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Irish Round Towers

42 There were direct contacts between the Islamic ports of North Africa and Ravenna, so the idea of the new lighthousecum religioushourproclaimer reached the Ravennans easily. The only important change they made was replacing the muezzins call with bells to broadcast the religious hours. Nevertheless both religions established the same thing the imposition of particular hours on their communities. It was the beginning of modern time keeping. The GrecoRoman world divided time into twelve hours between sunrise and sunset, and another twelve hours of night. Which was fine, except that the length of daylight varies, so the hours lengthened and shortened with the seasons. Their first public clock was the Tower of the Winds in Athens inside which a hydraulically operated statue pointed at a revolving pillar inscribed with lines indicating the hours varying length. Islam and Christianity inherited these altering hours. The Arabs were particularly impressed by a clock in Gaza with twelve doors through which a statue of Hercules emerged at the appropriate hour of the day. Lights appeared behind each door at night. They built a similar clock for their first great mosque, at Damascus, which required many workmen to keep it going. The caliph Harun Al Rashid sent Charlemagne one, and another was installed at Ravenna, but there were apparently none in Ireland countIng the hours and cross fertilisations 43
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