Public clock towers were also known in the ancient world. The oldest still standing example is in Athens. This ancient stone structure once housed a water clock. This example establishes that the public cared about and used accurate time keeping.

Tower of the Winds

The Horologium is more commonly known by its English name, the Tower of the Winds. It is the only surviving clock tower from antiquity. There is an extensive Tower of the Winds article on Wikipedia for those who may want detailed history.

Here is an introductory video.

Key Points

This tower was functioning before the writing of the New Testament and would have been in operation when Paul visited Athens on his missionary journey. Athens was much smaller, and he would most likely have known of this tower.

This helps defend the idea that the public of that time was well aware of time keeping and that the time references in scripture are there with the expectation that most people would be able to understand them.

The water clock inside this building was driven by a spring located atop the Athens acropolis which is nearby. Various remains around the site show those waterworks.

Besides a clock, and besides various sundials on the outside, the structure is thought by some to have contained a larger version of the Antikythera mechanism. If so, then this facility housed more than just a simple clock.

This ancient tower in Athens is decorated on the outside with 8 different types of sundials. Sundials are the other ancient form of time keepers, and are perhaps the best known way of tracking the movement of the sun.

Mechanical clocks must always be set against an observation of the sun. So the Tower of the Winds has sundials on the outside walls for this purpose.

We turn to problems of sundials next.