Calendars in Antiquity: Empires, States, and Societies
Calendars were at the heart of ancient culture and society, and were far more than just technical, time-keeping devices. Calendars in Antiquity offers a comprehensive study of the calendars of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, Gaul, and all other parts of the Mediterranean and the Near East, from the origins up to and including Jewish and Christian calendars in late Antiquity. In this volume, Stern sheds light on the political context in which ancient calendars were designed and managed. Set and controlled by political rulers, calendars served as expressions of political power, as mechanisms of social control, and sometimes as assertions of political independence, or even of sub-culture and dissidence. While ancient calendars varied widely, they all shared a common history, evolving on the whole from flexible, lunar calendars to fixed, solar schemes. The Egyptian calendar played an important role in this process, leading most notably to the institution of the Julian calendar in Rome, the forerunner of our modern Gregorian calendar. Stern argues that this common, evolutionary trajectory was not the result of scientific or technical progress. It was rather the result of major political and social changes that transformed the ancient world, with the formation of the great Near Eastern empires and then the Hellenistic and Roman Empires from the first millennium BC to late Antiquity. The institution of standard, fixed calendars served the administrative needs of these great empires but also contributed to their cultural cohesion.
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19-year cycle 30-day months 364-day calendar according Achaemenid Empire Alexandrian calendar ancient calendars argued assumed astrological astronomical Athenian attested Babylonian calendar Babylonian month Bickerman 1968 Caesar century BCE Chapter Christian cited Coligny calendar context date of Easter decree Depuydt documents earlier early East Easter cycles Egypt Egyptian calendar Egyptian civil calendar epagomenal days epigraphic equinox Eusebius evidence festival fixed calendar Greek calendars hemerologia heresy ibid imperial inscriptions instituted intercalation interpretation Jewish calendar Jews Julian calendar late Antiquity later Lehoux Lejbowicz luna XIV lunar calendar lunar dates lunar month Macedonian Macedonian calendar millennium BCE month beginning month-names moon sightings observance Old Persian parapegmata Parthian passage Passover Persian Zoroastrian calendar political post-Seleucid Pritchett province Ptolemaic Quartodecimans Qumran rabbinic reason reckoned reference rising of Sothis Roman calendar Roman Empire Roman period Rome Rüpke Samuel scheme Seleucid Empire sequence solar sources Stern suggests tradition XII2 XII2 Zoroastrian calendar