Water clock

Water clock
A display of two outflow water clocks from the Ancient Agora Museum in Athens. The top is an original from the late 5th century BC. The bottom is a reconstruction of a clay original.

A water clock or clepsydra (Greek κλέπτειν kleptein, 'to steal'; ὕδωρ hudor, 'water') is any timepiece in which time is measured by the regulated flow of liquid into (inflow type) or out from (outflow type) a vessel where the amount is then measured.

Water clocks, along with sundials, are likely to be the oldest time-measuring instruments, with the only exceptions being the vertical gnomon and the day-counting tally stick.[1] Where and when they were first invented is not known, and given their great antiquity it may never be. The bowl-shaped outflow is the simplest form of a water clock and is known to have existed in Babylon and in Egypt around the 16th century BC. Other regions of the world, including India and China, also have early evidence of water clocks, but the earliest dates are less certain. Some authors, however, claim that water clocks appeared in China as early as 4000 BC.[2]

The Greeks, Romans further advanced water clock design to include the inflow clepsydra with an early feedback system, gearing, and escapement mechanism, which were connected to fanciful automata and resulted in improved accuracy. Further advances were made in Byzantium and particularly the Islamic world, where increasingly accurate water clocks incorporated complex segmental and epicyclic gearing, water wheels, and programmability, advances which eventually made their way to Europe. Independently, the Chinese developed their own advanced water clocks, incorporating gears, escapement mechanisms, and water wheels, passing their ideas on to Korea and Japan[citation needed].

Some water clock designs were developed independently and some knowledge was transferred through the spread of trade. These early water clocks were calibrated with a sundial. While never reaching a level of accuracy comparable to today's standards of timekeeping, the water clock was the most accurate and commonly used timekeeping device for millennia, until it was replaced by more accurate pendulum clocks in 18th century Europe.



The oldest water clock of which there is physical evidence dates to c. 1417-1379 BC, during the reign of Amenhotep III where it was used in the Temple of Amen-Re at Karnak.[3] The oldest documentation of the water clock is the tomb inscription of the 16th century BC Egyptian court official Amenemhet, which identifies him as its inventor.[4][5] These simple water clocks, which were of the outflow type, were stone vessels with sloping sides that allowed water to drip at a nearly constant rate from a small hole near the bottom. There were twelve separate columns with consistently spaced markings on the inside to measure the passage of "hours" as the water level reached them. The columns were for each of the twelve months to allow for the variations of the seasonal hours. These clocks were used by priests to determine the time at night so that the temple rites and sacrifices could be performed at the correct hour.[6] These clocks may have been used in daylight as well.


Clay tablet
Water clock tablet.jpg
Water clock calculations by Nabû-apla-iddina.
Size H:8.2 cm (3.2 in)
W:11.8 cm (4.6 in)
D:2.5 cm (0.98 in)
Writing cuneiform, Akkadian
Created 600BC-500BC
Present location Room 55, British Museum
Identification 29371

In Babylon, water clocks were of the outflow type and were cylindrical in shape. Use of the water clock as an aid to astronomical calculations dates back to the Old Babylonian period (c. 2000 BC–c. 1600 BC).[7]

While there are no surviving water clocks from the Mesopotamian region, most evidence of their existence comes from writings on clay tablets. Two collections of tablets, for example, are the Enuma-Anu-Enlil (1600–1200 BC) and the MUL.APIN (7th century BC).[8] In these tablets, water clocks are used in reference to payment of the night and day watches (guards).

These clocks were unique, as they did not have an indicator such as hands (as are typically used today) or grooved notches (as were used in Egypt). Instead, these clocks measured time "by the weight of water flowing from" it.[9] The volume was measured in capacity units called qa. The weight, mana (the Greek unit for about one pound), is the weight of water in a water clock.

It is important to note that during Babylonian times, time was measured with temporal hours. So, as seasons changed, so did the length of a day. "To define the length of a 'night watch' at the summer solstice, one had to pour two mana of water into a cylindrical clepsydra; its emptying indicated the end of the watch. One-sixth of a mana had to be added each succeeding half-month. At equinox, three mana had to be emptied in order to correspond to one watch, and four mana were emptied for each watch of the winter solstitial night."[9]


N. Kameswara Rao suggests that pots excavated from Mohenjodaro might have been used as water clocks; they are tapered at the bottom, have a hole on the side, and are similar to the utensil used to perform abhishekam (pour holy water) on shivalingam.[10]

N. Narahari Achar[11] and Subhash Kak[12] suggest that the use of the water clock in ancient India is mentioned in the Atharvaveda from the 2nd millennium BC.

Ghati or Kapala (clepsydra or water clock) is referred to in Jyotisha Vedanga, where the amount of water that measures a nadika (24 minutes) is mentioned. A more developed form of the clepsydra is described in chapter xiii, 23 of the Suryasiddhanta.[13]

At Nalanda, a Buddhist university, four hours a day and four hours at night were measured by a water clock, which consisted of a copper bowl holding two large floats in a larger bowl filled with water. The bowl was filled with water from a small hole at its bottom; it sank when completely filled and was marked by the beating of a drum at daytime. The amount of water added varied with the seasons and this clock was operated by the students of the university.[14]

The description of a water clock in astrologer Varahimira's Pancasiddhantika (505) adds further detail to the account given in the Suryasiddhanta. The description given by mathematician Brahmagupta in his work Brahmasphutasiddhanta matches with that given in the Suryasiddhanta. Astronomer Lallacharya describes this instrument in detail.[15] In practice, the dimensions were determined by experiment.


The water-powered mechanism of Su Song's astronomical clock tower, featuring a clepsydra tank, waterwheel, escapement mechanism, and chain drive to power an armillary sphere and 113 striking clock jacks to sound the hours and to display informative plaques

In China, as well as throughout eastern Asia, water clocks were very important in the study of astronomy and astrology. The oldest reference dates the use of the water-clock in China to the 6th century BC.[16] From about 200 BC onwards, the outflow clepsydra was replaced almost everywhere in China by the inflow type with an indicator-rod borne on a float.[16]

Huan Tan (40 BC – AD 30), a Secretary at the Court in charge of clepsydrae, wrote that he had to compare clepsydrae with sundials because of how temperature and humidity affected their accuracy, demonstrating that the effects of evaporation, as well as of temperature on the speed at which water flows, were known at this time.[17] In 976, Zhang Sixun addressed the problem of the water in clepsydrae freezing in cold weather by using liquid mercury instead.[18] Again, instead of using water, the early Ming Dynasty engineer Zhan Xiyuan (c. 1360-1380) created a sand-driven wheel clock, improved upon by Zhou Shuxue (c. 1530-1558).[19]

The use of clepsydrae to drive mechanisms illustrating astronomical phenomena began with Zhang Heng (78-139) in 117, who also employed a waterwheel.[20] Zhang Heng was the first in China to add an extra compensating tank between the reservoir and the inflow vessel, which solved the problem of the falling pressure head in the reservoir tank.[16] Zhang's ingenuity led to the creation by Yi Xing (683–727) and Liang Lingzan in 725 of a clock driven by a waterwheel linkwork escapement mechanism.[21] The same mechanism would be used by Su Song (1020–1101) in 1088 to power his astronomical clock tower, as well as a chain drive.[22] Su Song's clock tower, over 30 feet (9.1 m) tall, possessed a bronze power-driven armillary sphere for observations, an automatically rotating celestial globe, and five front panels with doors that permitted the viewing of changing manikins which rang bells or gongs, and held tablets indicating the hour or other special times of the day.

Today, in Beijing's Drum Tower an outflow clepsydra is operational and displayed for tourists. It is connected to automata so that every quarter-hour a small brass statue of a man claps his cymbals.[23]

Greco-Roman world

An early 19th-century illustration[24] of Ctesibius's clepsydra from the 3rd century BC. The hour indicator ascends as water flows in. Also, a series of gears rotate a cylinder to correspond to the temporal hours.

In Greece, a water clock was known as a clepsydra (water thief). The Greeks considerably advanced the water clock by tackling the problem of the diminishing flow. They introduced several types of the inflow clepsydra, one of which included the earliest feedback control system.[25] Ctesibius invented an indicator system typical for later clocks such as the dial and pointer.[26] The Roman engineer Vitruvius described early alarm clocks, working with gongs or trumpets.[26]

A commonly used water clock was the simple outflow clepsydra. This small earthenware vessel had a hole in its side near the base. In both Greek and Roman times, this type of clepsydra was used in courts for allocating periods of time to speakers. In important cases, when a person's life was at stake for example, it was filled. But, for more minor cases, it was only partially filled. If proceedings were interrupted for any reason, such as to examine documents, the hole in the clepsydra was stopped with wax until the speaker was able to resume his pleading.[27]

In the 4th century BC, the clepsydra is known to have been used as a stop-watch for imposing a time limit on clients' visits in Athenian brothels.[28] Slightly later, in the early 3rd century BC, the Hellenistic physician Herophilos employed a portable clepsydra on his house visits in Alexandria for measuring his patients' pulse-beats. By comparing the rate by age group with empirically obtained data sets, he was able to determine the intensity of the disorder.[28]

Between 270 BC and 500 AD, Hellenistic (Ctesibius, Hero of Alexandria, Archimedes) and Roman horologists and astronomers were developing more elaborate mechanized water clocks. The added complexity was aimed at regulating the flow and at providing fancier displays of the passage of time. For example, some water clocks rang bells and gongs, while others opened doors and windows to show figurines of people, or moved pointers, and dials. Some even displayed astrological models of the universe. The 3rd century BC engineer Philo of Byzantium referred in his works to water clocks already fitted with an escapement mechanism, the earliest known of its kind.[29]

The biggest achievement of the invention of clepsydrae during this time, however, was by Ctesibius with his incorporation of gears and a dial indicator to automatically show the time as the lengths of the days changed throughout the year, because of the temporal timekeeping used during his day.

Also, a Greek astronomer, Andronicus of Cyrrhus, supervised the construction of his Horologion, known today as the Tower of the Winds, in the Athens marketplace (or agora) in the first half of the 1st century BC. This octagonal clocktower showed scholars and shoppers both sundials and mechanical hour indicators. It featured a 24-hour mechanized clepsydra and indicators for the eight winds from which the tower got its name, and it displayed the seasons of the year and astrological dates and periods.

Islamic and Arabic water clocks

In the medieval Islamic world (632-1280), the use of water clocks has its roots from Archimedes during the rise of Alexandria in Egypt and continues on through Byzantium. The water clocks by Al-Jazari, however, are credited for going "well beyond anything" that had preceded them.

In al-Jazari's 1206 treatise, he describes one of his water clocks, the elephant clock. The clock recorded the passage of temporal hours, which meant that the rate of flow had to be changed daily to match the uneven length of days throughout the year. To accomplish this, the clock had two tanks, the top tank was connected to the time indicating mechanisms and the bottom was connected to the flow control regulator. Basically, at daybreak the tap was opened and water flowed from the top tank to the bottom tank via a float regulator that maintained a constant pressure in the receiving tank.[31]

Water-powered automatic castle clock of Al-Jazari, 12th century.

The most sophisticated water-powered astronomical clock was Al-Jazari's castle clock, considered by some to be an early example of a programmable analog computer, in 1206.[32] It was a complex device that was about 11 feet (3.4 m) high, and had multiple functions alongside timekeeping. It included a display of the zodiac and the solar and lunar orbits, and a pointer in the shape of the crescent moon which traveled across the top of a gateway, moved by a hidden cart and causing automatic doors to open, each revealing a mannequin, every hour.[33][34] It was possible to re-program the length of day and night everyday in order to account for the changing lengths of day and night throughout the year, and it also featured five musician automata who automatically play music when moved by levers operated by a hidden camshaft attached to a water wheel.[32] Other components of the castle clock included a main reservoir with a float, a float chamber and flow regulator, plate and valve trough, two pulleys, crescent disc displaying the zodiac, and two falcon automata dropping balls into vases.[35]

The first water clocks to employ complex segmental and epicyclic gearing was invented earlier by the Arab engineer Ibn Khalaf al-Muradi in Islamic Iberia circa 1000. His water clocks were driven by water wheels, as was also the case for several Chinese water clocks in the 11th century.[36] Comparable water clocks were built in Damascus and Fez. The latter (Dar al-Magana) remains until today and its mechanism has been reconstructed. The first European clock to employ these complex gears was the astronomical clock created by Giovanni de Dondi in circa 1365. Like the Chinese, Arab engineers at the time also developed an escapement mechanism which they employed in some of their water clocks. The escapement mechanism was in the form of a constant-head system, while heavy floats were used as weights.[36]


An incomplete scaled-down model of Jang Yeong-sil's self-striking water clock.

In 1434 during the Choson (or Joseon) Dynasty, Chang Yongsil (or Jang Young Sil), Palace Guard and later Chief Court Engineer, constructed the Jagyeongnu (self-striking water clock or striking clepsydra) for King Sejong. What made the Jagyeongnu self-striking (or automatic) was the use of jack-work mechanisms, by which three wooden figures (jacks) struck objects to signal the time. This innovation no longer required the reliance of human workers, known as "rooster men", to constantly replenish it. By 554, the water clock spread from Korea to Japan. Water clocks were used and improved upon throughout Asia well into the 15th century.

Modern water clock designs

Bernard Gitton's Time-Flow clock

Only a few modern water clocks exist today. In 1979, French scientist Bernard Gitton began creating his Time-Flow Clocks, which are a modern-day approach to the historical version. His unique glass tube designs can be found in over 30 locations throughout the world, including one at Europa-Center's The Clock of Flowing Time in Berlin, one at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Shopping Iguatemi in Porto Alegre, Brazil. There are other modern designs of water clocks, including the Royal Gorge water clock in Colorado, the Woodgrove Mall in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and in the Abbotsford Airport in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Gitton's design relies on gravity powering multiple siphons; for example, after the water level in the minute or hour display tubes is reached, an overflow tube starts to act as a siphon and thus empties the display tube. Actual time keeping is done by a calibrated pendulum powered by a water stream piped from the clock's reservoir. The pendulum has a carefully constructed container attached to it; this measures the water that is then poured into the display system.

Today, the use of water flow to power a clock is a rarely-practiced art, whose purpose is more for show and novelty than for functional accuracy, an example being the Hornsby Water Clock in Sydney, Australia.


  1. ^ Turner 1984, p. 1
  2. ^ Cowan 1958, p. 58
  3. ^ Cotterell, Brian; Kamminga, Johan (1990). Mechanics of pre-industrial technology: An introduction to the mechanics of ancient and traditional material culture. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521428718. OCLC 18520966. , pp. 59–61
  4. ^ Cotterell & Kamminga 1990, pp. 59–61
  5. ^ Berlev, Oleg (1997). "Bureaucrats". In Donadoni, Sergio. The Egyptians. Trans. Bianchi, Robert et al.. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 118. ISBN 0226155552. 
  6. ^ Cotterell & Kamminga 1990
  7. ^ Pingree, David (1998). "Legacies in Astronomy and Celestial Omens". In Stephanie Dalley. The Legacy of Mesopotamia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 125–126. ISBN 0198149468. 
  8. ^ Evans, James (1998). The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 15. ISBN 0195095391. 
  9. ^ a b Neugebauer 1947, pp. 39–40
  10. ^ Rao, N. Kameswara (December 2005). "Aspects of prehistoric astronomy in India". Bulletin of the Astronomical Society of India 33 (4): 499–511. http://www.ncra.tifr.res.in/~basi/05December/3305499-511.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-11. "It appears that two artifacts from Mohenjadaro and Harappa might correspond to these two instruments. Joshi and Parpola (1987) lists a few pots tapered at the bottom and having a hole on the side from the excavations at Mohenjadaro (Figure 3). A pot with a small hole to drain the water is very similar to clepsydras described by Ohashi to measure the time (similar to the utensil used over the lingum in Shiva temple for abhishekam)." 
  11. ^ Achar, N. Narahari (December 1998). "On the meaning of AV XIX. 53.3: Measurement of Time?". Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies. http://www.ejvs.laurasianacademy.com/ejvs0402/ejvs0402.txt. Retrieved 2007-05-11. [unreliable source?]
  12. ^ Kak, Subhash (2003-02-17). "Babylonian and Indian Astronomy: Early Connections". History of Science, Philosophy & Culture in Indian Civilization, vol. , part (A Golden Chain, G.C. Pande, ed.), pp. , . 1 (4): 847–869. arXiv:physics/0301078. [unreliable source?]
  13. ^ "A copper vessel (in the shape of the lower half of the water jar) which has a small hole in its bottom and being placed upon clean water in a basin sinks exactly 60 times in a day and at night." - chapter xiii, 23 of the Suryasiddhanta.
  14. ^ Scharfe, Hartmut (2002). Education in Ancient India. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 171. ISBN 9004125566. 
  15. ^ "A copper vessel weighing 10 palas, 6 angulas in height and twice as much in breadth at the mouth--this vessel of the capacity of 60 palas of water and hemispherical in form is called a ghati." This copper vessel, which was bored with a needle and made of 3 1/8 masas of gold and 4 angulas long, gets filled in one nadika."
  16. ^ a b c Needham 2000, p. 479
  17. ^ Needham 1995, pp. 321–322
  18. ^ Needham 2000, pp. 469–471
  19. ^ Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology, Part 2, Mechanical Engineering. Taipei: Caves Books Ltd. Pages 510–511.
  20. ^ Needham 2000, pps. 30, 532
  21. ^ Needham 2000, pps. 471, 490, 532
  22. ^ Needham 2000, p. 462
  23. ^ Picture of water clock in Beijing
  24. ^ This engraving is taken from "Rees's Clocks, Watches, and Chronometers 1819-20. The design of the illustration was modified from Claude Perrault's illustrations in his 1684 translation of Vitruvius's Les Dix Livres d'Architecture (1st century BC), of which he describes Ctesibius's clepsydra in great length.
  25. ^ Goodenow, J., Orr, R., & Ross, D. "Mathematical Models of Water Clocks." Rochester Institute of Technology
  26. ^ a b John G. Landels: “Water-Clocks and Time Measurement in Classical Antiquity”, "Endeavour", Vol. 3, No. 1 (1979), pp. 32-37 (35)
  27. ^ Hill 1981, p. 6
  28. ^ a b John G. Landels: “Water-Clocks and Time Measurement in Classical Antiquity”, "Endeavour", Vol. 3, No. 1 (1979), pp. 32-37 (33)
  29. ^ Lewis 2000, pp. 356f.
  30. ^ ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari (1974). The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices. Translated and annotated by Donald Routledge Hill. Dordrecht: D. Reidel. ISBN 9698016252. 
  31. ^ al-Hassan & Hill 1986, pp. 57–59
  32. ^ a b "Ancient Discoveries, Episode 11: Ancient Robots". History Channel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxjbaQl0ad8. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  33. ^ Howard R. Turner (1997), Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction, p. 184. University of Texas Press, ISBN 0292781490.
  34. ^ Routledge Hill, Donald, "Mechanical Engineering in the Medieval Near East", Scientific American, May 1991, pp. 64–69. (cf. Donald Routledge Hill, Mechanical Engineering)
  35. ^ Google book search
  36. ^ a b Ahmad Y Hassan, Transfer Of Islamic Technology To The West, Part II: Transmission Of Islamic Engineering, History of Science and Technology in Islam


Overview of water clocks and other time instruments
  • Barnett, Jo Ellen. Time's Pendulum: From Sundials to Atomic Clocks, the Fascinating History of Timekeeping and How Our Discoveries Changed the World. Plenum Press, NY, 1998. ISBN 0-15-600649-9
  • Bruton, Eric. The History of Clocks and Watches. 1979. ISBN 0-8478-0261-2
  • Cowan, Harrison J. (1958). Time and Its Measurement: From the stone age to the nuclear age. Ohio: The World Publishing Company. 
  • Dohrn-van Rossum, Gerhard (1996). History of the Hour: Clocks and Modern Temporal Orders. Trans. Thomas Dunlap. The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226155102. OCLC 33440282. 
  • K. Higgins, D. Miner, C.N. Smith, D.B. Sullivan (2004), A Walk Through Time (version 1.2.1). [Online] Available: http://physics.nist.gov/time [2005, December 8]. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD.
  • Jespersen, James and Fitz-Randolph, Jane. "From Sundials to Atomic Clocks: Understanding Time and Frequency." Second Revised Edition, 1999. ISBN 0-486-40913-9
  • King, David A. “Towards a History from Antiquity to the Renaissance of Sundials and Other Instruments for Reckoning Time by the Sun and Stars.” Annals of Science, Taylor & Francis. V. 61, Num. 3. July 2004. pp. 375–388. DOI: 10.1080/00033790310001642795.
  • Landes, D. Revolution in Time. Harvard University Press (1983).
  • McNown, J.S. “When Time Flowed: The Story of the Clepsydra.” La Houille Blanche, 5, 1976, 347-353. ISSN 0018-6368
  • Milham, Willis I. Time & Timekeepers including The History, Construction, Care, and Accuracy of Clocks and Watches. The Macmillan Company, NY 1945.
  • Rees, Abraham. “Rees's Clocks, Watches, and Chronometers 1819-20.” Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc. 1970.
  • Richards, E.G. "Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History." Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Toulmin, Stephen & Goodhead, J. The Discovery of Time. University of Chicago Press, 1999. ISBN 0-226-80842-4
  • Turner, Anthony J. (1984). The Time Museum. I: Time Measuring Instruments; Part 3: Water-clocks, Sand-glasses, Fire-clocks. Rockford, IL: The Museum. ISBN 0-912947-01-2. OCLC 159866762. 
Arabic & Islamic water clocks
  • Hill, Donald Routledge (ed. & trans.) (1976). Archimedes “On the Construction of Water-Clocks,” Turner & Devereux, Paris.
  • Hill, D.R. (1981). Arabic Water - Clocks. Syria: University of Aleppo. 
  • al-Hassan, Ahmad Y.; Hill, Donald R. (1986). Islamic Technology: An Illustrated History. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521263336. OCLC 13332728. 
  • Hill, Donald Routledge. “Studies in Medieval Islamic Technology: From Philo to Al-Jazari - from Alexandria to Diyar Bakr.” (Collected Studies Series, 555)
  • King, D. Mikat. “Astronomical Timekeeping.” The Encyclopaedia of Islam. 7, Brill, (1990) Reprinted as Chapter V in King, D. “Astronomy in the Service of Islam Variorum.” (1993)
Babylonian water clocks
  • Englund, R.K. "Administrative Timekeeping in Ancient Mesopotamia." Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, V. XXXI, 31 (1988) 121-185.
  • Fermor, John, & Steele, John M. “The design of Babylonian waterclocks: Astronomical and experimental evidence.” Centaurus. International Journal of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology. Vol. 42 Issue 3, pp. 210–222. July 2000. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Høyrup, J., “A Note on Waterclocks and the Authority of Texts.” Archiv für Orientforschung, 44/45 (1997/98), 192-194 (*).
  • Michel-Nozières, C. “Second Millennium Babylonian Water Clocks: a physical study.” Centaurus, Vol. 42, Issue 3, pp. 180–209. July 2000.
  • Neugebauer, Otto (1947). "Studies in Ancient Astronomy. VIII. The Water Clock in Babylonian Astronomy". Isis 37 (1/2): 37–43. doi:10.1086/347965. . JSTOR link. Reprinted in Neugebauer (1983), pp. 239–245 (*).
  • Price, Derek deSolla. Science Since Babylon. Yale University Press, New Haven 1976.
  • Teresi, Dick. "Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science - from the Babylonians to the Maya." Simon & Schuster, NY 2002.
  • van der Waerden, Bartel Leendert, “Babylonian Astronomy: III. The Earliest Astronomical Computations.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 10 (1951), 20-34 JSTOR link.
Chinese water clocks
  • Lorch, Richard P. "Al-Khazini's Balance-clock and the Chinese Steelyard Clepsydra." Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences, June 1981, 31: 183-189.
  • Needham, J., Ling, W., and de Solla Price, D.J. "Heavenly Clockwork: The Great Astronomical Clocks of Medieval China." 2nd Edition. 1986. ISBN 0-521-32276-6.
  • Needham, Joseph (1995). Science & Civilisation in China. III: Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521058015. OCLC 153247126. 
  • Needham, Joseph (2000). Science & Civilisation in China. IV:2: Mechanical Engineering. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521058031. OCLC 153247141. 
  • Quan, He Jun. “Research on scale and precision of the water clock in ancient China.” History of Oriental Astronomy, pp. 57–61. (Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union Colloquium No. 91 held in New Delhi, November 13–16, 1985). Edited by G. Swarup, A. K. Bag and K. S. Shukla. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987. ISBN 0-521-34659-2.
  • Walsh, Jennifer Robin. “Ancient Chinese Astronomical Technologies.” American Physical Society, Northwest Section. May, 2004. Meeting, 21–22 May 2004. Pullman, WA.
Egyptian water clocks
  • Clagett, Marshall. Ancient Egyptian Science, Volume II: Calendars, Clocks, and Astronomy. 1995. pp. 457–462. ISBN 0-87169-214-7
  • Cotterell, B., Dickson, F.P., and Kamminga, J. “Ancient Egyptian Water-clocks: A Reappraisal.” Journal of Archaeological Science. Vol. 13, pp. 31–50. 1986.
  • Cotterell, Brian and Kamminga, Johan. “Mechanics of pre-industrial technology.” Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1990.
  • Fermor, John, “Timing the Sun in Egypt and Mesopotamia.” Vistas in Astronomy, 41 (1997), pp. 157–167. Elsevier Science. DOI: 10.1016/S0083-6656(96)00069-4.
  • Neugebauer, Otto & Parker, Richard A. “Egyptian Astronomical Texts: Iii. Decans, Planets, Constellations, and Zodiacs.”
  • Pogo, Alexander. “Egyptian water clocks”, Isis, vol. 25, pp. 403–425, 1936. Reprinted in Philosophers and Machines, O. Mayr, editor, Science History Publications, 1976. ISSN 0021-1753
  • Sloley, R.W., "Ancient Clepsydrae", Ancient Egypt, 1924, pp. 43–50.
  • Sloley, R.W., "Primitive methods of measuring time", JEA 17, 1931, pp. 174–176.
European water clocks
  • Bedini, S.A. "The Compartmented Cylindrical Clepsydra." Technology and Culture 3(2):115-141. 1962. ISSN 0040-165X
  • Drover, C.B. "A Medieval Monastic Water Clock", Antiquarian Horology, Vol. I, No. 5 (1954), pp. 54–58.
  • Hill, Donald Routledge. "A History of Engineering in Classical and Medieval Times." La Salle, Ill., Open Court Pub. 1996. ISBN 0-415-15291-7
  • Hill, D.R. "The Toledo Water-Clocks of c.1075." History of Technology, vol.16, 1994, pp. 62–71
  • Scattergood, John. "Writing the clock: the reconstruction of time in the late Middle Ages." European Review, Issue 4 (Oct, 2003), 11: pp. 453–474 Cambridge University Press (School of English, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland. jscatter@tcd.ie)
Greek and Alexandrian water clocks
  • Hill, D.R. (ed. & trans.) (1976). Archimedes “On the Construction of Water-Clocks,” Turner & Devereux, Paris.
  • Lepschy, Antonio M. "Feedback Control in Ancient Water and Mechanical Clocks." IEEE Transactions on Education, Vol. 35, No. 1, February, 1992.
  • Lewis, Michael (2000). "Theoretical Hydraulics, Automata, and Water Clocks". In Wikander, Örjan. Handbook of Ancient Water Technology. Technology and Change in History. 2. Leiden. pp. 343–369 (356f.). ISBN 90-04-11123-9 
  • Noble, J.V. & de Solla Price, D. J. “The Water clock in the Tower of the Winds.” American Journal of Archaeology, 72, 1968, pp. 345–355.
  • Woodcroft, Bennet (translator). "The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria." London, Taylor Walton and Maberly, 1851.
  • Vitruvius, P., The Ten Books on Architecture. (M.H. Morgan, translator) New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960.
Indian water clocks
  • Achar, N. “On the Vedic origin of the ancient mathematical astronomy of India.” Journal of Studies on Ancient India, vol 1, 95-108, 1998.
  • Fleet, J. F., “The ancient Indian water clock.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 213-230, 1915.
  • Kumar, Narendra "Science in Ancient India" (2004). ISBN 8126120568.
  • Pingree, D. “The Mesopotamian origin of early Indian mathematical astronomy.” Journal of the History of Astronomy, vol. 4, 1-12, 1973.
  • Pingree, D. “The recovery of early Greek astronomy from India.” Journal for the History of Astronomy, vol 7, 109-123, 1976.
Japanese water clocks
  • Kiyoyasu, Maruyma. "Hoken shakai to gijutsu - wadokei ni shuyaku sareta hoken gijutsu." Kagakushi kenkyu, Sept. 1954, 31:16-22.
Korean water clocks
  • Hahn, Young-Ho and Nam, Moon-Hyon. "Reconstruction of the Armillary Spheres of Mid-Chosun: The Armillary Clocks of Yi Minchol." Hanguk Kwahaksa Hakhoeji (Journal of the Korean History of Science Society)19.1 (1997): 3-19. (in Korean)
  • Hahn, Young-Ho, et al. "Astronomical Clocks of Chosun Dynasty: King Sejong's Heumgyonggaknu. Kisulgwa Yoksa (Journal of the Korean Society for the History of Technology and Industry) 1.1 (2000): 99-140. (in Korean).
  • Hong, Sungook "Book Review: Korean Water-Clocks: "Chagyongnu", the Striking Clepsydra, and the History of Control and Instrumentation Engineering." Technology and Culture - Volume 39, Number 3, July 1998, pp. 553-555
  • Nam, Moon-Hyon. “Chagyongnu: The Automatic Striking Water clock.” Korea Journal, 30.7 (1990): 9-21.
  • Nam, Moon-Hyon. Korean Water Clocks: Jagyongnu, The Striking Clepsydra and The History of Control and Instrumentation Engineering. Seoul: Konkuk University Press, 1995. (in Korean)
  • Nam, Moon-Hyon. On the BORUGAKGI of Kim Don—Principles and Structures of JAYEONGNU. Hanguksa Yeongu (Studies on Korean History),101 (1998): 75-114 (in Korean)
  • Nam, Moon-Hyon. Jang Yeong-Shil and Jagyeongnu - Reconstruction of Time Measuring History of Choseon Period. Seoul National University Press, 2002. (in Korean)
  • Nam, Moon-Hyon and Jeon San-Woon. “Timekeeping Systems of Early Choson Dynasty.” Proceedings of First International Conference on Oriental Astronomy, From Guo Shoujing to King Sejong, Seoul, October 6–11, 1993, Seoul, Yonsei University Press, 1997. 305-324.
  • Needham, Joseph, Major, John S., & Gwei-Djen, Lu. “Hall of Heavenly Records: Korean Astronomical Instruments and Clocks, 1380-1780.” Cambridge [Cambridgeshire] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-521-30368-0
  • Hyeonjong Shillock (Veritable Records of King Hyeonjong), 1669
  • Jungjong Shillok (Veritable Records of King Jungjong), 1536.
  • Sejong Shillock (Veritable Records of King Sejong), Chapter. 65, AD 1434 and Chapter. 80, AD 1438.
Mesopotamian water clocks
  • Brown, David R., Fermor, John, & Walker, Christopher B.F., “The Water Clock in Mesopotamia.” Archiv für Orientforschung, 46/47 (1999/2000)
  • Chadwick, R. “The Origins of Astronomy and Astrology in Mesopotamia.” Archaeoastronomy. BULL. CTR ARCH. V. 7:1-4, P. 89, 1984. KNUDSEN Bibliographic Code: 1984BuCAr...7...89C
  • Fermor, John, “Timing the Sun in Egypt and Mesopotamia.” Vistas in Astronomy, 41 (1997), 157-167. Elsevier Science. DOI: 10.1016/S0083-6656(96)00069-4.
  • Walker, Christopher and Britton, John. “Astronomy and Astrology in Mesopotamia.” BMP, 1996 (especially pp. 42–67)
Present-day water clocks
  • Gitton, Bernard. “Time, like an everflowing stream.” Trans. Mlle. Annie Chadeyron. Ed. Anthony Randall. Horological Journal 131.12 (June 1989): 18-20.
  • Taylor, Robert. "Taiwan's Biggest Cuckoo Clock?: Recreating an Astronomical Timepiece". Sinorama Magazine. 3-15-2006
  • Xuan, Gao. "Principle Research and Reconstruction Experiment of the Astronomical Clock Tower in Ancient China." Proceeding of the 11th World Congress in Mechanism and machine Science. August 18–21, 2003. Tianjin, China.
Other topics on water clocks and related material
  • Goodenow, J., Orr, R., & Ross, D. "Mathematical Models of Water Clocks." Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Landels, John G. "Water-Clocks and Time Measurement in Classical Antiquity." Endeavour 3(1):32-37. 1979. ISSN 0160-9327
  • Mills, A.A. “Newton’s Water Clocks and the Fluid Mechanics of Clepsydrae.” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 37(1):35-61. 1982. ISSN 0035-9149
  • Neugebauer, Otto (1969) [1957]. The Exact Sciences in Antiquity (2 ed.). Dover Publications. ISBN 978-048622332-2. 
  • Sarma, S.R., “Setting up the Water Clock for Telling the Time of Marriage.” in Studies in the History of the Exact Sciences in Honour of David Pingree, éd. Ch. Burnett, J.P. Hogendijk, K. Plofker, M. Yano, Leiden-Boston, 2004, pp. 302–330.
  • Snell, Daniel. “Life in the Ancient Near East, 3100-332 B.C.E.” ISBN 0-300-07666-5.
Non-English resources
  • Bilfinger, Gustav, Die babylonische Doppelstunde: Eine chronologische Untersuchung (Wildt, Stuttgart, 1888).
  • Borchardt, Ludwig. 1920. “Die Altägyptische Zeitmessung.” (Old Egyptian time measurement). Berlin/Leipzig.
  • Daressy, G., "Deux clepsydres antiques", BIE, serie 5, 9, 1915, pages 5–16
  • Ginzel, Friedrich Karl, “Die Wassermessungen der Babylonier und das Sexagesimalsystem”, Klio: Beiträge zur alten Geschichte, 16 (1920), 234-241.
  • Planchon, "L'Heure Par Les Clepsydres." La Nature. pp. 55–59.
  • Thureau-Dangin, François, “La clepsydre chez les Babyloniens [Notes assyriologiques LXIX]”, Revue d’assyriologie et d’archéologie orientale, 29 (1932), 133-136.
  • Thureau-Dangin, François, “Clepsydre babylonienne et clepsydre égyptienne”, Revue d’assyriologie et d’archéologie orientale, 30 (1933), 51-52.
  • Thureau-Dangin, François, “Le clepsydre babylonienne”, Revue d’assyriologie et d’archéologie orientale, 34 (1937), 144.

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  • Water clock — Wa ter clock An instrument or machine serving to measure time by the fall, or flow, of a certain quantity of water; a clepsydra. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • water clock — n. a device for measuring time by the fall or flow of water; clepsydra …   English World dictionary

  • water clock — noun clock that measures time by the escape of water • Syn: ↑clepsydra, ↑water glass • Hypernyms: ↑clock * * * ˈwater clock 7 [water clock] n …   Useful english dictionary

  • water clock — a device, as a clepsydra, for measuring time by the flow of water. [1595 1605] * * * or clepsydra Ancient device for measuring time by the gradual flow of water. One form, used by North American Indians and some African peoples, consisted of a… …   Universalium

  • water clock — noun historical a clock that used the flow of water to measure time …   English new terms dictionary

  • water clock — wa′ter clock n. hor a device, as a clepsydra, for measuring time by the flow of water • Etymology: 1595–1605 …   From formal English to slang

  • water clock — noun Date: 1601 an instrument designed to measure time by the fall or flow of a quantity of water called also clepsydra …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • water clock — noun a) A device for measuring time by letting water flow out of a container, usually through a tiny aperture. b) A clepsydra …   Wiktionary

  • water clock — /ˈwɔtə klɒk/ (say wawtuh klok) noun a device, as a clepsydra, for measuring time by the flow of water …  

  • water clock — device used for setting a specific period of time …   English contemporary dictionary

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