Sundial Fragment Physical Object
Alternate object namesSundial Cover Fragments;Compass Fragments
Creation Datecirca 1620
DescriptionPlastic container containing small glass fragments from sundial cover 1986.008.0082b. See also 1986.008.0082a, d--g.
Exhibition LabelCase Caption:
Aboard a Spanish ship, the pilot was third in seniority and would have had over sixteen years’ experience. His training included mathematics and celestial navigation. He also had to be familiar with charts of the overall voyage and those of the fleet’s destination in detail. He needed to understand changes in cloud patterns, shifts in ocean currents, and the quality of the ocean floor along different coastlines.
Aboard the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, the pilot, Martin Jiminez, secured his chest carefully. It was still intact when it was discovered by Mel Fisher’s divers almost 400 years later. It held plotting dividers, a small sundial, a cross staff, a jar, gold and silver coins, and gold chains. Most importantly, it held the astrolabe shown here as well as four others. The astrolabe was used to determine latitude. Certainty about the ship’s latitude combined with the pilot’s other knowledge, meant that the ship would reach its destination safely and on time.
Gift of Jamestown Inc.
This sundial and compass combination, found on the wreck of the Santa Margarita, is an early version of a pocket watch. It would have been similar to the one found in Jiminez’ chest.