Burg Grafendorf, Stadtgemeinde Stockerau. Eine archäologisch-historische Analyse. Unpublished diploma thesis, University of Vienna, 2012.Google Scholar
  20. Samhaber, F. (2000). Die Zeitzither. Georg von Peuerbach und das helle Mittelalter. Raab: Wambacher.Google Scholar
  21. Spencer, B. (1990). Pilgrim Souvenirs and Secular Badges. Salisbury Museum Medieval Catalogue 2. Salisbury: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.Google Scholar
  22. Staves, L. (2004). NLM–ADA657. A Medieval nocturnal. Portable Antiquities Scheme/The British Museum. London (February 15, 2012). http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/75023
  23. Syndram, D. (1989). Messinstrumente für Zeit und Raum. Einführung in den Katalog. In D. Syndram (Ed.), Wissenschaftliche Instrumente und Sonnenuhren: Kataloge der Kunstgewerbesammlung der Stadt Bielefeld/Stiftung Huelsmann (Vol. 1, pp. 9–19). München: Callwey.Google Scholar
  24. Ward, F. A. B. (1979). An early pocket sundial illustrated in art. Antiquarian Horology, 11, 484–487.Google Scholar
  25. Webley, R. (2010). HAMP–A9E6F1. A Medieval compass. Portable Antiquities Scheme/The British Museum. London (February 15, 2012). http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/288714
  26. Williams, D. (2006). SUR–3C3AF1. A Post Medieval Sundial. Portable Antiquities Scheme/The British Museum. London (February 15, 2012). http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/118529
  27. Worrell, S. (2002). HAMP1713. A Medieval nocturnal. Portable Antiquities Scheme/The British Museum. London (February 15, 2012). http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/32307
  28. Zinner, E. (1956). Deutsche und niederländische astronomische Instrumente des 11.–18. Jahrhunderts. München: C.H. Beck´sche Verlagsbuchhandlung.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Ur- und FrühgeschichteUniversität WienWienAustria

Personalised recommendations