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The impressive portable, ancient sundial in Philippi Museum

The impressive portable ancient sundial is being presented at the Archaeological Museum of Philippi in Kavala, northern Greece.

The horological device is dated 250-350 AD and it is highlighted by the Culture Ministry as “the exhibit of the week.”

The sundial is the earliest type of timekeeping device, which indicates the time of day by the position of the shadow of some object exposed to the sun’s rays. As the day progresses, the sun moves across the sky, causing the shadow of the object to move and indicating the passage of time.

This unique time-reader is kept on the first floor of the Museum, in a special display case, and has been presented in major exhibitions abroad.

According to the Ministry post on Facebook “the portable sundial consists of three independent but touching flattened rings, which rotate 360 degrees independently of each other, giving the instrument the shape of a spherical astrolabe.

On the outer curved side of the middle ring, the names and latitudes of the cities are engraved two on each semi-ring: ROMECH MAG UENN(HC) ME–ALEXAN(DREAC) MLA- RHODOS MLS.

On both sides of the thickness of the surface are engraved the names of the months in such a way that they correspond to each city on one side, the months from January to June and on the other from July to December.

In the inner ring and on the outer curved surface, a deepening is formed in the middle of which the optometric hole is opened. The inner curved side is divided by engravings into 12 sections.

It measures times and latitudes

A unique find, it can count the hours, be used for approximate latitude measurements, determine the azimuth and altitude of the sun or some other star.

It is based on the achievements of the Hellenistic tradition which the Byzantines cultivated under the influence of the Christian worldview but also interactions from the world of Islam.

The Archaeological Museum of Philippi is located within the archaeological site of the same name.


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