Why did human decide to take track of time? how did human find out about time first? and when and how did they felt some thing called time? there are some guesses but I want to know if there is any thing recorded from then.

Because the concept of "time" is so weird, even now it's so weird and abstract to me and it's man-made, didn't used to exist before we define it. so it came into my mind, how did people create such concept.

PS: my question is NOT a duplicate of this one

  • I would seem to me that in order to have a sense of history, people have to have already had a sense of time passing. Therefore it would seem logical that the development of a sense of time must pre-date history. Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 16:10
  • @KillingTime you are right.
    – parvin
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 16:12
  • I guess it was basically the way human could see how things change and would want or feel the need to keep the track of it. Understanding the regulatory and a need to predict the events might have been the greatest motivation.
    – parvin
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 16:14
  • An interesting and related question is how units of length which could be used to make pendulums which measured time could be standardized between countries that were thousands of miles away. I am not sure if they used the apparent size of the Moon or what. Also related is that a device to measure time for court in ancient Greece took into account shortening days in winter -- there was no absolute time only divisions of the days.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 20:56
  • Knowing time is passing is not quite the same as tracking time as it passes - the first is necessary for agriculture, and even hunting and gathering - the second might not be. For example, Australian indigenous people have more seasons than the current Western four (which are mostly calendar based) and simply use weather conditions to mark the transition, rather than track the time.
    – user13123
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 23:18

2 Answers 2


When did they start to "feel" cannot be answered (and does not relate to history in the strict sense. This certainly happened in pre-historic time. You cannot plan anything without some feeling of time. Perhaps some animals also "feel time", how can we know?)

But when people started to keep track, one can probably explain. Not later than with the start of agriculture. When doing agriculture, one needs to know the time of the year, when to plant. For this it is necessary to look at the sky, and observe various phenomena, and to count days. One has to know how many days remains to the next summer, and whether you have enough food till the next harvest. So one of the most fundamental thing for a human is how many days are there is a year. So great efforts were spent to determine this with high accuracy.

Perhaps it started even earlier: those people who lived by hunting and gathering also needed some notion of the season of the year. To keep track of the seasonable migration of animals, etc.

Some time after the invention of agriculture, writing was invented, and people started to record longer periods of time, count years etc. By the way, all evidence shows that writing was invented to keep track of the agricultural products and their distribution.

For shorter periods than a day, the Sun's approximate position in the sky was enough for crude estimation of time in most civilizations. With the development of more sophisticated societies, more precise measurement was needed and water clocks were invented.


Even the involuntary response to cover your face if something is flying at you is predicated on a cause and effect, i.e., two events taking place in sequence. By this definition it seems to me that time was "found out about" before humans were even involved.

  • Movement, sequence of events, cause and effect, Sun's position over your head, change of entropy, all do NOT physically require "time" as we define it. Rather than that, "time" is a man-made abstraction, useful in everyday life (less and less useful in science as such a common entity for all those use-cases now became more of a heavy burden). Cf "The End of Time". I think History.SE is a great place to discuss the invention of "time".
    – kubanczyk
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 16:02
  • @kubanczyk that is exactly what I mean, "time is a man made abstraction".
    – parvin
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 12:47
  • @kubanczyk I think history SE is a wrong place to discuss it. as others mentioned in comments, as human made the time history began. so history came to existence after "time definition" came to existence. so maybe physics SE would be the place for discussing. or maybe any chatroom.
    – parvin
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 12:49

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