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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

'The Calendars and Chronology                  9
the Pyramid of Khufu, a period has been reached when the
picture passes from the conjectural to the factual. The astro-
nomical science displayed by the reform of Imhotep accords
well with the astronomical, geometric, and engineering science
exhibited in the construction of the Great Pyramid. Clearly
the critic of the 365^ days calendar year may have objected
to the fact that the result was that the Set festival, i.e. the
calendar New Year day, moved forward from the actual autumn
equinox at the rate of about 3 days in 400 years. It was perhaps
in order to meet that criticism that Imhotep invented a seasonal
year which no doubt he thought was precisely 365^ days in
length, that is, the same length as the calendar year. Actually
the mean Sothic year at this epoch was nearly a minute longer
than 365 J days; but the 372 years of records which alone can
have been available to him would hardly exhibit the error.
Nevertheless there was this small error.
The reform of Imhotep must therefore be recognized as
the first retrogression from the scientific calendars of 3141. *
For the next 2,800 years the sliding and the Sothic calendars
remained the principal calendars of Egypt, although, as stated
above, we find traces of the Set calendar still in use in some
temples as late as -the reign of Rameses II. At the Roman
period the confusion of calendars had become so involved that
it is impossible to sort them clearly. Records exist which show
5 or 6 New Year days. In addition to 1.1 of the sliding calendar
and 1.1 Sothic are the present 'Night of the Drop' (June 18-19
Gregorian), a New Year of Horus, which was possibly a relic
of the Samhain festival, and another New Year day in the
1 An interesting illustration of the dictum of Solomon is afforded by the
last step in this scientific retrogression, namely the introduction of our present
calendar by Pope Gregory IX in 1582. The same objection to the 365 J days
calendar was then raised as in the days of Imhotep. Whereas, however,
Imh6tep met it by fitting a year to the calendar, the method adopted by the
Vatican was that of attempting to fit a calendar to the tropical year. It repre-
sented the final degradation of the calendar of 3141.