Answered By: Sarah Morehouse
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2015     Views: 15

We get quite a few questions about a research project having to do with clocks and timepieces in antiquity, such as hourglasses, water clocks, and various sophisticated timekeeping mechanisms. 

The trick to this research question is the keyword horology. It means the study of timekeeping. You will find some good background information in this Wikipedia article: and the links within that article.

Yes, a librarian just linked you to a Wikipedia article! Of course you shouldn't use it as a research source in your paper (not because it's a web site, but because it's a reference "book") but check out the vocabulary definitions and links to different kinds of clocks. That will give you an idea of what the subject area covers, and it will give you keywords (clepsydra!) to search in the databases 

Here are some databases to search:

  • Historical Abstracts - world history since 1400 - good for Renaissance and Age of Exploration timepieces
  • JSTOR - a multidisciplinary database with a great ancient and classical history collection - good for timepieces from ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient India, etc.
  • Science Direct - good database for any technological topic

You can get to all of these databases by going to the library web site and clicking Article Databases. Then either use the search box at the top to search for your database by its name, or scroll down and click on the name of the database and log in if it prompts you. Then you can keyword search. 

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