Saturday, January 5, 2019

Babylonian Hours

Babylonian Hours
-Willis Monroe (@willismonroe,
This clock uses a system of time calculation from 2,500 years ago used by the Babylonians in ancient Mesopotamia. The time is based on the concept of a seasonal hour, i.e. the length of an hour is seasonal and depends on the duration of daylight in your current location. This website grabs your location and computes your local time in this Babylonian system (here's an example of a cuneiform tablet from ancient Mesopotamia calculating seasonal hours). Obviously, the ancient Babylonians did not have digital clocks, so this clock takes a few liberties with how it displays the data, if you want to know more about the calculations and ancient Babylonian units of time continue reading below.
If you're just curious how to read this clock, the first number is the hour past sunrise or sunset (depending on day or night), the second is a unit called an which counts up from zero to a maximum of 12 for your current location, the third number is a unit called gar for which there are 60 in an , the acronym at the end refers to a named quarter of the 24-hour day.


You can check out the source code on GitHub.
Geolocation is provided by
Local sunrise and sunset is provided by

Thanks to friends and colleagues who looked over this and pointed out inconsistencies and/or typos.

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