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Horizontal Dial
Attributed to Carlo Plato
Dated 1585; Rome
Gilt brass; 90 mm in diameter

The dial consists of a gilt brass disc engraved with hour lines on both sides, with a revolving compass.

One side is engraved with the names of the winds and cardinal points on the limb,'SEPTETRIO','Boreas','SOLANVS','Eurus','MERIDIES','Aphricus','FAVONIVS','Circius'. The pin gnomon dial indicates Babylonian hours, engraved from 1 to 11 with continuous lines from 1 to 15, and planetary hours, with punctuated lines from 1 to 11. The dial is inscribed'Horae Babilonicae cu Planetarijs puctuatis', and next to the compass,'Polus 42 Graduu'.

The other side of the dial is inscribed with the names of the winds,'TRAMOTANA','Greco','LEVATE','Scirocco','OSTRO','Garbino','PONETE','Maestro'. The pin gnomon dial (the pin is bent) indicates Italian hours from 9 to 23 with continuous lines and common hours from 4 to 12 (a.m.), and 1 to 8 (p.m.) with punctuated lines. The dial is inscribed'Polus 42 Graduu ?' and'Horae Italicae cu Astronomicis ?'.

The compass is inscribed with the initials of the names of the winds in Italian,'P{onente}','M{aestro}','T{ramontana}','G{reco}','[cross]','S{cirocco}','O{stro}','Ga:{rbino}' and it is now wrongly oriented by 90?. The bottom of the compass has a weight so that it remains horizontal on turning the dial, and is inscribed'Romae anno dni 1585'.

The dial was bequeathed by Octavius Morgan and is described in F. A. B. Ward, A Catalogue of European Scientific Instruments in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities of the British Museum (London, 1981), p. 22, no.13.

Ilaria Meliconi

British Museum, London
Registration no. MLA 1888, 12-1.292

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