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Sundials in Early Modern Europe

10.11.11

Georg Brentel the Younger, from <i>Pamphlet describing the construction and function of a conical sundial,</i> Lauingen: Jacob Winter, 1615. Pamphlet with engravings and woodcuts.

Georg Brentel the Younger, from Pamphlet describing the construction and function of a conical sundial, Lauingen: Jacob Winter, 1615. Pamphlet with engravings and woodcuts.

Image courtesy of Department of Digital Imaging and Visual Resources, Harvard Art Museums © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Side view of the facsimile made by the Harvard Art Museum

Side view of the facsimile made by the Harvard Art Museum

Image courtesy of Department of Digital Imaging and Visual Resources, Harvard Art Museums © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College

View from above of the facsimile made by the Harvard Art Museum

View from above of the facsimile made by the Harvard Art Museum

Image courtesy of Department of Digital Imaging and Visual Resources, Harvard Art Museums © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Georg Brentel the Younger, from <i>Pamphlet describing the construction and function of a cylindrical sundial,</i> Lauingen: Jacob Winter, 1615. Pamphlet with engravings and woodcuts.

Georg Brentel the Younger, from Pamphlet describing the construction and function of a cylindrical sundial, Lauingen: Jacob Winter, 1615. Pamphlet with engravings and woodcuts.

Image courtesy of Department of Digital Imaging and Visual Resources, Harvard Art Museums © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Facsimile made by the Harvard Art Museum

Facsimile made by the Harvard Art Museum

Image courtesy of Department of Digital Imaging and Visual Resources, Harvard Art Museums © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College

A polyhedral sundial of gilt brass, c. 1521–1530, attributed to Nicolaus Kratzer, part of the exhibit <Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe,</i> now on view at the Sackler Museum

A polyhedral sundial of gilt brass, c. 1521–1530, attributed to Nicolaus Kratzer, part of the exhibit now on view at the Sackler Museum

Image courtesy of the Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford

These Photographs show seventeenth-century printed-paper sundials—the detailed engravings include instructions for building the finished products, created in this case by curators at the Sackler Museum. As Jennifer Carling and Jonathan Shaw point out in “Spheres of Knowledge,” from the November-December 2011 issue, sundials would have allowed traveling merchants not only to tell time, but also to convert among the three different time-telling systems of the day as they traveled from one region to another.