The Babylonian Calendar

Sacha Stern

in Calendars in Antiquity

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199589449
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191746178 | DOI:
The Babylonian Calendar

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This chapter deals with the standard Babylonian calendar that was adopted, in the late second millennium bce, as the official calendar of the empires that ruled the Near East from then until late Antiquity. This lunar calendar was remarkably regular. The first part of the chapter deals with how the new moon and month lengths were determined, mainly based on astrologers' observation of the new moon crescent and astronomical predictions. The second part deals with the practice of intercalation, i.e., the intermittent insertion of a thirteenth lunar month. It is argued that although various intercalation cycles were adopted during the Achaemenid and Seleucid periods, the Babylonian calendar was never formally fixed. These cycles were not the outcome of progress in Babylonian mathematical astronomy, but of political interference and royal policy.

Keywords: calendar; Babylonian; lunar; official; new moon; intercalation; astronomy; cycles; Achaemenid; Seleucid

Chapter.  27333 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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