Prof. Smith
Christine Pense
May 16
Readings in History

A Model for Exploring Time

The Moving Finger Writes, and having writ,
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

Stanza 71, "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam."
Edward FitzGerald (1)

The primary purpose of this paper is to suggest a model for understanding time as it is organized and used by various cultures at various times.

What do we mean by time? Time can be experienced physically -- the sky as a daily witness -- sun and moon, light and dark. Time can be the changes in one's own body, inexplicable aches and wrinkles. Time can be trace sensations evoked by memories of yesterday and the day before. In this sense, time is simply direct experience.

And yet, memory is understood and described very differently from culture to culture. Likewise the significance of age, the order of the sky: none of these, however directly experienced, are given the same meaning from one group to another.

How, then, to compare the more abstract understandings of time?

For beyond the physical brunt of time's effects, time can only be described metaphorically. Time is the units in which it is measured -- minutes, seconds, hours, or possibly the length of a particular action. Time is a description of events proceeding inevitably, inescapably: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Time is also the expected set of events that make up a unit, the unit of time completed only when the actions are completed: saying a Pater Noster, planting a field of rice, raising a barn, baking a loaf of bread, playing a round of golf. A familiar action circumscribes time.

What do groups do with time? How do groups use time? Some groups make little of time, others, quite a lot.

Time may be organized into a loose or a rigid calendar. Owning or controlling the calendar has typically been important for hierarchically and dynastically organized societies; that is, it is easy to think of Egyptian or Mayan or Chinese or Roman dynasties who kept strict track of time, and difficult to think of an example of a group of herders or nomads that took great effort to promulgate and regulate a calendar. Generally speaking, the dynasty in power invest specialists with the duty to describe, divide and control time. Time becomes the language of power.

Time may be a set of expectations upon which other actions are based. How long will it take to walk to the post office? How long will it take for the letter to arrive? How long it will take for a ship with my trade goods to make a journey and come back? How long will Arcturus be visible in the sky?

Time is risk -- the space between plan and completion when something can go awry. Groups with the habit of planning -- conceiving of a project, especially of one that takes coordinated action -- might be welcoming of any tool or technology that reduces the time between plan and completion.

How about that bromide "time is money?" In this refinement of the concept, time is a resource, limited not only by the finite amount allotted to each individual, but also by the time others will (or will not) take to complete actions -- buy, sell, trade, travel -- in which one might wish to join. Time is a window of opportunity. Time is a space in which to gather the synecdoche of value.

We've asked what time is, and how groups use it. Speaking broadly, time is used for political ends -- for power over a group -- to establish legitimacy, authority. Calendars describe, divide and control time. Calendar time is spin control.  In business, smaller units of time form the base of planning, the limits of the possible. Time is used to measure risk, to assess possibilities of success. Time is a measurable resource which must be subtracted to add value to the creation or delivery of commodities. When merchants impudently seize time, employ it for purposes other than politics, they nevertheless aspire to speak the language of power. (Perhaps herein lies the answer to "why the West?" Also the reason that heaven, having no use for money or human power, is timeless.)

To return to the quotidian, the purpose of this paper is to suggest a model for understanding time as it is organized and used by various cultures at various times.  Specifically, I want to develop a model to analyze forms of time -- calendars and smaller units --  as they reflect structures of power and expectations about what may be done. The problem with models and history is that models -- in a scientific sense -- imply predictability. Predicting the past with models is, well, silly: one always has the facts to correct the model's errors.  (And predicting the future is probably another species of silliness, if not arrogance.)  The kind of model I am interested in developing is framework for comparison between cultures and eras, a set of questions that can be posed without predicating anachronistic answers. In building this model, I will pay close attention to the efforts cultures make to describe, divide, and control time. The works that I am using to support this model are materials I read in the course of the semester, and in part they suggested the framework of  what I would like to propose. The secondary purpose of this paper is to map out part of the groundwork for further analysis of business tools as they capture the way various cultures understand time and space.  This work, in conjunction with earlier papers, is an attempt to work out the theoretical basis for my eventual dissertation.

Static Oddities

How to generate a useful set of questions? Oddities are a way to begin. In his introduction to The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History Robert Darnton says:

One thing seems clear to everyone who returns from field work: other people are other. They do not think the way we do. And if we want to understand their way of thinking, we should set out with the idea of capturing their otherness. There is no better way, I believe, than to wander through the archives. One can hardly read a letter from the Old Regime without coming up against surprises --anything from the constant dread of toothaches, which existed everywhere, to the obsession with braiding dung for display on manure heaps, which remained confined to certain villages. What was proverbial wisdom to our ancestors is completely opaque to us. Open any eighteenth-century book of proverbs, and you will find entries such as "He who is snotty, let him blow his nose." When we cannot get a proverb, or a joke, or a ritual, or a poem, we know we are on to something. By picking at the document where it is most opaque, we may be able to unravel and alien system of meaning. The thread might even lead to a strange and wonderful world view.(2)
Consider a continuum like this:

                                   transparent ------------------ pleasantly exotic ----------------- opaque

Transparent describes an experience or item so commonplace, so ordinary, so globally acceptable that no one notices why it works the  way it does anymore. Examples are ATM machines, windows software, business suits, roads. Pleasantly exotic defines an experience or item which strikes one as odd, but somehow charming, or desirable, because it represents a change. In America, for example, red bell peppers, Vietnamese food, French perfume are exotic. Opaque blocks out an experience or item totally inexplicable, even distasteful, unpleasant, disturbing.  Women body builders, for instance, are opaque to many cultures. Opaque experiences are those that offer new ways of feeling and thinking that are rejected by others outside of the culture. Transparent and exotic experiences are ways of thinking and feeling that are readily or eventually accepted by others outside of the culture.

Darnton's notion of entering new cultures, even new world-views, by stopping to "stare" at a point of opacity is simple, and yet has great value: since the mind tends to blank out details which it cannot easily incorporate into its "pre-set" or cultural scheme, giving attention to precisely that which cannot be understood must allow for at least the possibility of new understandings. And time, wound around and about everything, can only be abstracted, made into metaphors. So we want to notice anything that makes time opaque, that offers strange ways to describe, divide and control time.

A caveat before plunging ahead: a slight and amusing tale I once heard told, that has since grown and taken on significance in my mind. A long time ago a graduate student in the sciences was hired by a corporation to do testing on a specimen.  However, he never quite got around to it, and at the time that his part of the report was due to his corporate sponsors, he had only one data point. A colleague who traveled to New York (to give another part of the report) said it was the most brilliant exposition on one point he had ever heard. The student described his data point, the data points he could have found, and the data points that would doubtless have lain outside the curve his data points would have described.  What the sponsors thought I never heard.

In a sense, this work is in the same predicament.  The only data point all other interpretations of time can be compared to is my own narrow, idiosyncratic understanding of my own culture's viewpoint of time.  Is it not foolish to take myself as a measure for all things?

George Lakoff, a linguist and cognitive scientist from UC Berkely, comes to my rescue. He argues that knowledge cannot be understood from a God's eye perspective:  without denying an outside reality, responsible researchers agree that knowledge can only be understood from a human reference point.  Just how is knowledge embodied?  The point is worth pursuing briefly.  Cognitive models are embodied --based on the body -- built up via ordinary actions within a culture, structured according to folk myths within that culture, and overlapping to allow gradients of membership between one model and the next.  In other words, any vantage point offers the same subjectivity, and every group has roughly the same biological materials with which to start.  Lakoff used studies of color perceptions to illustrate and support his ideas about embodied knowledge.  The subjects that Berlin and Kay worked with had different words for color, and different understandings of how many colors there were in the world (anywhere from two to eleven) but they did agree on "focal colors."

What made it possible for Berlin and Kay to find these regularities was their discovery of focal colors.  If one simply asks speakers around the world to pick out the portions of the spectrum that their basic color terms refer to, there seem to be no significant regularities.  The boundaries between color ranges differ from language to language.  The regularities appear only when one asks for the best example of a basic color term given a standardized chart of 320 small color  chips.  Virtually the same best examples are chosen for the basic color terms by speakers in language after language. (3)
Lakoff links the focal colors to the firing rate of neurons, and suggests that -- despite seeming diversity -- the biology of the
body determines what we see and how we know what we see.  Traveling along Lakoffian lines,  we might ask how cultures created their cognitive models of "calendar time" in consonance with bodily experience?  Might such calendars be opaque to use because they are at odds with our own bodily experiences?

To begin we will take a few case studies, drawn mainly from astronomer Anthony Aveni's Empires of Time. Consider first the calendar of a pastoral people.

The Nuer are a tribe who reside in the upper Nile in what is now the Sudan, about 500 kilometers south of Khartoum.  Back in the 1930s...they numbered nearly a quarter of a million and were relatively free of contact with outsiders. [E.E. Evans-Pritchard] found them to be a formidable people:  tall, long-limbed and handsome, with a complex and sophisticated kinship and political system and an economy immediately and directly centered on the raising of cattle. (4)
Nuer people use both ecological time and structural time.  With regard to ecological time, Aveni says that tribal cultures like the Nuer, Trobriand, Bororo, or Mursi organize time around agricultural and herding activities, as one might expect, but in each case, when an established unit of time (usually lunar, but sometimes based on other yearly environmental cues) doesn't exactly "match" with the time kept by distant members of the group, or with the needs of the season, then the group simply adds or subtracts until the "external" units come into harmony with the actions at hand.  There is sacred time, working time, and no-time, or time that is simply not counted.  Perhaps more rigid are the time units used to bind all of society into age groups.  "Structural time is reckoned among the Nuer by the age-set Shakespeare's seven life stages, people pass through its everpresent, invisible framework in endless succession.  Age-sets are fixed, stratified, and segmented age groups through which every male member of the Nuer society moves, the way iron filings slide over the fixed force lines of the magnet." (5).  Age sets are an extremely powerful way to define appropriate behavior.  Aveni concludes
these people do not believe in history the way we do, though they have a sense of history.  As in the events and relationships that comprise tribal life, there is a kind of immediacy to both cyclic ecological time  and linear structural time among these tribal societies....[i]nteraction, with either nature or other people is the real reason to keep time, and when things cease to interact or before they ever had interacted, there is no need of reckoning it. (6)
We can conclude that the Nuer bodily experience generates rules for living that would be very foreign to us. A first question to propose for our model is this: how does the group under consideration interact?  How circumscribed or prescribed is interaction among groups within a culture?

Compare the Nuer to the Chinese.   The Chinese were building clocks -- automata, and mirrors of the heavens -- as early as 1086.  Su Sung, who build a towering astronomical clock the Sung capital at Kaiphen, to the expensive, monumental, and exclusive approach. Consequently, when the designer died, so did the clock. The clock supported a reign and a monarch, rather than announcing business or work times.  Aveni comments on the Chinese view of time:

Chinese space is distributed according to a pattern of hierarchy; and time, according to a number of limited cycles.  The temporal cycles and the spatial hierarchy pivot about the emperor, the Son of Heaven, and their powers acquire maximum concentration in the capital city of the world when the great celebrations and festivities are held....Time's order was manifested in a succession of closed cycles, each being a multiplication of phenomena that emanated, like space, from a center.  When a cycle -- say, a dynastic cycle -- ended, its separation from the preceding one needed to be rigorously defined, but the revolved cycle could not come to a bad end. (7)
Not only must we ask, who can interact with whom, but also we must ask how hierarchical the society is as a whole. Is there a pattern or cycle that time should fulfill? For instance, Maya kings were certainly interested in upholding hierarchies, but they counted time in a somewhat more linear fashion.
Maya kings tell their dynastic story not by writing out a chronological list of dates, but by recording elapsed time.  The inscription always begins with an event, then an interval, then an interval, than another event follows, then another interval, another event, and so on....Epigraphers call these intervals "distance numbers" -- with, I think, the deliberate intention of implying that the Maya really thought of time as distance, as a road traveled....All events are pegged to a Long Count date at the beginning of the inscription.  During these intervals, the gods carry time's burden from one happening to the next.  With inventions like the Long Count and distance number, a ruler like Pacal could proclaim the longevity of his bloodline in concrete terms.  His rulership could acquire new depth, and the monumental carvings would demonstrate his permanence in the public eye." (8)
As we have noted in the Nuer and Chinese cultures, a power structure is being upheld.  Tied to dynastic concerns, time -- linear or circular --  must accommodate human purposes.  It is not being discovered "out there" or going on without the society; rather it is created and re-created as needed.

Finally, environmental considerations play a part in calendars. For instance, Aveni describes events in the tropical sky that are unique to that latitude.  Stars appear to pass directly up and over in the sky, as opposed to the elliptical cycles visible at more northern latitudes.  The Inca had a calendar of halves, of zenith-antizenith, aligned to the two dates when the sun crossed the zenith.

The Inca had discovered the quintessence of vertical complementarity:  they recognized in the celestial landscape a set of events that made perfect sense when cast in terms of their ideology....In the Inca world, the pulse beat of the sun's cycle and the planting cycle coalesce about the vertical solar axis....The Inca harmony of the world consists of a rhythm we can begin to listen to only by putting ourselves into their shoes, only by walking the sides of their mountains under that strange and different tropical sky. (9)
The Inca had embodied knowledge particular to their locale. Bringing these few examples together, and the summing up the notes we have made about unusual or initially opaque calendrical systems, some of the questions we might ask are as follows:
Does the calendar determine which social groups are expected to interact with which other groups?
How prescribed is that interaction?
Is the calendar tied to a specific political and dynastic structure?
Can the calendar be changed, and if so, who has the right to change it?
Does time take a circular or linear structure?
Are there specific environmental features unique to the region that make for embodied knowledge unique to the group living in the region?
These questions, I would hope, can be applied to any group in any era to determine something about how the culture describes, divides and controls time.

Consider finally the World Calendar, which has languished in UN limbo, proposed and never quite accepted, but never altogether rejected.  It is a "perfect" calendar, with each day in each month the same from year to year.  Business people like it. It saves trouble and thinking, and it would make trade infinitely easier if the whole world used the same calendar.  But no particular political  hegemony has found it useful, and so none have enthusiastically supported it.  Uncoupled from power, the time system has languished.

Anthony Aveni, Empires of Time:  Calendars, Clocks and Cultures. World Calendar.

We have so far explored how cultures and political dynastics describe, divide and control time.  Now we can turn the question around. What does time lead us to?  What does time remind us of?  Our examples must necessarily come from literate cultures, and in this paper specifically from the historian Otto Mayr, who made interesting the results of a thankless task, searching out hundreds of clock metaphors.

Consider three of his examples, from a monk, a playwright and a historian.  The Horologium aeternae spapientiae was written (presumably) in the 1330s by Henricus Suso, a Dominican and a widely revered mystic.

The purpose of his book, he said in his preface, was not to inform the ignorant but to rekindle extinct flames of faith and to admonish the lukewarm, to provoke the impious to devotion and to stir into watchful virtue those who were lying torpid in mindless sleep. 'Hence the present little work tries to expound the Saviour's mercy as in a vision, using the metaphor of a pretty clock decked with fine wheels, and of a dulcet chime giving forth a sweet and heavenly sound, exalting the hearts of all by its complex beauty.' (10)
Although the basic reference is to the clock as an alarum, there couldn't be a more lovely image of the transfixing power of technology. Here is the London playwright John Webster (1612) on time:
The lives of princes should like dyals move,
Whose regular example is so strong,
They make the times by them go right or wrong. (11)
Finally, a metaphor from "Christoph Lehmann (1630) historian, poet, and official of the city of Speyer":
A prince and ruler is the nation's clock:
Everyone will follow him in his conduct
as he follows a clock in his daily affairs. (12)
Time in these examples reminds us of a alarm, a stunning sight, a high and worthy example which ought to be morally impressed upon the viewer.  All metaphors have a tenor, a primary term, and a vehicle, or secondary term.  In two of the examples above, princes were the primary term, and clock and dials the vehicle that carried the comparison.   The subject being described and controlled is the ruler.  Perhaps, then, the general question to add to the model is this:  for metaphors in which time is the vehicle, what is the tenor?  What culturally based comparisons and connections adhere to time? The epigraph above, from an Arabic poem by a mathematician and astronomer writing circa 1120, and translated for a Victorian audience, was taught in schools until at least the 1930s. It posits Time as finger, or pen, writing across a book, an image which retained its power for 800 years at least.

Through the work of Lynn White, Mayr presents the relationship between the virtue Temperantia and time. In image and word, the clock slowly became a part of Temperantia's accouterments, along with a bridle in her mouth, glasses in her hand, rowel spurs on her feet, and a windmill beneath her feet. Temperantia was the bourgeois queen of the virtues, guiding all the others by her moderate regulation.  The clock also took on the attributes of the ideal ruler, who was regular in all his ways. In the same way that the dial showed the hours, so the ruler was to be an example of  virtue. Another set of writings linked clocks to automata. Bodies, could be taken apart or built up like clocks.  When a person died, he or she was "set aside for repairs."  A short step away is God the clock maker, and the universe as his machine. This particular metaphor, turned around,  lingered on as a proof that the universe, so precise a machine,  must have been made by Someone miraculously (and mechanically) inclined.  But Mayr notes that in England, the clock metaphor began to take on negative connotations. Clocks were discordant, dishonest, scolding, and (worst of all) foreign.

For 400 years a chorus of voices gathered around the subject of time.  Mayr offers many more examples, and concludes that clock metaphors were saying several, albeit similar things:

They idealized the qualities of regularity, order and harmony.
They insisted on the clock as the prototype for the world, with regard to both its creation and its normal functioning.
By pleading the mechanical character of the physical world, they sought to discredit magic; they sought to advance rationality both in the selection of evidence and in the analysis of causal connections.
They promoted the mechanical clock as a physical illustration of the hitherto amorphous notion of system, that is, of an integrated assembly of numerous, dynamically interacting parts.
They illustrated and thus reinforced the general world view of determinism. (13)
Clocks carried messages about rationality, about political systems, about biological systems. It may be useful to summarize the questions that we might use in building a model to talk about the describing, dividing and controlling time. These questions apply to what we can see and observe inherent in the political structure and language of a culture as it stands on any particular day:
Which social groups are expected to interact with which other groups, and how is that interaction limited ?
Is the calendar tied to a specific political and dynastic structure?
Can the calendar be changed, and if so, who has the right to change it?
Does time take a circular or linear structure?
In what metaphors does time play the vehicle, and what "tenor" or primary term is persistently associated with time?
Are there any extended metaphors, such as Temperantia or the "clock and ruler" that attract many writers to the effort of re-construction?
Environment & Action
Are there specific environmental features unique to the region that make for embodied knowledge unique to the group living in the region?
Having commended Mayr for his thankless task, I would like to propose a new one.  If we agree that each culture has a speed, a rhythm or pace that underlies the actions and expectations of its participants, then the speed of a culture could be set by the time it takes to perform an action which most or many will do during the course of a day.  Again, this is part of Lakoff's embodied knowledge.  We form cognitive models around the things that we do.  As was suggested in the introduction, time is  linked to the length of commonly performed activities. These activities, for lack of a better word,  I might call "time markers."

For instance, in America one unit of measure could be the time it takes to smoke a cigarette. Or it could be the time it takes to get data downloaded on a complex Web site. Or it could be the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, or the length of a commercial break, the length of a movie, or the length of a typical commute in a big city such as LA or New York. In Switzerland it could be the amount of time it takes to get to most places by train, or the amount of time allotted to an evening meal. In China or Peru it might be the length of a typical bus ride in a medium-sized town, or the length of the mid-day break, or the standard length of a visit to friends in the evening. In Hong Kong or Tokyo it might be the amount of time between trains on the subway.

Just to illustrate, the English essayist Charles Lamb offered a whimsical meditation on the loss of his personal time markers when he retired.

It was no hyperbole when I ventured to compare the change in my condition to a passing into another world. Time stands still in a manner to me. I have lost all distinction of season. I do not know the day of the week, or of the month. Each day used to be individually felt by me in its reference to the foreign post days; in its distance from, or propinquity to the next Sunday. I had my Wednesday feelings, my Saturday nights’ sensations. The genius of each  day was upon me distinctly during the whole of it, affecting my appetite, spirits, &c. …. I am no longer ******, clerk to the firm of &c. I am Retired Leisure. I am to be met with in trim gardens. I am already come to be known  by my vacant face and careless gesture, perambulating at no fixed pace nor with any settled purpose. I walk about; not to and from.  (14)
Two questions then arise from the notion of time markers. First, what are they, and how would one catalog them from one culture to the next?  Second, are there cultural time anchors? What actions/events have stayed the same as regards time, or cannot be shortened -- baseball games, evening meals -- and tend to keep a culture or people together?

Dynamic Constraints

One way to build a model for inquiring about time is to develop questions about what is strange but static in the culture.  What calendar and language structures govern the cultural understanding of time, and who controls these structures?  A second way to build a model is to question the dynamics of change in response to a perceived constraint.  Why do cultures change timing systems and units?  How do we account for changes in timing systems?

We may suppose that cultures do not change unless there is pressure on the ways that they fulfill their basic needs, and basic needs are any of those things that a culture itself defines as basic for a "good" life.  I can think of four reasons for change under this definition:

Environmental resources give out
A rival group takes over the production or supply of the basic need
The basic need can be supplied in some new way
The basic need is no longer a basic need, or is supplanted by a new basic need
These ideas suggest conditions under which technology might change, but none offer a compelling reason that a culture's technology must change.

Various writers -- Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel, Joel Mokyr in The Lever of Riches, Arnold Pacey in Technology in World Civilization -- have argued that sustained cultural/technological knowledge requires a rising or steady population base, sufficient ecological resources, and regular exchange between groups (Schumpeterian growth). Population growth and mobility supports cultural/technological change and exchange with others outside a culture, either militarily or peacefully, stimulates a desire for change and a new vision of constraints. Historian Fernand Braudel suggests that change is deeper and slower than one might expect. He discusses price cycles of various lengths and notes the longest of all, the secular trend, helping to make sense of fluctuations that would otherwise be inexplicable.  Of the secular trend, he says;

Barely visible in daily life, but plodding inexorably on, always in the same direction, the trend is a cumulative process, building on its own achievements: almost  as if it were determined gradually to raise the mass of prices and economic activities until some turning point when, with equal obstinacy, it begins working to bring them down again, slowly and imperceptibly but over a long period.   Year by year it is hardly discernible, but measured century by century, it is something of importance. (15)
Summing up the argument of the first two of his three volumes on capitalism, Braudel says
At ground level and sea level, so to speak, the networks of local and regional markets were built up century after century.  It was the destiny of this local economy, with its self-contained routes, to be from time to time absorbed and made part of a 'rational' order in the interest of a dominant city or zone, for perhaps one or two centuries, until another organizing 'center' emerged; as if the centralization and concentration of wealth and resources necessarily favoured certain chosen sites of accumulation.  (16)
Almost as an aside, Braudel lists the weapons of domination: "shipping, trade, industry, credit, and political power or violence."
(17) These are points which we will consider further.

In his conclusion to Clocks and Culture, Carlo Cipolla says "A machine has a practical meaning only as an expression of man's response to the problems set by his environment and by his fellow men." (18).  Mayr argues much the same in his work:

 ...if a technological innovation displays in structure and functioning an unmistakable analogy to the structure that a society prefers to give its various practical and theoretical systems, if it reflects the various mentalities and attitudes that shape public life, in short, if it matches and reinforces the prevailing conception of order, it will be received more warmly, regardless of its technical merits, than other inventions. (19)
In addition to population, conquest, exchange, available resources, and price trends, Cipolla presents the "problem" qualification for technology, and Mayr suggests the need for technology to present an obvious analogy to already existing structures.

If these factors offer a general outline of conditions for political and technological change, what are the conditions for time change? Do groups ever respond to a pressing need for change by developing new ways to divide, describe and control time? Were calendars were changed because they were constraining? Were time units were changed because they were seen as constraining?

To discuss the first example, I would like to return to a remark in the introduction: "time subtracted adds value to the exchange of goods."  Here is trade as Lionel Casson's Ancient Mariners describes it in  Italy in 100 AD.

The Roman man in the street ate bread baked with grain grown in North Africa or Egypt, and fish that had been caught and dried near Gibraltar.  He cooked with oil from North Africa in pots and pans of copper mined in Spain, ate off dishware fired in French kilns, and drank wine from Spain or France.  The Romans of wealth dressed in garments of wool from Miletus or of linen from Egypt or even silk from China, and had them cleaned with fuller's earth from an island in the Aegean.  They adorned themselves with gems and pearls from India, and scented themselves with aromatics from eastern Africa and southern Arabia.  They seasoned their food with Indian pepper and sweetened it with Athenian honey, had it served in dishes of Spanish silver on tables of African citrus wood, and washed it down with  Sicilian wine poured from decanters of Syrian glass.  They lived in houses whose walls were veneered with colored marble quarried in Asia Minor, and their rooms were filled with statues imported from Greece. All of Rome's provinces traded with each other as well as with the capital.  Spain send garum to France and dried fish to Greece; colored marbles from Asia Minor went into buildings in North Africa; statuary from Athens' workshops adorned the houses of the well-to-do throughout the west; Egypt shipped its papyri all around the Mediterranean. (20)
The Romans evidently stood at the center of a wide trading network. Frank Perlin's article "The other species world:  speciation of commodities and moneys, and the knowledge-base of commerce,1500-1900," offers a useful commentary on trade:  "When we consider exchange as involving trajectories through time and space, thus mediated by institutions and specialists, involving communication, thus language, name and identity, it will be clear that predictability was a fundamental perquisite:  to be able to assume that 'x' will translate as 'x' at, say, 2000 km and two months' distance."  (21)  However, predictability was precisely what lay outside the grasp of most first century traders. Casson continues:
Skippers still navigated by stars at night and by landmarks and wind direction and 'feel' by day, but now they had a useful aid:  sometime about the middle of the fourth century B.C. a geographer named Scylax the Younger published the first Periplus or 'Coast Pilot,' a volume that described the circuit of the Mediterranean, naming ports and rivers, giving distances between points, indicating where fresh water was available, and so on. (22)
Here is a group of people who obviously could have developed more sophisticated time devices. They had a range of goods and locales that rivals any modern-day regional trade.  Some captains must have have a Periplus, but many would not, and no one had anything that would remove the expected several days leeway the the arrival time.  Business people did not, had not yet, conceived of time as a value-add to trade.

For our second example we turn again to the Chinese culture.  Once again, we find that the neither hypothetical "internal" pressure nor external confrontation necessarily translates into need or change.  David Landes tells of the Emperor Ch'ien-lung's message in 1793 to George III on the gift of several clocks:   "As a matter of fact, the virtue and prestige of the Celestial Dynasty having spread far and wide, the kinds of myriad nations come by land and sea with all sorts of precious things.  Consequently there is nothing we lack...We have never set much store on strange or ingenious objects, nor do we need any more of your country's manufactures." (23)  In fact, trade with China had proceeded on fairly unequal terms throughout much of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; since Easterners wanted very few goods of Western manufacture, the silver and gold of America went to pay for the silks and porcelains of China.  An exception, however, were clocks. Chinese rulers were first given gifts of clocks by Jesuit missionaries, and they were valued as mechanical toys, as marvelous automata, as the ultimate collectibles.  However, even 200 years later, in time of Ch'ien-lung, they were still not seen as anything necessary. Again, Cipolla's "rule" is helpful in thinking through the Chinese lack of interest. "A machine has a practical meaning only as an expression of man's response to the problems set by his environment and by his fellow men." (24).  Cipolla argues that the clock addressed no needs, and solved no problems, in the Asian culture, and thus remained and oddity and toy (somewhat like a glowing yo-yo) purchased by the populace when they became cheap.  Clocks were not desired or employed in the ways that Europeans desired and employed them.

These examples of cultural stasis generate further questions for our model:

When does time become an resource that can also be seen as a constraint?
Since the clock was developed by a later group whose trade networks were no better than earlier Roman networks, what besides trade would stimulate a business person to want to measure time in units of time less than a day?
What fundamental changes are made to a society when its business sector does decide to eliminate time constraints?
What kinds of things can be traded if business people do not engage in time control in units smaller than the day?
What does the culture itself identify as its problems, and constraints?
What is their image of proper socio-political power structures, and do the proffered technologies match these structures?
Finally, consider a moment in the history of the clock in Europe.
Soon after its appearance, the clock assumed the role of a status symbol.  In Europe towns competed with one another in the construction of the most of the most lavish clocks and many of those municipal timepieces possessed elaborate movements and dials....Men began timing activities that, in the absence of clocks, they had never thought of timing.  People became very conscious of time, and in the long run, punctuality became at the very same time a need, a virtue, and an obsession. (25)
In this era of obssession and accuracy (July, 1659),Charles Bellaire wrote from France to Huygens to ask for help:
Allow me to ask you whether in Holland, in those places where there are several pendulum clocks, they continue very long to sound the hours together, because I have had two of them converted and put a seconds pendulum in each....I have not been able to keep them going together four days in a row.  Not that they're very far apart, and when one checks them with sundials, one cannot see a difference even after a week; but the precision of hearing is much more sensitive than that of sight. (26)

Bellaire was bothered by the slight difference in chiming -- chimes, which, in his mind, ought to have rung together.  This was not so much a constraint as an irritant.  To borrow Lakoff's terms, a new environmental feature was added to his life, and Bellaire responded by trying to enlarge the scope his knowledge. Also, I would suggest that Bellair belongs to that class of people who experimented for efficiency's sake.  No deep cultural need was being addressed, but whatever solution he may have arrived at could have been passed along to others who had two or more clocks, and were irritated by the dissonant ringing. Bellaire's example adds a few more questions to our model. What new environmental features have recently been added to the life of the average member of society, and are any of them likely to be classed as "irritants?"  Second, what reward exists for men or women who simply like efficiency?  Finally, a question that I wouldn't begin to know how to answer, but might be interesting for the history of invention:  is a fascination with efficiency a a cross-cultural phenomena?

It may be helpful to look at the questions we have so far compiled for our model. For some readers, it may be reassuring to see no obvious symmetry -- only a model as "messy" are reality could be useful in finding new realities.  For others it may be a confirmation that no elegant solutions have yet been offered.

Which social groups are expected to interact with which other groups, and how is that interaction limited?
Is the calendar tied to a specific political and dynastic structure?
Can the calendar be changed, and if so, who has the right to change it?
What is the group's image of proper socio-political power structures, and do the proffered technologies offer an analogy these structures?
Does time take a circular or linear structure?
In what metaphors does time play the vehicle, and what "tenor" or primary term is persistently associated with time?
Are there any extended metaphors, such as Temperantia or the "clock and ruler" that attract many writers to the effort of re-construction?
Environment & Action
Are there specific environmental features unique to the region that make for embodied knowledge unique to the group living in the region?
What are the common "time markers", and how would one catalog them from one culture to the next?
Are there cultural time anchors? What actions/events have stayed the same as regards time, or cannot be shortened and tend to keep a culture or people together?
What new environmental features have recently been added to the life of the average member of society, and are any of them likely to be classed as "irritants?"
When does time become an resource that can also be seen as a constraint?
What besides trade would stimulate a business person to want to measure time in units of time less than a day?
What fundamental changes are made to a society when its business sector does decide to eliminate time constraints?
What kinds of things can be traded if business people do not engage in time control in units smaller than the day?
What does the culture itself identify as its problems, and constraints?
What reward exists for men or women who simply like efficiency?
These questions, assembled in these categories, should allow a researcher to question how a culture uses time along a series of dimensions.  They should be applicable to any era or time, and should indicate the relationship or difference between political and business uses of time.

Models, Tools, Narratives

As a final step, this model, or set of questions, can be placed in the context of my current thesis.

I propose that all artifacts have a culturally attached narrative.  The narrative for tools has two points, as follows:  first, the construction of the tool indicates best (although surely one of many) way to use this item in the mind of the maker. Second,  the original creator of the tool must have assumed that the activity which the tool helps you to do is a thing worth doing.

I also argue that business tools are those tools that facilitate the exchange of values addressing at least one of these four issues:

 1) hierarchies: by denoting who may trade with whom
 2) risk management:  by devising ways to minimize risk
 3) convenience: by shrinking time or space, or by refiguring time or space
 4) justice:  by ensuring that both parties will participate in a fair exchange
From the forgoing survey, it will become clear that time affects all aspects of business tools.  For instance, the Nuer culture followed a calendar that created rigid social hierarchies.  Mayans used their calendars to decide which days were appropriate for what activity.  The Romans refigured time and space into a trading coast guide book.  The Chinese used time cycles to center justice in a person, the Emperor. Questions of "time and power" can be linked to business tools that have an inherent hiearchy. Questions of "time and language" can be linked to business tools that address justice. Questions of "time, environment & action" and "value" can be applied to risk management and convenience.

If an ambitious person were to write the history of time and business, then he or she might consider how, when, and why some groups have decided that convenience equaled the removal of cultural time constraint (or risk) for the purposes of value exchange. Things to be considered would be the re-framing of old problems, especially new ways to decide what the whole is, and what percentage can be extracted (Pompey's cleaning up the Cilician pirates; silver extraction in German mines).  Another point would be the offering of new ways to conceive of value (new metaphors for counting, new models for contracts, for insurance). A third idea would be the new mental space that opens up with certain constraints are removed in order to make work safe and efficient (the train dispatching sheet)

A little of this history would lie in anthropology.  Here is Aveni's final word on time, and in this passage one can see how close he is to Lakoff's human-centered view of the world:

Time control began when somebody drove a stick into the ground and began to use the varying lengths of its shadow as a means of signifying the quiescent duration that separates one event from the next.  Longer periods, like days and months of the year, could be marked out by timing the heliacal risings of bright stars or by notching the phases of the moon onto a piece of bone -- as our ancestors may have done twenty thousand years ago.  The events they chose were not the comets and supernovae that suddenly emerge from the celestial scenery to dazzle modern cataclysmically oriented minds.  These people were looking instead for phenomena that repeat in a dependable way and occur in the right time at the right place -- the passing of the sun overhead in Java or Yucatan, the emergence of the Pleiades from behind the sun at planting time in highland Peru, the first daggers of Venus's returning morning light at the onset of the rainy season in Yucatan.  (27)
A part of the work would lie in tracing trade routes.  Casson suggests that trading goods in merchantmen, like short-term CDs today, was a six month to one-year investment.   Another part of the work would lie in the history of numbers. Until the Arabic numeral system spread along with Islam after 600 AD, it was simply impossible to do certain kinds of equations easily. Crucial to new thinking was the zero, which at once allowed for only ten symbols to represent all the digits possible, and also for a visual and logical progress in numbers (1, 10, 100, 1000). Fibonacci's Liber Abaci, written in 1202 on the Arabic numbering system, received the endorsement of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, but the system gained most rapidly after the invention of moveable type, when it became obvious that it would be difficult to falsify a printed (rather than a handwritten) number.

It would be interesting to document the percentage of efficiency lovers who appear in cultures that have a high tolerance for risk.  Bernstein argues that the question at the heart of risk management is how to predict human irrationality?   Obviously, eliminating irrationality would engage an efficiency lover. Some of these answers may be found in psychology, in the work of Kahneman and Tversky demonstrating the strongly patterned loss-aversion responses of their subjects.

A final part of the history of business and time would cover the ongoing creation of past-time as entertainment, commodity and metaphor. The psychological distance between a past event and our own present is quite -- maybe entirely -- subjective. George Eliot, the Babylonians, the Civil War can seem equally near or far, or can rotate with the abandon of a Gone with the Wind Virginia Reel. But the rotations and the distances or appearance of distance can be controlled (and perhaps always have been).  Anyone who could receive power, prestige or money from the fore-fronting of an era has a "stake in the undead."  These include politicians, fashion arbiters, industry CEOs, and poet laureates.

Entertainment brings us back to politics, and sparks a final thought on the question of describing, dividing and controlling time. Time, made abstract, controlled, marketed, is as dangerous as direct experience -- it becomes a set of emotions and perceptions easily -- too easily-- tapped.