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Using A Sundial, Understanding The Heavens?

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Chapter Summary

It is likely, from the survival of smaller and larger versions, that the navicula might have been made for or owned by people with varying amounts of money to spend on a useful little sundial. The navicula text was copied with a calendar and a diagram showing the relationship between zodiac and calendar months. Religious resonance in the design of the navicula can be seen in its shape: it is a sundial that looks like a ship. Common in the Middle Ages was the idea of life as a pilgrimage, by land or by sea. Using an instrument and understanding how it was made would help a scholar to know the structure of the universe, and the motion of the sun through the heavens. The link between geometry and astronomy, and the use of the navicula, is also seen in the texts on constructing the instrument.

Keywords: medieval monastic sundials; navicula manuscripts

10.1163/ej.9789004176652.i-292.18
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