What are some good books on calendars, chronology and the division and measurement of time?
March 2, 2008 7:35 AM   Subscribe

What are some good books on calendars, chronology and the division and measurement of time? I'm interested in the history, physics and especially mathematics of it all. A giant encyclopedic reference tome would be excellent. Thanks!
posted by hoverboards don't work on water to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
David Landes, Revolution in Time. More on clocks than calendars, but detailed and comprehensive nonetheless.
posted by googly at 7:37 AM on March 2, 2008

You may have seen these before, but there's some excellent stuff on line.
Calendar zone
Calendar FAQ
posted by adamrice at 7:47 AM on March 2, 2008

I highly recommend Dava Sobel's Longitude. It's the tale of a humble clockmaker who solved the greatest scientific problem of his day -- that of measuring longitudes accurately while on board a ship. And he did this not using the elaborate methods of his competitors which involved celestial charts and complicated measurements, but simply by building a clock that remained accurate at sea. A must-read for anyone interested in the history of chronology.
posted by peacheater at 8:23 AM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

The Calendar FAQ recommends The Oxford Companion to the Year, which appears to be exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 9:01 AM on March 2, 2008

For a detailed technical work including algorithms for converting between different calendars, you really can't do better than Calendrical Calculations.
posted by plep at 9:49 AM on March 2, 2008

Mostly not on the mathematics of it, more the anthropology and cultural construction of time:

Bibliography of Time

Alfred Gell: The Anthropology of Time: Cultural Constructions of Temporal Maps and Images, reviews calendrical systems globally in the context of a quite academic social-theory approach.

The Geography of Time

Chronotypes: the Construction of Time

The Human Organization of Time: Temporal Realities and Experience

This previous AskMe may have some interest for you.
posted by Rumple at 11:05 AM on March 2, 2008

The first several chapters of Boorstins The Discoverers is devoted to the causes, history and consequences of our improved ability to measure time.
posted by shothotbot at 12:25 PM on March 2, 2008

It's not a book, but this timeline of timelines has a bunch of interesting information about the history of humanity's measurement of time.
posted by mismatched at 12:51 PM on March 2, 2008

Historywise, Paolo Rossi's The Dark Abyss of Time: History of the Earth and the History of Nations from Hooke to Vico offers an interesting view of the displacement of Biblical chronologies by scientific ones in 17th/18th century Europe.
posted by misteraitch at 1:40 PM on March 2, 2008

A Sideways Look At Time by Jay Griffiths.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:52 PM on March 2, 2008

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