This antique Moroccan astrolabe was once used to cross the Sahara desert. It is made of brass, carefully and ornately etched with markings to indicate time, direction, star positions, and more. This amazing tool is considered the precursor to the modern smartphone: it gives you the time, your location, your horoscope, and even help you make decisions—all with the swipe of a hand.
This astrolabe makes an impressive wall decoration and conversation piece. Astrolabes became popular during the height of the Roman Empire and remained popular until about the 18th century, when they fell out of favor.
These multi-use tools consist of a circular stack of sliding features all embedded within a disk called a “mater”. A round plate containing a two-dimensional projection of the Earth’s latitudinal lines sits within the mater and, over that plate, another circular feature called the “rete” contains the locations of certain well-known stars in the sky. Over that, a straight rule pivots around to line up with time measurements along the edge of the mater. And on the back of the whole thing, a pivotable siting device helps find the altitude of a star—often the starting point of a calculation. (source: Smithsonian Magazine)
Often found in shipwrecks, this unusual scientific tool was located in the southern Moroccan desert town of Zagora. They are quite difficult to find in good condition and are treasured by collectors.