How Did They Write the Date in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Greece, the way of writing dates was quite different from what we follow today. The Greeks used a lunar calendar to determine the dates, which was based on the phases of the moon.

The lunar calendar comprised 12 months, each of which had 29 or 30 days. Therefore, a year in Ancient Greece had only 354 days.

The Ancient Greek Calendar

The Ancient Greek calendar was divided into three seasons – spring, summer, and winter. Each season had four months that were named after various festivals and deities.

The Names of Months

The first month of spring was called Anthesterion, followed by Elaphebolion, Mounichion, and Thargelion. The summer season included the months of Skirophorion, Hekatombaion, Metageitnion, and Boedromion. Finally, the winter season consisted of Dioscuri or Karneios, Apellaios or Aigeios; Poseideon or Gamelion; and then followed by Gamelion or Anthesterion.

Writing Dates in Ancient Greece

To write down a date in Ancient Greece, they used a combination of two systems- one based on the name of the month and another one on the number of days since the new moon. For instance, if someone wanted to write down a date during which they had observed a festival in honor of Demeter (Greek goddess for agriculture), they would have written: “the third day after the new moon in Pyanopsia.”

The Role of Moon Phases

As mentioned earlier, Greeks used moon phases to mark their dates. They referred to three phases: Noumenia (new moon), Hene Kai Nea (the old moon disappears), and Hen Kai Men (the old moon remains).

The first day of each month was Noumenia and was considered sacred. People would gather and perform various rituals and offerings to the gods.

The Importance of Festivals

Festivals held an important place in Ancient Greek society. They were celebrated throughout the year, and people often used them as a reference point to mark specific dates. For instance, if someone wanted to write down the date of the famous Olympic games held in Athens, they would have written: “The third day of Hekatombaion during the Olympic year.”


In conclusion, Ancient Greeks had a unique way of writing dates that were based on their lunar calendar. They used a combination of month names and moon phases to mark specific dates. Their system might seem complex compared to our present-day system, but it played an integral role in their society.