History Embalmed

Ancient Egyptian Calendar

The Ancient Egyptians were the first civilization to create a calendar which organised the year into 365 days and the days into 24 hours. The ancient civil Egyptian calendar, known as the Annus Vagus or "Wandering Year". The Ancient Egyptian astrologers had long studied the stars which helped them in forecasting the seasons of flood and sowing which was vital to the prosperity of Egypt. The astronomers identified the planets in the solar system and also took great interest in the stars.

The brightest star in the Egyptian sky was Sirius. Sirius disappeared for a 70 day period and reappeared on the eastern horizon on July 19th which also coincided with the Nile floods. This was therefore the date of New Year's Day for the Ancient Egyptians. The Ancient Egyptians had a great interest in the passing of time and how this effected vital events such as the annual flooding of the Nile. The Ancient Egyptian calendar initially started with a lunar calendar.

Egyptian Lunar Calendar
The Ancient Egyptian Lunar calendar was organised into 12 lunar months and 354 days which were divided into three seasons consisting of four calendar months for each season and based on the cycle of the moon. A similar lunar calendar was in use in Babylonia. The Egyptians placed great importance on the sun and the astronomers realised that the solar year was 365 days.

The religion of the Ancient Egyptians focussed on the sun which determined the patterns of the seasons, as opposed to the moon, and a solar calendar was developed.   

Egyptian Solar Calendar
The Ancient Egyptian calendar is believed to date back to the 3rd Millennium BC which spans the Early to Middle Bronze Age. The Ancient Egyptian calendar and year was divided as follows:

  • 10 days = 1 week

  • 3 weeks = 1 month

  • 4 months = 1 season

  • 3 seasons + 5 holy days = 1 year

The 5 holy days were dedicated the gods Osiris, Isis, Horus, Seth and Nephthys. To measure the hours in a day the Ancient Egyptians used a water clock. The Ancient Egyptian calendar was known to be imperfect as the true solar calendar has an extra quarter of the day. This discrepancy was eventually addressed by the Romans who introduced the 'leap year'.

Ancient Egyptian Calendar
Each section of this Egyptian website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of Egypt. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of Egypt, the Ancient Egyptians and of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, King Tut.

Ancient Egyptians

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