In ancient Greece, timekeeping and tracking of events were crucial, and calendars played a significant role in the same. However, the calendar system used in ancient Greece was quite different from the modern-day Gregorian calendar. Let’s dive deeper into the world of ancient Greek calendars.
What was the Ancient Greek calendar?
The ancient Greeks used several different calendar systems throughout their history. Initially, they followed a lunar calendar that consisted of 12 months based on the phases of the moon. However, this system proved to be impractical as it didn’t align with the solar year.
Later on, they adopted a lunisolar calendar that incorporated both lunar and solar cycles. This calendar consisted of 12 months and had 354 days in total. To make up for the difference between lunar and solar years, an additional month was added every two or three years.
The Athenian Calendar
One of the most well-known ancient Greek calendars is the Athenian Calendar. This calendar was used in Athens from around 508 BC until it was replaced by the Macedonian Calendar in 312 BC.
The Athenian Calendar was also a lunisolar calendar and consisted of twelve months with alternating lengths of either 29 or 30 days. The months were named after gods or festivals celebrated during that month.
- Hekatombaion (July-August)
- Metageitnion (August-September)
- Boedromion (September-October)
- Pyanepsion (October-November)
- Maimakterion (November-December)
- Poseideon (December-January)
- Gamelion (January-February)
- Anthesterion (February-March)
- Elaphebolion (March-April)
- Mounichion (April-May)
- Thargelion (May-June)
- Skirophorion (June-July)
The Macedonian Calendar
The Macedonian Calendar was introduced by King Philip II of Macedonia in 312 BC and was used until the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC. This calendar was also a lunisolar calendar and consisted of twelve months, with alternating lengths of either 29 or 30 days.
The Macedonian Calendar was similar to the Athenian Calendar, except for a few minor differences. The months were named after gods or festivals celebrated during that month, and there were three intercalary months added every eight years to keep the calendar aligned with the solar year.
In conclusion, the ancient Greeks used several different calendar systems throughout their history. The Athenian and Macedonian calendars were two of the most well-known calendars used in ancient Greece.
Both these calendars were lunisolar calendars that incorporated both lunar and solar cycles. These calendars played a significant role in timekeeping and tracking events in ancient Greece, and their legacy can still be seen in modern-day calendars.