Water clocks were used as time keeping instruments in ancient Egypt from at least the New Kingdom until the end of pharaonic history. Most of the surviving full-sized water clocks are made of stone and are inscribed inside and out. All but one of them are 'outflow' water clocks, meaning that time was indicated by the water level falling past scale marks as the water ran out of the vessel. The remaining one is apparently an inflow water clock (water level rising past scale marks as the water ran into the vessel). Most water clocks have been found in pieces; fragments of the same vessel may currently be in different collections. The list below does not include smaller water clocks without scales, which may be models rather than real vessels.

The ID column gives a sequential number for each vessel (fragments are referred to by an additional lower-case letter, Fr.) based on the system of Lodomez (2007). Most objects are poorly provenanced, but the inscribed name gives a date reference. The exterior decoration of outflow water clocks sometimes included an astronomical representation (AR). These vessels are cross-referenced to the relevant page in the astronomical representations section of the database in the AR? column.

Click on the ID number to go to the description of the water clock.

Outflow Water Clock

ID

AR?FragmentCurrent locationCatalogue No.Inscribed to
WCO 1 Yes   Egyptian Museum, Cairo JE 37525 Amenhotep III
WCO 2 Yes   Egyptian Museum, Cairo JE 67096 Nekau II
WCO 3     a British Museum, London BM EA933 Alexander the Great
b Musée du Louvre, Paris E 30890
c Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin ÄM 30508
d In private collection -
WCO 4    a Hermitage, Saint Petersburg ДВ-2507a Alexander the Great
b Museo Nazionale, Naples 2327
WCO 5     Brooklyn Museum, New York 57.21.1 Alexander the Great
WCO 6     British Museum, London EA938 Philip Arrhidaeus
WCO 7    a Museo Egizio, Turin Supp. 8  
b Musées royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels E.04782  
WCO 8     Pushkin Museum, Moscow I.1.a.5955  
WCO 9     Ephesus Unknown  
WCO 10 Yes a Musée du Louvre, Paris N 664 Ptolemy II
b Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen H351
WCO 11     Museo Barracco, Rome MB 27 Ptolemy II
WCO 12     Hermitage, Saint Petersburg ДВ-2507b  
WCO 13     Lost (was in Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin) ÄM 19556 Hadrian
WCO 14     Museo Archeologico, Florence 2613  
WCO 15     Greco-Roman Museum, Alexandria P.9619  
WC? 16     Museo Egizio, Turin Supp. 3524  
WCO 17 Yes   Museo Archeologico, Florence 12290  
WCO 18    a Petrie Museum, London UC55487 ?Nectanebo
b In private collection -
WCO 19     Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago E16875  
WCO 20     Capitoline Museum, Rome -  
WCO 21 Yes   Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago A7125 Ptolemy II
WC? 22     British Museum, London EA21736  
WC? 23     Lost (was found in Rome) -  
Inflow Water Clock
IDProvenanceAR?Current locationCatalogue number
WCI 1 Edfu No Egyptian Museum, Cairo TR 2.12.26.16