As precise as a Roman water clock

The ancient Romans shaped the modern world as much through their way of thinking as through their military ambition, most notably their need for precision in all things. At night, when sundials were of no use, the Romans harnessed the power of water to measure time.

On display in the exhibition, Ancient Rome: The Empire that Shaped the World is a water clock made of wood and brass.

Historians believe the earliest known time-measuring instruments of this kind were Clepsydrae and used by the Ancient Greeks. However there is evidence that they existed even earlier in Babylon, Egypt and Persia around 1600 BC.

The 12-hour water clock divides the 24 hours of the day into two periods. An intricate device with numerous chambers, it keeps the water flow constant and is calibrated to take into account the different hours of sunlight in winter and summer. The terms ante meridiem ‘before midday’ and post meridiem ‘after midday’ are still in use today.

See this and many other objects from the ancient Roman empire that shaped our modern world and marvel at their long-lasting legacy.

Presented by the Cairns Italian Festival and The Australian Armour and Artillery Museum, Ancient Rome is showing until 7 August, 2022.

Australian Armour and Artillery Museum
2 Skyrail Drive, Smithfield, Queensland
Open 7 days, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Tickets to see Ancient Rome include free entry to the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum, the largest private collection of tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery in the southern hemisphere.

Tickets can be purchased online and at the Museum.

The Cairns Italian Festival continues with a wide range of events from 28 July – 6 August 2022.

Photo courtesy of WA Maritime Museum. Ancient Rome: Epic Innovators & Engineers, June – October 2020