Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

See other formats

The Calendars and Chronology                   5
When the heliacal rising of Sirius was constituted the event
which marked the beginning of the seasonal year, the reform
was accompanied by the introduction of a calendar (the 'Sothic'
calendar) whose opening day (i. I Sothic) always coincided
with the heliacal rising: a 6th epagomenal day was intercalated
as required, normally every 4th year, in order to maintain the
relation [4]. It was necessary to maintain a calendar which
(more or less) kept step with the seasons for the purpose of
fixing festival days (other than those of the New Moon and
Full Moon festivals); for festivals were the occasions of the
payment of tithes in kind to the temples.
Before considering the scientific significance of the Sothic
year and its calendar, it is desirable to go farther back in order
to ascertain the calendric system and the 'year' which were
superseded, officially at least, by the Sothic arrangement. The
evidence is scanty, and consists mainly of the records of festivals
shown as held at cyclic intervals of years on the Palermo Stone
and the Cairo fragment;1 supplemented by an inscription from,
the Edfu temple of about 200 B.C. which associates Imhotep
with a revolt of the Set worshippers in Year 363 of an 'era of
Horakhti' [5], In consequence the conclusions drawn from,
this evidence must be regarded as conjectural.
In the records down as far as the reign of Rameses II (1289-
1229) glimpses are obtained of a third calendar, in which I. X
was coincident with I. I Sothic or on occasion with 2. I Sothic.
Clearly then this calendar started each year with a day which
was soon after the autumn equinox, and moving so as to keep
about the same distance from it as I. I Sothic was from the
summer solstice.
Computation shows that such a calendar would result from
1 These are two fragments representing probably less than one-tenth of a
tablet, possibly of three panels, of black diorite inscribed apparently during
the period of the Fifth Dynasty -with records which purport to siiow the
principal events of each regnal year since the accession of Menes.