« A.U.C. 749 = 5 B.C. »

The papyrus pVindob. L 1c (D. Hagedorn, ZPE 100 (1994) 211-222) gives the equation a.d. XIIII Kal. Aug. = 27 Epeiph. Though the year is unspecified, the reference to "Aug." rather than "Sex." shows that the papyrus dates to A.U.C. 746 = 8 or later. As a result, the Egyptian date must refer to the fixed Egyptian calendar rather than the wandering calendar. But on the fixed calendar the equation should always have been a.d. XIIII Kal. Aug. = 25 Epeiph. Therefore there exists at least one year in or after A.U.C. 746 = 8 in which the Roman civil calendar differed from the Julian calendar by two days. On the standard reconstruction of the early Julian calendar, the papyrus must be dated between 5 BC and 2 BC.

This datum confirms the account of Macrobius Saturnalia 1.14.13 that Augustus suspended intercalation for several years (12 according to Macrobius) to compensate for the three extra leap days added under the triennial leap year cycle, and then resumed intercalation on the correct frequency. A similar account is given by Solinus I 40-47, and Pliny, NH 18.57, also states that intercalation was suspended for 12 years. pVindob. L 1c proves that at least the Julian leap years of A.U.C. 749 = 5 and A.U.C. 753 = 1 were omitted, and that the earliest possible Julian leap year that was actually implemented was A.U.C. 757 = A.D. 4, though later "first leap years" are not excluded.

The difficulty with the literary accounts is to determine when the 12 years were counted from, and the manner in which intercalation was resumed. Scaliger argued that the 12 years were counted from the year of the Augustan reform. 12 years from 8, counting inclusively, covers the period 8 B.C. - 4 A.D., implying a resumption of intercalation in A.D. 5. Since A.D. 5 is not a Julian leap year, intercalation must then have been resumed by resuming the accumulation of quarter days in that year.  On the other hand, if the 12 years were counted from the last intercalation (e.g. an intercalation in 9), then the first Julian leap year could be A.D. 4.

In fact, its worse than this. The overall assembly of data requires that "12 years" is an ancient error, and intercalation must have been resumed in A.D. 4, the 12th year of the reform. On this reconstruction, the papyrus must date between 8 BC and 6 BC.

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