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Ancient Armenian Calendar

Creation of the calendar

When talking about any event it is neccessary not only to justify the place where it happened, but also the time the event took place. The science that deals with question concerning time and its interpretation is called calendarology.

At the dawn of history people used the day and the night as a measure of time. Working day and non-working night were actually the first calendar in the history of the mankind.

While developing, human kind soon began to measure time by the moon cycles. It is quite possible that it was also used in ancient Armenia, as it is said by Ananiah Shirakatsi. Besides, on lots of Armenian sculptures and reliefs with the sun we can also see the moon, which, possibly, appeared there from the ancient pagan traditions and beliefs.

Anyway, later men began to connect moon years with seasons of year, counting spring as a start, and counting moon cycles in order, without titles. Soon the months got their own titles and, as a result, so called moon calendar was created. In the middle ages it was used by many nations. Today moon calendars are used in some Middle East countries.

It is interesting that the year based on 12 moon months is shorter than the right sun calendar on about 11 days: moon year lasts 354 days, 8 hours and 34 seconds, while sun year length is 365 days, 5 hours, 498 minutes and 46 seconds.

One of the most important reforms in the calendar history is connected with the name of Julius Caesar. By his order the Egyptian calendarologist Cosigenes created the static sun calendar, known as Julian in 46BC. Its length was taken 365 days and a quarter of a day. As it was inconvenient to take into consideration that quarter every year, each four years it was counted as one additional day, which was added to February. Since that time, a year in which February has 29 days is called leap year, and the other three years – ordinary. Besides, according to the Julian calendar, the New Year is celebrated on the 1st of January.

Ancient Armenian Calendar

Though the origins of the Armenian calendar and calendarology are almost unknown, there is some written and archeological evidence that may help to answer a few questions. For example, in one of Movses Khorenatsi's written peaces it is said that king Arthashes (189-160BC) paid special attention on developing of some sciences, including calendarology.

According to the ancient legend we can consider that the beginning of the Armenian calendar is connected with the victory of Hayk Patriarch over the Babylonian king Bel. In Middle Ages Ghevond Alishan has counted that it happened in 2492BC on 11th of August. It is thought, that it is exactly the date when the not only Armenian chronology, but also the Armenain nation was formed and was named after Hayk — Hayq or Haykazunq.

Though some historians are suspicious about Alishan's accounts, traditionally the year 2492 is concidered to be the beginning of the Armenian calendar. On August 11 2007 the 4500 Year was celebrated in Armenia.

The ancient pagan calendar went out of usage in Armenia after the adoption of Christianity as an official religion in the IV century. During next centuries it gradually fell into oblivion. Only in Middle Ages Alishan and a few other scientists remembered about it, preserving it for the next generations.

In pagan times Armenians like Greeks and Romans named the days of the week after the sun, the moon and the five known at those times planets.

1. Aregaki - Sunday
2. Lousni - Monday
3. Hradi - Tuesday
4. Paylatsoui - Wednesday
5. Lousntagi - Thursday
6. Arousyaki - Friday
7. Yerevaki - Saturday

Concerning months, Armenians were using 13 of them like Persians and Egyptians. 12 months had 30 days each, and 13-th month could hold 5 or 6 days depending on whether the year was a leap-year or not.

1. Navasard - 30 days8. Aregi - 30 days
2. Gor - 30 days9. Aheki - 30 days
3. Sahm - 30 days10. Mareri - 30 days
4. Treh - 30 days11. Margats - 30 days
5. Qaghots - 30 days12. Hrotits - 30 days
6. Arats - 30 days13. Avelyats - 5(6) days
7. Meheki - 30 days 

It is notable that in Ancient Armenian Calendar not only months had theri names, but also all the month days. Each day was named after of the gods of the Armenian pantheon.

1. Areg16. Mani
2. Hrand17. Asak
3. Aram18. Masis
4. Margar19. Anahit
5. Ahranq20. Aragats
6. Madegh21. Grgor
7. Astghik22. Kordouiq
8. Mihr23. Tsmak
9. Dzopaber24. Lousnak
10. Mourts25. Tsron
11. Yerezkan26. Npat
12. Ani27. Vahagn
13. Parkhar28. Sein
14. Vanat29. Varag
15. Aramazd30. Gisheravar

24 hours of the day also had their sepparate names.

Nighttime hoursDaytime hours
1. Khavarakann13. Aygn
2. Aghjamughjn14. Tsaygn
3. Mtatsyaln15. Zoratsyaln
4. Shaghavotn16. Tscharagaytyaln
5. Kamavotn17. Sharavighyaln
6. Bavakann18. Yerkratesn
7. Havtapyaln19. Shantakaln
8. Gizkan20. Hrakatn
9. Lusatschemn21. Hourtapyaln
10. Aravotn22. Toghantyaln
11. Lusapayln23. Aravarn
12. Paylatsumn24. Arpoghn




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