One of world’s oldest sun dials discovered in Egypt—University of Basel

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University of BaselVALLEY OF THE KINGS, EGYPT—Archaeologists from the University of Basel have unearthed one of the earliest sundials ever found in Egypt. – possibly dating back to 13th century BC – used by the people to tell time with the position of the Sun.

The team led by Professor Susanne Bickel made the significant discovery while clearing the entrance to one of the tombs.
During this year’s excavations the researchers found a flattened piece of limestone (so-called Ostracon) on which a semicircle in
black colour had been drawn. The semicircle is divided into twelve sections of about 15 degrees each.

Photo of Ostracon from University of Basel

A dent in the middle of the approximately 16 centimetre long horizontal baseline served to insert a wooden or metal bolt that would cast a shadow to show the hours of the day. Small dots in the middle of each section were used for even more detailed time measuring. The sun dial was found in an area of stone huts that were used in the 13th century BC to house the men working at the construction of the graves. The sun dial was possibly used to measure their work hours.

During this year’s excavation in cooperation with the Egyptian authorities and with the help of students of the University of Basel over 500 mostly fragmentary objects that had been recovered in former seasons were documented and prepared for further scientific examination.

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