Pre-Enlightenment scientific gewgaws


Yes, they're medieval; no, they're not instruments of torture (or dentistry). The... things at left are from Epact, "an electronic catalogue of medieval and renaissance scientific instruments from four European museums: the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Florence, the British Museum, London, and the Museum Boerhaave, Leiden." Since I don't often get to Leiden, it's nice to know I can look at all the gadgets and gizmos aplenty from the comfort of my desk chair. The tools pictured here are measuring rods, and it appears that not much is known about them, but you can make your own guesses:

"The square rod carries gunner's gauge scales and was therefore intended to measure shot, but the purpose of the pointed rods and knife is not entirely clear. The objects are neither signed nor dated, but the style of the decoration and the language used suggest that they are German and were made in the late 16th century."

The rest of the exhibit is super-cool, too, if you have a few hours to while away.