Chronology and Dating

Anthony Bryer

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Chronology and Dating


A system or systems of chronology and dating most intimately express essential marks of Byzantine identity, combining to place a subject in secular and cosmic order: eventually a Byzantine Era. Byzantines inherited a 24-hour system that would challenge later clockwork horologists because the lengths of twelve hours of light and dark changed daily. Although historical Eras, such as the Seleucid, are common enough, only two cultural traditions, Jewish and Christian, have ventured to apply cosmic eras to everyday calendar use, and only the Byzantine Era envision the big end of time, with a Day of Judgement, on the Eighth Day, Millennium, or Era. Byzantines followed the Roman Julian calendar (Old Style) instead of the Gregorian calendar (New Style). The full Byzantine Era relied on convergent cycles, including the nominal Indiction. The experience of a Russian and Orthodox merchant by the name of Afanasii Nikitin vividly illustrates problems of time and identity faced by the Byzantine Empire on the eve of the last day.

Keywords: chronology; dating; Byzantine identity; Byzantine Era; Julian calendar; Gregorian calendar; Indiction; time; Afanasii Nikitin; convergent cycles

Article.  3348 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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