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Egyptian Dates

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Civil dates: (Excel) (HTML) (CSV)                                                   Lunar cycle: (Excel) (HTML) (CSV)

This page gives access to a set of conversion tables for determining the Julian equivalent of Egyptian civil and lunar dates in the Ptolemaic era. Two tables are provided: a table converting civil dates to Julian dates, and a table notionally converting lunar dates to civil dates according to the lunar cycle of pCarlsberg 9.

How to Read the Civil Conversion Table                                         How to Read the Lunar Cycle Table

The table converts dates in the Egyptian civil calendar to the Julian calendar for the years 332 B.C. - A.D. 14.

Days and Months

The table presents the Julian date for the start of each Egyptian month in the period. The date given is that which covers the daylight hours.

The months are identified in two different ways at the head on the table. The first is that used for most of pharaonic history: the months are grouped into three sets of four months each. Each set was assigned to a season -- Akhet, Peret or Shomu. Hence the months were named I Akhet, II Akhet etc. Additionally, the names of the individual months are given, as was commonly done in Ptolemaic times. Finally, the last five (or six) days of the year, which did not belong to any month, were known as "epagomenal days" or "Epagomene".

Starting in the reign of Augustus, the cells for Egyptian months in which leap days were inserted, according to the solution presented in these conversion tables, are highlighted in green.

Finally, the starting months of two astronomical epochs are highlighted in crimson: (1) each of the five Callippic cycles covered by these tables; and (2) the Era of Dionysios.

Julian Years

The Julian year at the start of each Egyptian year is given to the left of the table, and the year at the end of the year to the right. In this period, the Julian year always changed part way through an Egyptian year.

The cell for an Egyptian month in which a Julian year begins (1 January) is shaded in yellow, and the month in which a Julian leap day (29 February) occurs is shaded in light blue.

Regnal Years

The year of an event was identified by the regnal year of a king -- loosely, the number of years that had passed since a king's accession. Three types of regnal year are recorded in this table: the Egyptian regnal year, the Macedonian regnal year, and the financial year.

Egyptian Regnal Years

The Egyptian regnal years for each ruler are given according to the same convention as the Julian year number. The kings (and coregents) associated with a particular series of regnal years are named on the far right hand side of the table.

The Egyptian regnal year numbers are normally the same in both the left and right hand columns. The last year number of a reign will appear only in the left hand column(s) of regnal years, while the first year of the succeeding king will appear only in the right hand columns of regnal numbers. In addition, the following notes apply:

The transitions between regnal series are marked by red lines as follows:

A diagonal line through a month indicates that a reign change is known to have occurred that month (unless it is known that the reign change occurred exactly at the start of the year). If a reign change cannot be pinned down so precisely, the block of months which represent the known limits of the change are bounded by dotted lines.

Regnal transitions are briefly annotated by comments identifying the source data in conversion tables.

Macedonian Regnal Years

NB: The exact operation of the Macedonian calendar is a controversial topic and I have not yet completed my review of it. For this reason, transitions between Macedonian regnal years are not shown here at this time. I expect to provide them after the Macedonian conversion tables are completed.

During the period before the Macedonian calendar was aligned to the Egyptian calendar (i.e. before the accession of Ptolemy V), the Macedonian regnal year, and its relationship to the Egyptian year, is also indicated. In these tables, the following conventions are used:

Additionally, the Egyptian months in which the anniversary of Ptolemy II's coregency are estimated to have occurred, before his actual accession, are given in orange.

Financial Years

The start of the financial year is marked by a bold blue line for the years in which this scheme is known to have operated, and by a bolded blue dashed line for years before year 23 of Ptolemy II, in which operation is assumed but unproven.

Financial years were numbered similarly to ordinary civil years, but the transition between two consecutive years notionally occurred on 1 Mecheir under Ptolemy II, and in Tybi under later kings, not 1 Thoth. During the reigns of Ptolemy II, III and IV, the period in which the financial year is most extensively documented, the financial year number was the same as the regnal year number between 1 Thoth and the start of the financial year, and 1 ahead of the regnal year number between the start of the financial year and 5 Epagomene.

Since this relationship is easy to determine by eye, financial year numbers are not given explicitly in the table.

Lunar Cycle Years

The lunar year number, given in magenta at the left of the body of the table, identifies the position of the Egyptian year in the 25-year lunar cycle defined by pdem Carlsberg 9.

There is no evidence that the Egyptians ever explicitly used a lunar year number. However, the index is useful for identifying the Julian and regnal years corresponding to given lunar dates, and vice versa.

Synchronisms

The table entries also indicate annotated synchronisms of various types by colour coding. The annotations briefly summarise the data and source. The colour coding is as follows:

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