ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is Time?

Updated on December 2, 2016

Every living thing is influenced by time, and since the days of early man we have accepted the passing of time as something natural and inevitable. Our early ancestors linked time directly with the position of the sun in the sky and the seasons of the year. The sun's angle of elevation (how high it stands above the horizon) was the natural way for man to estimate the time of day, and days were grouped into months according to the periodic appearance of the new moon. It is no accident that we continue to measure angles in terms of 'minutes' and 'seconds' and that our full circle contains 360 degrees.

For early man learned by experience that there were on average twelve months in a year and roughly thirty days in a month, giving a total of 360 days in a year. Sub-dividing the full circle was probably the beginning of geometry.

The reappearance of leaves on the trees and the breeding seasons of animals gave man his first indication of an annual division of time. But these signs could not be relied on, for spring could arrive early or late. Then, in the more civilized communities, it became important to know the correct time of year to sow and reap the harvest. The temple priests found they could map out the position of certain bright stars which proved better timekeepers- than the leaves of the trees.

As a result, many religious festivals were associated with some significant position of the moon or stars. Even the design of pyramids and temples was often controlled by the direction of the sun or moon's rays at these important times. Mythology, astrology, superstition and genuine scientific observation developed hand in hand, until man's fear of the unknown and the power of the priesthood took the upper hand and condemned him to an age of almost total scientific stagnation.

He emerged from these dark ages, as they are called, in the 15th century, when printing became more widespread and people began to read and educate themselves. Life became more civilized, trade flourished, and as men explored the world aids to navigation became increasingly important.

From the very early days, sailors had used the stars and the position of the sun and moon to decide the direction of their course across the sea, but they also needed to know the time before they could calculate their actual position.

Three things - time, a position on the earth, and the angle of elevation of a star- are mathematically linked; knowing two of these, the third can always be calculated. It was only in the 16th century that the influence of the navigator became more important than that of the priest in the development of machines to measure time.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      AKA Winston 

      6 years ago

      What you describe is a scale, a measurement of movement, and that is right. Time is our conceptual representation of that movement.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)