An instrument from a time when the travel was an uncertain activity at best. Pilgrims, artists, and merchants followed ancient routes without much signage to show the way. If they didnt make the next wayside inn, local convent or hospital by nightfall they might have to camp out in the open. Losing the way was a major risk in the ages before the Renaissance. A scientific instrument like a working compass or sundial was only available to the most affluent travelers. A compass opened the world to the inquisitive and enterprising. No wonder European explorers would venture into most of the unknown corners of the world in the following centuries.