Jawaharlal Nehru states regarding recording the birth of a child that the time that humans construct during periods of war is artificially separated from solar time. This separation occurs because human, war time, is abstracted and ahead of solar time.

Your message about the birth of the little one reached me the same afternoon as your letter giving fuller details…In my letter to Indu, I suggested to her to ask you to get a proper horoscope made by a competent person. Such permanent records of the date and the time of birth are desirable. As for the time, I suppose the proper solar time should be mentioned and not the artificial time which is being used outside now. War time is at least an hour ahead of normal time (Nehru 1963, 162).

Nehru, Jawaharlal. 1963. Nehru’s letters to his sister: Edited with an introduction by Krishna Nehru Hutheesing. London: Faber and Faber.


Kevin Birth argues that the human knowledge of time is not associated with celestial movements. Instead, the knowledge that humans have of time is embedded within culturally diversified objects and tools, which distantly represent celestial movements.

The study of objects of time is the study of cognition and culture, but not of the sort limited to the mind or to a simpleminded notion of cultural boundaries. For most clock users, the logics used to determine the time are outside of their knowledge but within the objects. These logics have an artifactual existence that mediates between consciousness and the world—part of what Cole describes as the “special characteristics of human mental life” as “the characteristics of an organism that can inhabit, transform, and recreate an artifact-mediated world” (1995, 32). When one wants to know what time it is, one does not calculate it, but simply refers to a clock or watch. When one wants to know the date, one consults a calendar rather than observes the Sun, Moon, and stars. This placement of temporal logics in artifacts clearly forms a feature of humans that is quite different from anything shared with any other animal—not only do humans make tools, and not only do humans have knowledge far beyond what animals exhibit, but humans place this knowledge in tools. The cultural diversity of concepts of time is closely related to the fusion of diverse ideas and artifacts used to think. Whereas my examples so far are the clock and the calendar, the use of objects to mediate time is not new. Objects related to time are among some of the most famous in the archaeological record, for example, Stonehenge, the Aztec calendar, and the Antikythera Mechanism (Birth 2012, 9).

Birth, Kevin. 2012. Objects of time: How things shape temporality. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.