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Calendars in AntiquityEmpires, States, and Societies$
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Sacha Stern

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199589449

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199589449.001.0001

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The Rise of the Fixed Calendars: Persian, Ptolemaic, and Julian Calendars

The Rise of the Fixed Calendars: Persian, Ptolemaic, and Julian Calendars

(p.167) 4 The Rise of the Fixed Calendars: Persian, Ptolemaic, and Julian Calendars
Calendars in Antiquity

Sacha Stern

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how fixed calendars rose in importance in the ancient world during the second half of the first millennium bce, largely as a result of the spread and adoption of the Egyptian calendar or derivatives of it, and in the context of extensive empires. The early Achaemenid rulers appropriated it as one of their official imperial calendars, in the form of a Persian, later known as Zoroastrian, calendar. The Egyptian calendar was later disseminated by the Ptolemies in parts of their eastern Mediterranean empire, possibly leading to the creation of the 364-day Judaean calendar. Finally, the Egyptian calendar was used as a model for the institution in Rome of the Julian calendar. In this context, attention is given to the Roman calendar that preceded it, and to the reasons why Julius Caesar instituted a new calendar. It is generally argued that calendar change was not driven by ‘progress’, but rather by political and imperialist motivations.

Keywords:   calendar, empires, Egyptian, Persian, Ptolemies, 364-day Judaean calendar, Roman, Julian, Julius Caesar

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