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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Calendars and Chronology                  3
With the evidence before us that the ancient Egyptians
appreciated fully the fact that the seasonal year was about
365^ days in length, it is impossible to accept the view that
the 365 days calendar, whose sanctity was so fully preserved
down to the Roman period, was introduced as a rough repre-
sentation of the length of the year. We are impelled to regard
it as having some scientific significance.
The importance of this calendar lay in its use as an automatic
record of the passage of years in an era. Suppose that at some
date which defines the beginning of an era, such as A.U.C., two
calendars are set in operation conjointly, with their opening
days (i. I)1 coincident; one a calendar of 365 days (the sliding
calendar), the other a calendar which has a 366th day every
fourth year (such as the Julian calendar). At some subsequent
date, it results from the operation of these two calendars that
I. I Julian is coincident with I. IV Sliding. It is clear that the
opening days have separated by 90 days since A.U.C. I. The era
date must therefore be A.U.C. 361. Such is the only conceivable
scientific reason for the sliding calendar.
The other calendars, against which this sliding calendar
moved, must now be considered. These were organized to
keep their opening days near the annual celestial events which
defined the beginning of the solar year. The solar year which
is known to have been used officially from at least as early as
the Twelfth Dynasty (1990-1777) period was defined as begin-
ning at the heliacal rising of Sirius. This means the first day
in the year on which Sirius is seen, about 42 minutes before
sunrise, for a minute or so, after the star rises, and before its
light is damped out by the advent of dawn.2 The nature of
as fractions. Thus the 27th da}','which in official records always appears as
*day 27', may in business matters be referred to as 'the half, and the third,
and the fifteenth*. I This notation is used to express May I of month T.
2 At the present epoch Sirius is first visible at dawn on August 3 (Gregorian)
from Cairo. At the epoch 27695 first visibility (heliacal rising) occurred