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Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The Zoroastrian calendar's roots in 400s BC Persia
I looked around and ran across Sacha Stern, Calendars in Antiquity (Oxford, 2012), fifth chapter.
In the Zoroastrian calendar, the first day of month Farwardîn does not coincide with the vernal equinox. But Sacha Stern points out that it used to, at least within 15 days, over 525-430 BC.
Stern next notes
So for the fifth century BC Persian administration, Stern’s proposal implies a calendar with Iraqi names in an Egyptian solar arrangement. This has additional implications in how we understand the “Babylonian” dates among the (pro-Persian) Israelites in Egypt; the dates might, in the later decades, be intended as solar. For Cantera’s purpose, if I may speak for him, this removes Elephantine from the evidence against him, which (weakened) evidence was constraining the Achaemenid retention of the lunisolar system to the last Persian decade.
To continue with Stern: When in the late 300s BC the Greeks cut the Iranians off from the Semites, such Iranians as kept their solar calendar relexified this with religious and Iranian terms. The “Younger Avesta” community (once more: east Iranian, not Farsi) may or may not have been the ringleaders; but they kept the best record. Elsewhere the Sogdians, being traders, were perhaps slowest to accept the pan-Iranian nativist programme.
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