It's always ~7:30 PM.

Gravity and air are normal, and clouds and winds and storms exist, but there's no moon, and the sun is always just touching the horizon, without ever moving in the sky. The weather doesn't vary much. Temperatures never stray from 65°–75° Fahrenheit.

(Assume that the exact circumstances that cause this state are irrelevant. It might just be magic.)

The civilization in question has achieved roughly iron-age technology. They're peaceful and agrarian. They have a rudimentary writing system. They have abundant freshwater from lakes and streams. They have some neighbors they can trade with.

  • How would people measure time, either on a day-to-day scale or year-to-year scale?
  • What would their sleep cycles look like?
  • $\begingroup$ "It's always ~7:30 PM." Bright sunshine here at this time of the year. $\endgroup$ – his Aug 22 '15 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ A relevant comment. And it is pitch black at the equator at that time of the day. $\endgroup$ – fantasia Aug 22 '15 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ Relevant: Sleeping on planets with very long days. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 22 '15 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ To be honest, this sounds like your civilization lives in the twilight zone of a cave. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 22 '15 at 13:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ While I like this question, I feel like it's too many questions in one. I've edited it down to just your first question but please feel free to post the others as separate questions. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 22 '15 at 17:35

It's entirely possible that a culture like this would not really measure time at all. What is time relevant for?

Calendars - used for planting crops, predicting weather, planning for the year.

There is no need for any of these things.

Time - used for meeting up with people, making plans, etc.

In a small settlement again there is no need for these things. You don't arrange a meeting with someone, you just go and see them.

There are plenty of precedents in tropical societies on earth, where time is less important than it is in seasonal areas. For example:


"Amondawa people, like any other people, can talk about events and sequences of events," he told BBC News. "What we don't find is a notion of time as being independent of the events which are occuring; they don't have a notion of time which is something the events occur in." The Amondawa language has no word for "time", or indeed of time periods such as "month" or "year".

As to sleep, people would most likely just sleep when they got tired. It's entirely possible that the head of a family or village would go to sleep and everyone else would sleep at the same time, or that they would deliberately sleep at different times so there were always people able to look out for trouble.


Use a sand timer

It doesn't have to be a glass sand timer. It could be a metal filled sandtimer with a section of air in the middle that lets you see if the sand is flowing - if it's not flowing, the top is empty.

Make sand timers representing x time per flip, and you can measure however long you want your days to be using those flips. For example: If you want a 20 hr day in your story, make it so that there must be 19 flips before the day ends.

Sleep cycle: Completely up to you. If your flips represent half a day each, perhaps you could consider having a half day sleep cycle. 24 hour days? Keep the cycle the same. Less hours in a day? Less flips during sleep.

Just make sure the guy flipping the timer doesn't fall asleep; hire people in shifts for that.


Farming would take a lot more land and energy. Without the influx of mid-day solar energy, plants would grow much more slowly. Farmers might be somewhat nomadic. They may have several "farms with farm houses" and travel from one to the other in sequence as they harvest and then plant.

However, it magic is involved, that might not be much of an issue.


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