Tower of the Winds

Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds, also called "horologion" (timepiece), is an octagonal Pentelic marble clocktower on the Roman "agora" in Athens. The structure features a combination of sundials, a water clock and a wind vane. [Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 345] It was supposedly built by Andronicus of Cyrrhus around 50 BC, but according to other sources might have been constructed in the 2nd century BC before the rest of the forum.


The 12 m tall structure has a diameter of about 8 m and was topped in antiquity by a weathervane-like Triton that indicated the wind direction. [Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 353] Below the frieze depicting the eight wind deities — Boreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Eurus (E), Apeliotes (SE), Notus (S), Livas (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW) — there are eight sundials. [Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 353] In its interior, there was a water clock (or clepsydra), driven by water coming down from the Acropolis. Recent research has shown that the considerable height of the tower was motivated by the intention to place the sundials and the wind-vane at a visible height on the Agora, making it effectively an early example of a clocktower. [Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 349] According to the testimony of Vitruvius and Varro, Andronicus of Cyrrhus designed the structure. [Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price, p. 354]

In early Christian times, the building was used as the bell tower of a Byzantine Church. It was partly buried in the ground until it was fully excavated in the 19th century by the Archaeological Society of Athens.

The design of the 18th-century Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford, England, is based on the Tower of the Winds, as is the mausoleum of the founder of the Greek National Library Panayis Vagliano at West Norwood Cemetery, London. It has also inspired the 15th century Torre del Marzocco in Livorno.There is a similar tower in Sevastopol, built in 1849.

ee also

* Antikythera mechanism


Further reading

*Joseph V. Noble; Derek J. de Solla Price: "The Water Clock in the Tower of the Winds", "American Journal of Archaeology", Vol. 72, No. 4 (1968), pp. 345-355

External links

* [ Tower of the Winds and characters sculpted on it]

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