who then were the first to invent the calendar? Were they the Egyptians?
The Greeks or the Chinese? Do you know that the word 'calendar'
originated from the Latin word 'kalendae'? According to archaeologists,
the first to do so were the Sumerians. They were able to study the
moon and came up with a calendar which depicted a year as a total
of 12 lunar months. To make up for the difference between this year
and the year of the seasons, they added an extra month in the calendar
about every four years. The early Egyptians and Greeks merely copied
the early Romans, they too used a calendar that was according the
studies of the moon. Each year, according to them, made up of 355
days. The months corresponding to March, May, July, and October
each had 31 days; February had 28 days, while the remaining months
had 29 days each. (Doesn't it sound a little like the standard calendar
that we have today?) Like that of the Sumerians, an extra month
was added about every fourth year. The days and months of the Roman
calendar were recorded and kept track of by the high priest. On
the calends, or day of the new moon, he also had the job of informing
the people of the times of the nones (first quarter) and ides (full
moon) for that month.
and sad to say, the priests were however, unable to carry out these
jobs well, and by the time which was during the reign of Julius
Caesar, the calendar was in a big mess: the months during which
it was supposed to be spring were recorded as summer months instead!
Fortunately, these mistakes in the calendar were later cleared up
and corrected by Caesar in 46 BC in the Julian calendar, which was
based on the idea that there were 365 days a year, with one day
added every fourth, or "leap," year. The ten extra days were then
distributed among the 29-day months, to become the standard calendar
that we use today!
Mayas of Mesoamerica had their own unique calendar, in which the
days and numbers were associated with fairies and gods. They believed
that those who were able to comprehend the calendars understood
the supernatural forces that controlled the events that were bound
to happen each day, and that they able to see the future. Thus,
ruling nobles used their knowledge of calendars to maintain power
and prestige in the eyes of the commoners. They had in fact, not
one but 3 different calendars, which were used for different purposes,
namely the sacred round, the solar calendar and the Long Count.
For instance, the sacred round which was made up of 260 days per
year, was used to plan religious ceremonies. The solar calendar
had 365 days divided into 18 months of 20 days each, with a short
month of 5 days (considered unlucky days) at the end of each year.
The Long Count counted days from a fixed starting point, the 12
August, 3114 BC, which according to the Mayas, was the day the universe
The ancient Chinese calendar on the other hand, was rather different
from those of the Sumerians or the Romans. It too was based on the
moon and consisted of 12 months of alternately 29 and 30 days, with
a total of 354 days in one lunar year instead. In addition, the
ancient Chinese gave interesting names to each year. These were
names of animals from the ancient times, which ran in this order
(from top to bottom, left to right):
12 Animals : Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat,
Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig
you know the story behind the reason for choosing of these animals
for each year? And why are they arranged in the order above? Click
on this link
to find out why… ) This cycle of years was used for astrological
purposes, to describe personality traits and to tell fortunes.d.
today, some Chinese still use the ancient Chinese lunar calendar
instead of the modern English one. Many still name each year according
to the traditional animal names. For instance, the year 2000 is
known by many as the year of the Dragon and next year would be the
year of the snake. Which year according the Chinese calendar were
you born in? Interested in finding out the meaning of that year
that you were born in? Click on the following link
to find out!
relic of an Aztec calendar stone weighs some 20 tons. The sun god
is shown in the center. Other symbols tell of the world's creation
and foretell its destruction.
An ancient Egyptian Stone calendar
ancient calendar showing the months and seasons for the year. Can
you decipher what the pictures mean?