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Navigate around Epact as you would any other website: follow any of the underlined links for more information and click on the pictures to look at an enlarged view.

To browse thorough the catalogue entries simply go to the catalogue section and click on Next or Previous in the margin to move one instrument at a time in the sequence. Alternatively click on the First or Last links to go to the beginning or the end of the sequence of catalogue entries. Clicking on the Instrument Type, Maker, Place or Date links in the margin simply changes the order in which the catalogue entries are sorted. The Overview and Details links change between the shorter, more general account of the instruments, and the technical descriptions.

In both the handlist and search facility results pages, you can choose whether to view the text descriptions or thumbnail pictures, by clicking on Text or Pictures at the bottom of the page. It is also possible to alter the number of instruments listed on each page by choosing one of the figures in the "Show 10 | 20 | 50 | 100 | ... instruments at a time" line.

Epact consists of 520 catalogue entries and a variety of supporting material. All European instruments from the four museums by makers who were active before 1600 have been entered in the catalogue. They include astrolabes, armillary spheres, sundials, quadrants, nocturnals, compendia, surveying instruments, and so on. Examples range from ordinary instruments for everyday use to more extravagant and often lavish pieces destined for the cabinets of princes.

Each instrument in the catalogue is described with the aid of one or more photographs and two levels of text: an overview text providing a short account of the most notable features of the instrument and a detailed text giving more technical and scholarly information.

Supporting material includes a thematic essay providing background information about the medieval and renaissance mathematical arts and sciences as well as a number of technical articles giving explanations of how the main different types of instrument operated. Short entries on all makers and places represented in Epact are supplemented by a glossary of technical terms found in the overview texts and a bibliography lists all references from the detailed texts. Terms from the makers and places indexes and the glossary are all cross-linked from individual catalogue entries.

Catalogue entries may also be reached via the handlist of all instruments and the search facility, which allows the catalogue to be limited by instrument-type, maker, place, holding museum, and date, as well as providing free text searching.

A more detailed account of the cataloguing process and coverage of Epact is provided under cataloguing conventions.

Please e-mail any comments you have about Epact to museum@mhs.ox.ac.uk
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