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 Expressions of Time

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Expressions of Time   Thu 14 Aug 2014, 12:49

Before hours were generally marked one way or another, how were - for instance - appointments made? Were dawn, noon and sunset the main markers?  Meetings were held, forums met etc but how did people  express when?
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Thu 14 Aug 2014, 18:14

If we're talking roughly middle ages period the only people who would have had a concept of measured time outside of the "fixed" times of sunrise, noon and sunset, (together with other natural times like cock-crow, blackbird-evensong etc.) would probably just be the monasteries and abbeys. For these religious houses the Rule of St Benedict, or whoever their specific monastic founder was, prescribed devotions and worship to be performed at very specific times throughout the 24hr day. To signal these times: lauds, matins, vespers etc, the monastery bell was rung to summon the faithful, and before mechanical clocks a monk would have to be assigned specifically to watch the passage of the sun on the sundial, or at night watch a burning calibrated candle, and so sound the hours for his brethren. And remember that canonical hours were not fixed as we would understand them but were still tied to the sun, so that for example lauds was at sunrise, whatever the season, so occurred later in winter and earlier in summer.

I suspect any rendez-vous was very much a reactive event in that people would down tools and go to the meeting only when the bell of the local abbey sounded for lauds, or the morning cocks throughout the valley started to crow etc. - rather than as now when people are much more atuned to the passage of time and can usually gather together in advance of the event. An instruction such as, "we'll all set of at cock-crow", would, I suspect actually be understood to mean, "we'll gather together once the cocks crow, and then when we are all present, we'll set off".
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 01:21

Roman hours were elastic (I think at heart all Irish people are Roman in that respect, even still). Night time hours grew in length as winter approached, daytime hours as summer approached. What I didn't know until very recently (last week in fact) was that Romans also had names for their hours and assigned characteristics to them. Mars governed the hour between 11 and midday so apparently declarations of war, as well as chancy attacks during battle, tended to happen just before the sun reached its apogee. Persians (aka Parthians) on the other hand believed that their war gods were most receptive to mortal requests around dawn. This apparently led to the only known case where a Roman emperor ended up being a Parthian bum-boy.

History is strange.

As a total aside (but more relevant to the original question) the Newgrange aka Brú na Bóinne site in Ireland suggests that in 3,000BCE the day had been divided up by the locals into 15 (some say 17) distinct periods. One imagines for an essentially agricultural society such division is natural, if only to know when best to milk the cows. Some flowers' behaviour would also have helped measure the day, as well of course as would the sun's trajectory in relation to the horizon (and these people had literally a very limited horizon). What we know is that these divisions were important enough to be depicted both graphically in the form of stone engravings and through more monumental artificial landmarks which involved the whole community in their construction. So they were important, as were presumedly appointments made on their basis.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 11:49

Thank you - that is just what I wanted to know because I could not see how meetings and such could be arranged. It also made for order and daily routine, I guess. Did the Roman army have recorded named times? I cannot imagine their functioning without.
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 22:46

Meles meles wrote:
If we're talking roughly middle ages period the only people who would have had a concept of measured time outside of the "fixed" times of sunrise, noon and sunset, (together with other natural times like cock-crow, blackbird-evensong etc.) would probably just be the monasteries and abbeys. For these religious houses the Rule of St Benedict, or whoever their specific monastic founder was, prescribed devotions and worship to be performed at very specific times throughout the 24hr day. To signal these times: lauds, matins, vespers etc, the monastery bell was rung to summon the faithful, and before mechanical clocks a monk would have to be assigned specifically to watch the passage of the sun on the sundial, or at night watch a burning calibrated candle, and so sound the hours for his brethren. And remember that canonical hours were not fixed as we would understand them but were still tied to the sun, so that for example lauds was at sunrise, whatever the season, so occurred later in winter and earlier in summer.

I suspect any rendez-vous was very much a reactive event in that people would down tools and go to the meeting only when the bell of the local abbey sounded for lauds, or the morning cocks throughout the valley started to crow etc. - rather than as now when people are much more atuned to the passage of time and can usually gather together in advance of the event. An instruction such as, "we'll all set of at cock-crow", would, I suspect actually be understood to mean, "we'll gather together once the cocks crow, and then when we are all present, we'll set off".


Meles meles and Priscilla,

your message is very "insightful" (providing insight into the question) and in the meantime before reading your message I had already started research on the WWW...

Found some interesting results...
http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/article.php?ArticleID=19
And the source:
http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/introduction.php

And this:
http://goo.gl/GXBeQx


page 105 Time and Urban Culture in Late Medieval England by Chris Humphrey
"temporal" hours versus "equal hours" system, monastic hours versus clock hours...
Up to the 14th century the "temporal" hours system dividing the period of daylight into 12 parts and the same for the night...
Although equal hours were known about in the early Middle Ages, as shown for instance by wax candles marked with equally-spaced intervals, they did not have a central role in public time-keeping...
"Church's time" versus "merchant's time"...
a long time mixed system, the more subjective sense of men based upon day light hours used alongside clock-time...


I found also some intriguing site:
http://www.cosmicelk.net/timebeforeclocks.htm

And you know me...always seeking for the source...
http://diaspora.sakhaopenworld.org/3r.shtml
My esteem goes to her...

Kind regards to you both,

Paul.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Sat 16 Aug 2014, 19:45

Thank you. Paul. I have yet to click onto those links; with builders in the house nerves are a tad shattered. However, I set my mind to thinking. Bells. yes for church, as MM says and ships. Flags and yard arms - used by my late mum for the first tot of the day; and trumpets or,, such , I assume. I am thinking of the childhood poem . 'Tartary'.........'and trumpeters every day to all my meals
 will summon me....' There are dinner gongs. I still have the family one somewhere in the attic - though ion reflection it beats shouting so may be recalled to service.

But in ancient times, as suggested, nature was used; daybreak. cock crow. noon. bird roost and sunset. It's the times in between that interest and nordmann's mention of ancient reference is new to me.

The  problem arose for me years ago when I was writing and I had to get into creative sidestep. I   know there is recorded a Roman 'horologic' at a villa north of Aix but could no find out exactly what was meant... a wall shadow dial was all I can assume. I bet the Romans used trumpet ers - I am uncertain about Roman use of trumpets by  their army though film makers make use of the notion of marching trumpeters. I further assume the use of horns to make contact at a distance  - and I wonder how long the alpine horn has been in use. One was used in the Lake district to inform local schools in the local swimming bath was in use before etting children to them... That was in the 1950's.

Well, that is a ll a ramble but  the notion of marking time in particular, fascinates.
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Sun 17 Aug 2014, 04:05

Which begs the question, did our ancestors really care that much about it anyway?

Modern man is obsessed with time, so much so that the clock rules our lives. Every minute and second of the day is accounted for and we ever march to it's beat or tick as the case may be  Smile  Being 'on time' has become the mantra of our existence and being 'not on time' is the huge taboo. So much so that we cannot fathom any other... er time when it may have been otherwise.

Yes a few were attempting to find ways to mark the passings of the sun throughout history, but the average person? Did he/she really worry that much, beyond the markers that nature has given us of the seasons, tides, dawn, noon, dusk and moonrise? I tend to think that our ancestors were far more flexible, tolerant and patient than we are today.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Sun 17 Aug 2014, 13:03

The obsessive measurement of time is simply the scapegoating of our own mortality for our failure to survive it.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Sun 17 Aug 2014, 19:03

Priscilla, thank you for the links of time keeping in relation with your formerly personal life ...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Sun 17 Aug 2014, 21:05

Islanddawn wrote:
Which begs the question, did our ancestors really care that much about it anyway?

Modern man is obsessed with time, so much so that the clock rules our lives. Every minute and second of the day is accounted for and we ever march to it's beat or tick as the case may be  Smile  Being 'on time' has become the mantra of our existence and being 'not on time' is the huge taboo. So much so that we cannot fathom any other... er time when it may have been otherwise.

Yes a few were attempting to find ways to mark the passings of the sun throughout history, but the average person? Did he/she really worry that much, beyond the markers that nature has given us of the seasons, tides, dawn, noon, dusk and moonrise? I tend to think that our ancestors were far more flexible, tolerant and patient than we are today.

 Islanddawn,

due to this article people in the medieval world seems to be as run by the bell as now...
http://lorrainegehring.com/Time--600-1300.pdf

As always looking for the source...
http://lorrainegehring.com/

And Lorraine Gehring is the same as Lorraine Devereaux...

And she writes in:

SCA
For the moment there is no access to the site (visited it 30 minutes ago) But found the wiki about it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_Creative_Anachronism

And also the
http://www.bfs-kc.org/

Kind regards and with esteem from Paul.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Expressions of Time   Mon 18 Aug 2014, 07:07

That top article was so very interesting, Paul - though rather long!  I haven't read it all properly yet.  Thanks.
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