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The Clarity of Calendars


Staff member
May 25, 2011
near Blacksburg, VA
We're in the middle of the Year of the Ox, but Rosh Hashanah (start or head of the new year) begins at sundown on 6 September 2021 in the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar is the oldest calendric system still in use. There are relatively few truly ancient, codified calendars.

The current Chinese Year of the Ox dates from 2,697 BC [Introduction by Emperor Huang Di]
Mayan calendar began in 3,114 BC [the traditionally calculated date of creation]
Jewish calendar begins in 3,761 BC [the traditionally calculated date of creation]

These "start" dates (including the BC/AD or BCE/CE dating currently used in most of the world) were usually established many years or centuries afterward, to signify a culturally significant cosmic event recognized by the culture that created the calendar.

Earliest traces of human culture are dated to about 50,000 BC
Homo sapiens emerged in Africa about 197,000 BC [based on geologic and chemical dating], so for about the first ¾ of our species' existence, we left no cultural artifacts that have been discovered. [They probably recorded stuff on paleolithic 8-track cassettes that did not survive the subsequent advance of technology.]

Which is more important: following the Moon, following the zodiac or following the seasons (the sun)?

Lunar calendar: a mesolithic arrangement of twelve pits and an arc found in Warren Field, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, dated to roughly 8000 BC.

[My dates could be off by a year, because of that pesky error of 1 BC moving on to 1 AD. Part of our Gregorian calendar counts forward, and part of it counts backward. And they forgot about zero. Doh! So the math is always a nuisance.]