A sundial is the oldest device known for the measurement of time. It is based on the idea that a shadow will move from one side to another as the sun moves from the east to the west. It is probably the first scientific instrument created by man. The sundial is believed to have been used in Babylon as early as 2000 B. C. There are many sundials around the world. Some thousands of years old, and some huge in stature. A sundial is much like pottery and each one is given a unique character by its maker. Sundials are mentioned in everything from ancient Greek writings to Shakespeares plays.
The earliest description of a sundial comes from Berossus, a Chaldean astronomer who lived about 300 B. C. His sundial was a hollow half-sphere, or dome, set with its edge flat. A small bead was fixed at the center acting as the gnomon. Another believed to be a simple sundial are the stones at Stonehedge. There are many notable sundials in the world; however, some of the more famous and modern ones include the following ones. One of the largest ones built, the sundial in Jaipur, India, covers an acre of ground and has a gnomon over a hundred feet high. It was completed in 1742. One of the impler sundials includes the vertical sundial at Kochi castle in Japan. It was built during the Edo era from 1603-1867. It consisted of only wood and string and went unnoticed by many. In 1578, a German instrument builder Christopher Schlisser, built a dial known as the Dial of Ahaz. It was built in an attempt to recreate an Old Testament miracle involving King Ahaz, who asked God for proof that he had been cured of a dire illness.
King Ahaz was convinced when the suns shadow, cast by an obelisk upon some steps, grew shorter by ten steps as if time had reversed. One less miraculous but meaningful to thers is the bronze horizontal sundial built by Dr. D. W. Morehouse in 1938 to commemorate the Union veterans of the Civil War. One of the more modern ones is the horizontal sundial built on the Team Disney building outside Orlando, Florida. It was completed in 1991 and designed by Arata Isozaki. Sundials are also mentioned in some notable works of literature. In the twentieth chapter of the 2 Kings, verses nine through eleven read, Isaiah answered, This is the Lords sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?
It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps, said Hezekiah. Rather, have it go back ten steps. Then the prophet Isaiah called upon the Lord, and the Lord made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz. Sundials are also mentioned in Shakespeares Sonnets, Hamlet, and in Douglas Adams The Dark Team Time of the Soul. Sundials have literally been around since the beginning of time. They have sustained their time in history and will continue to have their impact and grasp on the interest of many. This is obvious as the fact that they are still being built and are still studied is observed.