Water Clock

Doesn't this sound like something fun to try?  
I need a stop watch first though....


The ancient Babylonians were some of the first people to keep time. Sundials and water clocks were frequently used to keep up with the time of day. We know this from information that archaeologists have learned from clay tablets found in the area. The water clock allowed people to know how much time had passed even in the middle of the night. You can make your own water clock to get an understanding of how ancient people knew what the time was.

Items Needed:

  • Medium to large glass jar
  • Paper or plastic cup
  • Embroidery needle or stick pen
  • Permanent black marker
  • Stopwatch


First, use the stick pen to poke a small hole in the bottom of the cup. After this, fill the cup with water, and make sure that the water drips out at a steady rate. With the marker, make a fill line inside the cup so that you have a measured amount of water each time.

Next, place the cup into the mouth of the jar. Fill the cup with water to the fill line and immediately start your stopwatch. Make lines with the marker on the jar at predetermined intervals. Note that the water will drip more quickly at first due to water pressure; therefore, your lines should get closer together as more time passes. Remember not to let the water in the cup run out.

By looking at the jar of water and seeing how much water has dripped into it, you can tell how much time has passed. Enjoy this old way of telling time!