Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ancient Macedonian Calendar

The Ancient Macedonian calendar is a lunisolar calendar that was in use in ancient Macedon in the 1st millennium BC. It consisted of 12 synodic lunar months (i.e. 354 days per year), which needed intercalary months to stay in step with the seasons. By the time the calendar was being used across the Hellenistic world, seven total embolimoi (intercalary months) were being added in each 19-year Metonic cycle.

The names of the ancient Macedonian Calendar remained in use in Syria even into the Christian era.

This is the Calendar used by Josephus, being in fact the Hebrew calendar with Macedonian names. An example of 6th century AD inscriptions from Decapolis, Jordan, bearing the Solar Macedonian calendar, start from the month Audynaeus.

The solar type was merged later with the Julian calendar. In Roman Macedonia, both calendars were used. The Roman one is attested in inscriptions with the name Kalandôn gen. καλανδῶν calendae and the Macedonian Hellenikei dat. Ἑλληνικῇ Hellenic.

Finally an inscription from Kassandreia of about ca. 306-298 BC bearing a month Ἀθηναιῶν Athenaion suggests that some cities may have their own months even after the 4th century BC Macedonian expansion.

  • Δίος (Dios, moon of October)
  • Απελλαίος (Apellaios, moon of November, also a Dorian month - Apellaiōn was a Tenian month)
  • Αυδυναίος or Αυδναίος (Audunaios or Audnaios, moon of December,Cretan month also)
  • Περίτιος (Peritios, moon of January) (and festival of the month; Peritia)
  • Δύστρος (Dystros, moon of February)
  • Ξανδικός or Ξανθικός (Xandikos or Xanthikos, moon of March) (and festival of the month; Xanthika , purifying the army ,Hesych.) - ( intercalated 6 times over a 19-year cycle)
  • Αρτεμίσιος or Αρταμίτιος (Artemisios or Artamitios, moon of April, also a Spartan, Rhodian and Epidaurian month - Artemisiōn was an Ionic month)
  • Δαίσιος (Daisios, moon of May)
  • Πάνημος or Πάναμος (Panēmos or Panamos, moon of June, also an Epidaurian, Miletian, Samian and Corinthian month)
  • Λώιος (Lōios, moon of July - Ομολώιος, Homolōios, was an Aetolian, Beotian and Thessalian month)
  • Γορπιαίος (Gorpiaios, moon of August)
  • Υπερβερεταίος (Hyperberetaios, moon of September - Hyperberetos was a Cretan month, intercalated0 -(once over a 19-year cycle)

It is interesting that Josephus throughout The “Antiquities” relates the Hebrew months with the Macedonian months – below are a few examples:

  • Book I, CHAPTER 3.3..... in the second month, (14) called by the Macedonians Dius, but by the Hebrews Marchesuan
  • Book II, CHAPTER 14.6..... and they should prepare themselves on the tenth day of the month Xanthicus, against the fourteenth, (which month is called by the Egyptians Pharmuth, Nisan by the Hebrews; but the Macedonians call it Xanthicus,)
  • Book III, CHAPTER 10.2 .........But on the seventh month, which the Macedonians call Hyperberetaeus
  • Book IV, CHAPTER 4.7........ He died on the first day of that lunar month which is called by the Athenians Hecatombaeon, by the Macedonians Lous, but by the Hebrews Abba
  • Book IV, CHAPTER 8.49 ........and he died on the last month of the year, which is called by the Macedonians Dystrus, but by us Adar, on the first day of the month.
  • Book VIII, CHAPTER 3.1........SOLOMON began to build the temple in the fourth year of his reign, on the second month, which the Macedonians call Artemisius, and the Hebrews Ju
  • Book XI , CHAPTER 5.4 ......on the twentieth day of the ninth month, which, according to the Hebrews, is called Tebeth, and according to the Macedonians, Apelleiu

The names of the Macedonian months Apellaios, Artemisios and Panemos are the same months as those in the Spartan calendar. Moreover, the months Artemisios and Panemos are also found in the Argive calendar.

  • The Macedonian month Apellaios is also a Spartan and Argive month.
  • The Macedonian month Panemos is also a Corinthian and Epidaurian month. It is also a Spartan and Argive month.
  • The Macedonian month Hyperberetaios is also a Cretan month.
  • The Macedonian month Artemisios is also a Spartan, Rhodian and Epidaurian month

We know that Spartans, Corinthians, Cretans, Epidaurians, Rhodians and Argives are of Dorian stock. Therefore, apart from the month Loios which is also a Thessalian (Aeolic) month, the Macedonian months are unique except for the four months mentioned above which are also found in the calendars of other Doric peoples.

So how do we explain that the names of three Macedonian months are the same as the three Spartan ones?

Sparta lies at the head of the Peloponnese, far away from Macedonia, in southern Greece. Ancient Macedonians and Spartans had no contacts but nevertheless they both shared three month's names. How come? Both Macedonians and Spartans are, as stated by Herodotus, of Dorian origin. Not only were Macedonia and Sparta both kingdoms and warlike people but they had the same Dorian origin. Moreover there are also Macedonian months whose names are shared with the calendars of Argos, Corinth, Epidaurus, Crete and Rhodes.

Argives, Corinthians, Cretans, Epidaurians and Rhodians are once again of Dorian stock.

A common ancestry amongst these Dorian peoples.


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