By Sara J. Schechner; Cambridge: Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Harvard University, 2014.
Time: We find it, keep it, measure it, obey it, rely on it, waste it, save it, chop it and try to stop it. We organize our lives around it, and yet, do we really know what time is? Drawing upon collections in Harvard’s scientific, historical archaeological, anthropological, and natural history museums and libraries, the book explores the answers given to that question in different ages by different world cultures and disciplines. Themes include time finding from nature and time keeping by human artifice. Readers of this book will explore cultural beliefs about the creation and end of time, the flow of time, and personal time as marked by rites of passage. They will take time out, and examine the power of keeping time together in music, dance, work, and faith. They will explore time’s representation in history and objects of personal memory, its personification in art, and its expression in biological evolution and the geological transformations of our planet. Featured objects include portable sundials and precision clocks, calendars from different cultures and epochs, time charts shaped like animals, Mesopotamian, Native American, and African ritual objects, fossils, metamorphosing creatures, and Julia Child’s stopwatch.