clepsydra or water clock, ancient device for measuring time by means of the flow of water from a container. A simple form of clepsydra was an earthenware vessel with a small opening through which the water dripped; as the water level dropped, it exposed marks on the walls of the vessel that indicated the time that had elapsed since the vessel was full. More elaborate clepsydras were later developed. Some were double vessels, the larger one below containing a float that rose with the water and marked the hours on a scale. A form more closely foreshadowing the clock had a cord fastened to the float so that it turned a wheel, whose movement indicated the time. A further step was the use of gear wheels and a turning pointer. It is believed that clepsydras were used in Egypt c.2000 B.C.; from Egypt they were introduced into Greece and later from there into Rome.
or clepsydra

Ancient device for measuring time by the gradual flow of water. One form, used by North American Indians and some African peoples, consisted of a small boat or floating vessel that shipped water through a hole until it sank. In another form, water escaped through a hole in a vessel marked with graduated lines; specimens from Egypt date from the 14th century BC. The Romans invented a clepsydra consisting of a cylinder into which water dripped from a reservoir; a float provided readings against a scale on the cylinder wall. Galileo used a mercury clepsydra to time his experimental falling bodies. Seealso clock.

Learn more about water clock with a free trial on

Clepsydra may refer to

Search another word or see clepsydraon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature