Ancient Greek calendars

The various ancient Greek calendars began in most states of ancient Greece between Autumn and Winter except for the Attic calendar, which began in Summer.

The Greeks, as early as the time of Homer, appear to have been familiar with the division of the year into the twelve lunar months but no intercalary month Embolimos or day is then mentioned. Independent of the division of a month into days, it was divided into periods according to the increase and decrease of the moon. Thus, the first day or new moon was called Noumenia. The month in which the year began, as well as the names of the months, differed among the states, and in some parts even no names existed for the months, as they were distinguished only numerically, as the first, second, third, fourth month, etc.

Of primary importance for the reconstruction of the regional Greek calendars is the calendar of Delphi, because of the numerous documents found there recording the manumission of slaves, many of which are dated both in the Delphian and in a regional calendar.

Calendars by region


The months of the Aetolian calendar have been presented by Daux (1932) based on arguments by Nititsky (1901) based on synchronisms in manumission documents found at Delphi (dated to the 2nd century BC).[1] The month names are:

  • Prokuklios - Προκύκλιος
  • Athanaios - Ἀθαναίος
  • Boukatios - Βουκάτιος
  • Dios - Διός
  • Euthaios - Ἑυθυαίος
  • Homoloios - Ὁμολώιος
  • Hermaios - Ἑρμαίος
  • Dionusios - Διονύσιος
  • Agueios - Ἀγύειος
  • Hippodromos - Ἱπποδρόμιος
  • Laphraios - Λαφραίος
  • Panamos - Πάναμος

The intercalary month was Dios, attested as Dios embolimos in SEG SVI 344, equivalent to Delphian Poitropoios ho deuteros. The month Boukatios corresponds to Delphian Daidaphorios, while Delphian Boukatios is Aetolian Panamos.


  • Ermaios - Ερμαίος
  • Arneios - Αρνείος
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • Panamos - Πάναμος
  • Aguieos - Αγυιέος
  • Karneios - Κάρνειος
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -


  • Hekatombaion - Ἑκατομβαιών
  • Metageitnion - Μεταγειτνιών
  • Boedromion - Βοηδρομιών
  • Pyanepsion - Πυανεψιών
  • Maimakterion - Μαιμακτηριών
  • Poseideon - Ποσιδεών (later Ποσειδεών)
  • Gamelion - Γαμηλιών
  • Anthesterion - Ἀνθεστηριών
  • Elaphebolion - Ἑλαφηβολιών
  • Mounichion - Μουνυχιών (later Μουνιχιών)
  • Thargelion - Θαργηλιών
  • Skirophorion - Σκιροφοριών


  • Bucatios - Βουκάτιος
  • Hermaios - Ἑρμαίος
  • Prostaterios - Προστατήριος
  • Agrionios - Ἀγριώνιος
  • Homoloios - Ὁμολώιος
  • Theilouthios - Θειλούθιος
  • Hippodromios - Ἱπποδρόμιος
  • Panamos - Πάναμος
  • Pamboiotios - Παμβοιώτιος
  • Damatrios - Δαμάτριος
  • Alalkomenios or Alkumenios - Ἀλαλκομένιος or Ἀλκυμένιος
  • -

The Antikythera mechanism calendar

The Antikythera mechanism calendar (which is a Corinthian calendar) months and their order is known from the sequence on the dial of the Antikythera mechanism [2][3]

  • Phoinikaios - Φοινικαίος
  • Kraneios - Κράνειος
  • Lanotropios, Heliotropios or Haliotropios - Λανοτρόπιος
  • Machaneus - Μαχανεύς
  • Dodekateus - Δωδεκατεύς
  • Eukleios - Εὔκλειος
  • Artemisios - Ἀρτεμίσιος
  • Psydreus - Ψυδρεύς
  • Gamilios - Γαμείλιος
  • Agrianios - Ἀγριάνιος
  • Panamos - Πάναμος
  • Apellaios - Ἀπελλαῖος


  • Thesmophorion
  • Hermaios
  • Eiman
  • Matarchios
  • Agyios
  • Dioscouros
  • Theodosios
  • Pontos
  • Rhabinthios
  • Hyperberetos
  • Necysios
  • Basilios


  • Bucatios - Βουκάτιος
  • Heraios - Ἡραίος
  • Apellaios - Ἀπελλαίος
  • -
  • Dadaphorios - Δαδαφόριος
  • Poitropios - Ποιτρόπιος
  • Bysios - Βύσιος
  • Artemisios - Ἀρτεμίσιος
  • Heracleios - Ἡράκλειος
  • Boathoos - Βοαθόος
  • Ilaios - Ιλαίος
  • Theoxenios - Θεοξένιος


  • -
  • Apollonios - Ἀπολλώνιος
  • Parthenios - Παρθένιος
  • Alphioios - Ἀλφιοίος
  • Athanaios - Ἀθαναίος
  • Thuios - Θυΐος
  • -
  • Diosthuos - Διόσθυος
  • -
  • Elaphios - Ελάφιος
  • -
  • -
  • -


  • Azosios - Αζόσιος
  • Karneios - Κάρνειος
  • Praratios - Πραράτιος
  • Ermaios - Ερμαίος
  • Gamos - Γάμος
  • Teleos - Τέλεος
  • Posidaios - Ποσίδαιος
  • Artamisios - Αρταμίσιος
  • Agrianios - Αγριάνιος
  • Panamos - Πάναμος
  • Kuklios - Κύκλιος
  • Apellaios - Απελλαίος


  • Panamos - Πάναμος
  • Herasios - Ἡράσιος
  • Apellaios - Ἀπελλαίος
  • Diosthyos - Διόσθυος
  • -
  • Eleusinios - Ελευσίνιος
  • Gerastios - Γεράστιος
  • Artemisios - Ἀρτεμίσιος
  • Delphinios - Δελφίνιος
  • Phleiasios - Φλειάσιος
  • Hecatombeus - Ἑκατομβεύς
  • Karneios - Κάρνειος


A number of Locrian calendars are recorded, but only from the 2nd century BC. The Ozolian Locris for practical reasons also had a federal calendar which simply enumerated months from one to twelve. The first month (Protos) corresponds Delphian Boukatios, and the remaining months correspond in sequence to the regular sequence of Delphian months. Separate month names are recorded from the Locrian cities of Amphissa, Physkos, Oianthea, Tritea and Tolophon.[4]


  • Dios - Δίος
  • Apellaios - Ἀπελλαῖος
  • Audunaios or Audnaios - Αὐδυναῖος or Αὐδναῖος
  • Peritios - Περίτιος
  • Dystros - Δύστρος
  • Xandikos or Xanthikos - Ξανδικός or Ξανθικός
  • Artemisios or Artamitios - Ἀρτεμίσιος or Ἀρταμίτιος
  • Daisios - Δαίσιος
  • Panemos or Panamos - Πάνημος or Πάναμος
  • Loios - Λώιος
  • Gorpiaios - Γορπιαῖος
  • Hyperberetaios - Ὑπερβερεταῖος


on the Rhodian calendar[5]

  • Agrianios - Ἀγριάνιος
  • Badromios - Βαδρόμιος
  • Theudasios - Θευδάσιος
  • Dalios - Δάλιος
  • Artamitios - Ἀρταμίτιος
  • Panamos and Panamos embolimos - Πάναμος
  • Pedageitnyos - Πεδαγειτνύος
  • Hyacynthios - Ὑακίνθιος
  • Karneios - Κάρνειος
  • Thesmophorios - Θεσμοφόριος
  • Sminthios - Σμίνθιος
  • Diosthyos - Διόσθυος


  • Thesmophorios
  • Dalios
  • -
  • Agrianios
  • -
  • Theudasios
  • Artamitios
  • -
  • Badromios
  • Hyacinthios
  • Carneios
  • Panamos


The Thessalian calendar was standardised only in the Roman era. Previously, all poleis had their own calendars based on their respective festivals.[6]

  • Itonios - Ἰτῶνιος
  • Panemos - Πάνημος
  • Themistios - Θεμίστιος
  • Agagylios - Ἀγαγύλιος
  • Apollonios - Ἀπολλῶνιος
  • Hermaios - Ἑρμαῖος
  • Leschanorios - Λεσχανόριος
  • Aphrios - Ἂφριος
  • Thyios - Θυίος
  • Homoloios - Ὁμολῶιος
  • Hippodromios - Ἱπποδρόμιος
  • Phyllikos - Φυλλικός

See also



  1. ^ cited after Samuel (1972:76f.)
  2. ^ Freeth, Tony; Jones, Alexander; Steele, John M.; Bitsakis, Yanis (31 July 2008). "Calendars with Olympiad display and eclipse prediction on the Antikythera Mechanism" (PDF). Nature. 454 (7204): 614–7. Bibcode:2008Natur.454..614F. doi:10.1038/nature07130. PMID 18668103. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  3. ^ Freeth, T (2009). "Decoding an Ancient Computer". Scientific American. 301 (6): 76–83. Bibcode:2009SciAm.301f..76F. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1209-76. PMID 20058643.
  4. ^ Samuel (1972:76f.)
  5. ^ Origines kalendarlae hellenicae [1] by Edward Greswell
  6. ^ Cult and koinon in Hellenistic Thessaly by Denver Graninger, 87-114.


  • Alan Edouard Samuel, Greek and Roman Chronology: Calendars and Years in Classical Antiquity, Volume 1, Part 7, C.H.Beck, 1972.
  • Danezis Manos & Theodosiou Stratos, The Odyssey of the Calendars, 1st Book (in Greek), 1995

External links

Ancient Macedonian calendar

The Ancient Macedonian calendar is a lunisolar calendar that was in use in ancient Macedon in the 1st millennium BC. It consisted of 12 synodic lunar months (i.e. 354 days per year), which needed intercalary months to stay in step with the seasons. By the time the calendar was being used across the Hellenistic world, seven total embolimoi (intercalary months) were being added in each 19-year Metonic cycle. The names of the ancient Macedonian Calendar remained in use in Syria even into the Christian era. The Macedonian calendar was in essence the Babylonian calendar with the substitution of Macedonian names for the Babylonian ones. An example of 6th century AD inscriptions from Decapolis, Jordan, bearing the Solar Macedonian calendar, starts from the month Audynaeus. The solar type was merged later with the Julian calendar. In Roman Macedonia, both calendars were used. The Roman one is attested in inscriptions with the name Kalandôn gen. καλανδῶν calendae and the Macedonian Hellenikei dat. Ἑλληνικῇ Hellenic. Finally an inscription from Kassandreia of about ca. 306-298 BC bearing a month Ἀθηναιῶν Athenaion suggests that some cities may have used their own months even after the 4th century BC Macedonian expansion.

Δίος (Dios, moon of October)

Ἀπελλαῖος (Apellaiios, moon of November, also a Dorian month - Apellaiōn was a Tenian month)

Αὐδυναῖος or Αὐδναῖος (Audunaios or Audnaios, moon of December, Cretan month also)

Περίτιος (Peritios, moon of January) (and festival of the month; Peritia)

Δύστρος (Dystros, moon of February)

Ξανδικός or Ξανθικός (Xandikos or Xanthikos, moon of March) (and festival of the month; Xanthika, purifying the army, Hesych.)

Ξανδικός Ἐμβόλιμος (Xandikos Embolimos, intercalated 6 times over a 19-year cycle)

Ἀρτεμίσιος or Ἀρταμίτιος (Artemisios or Artamitios, moon of April, also a Spartan, Rhodian and Epidaurian month - Artemisiōn was an Ionic month)

Δαίσιος (Daisios, moon of May)

Πάνημος or Πάναμος (Panēmos or Panamos, moon of June, also an Epidaurian, Miletian, Samian and Corinthian month)

Λώιος (Lōios, moon of July - Ὀμολώιος, Homolōios, was an Aetolian, Boeotian and Thessalian month)

Γορπιαῖος (Gorpiaios, moon of August)

Ὑπερβερεταῖος (Hyperberetaios, moon of September - Hyperberetos was a Cretan month)

Ὑπερβερεταῖος Ἑμβόλιμος (Hyperberetaios Embolimos, intercalated once over a 19-year cycle)


Archaeoastronomy (also spelled archeoastronomy) is the interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary study of how people in the past "have understood the phenomena in the sky, how they used these phenomena and what role the sky played in their cultures". Clive Ruggles argues it is misleading to consider archaeoastronomy to be the study of ancient astronomy, as modern astronomy is a scientific discipline, while archaeoastronomy considers symbolically rich cultural interpretations of phenomena in the sky by other cultures. It is often twinned with ethnoastronomy, the anthropological study of skywatching in contemporary societies. Archaeoastronomy is also closely associated with historical astronomy, the use of historical records of heavenly events to answer astronomical problems and the history of astronomy, which uses written records to evaluate past astronomical practice.

Archaeoastronomy uses a variety of methods to uncover evidence of past practices including archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, statistics and probability, and history. Because these methods are diverse and use data from such different sources, integrating them into a coherent argument has been a long-term difficulty for archaeoastronomers. Archaeoastronomy fills complementary niches in landscape archaeology and cognitive archaeology. Material evidence and its connection to the sky can reveal how a wider landscape can be integrated into beliefs about the cycles of nature, such as Mayan astronomy and its relationship with agriculture. Other examples which have brought together ideas of cognition and landscape include studies of the cosmic order embedded in the roads of settlements.Archaeoastronomy can be applied to all cultures and all time periods. The meanings of the sky vary from culture to culture; nevertheless there are scientific methods which can be applied across cultures when examining ancient beliefs. It is perhaps the need to balance the social and scientific aspects of archaeoastronomy which led Clive Ruggles to describe it as: "...[A] field with academic work of high quality at one end but uncontrolled speculation bordering on lunacy at the other".

Attic calendar

The Attic calendar or Athenian calendar is the calendar that was in use in ancient Attica, the ancestral territory of the Athenian polis. It is sometimes called the Greek calendar because of Athens's cultural importance, but it is only one of many ancient Greek calendars.

Although relatively abundant, the evidence for the Attic calendar is still patchy and often contested. As it was well known in Athens and of little use outside Attica, no contemporary source set out to describe the system as a whole. Further, even during the well-sourced 5th and 4th centuries BC, the calendar underwent changes, not all perfectly understood. As such, any account given of it must be a tentative reconstruction.

Eleutherius and Antia

Eleutherius (or Eleut(h)erus or Eleftherios; sometimes called Liberalis or Liberator, the former transliterations and the latter translations of his (Albanian: Shën Lefter, Greek: Ἐλευθέριος) and his mother Antia (or Anthia) (Albanian: Shën Anthi,Greek: Ἀνθία, Italian: Santi Eleuterio e Anzia) are venerated as Christian saints and martyrs in Albania.Born in Rome, Eleutherius's father died when he was a young child and his mother, Anthia, took him to Anicetus, the Bishop of Rome, who taught him in the divine scriptures. Eleutherius is venerated as a bishop of Illyricum; according to tradition, Antia was his mother. According to a source in Greek dating from before the 5th century, Antia was the widow of a consul named Eugenius. Her son Eleutherius was ordained a deacon and priest and then consecrated as bishop by a man named Anicetus. This tradition may have originated through confusion with Pope St. Eleutherius, who may have been a deacon of Pope Anicetus (c. 154-164).The tradition states that Eleutherius was appointed bishop of Messina and Illyricum at the age of twenty and apparently settled in Valona. He was imprisoned by a comes named Felix; Eleutherius and Antia were taken to Rome to be judged by the Emperor Hadrian. According to this source, Eleutherius and Antia were both condemned to death on December 15. According to tradition, Eleutherius was clubbed to death, while Antia was beheaded.A Latin translation of this Greek text, dating from around the 8th century, states that Anicetus, after consecrating Eleutherius, assigned him to the see of Apuliam Aecanam civitatem (Aeca). Eleutherius and Antia were then taken to Rome and killed on April 18. The source states that the citizens of Aeca retrieved the bodies of the two martyrs from Rome and returned to their city with them.Baronius uses the descriptive Episcopi Illyrici (bishop of Illyricum) in his Roman Martyrology, since he consulted the Greek source. Hippolyte Delehaye believed the association with Aeca was erroneous, and centuries earlier, Florus had believed Apuliam Aecanam was an error for Apuliam Messenam (Messina), but the association with Messina may also be erroneous. The confusion is increased when it is taken into account the fact that Eleutherius' name, which means "one who is free," was translated into Latin as Liberator or Liberalis; he may have been confused with other saints named Liberalis.Messina still claims Eleutherius and Antia as natives, stating that he was born in this Sicilian city on April 18, 121, and that later Eleutherius became a bishop of Illyricum. They were tortured with hot boiling oil, resin, and heated irons, and then thrown to the lions; none had the desired effect and finally the two were executed.

Their bodies were then, according to tradition, buried in the Roman church of Santa Sabina, in the altar of San Lorenzo, and then moved to San Giovanni della Pigna, near the Pantheon, with the relics of Saint Genesius of Rome. The association with San Giovanni della Pigna may also be a result of confusion with Pope Eleuterus, whose relics were also said to have been translated to San Giovanni della Pigna. Christians from Rieti then may have carried their relics to their city, which still claims them.

Roman calendar

The Roman calendar was the calendar used by the Roman kingdom and republic. The term often includes the Julian calendar established by the reforms of the dictator Julius Caesar and emperor Augustus in the late 1st century BC and sometimes includes any system dated by inclusive counting towards months' kalends, nones, and ides in the Roman manner. The term usually excludes the Alexandrian calendar of Roman Egypt, which continued the unique months of that land's former calendar; the Byzantine calendar of the later Roman Empire, which usually dated the Roman months in the simple count of the ancient Greek calendars; and the Gregorian calendar, which refined the Julian system to bring it into still closer alignment with the solar year and is the basis of the current international standard.

Roman dates were counted inclusively forward to the next of three principal days: the first of the month (the kalends), a day less than the middle of the month (the ides), and eight days—nine, counting inclusively—before this (the nones). The original calendar consisted of 10 months beginning in spring with March; winter was left as an unassigned span of days. These months ran for 38 nundinal cycles, each forming an eight-day week (nine days counted inclusively, hence the name) ended by religious rituals and a public market. The winter period was later divided into two months, January and February. The legendary early kings Romulus and Numa Pompilius were traditionally credited with establishing this early fixed calendar, which bears traces of its origin as an observational lunar one. In particular, the kalends, nones, and ides seem to have derived from the first sighting of the crescent moon, the first-quarter moon, and the full moon respectively. The system ran well short of the solar year, and it needed constant intercalation to keep religious festivals and other activities in their proper seasons. For superstitious reasons, such intercalation occurred within the month of February even after it was no longer considered the last month.

After the establishment of the Roman Republic, years began to be dated by consulships and control over intercalation was granted to the pontifices, who eventually abused their power by lengthening years controlled by their political allies and shortening the years in their rivals' terms of office. Having won his war with Pompey, Caesar used his position as Rome's chief pontiff to enact a calendar reform in 46 BC, coincidentally making the year of his third consulship last for 446 days. In order to avoid interfering with Rome's religious ceremonies, the reform added all its days towards the ends of months and did not adjust any nones or ides, even in months which came to have 31 days. The Julian calendar was supposed to have a single leap day on 24 February (a doubled VI Kal. Mart.) every fourth year but following Caesar's assassination the priests figured this using inclusive counting and mistakenly added the bissextile day every three years. In order to bring the calendar back to its proper place, Augustus was obliged to suspend intercalation for one or two decades. The revised calendar remaining slightly longer than the solar year, the date of Easter shifted far enough away from the vernal equinox that Pope Gregory XIII ordered its adjustment in the 16th century.

Nearly universal
In wide use
In more
limited use
By specialty
Displays and
Year naming

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