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The Calendars

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 calendars2

(6th Dynasty Old Kingdom Tomb of Mereruka ca. 2345 BCE) 

Unlike today's dating methods where we count the years in sequence from a fixed historical point, the Remetch began calculations from a king's ascension to the throne. Using this system in the United States of America, we would refer to the year 2016 AD as "Year 8 of President Barak Obama" rather than 2016. The dating method was commonly expressed in the form of: the year rnpt1 followed by the number, the month abd1 followed by the number, the season followed by the name, the day, and the royal titulary which includes the name of the king.

 

The Year rnpt1

Dates in the reign of a king were usually presented as: HAt sp HAt-sp « regnal year ». It is composed of the signs rnp + X1 + O50. The sign  can represent the words rnp « year », snf « last year », or HAt-sp « regnal year » which itself is the first sprout from a root or seed with a bud attached to its side. This is usually followed by the number of the regnal year, for example HAt sp3 HAt-sp 3 can be translated as "regnal year three."

 

The Seasons tr

The year ( rnpt1 , rnpt, 'renepet') was divided into three seasons ( tr , tr 'ter'): (1) Axt Axt 'akhet' « inundation » (2) prt prt 'peret' « emergence » and (3) Smw Smw 'shemew' « harvest ». The quality of harvest depended on the annual inundation of Hapy Hapy 'Hapy' « the Nile River » which corresponded to the heliacal rising of spdt spdt 'sepedet' « Sirius Star ». Sepedet is visible in the Nykemet night sky for most of the year, but during a period of about seventy days in late spring it does not rise above the horizon; then, in mid-July, it reappears above the horizon just before sunrise. This event occurred once every solar year and was called prt spdt prt spdt 'peret sepedet' « emergence of Sepedet ». The year began on the first hrw hrw 'herew' « day » of the first Abd Abd 'abed' « month » of the Axt Axt 'akhet' « inundation » season. The first day of the year was called wpt rnpt wpt rnpt 'wepet renepet' « opening of year » and was celebrated with a festival called wpt rnpt Hb wpt rnpt Hb 'wepet renepet heb' « opening year festival ».

 

Months Abd and Days sww

Each season was divided into four months (Abd Abd 'abed') of three weeks called decans (sbAiw sbAiw Spsw 'sebayu shepsew'), with each decan or week divided into ten days (sww sw 'days'). The months have names but were commonly referred to by their numbers and the season in which they fell. Months and days were given in three parts: (1) the sign Abd0 (Abd 'month') followed by a number from 1 to 4 (2) the name of the season and (3) the sign sw (sw 'day') followed by a number from 1 to 30. For example: Abd3Axt sw10 Abd 3 Axt sw 10 "third month of inundation, day 10." The following table lists the names of the months first attested in the Middle Kingdom as they were designated in the region of mn nfr mn-nfr 'Men- Nefer' « enduring and beautiful », "Memphis." Each month is named after a festival that occurred in the following month:

Memphite Middle Kingdom
1 txy txy He of the Plumb-bob" (an epithet of Thoth)
2 mnxt mnxt Clothing
3 xnt Hwt-Hrw Voyage of Hathor
4 nHb-kAw Apportioner of Kas
5 Sf-bdt Swelling of Emmer-Wheat
6 rkH-aA Big Burning
7 rkH-nDs Little Burning
8 rnnwtt Rennutet" (goddess of the harvest)
9 xnsw Khonsu
10 xnt-xty prty Khentekhtai-perti (a god)
11 ipt-Hmt She Whose Incarnation Is Select
12 wpt rnpt2 wpt-rnpt Opening of the Year.

 

In the New Kingdom most of these month-names were changed, in many cases to reflect festivals celebrated in the region of wAst wAst « Waset » "Thebes." The new names survived into Coptic and are still used in the religious calendar of the Coptic church:

Theban New Kingdom & Coptic
1 DHwty DHwty Djehuty ⲑⲟⲟⲩⲧ
2 pA n ipt pA-n-ipt The one of Karnak ⲡⲁⲟⲡⲉ
3 Hwt Hrw Hwt-Hrw Het-Heru ϩⲁⲑⲱⲣ
4 kA Hr kA kA-Hr-kA Ka Upon Ka ⲕⲟⲓⲁϩⲕ
5 tA aAbt tA-aAbt The Offering ⲧⲱⲃⲉ
6 pA n pA mxrw pA-n-pA-mxrw The one of the censer ⲙϣⲓⲣ
7 pA n imn Htp pA-n-imn-Htp The one of AMENHOTEP ⲡⲁⲣⲙϩⲟⲧⲡ
8 pA n rnnwtt pA-n-rnnwtt The one of Rennutet ⲡⲁⲣⲙⲟⲩⲧⲉ
9 pA n xnsw pA-n-xnsw The one of Khonsu ⲡⲁϣⲟⲛⲥ
10 pA n int xpA-n-int The one of the wadi ⲡⲁⲱⲛⲉ
11 ipy ipy ipy-ipy Selected ⲉⲡⲏⲡ
12 mswt ra2 mswt-ra Birth of Re ⲙⲉⲥⲟⲣⲏ

 

This combination of seasons, months, weeks, and days resulted in a year of 360 days however, the Remetch knew the full year consisted of 365 days. Five more days were added to the end of the year which was after 4 Smw 30 and before the beginning of the year which was 1 Axt 1 to compensate for the discrepancy. These fives days were called 5Hryw rnpt 5 Hryw rnpt '5 heryew renepet' « the 5 over the year ». Egyptologists call these days, Epagomenal (added) days. Each of these days was celebrated as the birthday of a particular divinity: (1) mswt wsir mswt wsir 'mesewt wesir' « birth of Ausar » (2) mswt Hrw mswt Hrw 'mesewt herew' « birth of Heru » (3) mswt stx mswt stx 'mesewt setekh' « birth of Set » (4) mswt Ast mswt Ast 'mesewt aset' « birth of Auset » and (5) mswt nbt Hwt mswt nbt-Hwt 'mesewt nebet-het' « birth of Nebt-Het ». The first of the year also being celebrated as mswt ra mswt ra 'mesewt ra' « birth of Ra ». This constituted the 365 day Civil Calendar.

 

Hours wnwt

Each day was divided into 24 hours (wnwt wnwt 'wenewt') with 12 for the day (hrw hrw 'herew') and 12 for night (grH grH 'gereh') with the day beginning at sunrise. The difference between the words sww sw 'sew' « day » and hrw hrw 'herew' « day » is the latter deals with the literal daylight hours and the former deals with a complete 24 hr cycle used in dating formulas. Hours may be further divided into moments or minutes called At At « moment ».

 

Summary

There were two calendars in use throughout the history of Kemet: The Civil Calendar and The Religious Calendar. The civil calendar functioned mainly for administrative purposes. The Civil year was called annus vagus ("the wandering year") by the Romans because of its characteristic feature of wandering across the seasons. There is no correspondence between the "seasons" of the Civil calendar and the natural seasons. In fact the Civil year is not always fixed to the same days nor to the same seasons, but it goes backwards across the natural seasons (and also across the Religious calendar), due to the difference of days with the cycle of the sacred star Sirius/ Sothis. The civil calendar was based on a year of 360 days with five added days inserted between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. There were ten days to a week, three weeks to a month, four months to a season, and three seasons to a year. The dating method was commonly expressed in parts: the year, the month, the season, the day, and the royal titulary which includes the name of the king.

royal titulary1

In this example we have: HAt sp2 HAt-sp 2 "regnal year 2," Abd2 Axt Abd 2 Axt "second month of inundation season," sw15 sw 15 "day fifteen." The remaining signs represent the Royal Titulary.

The following is an overlay of the 2015 - 2016 Kemety Religious Calendar with the correspondences to the Gregorian Calendar

Kemety Religious Calendar 2015 - 2016
Season Glyphs Name Duration Gregorian Correspondence
         
Season of Akhet   Axt 4 Months Inundation - Flood
1st month of Akhet txy txy 30 Days Aug 14th 2015 - Sep 12th 2015
2nd month of Akhet mnxt mnxt 30 Days Sep 13th 2015 - Oct 12th 2015
3rd month of Akhet xnt Hwt-Hrw 29 Days Oct 13th 2015 - Nov 10th 2015
4th month of Akhet nHb-kAw 30 Days Nov 11th 2015 - Dec 10th 2015
         
Season of Peret   prt 4 Months Emergence-Sowing
1st month of Peret Sf-bdt 30 Days Dec 11th 2015 - Jan 9th 2016
2nd month of Peret rkH-aA 29 Days Jan 10th 2016 - Feb 7th 2016
3rd month of Peret rkH-nDs 30 Days Feb 8th 2016 - Mar 8th 2016
4th month of Peret rnnwtt 29 Days Mar 9th 2016 - Apr 6th 2016
         
Season of Shemew   Smw 4 Months Harvest
1st month of Shemew xnsw 30 Days Apr 7th 2016 - May 6th 2016
2nd month of Shemew xnt-xty prty 29 Days May 7th 2016 - Jun 4th 2016
3rd month of Shemew ipt-Hmt 29 Days Jun 5th 2016 - Jul 3rd 2016
4th month of Shemew wpt rnpt2 wpt-rnpt 30 Days Jul 4th 2016 - Aug 2nd 2016

 

  • Apr 5th 2016 is the last day of the year according to the current Kemety Civil Calendar cycle.
  • Apr 6th 2016 is the Birth of wsir/Osiris according to the current Kemety Civil Calendar cycle.
  • Apr 7th 2016 is the birth of Hrw/Horus according to the current Kemety Civil Calendar cycle.
  • Apr 8th 2016 is the birth of stx/Set according to the current Kemety Civil Calendar cycle.
  • Apr 9th 2016 is the birth of Ast/Isis according to the current Kemety Civil Calendar cycle.
  • Apr 10th 2016 is the birth of nb-Hwt/Nephthys according to the current Kemety Civil Calendar cycle.
  • Apr 11th 2016 is the first day of the New Year and the beginning of the 417th year within the Great Year of Ra according to the current Kemety Civil Calendar cycle.
  • Jul 24th 2016 is the day of the Heliacal Rising of Sepedet (Sothis, Sirius Star) at mn-nfr Memphis.

 

The following is an overlay of the 2016 - 2017 Kemety Religious Calendar with the correspondences to the Gregorian Calendar

Kemety Religious Calendar 2016 - 2017
Season Glyphs Name Duration Gregorian Correspondence
 Intercalary Month  DHwty Dhwty  29 Days Aug 3rd 2016 - Aug 31st 2016 
Season of Akhet   Axt 4 Months Inundation - Flood
1st month of Akhet txy txy 30 Days Sep 1st 2016 - Sep 30th 2016
2nd month of Akhet mnxt mnxt 30 Days Oct 1st 2016 - Oct 30th 2016
3rd month of Akhet xnt Hwt-Hrw 29 Days Oct 31st 2016 - Nov 28th 2016
4th month of Akhet nHb-kAw 30 Days Nov 29th 2016 - Dec 28th 2016
         
Season of Peret   prt 4 Months Emergence-Sowing
1st month of Peret Sf-bdt 30 Days Dec 29th 2016 - Jan 27th 2017
2nd month of Peret rkH-aA 29 Days Jan 28th 2017 - Feb 25th 2017
3rd month of Peret rkH-nDs 30 Days Feb 26th 2017 - Mar 27th 2017
4th month of Peret rnnwtt 29 Days Mar 28th 2017 - Apr 25th 2017
         
Season of Shemew   Smw 4 Months Harvest
1st month of Shemew xnsw 29 Days Apr 26th 2017 - May 24th 2017
2nd month of Shemew xnt-xty prty 30 Days May 25th 2017 - Jun 23rd 2017
3rd month of Shemew ipt-Hmt 29 Days Jun 24th 2017 - Jul 22nd 2017
4th month of Shemew wpt rnpt2 wpt-rnpt 29 Days Jul 23rd 2017 - Aug 20th 2017

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