THE SUNDIALS OF THE DOME
People have always tried to understand and master the mystery of time. Meridian is one of the most fascinating devices for measuring time and you can find some splendid examples of it on the sidewall of the Dome.
The work consists of a triptych of five by three meters, the central part of which represents the figure of the Apostle Saint Matthew. The sundials are located on the sides: the one on the left indicates the time according to the Italian and the Babylonian systems; the one on the right indicates the real time in Asiago.
On the left side of the triptych there are two series of lines of different colours (blue and red) that create, on the same panel, two different sundials. The two sundials - indicating the Italian and the Babylonian time - use the same “gnomon” (the pointer, which shadow on the sundial marks the hours).
The Babylonian sundial owes its name to the fact that the ancient Babylonians counted the 24 hours of the day starting from the dawn. Many other European countries also borrowed this tradition.
The Italian sundial reflects the division of the day according to an old system used once in Italy, where they started to count the 24 hours of the day from the sunset; the sunset in this way represented at the same time the 24th hour of the finishing day and the “0” hour of the day to come. The Italian way of measuring time has long been used on the peninsula and it is known that Goethe complained about not being able to read it.
On the left side of the triptych you can read a slogan in Cimbrian, the ancient Germanic language, which says: “Ich Schbaige benne de Lichte pehlmar un selten rede aber bahr”, which literally means, “I don’t speak when there is no light, but when I speak I tell the truth”.
The sundial was rebuilt according to the notes of the historian Baraggiola, where he described the old Asiago sundial.