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Scientists have discovered nearly 2,000-year-old Roman sundial

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Scientists have discovered nearly 2,000-year-old Roman sundial
Scientists have discovered nearly 2,000-year-old Roman sundial | Photo: Faculty of Classics, Cambridge University

In 2017, scientists discovered an almost 2,000-year-old Roman sundial in the remains of the Roman city of Interamna Lirenas, located near the Italian Pignataro Interamna (central Italy).

The 54 cm-long object is made of limestone. On the concave surface, there are engraved lines that represent 11 hours, separated by 3 semi-circular lines (for days). The artefact was probably used to mark the winter solstice, equinox and summer solstice. Only the gnomon is missing.

Scientists say that the sundial found is one of less than 100 preserved to our times. There is an engraved inscription on the object stating that Marcus Novius Tubula is the son (filius) of another Marcus and holds the office of the plebeian tribune (tribunus plebis). What’s more, he funded the facility with his own funds, which proves that he wanted to emphasize his position in society in this way.

The sundial was probably on a platform in a public place – e.g. a forum.

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