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The year begins in spring, and is divided into re atti "beginning", miil atti "middle", and kt atti "end of the year". The name for "month" was ar u (status constructus ara). That the calendar originates in Babylonian, not Assyrian times is shown by the fact that the chief deity of the Assyrians is assigned the surplus intercalary month. During the 6th century BC Babylonian exile of the Hebrews, the Babylonian month names were adopted into the Hebrew calendar. The Syrian calendar used in the Levant countries also uses many of the same names for its months, such as Nisan, Iyyar, Tammuz, Ab, Elul, Tishri, and Adar. Babylonian calendar Season Month name Ara Nisnu 1 'Month of the Sanctuary' Ara ru 'Month of the Bull' Anu and Bel KU (Aries) Nisan March/April Presiding Zodiac sign deities Equivalent in Hebrew calendar Equivalent in Gregorian calendar

2 Re atti

Ea BI(KA) (Gemini)



3 Ara Simanu Sin Ara Dumuzu 4 'Month of Tammuz' 5 Ara Abu 6 Ara Ullu Ara Tiritum Tammuz ru (Leo) Ishtar



Tammuz Av Elul

June/July July/August August/September

7 'Month of Shamash (Libra) Beginning' (i.e. Miil atti the start of the 2nd half-year) Ara Samna 8 'Month of Marduk Laying Foundations' 9 Ara Kislimu Nergal Ara ebtum Pap10 Kt atti 'Month of the sukkal Forthcoming of Water' 11 Ara abau (Scorpio)





(Sagittarius) Kislev


sa 'ibex' Tevet (Capricorn?)


q (Aquarius?)



Ara Addaru ~ Ara Adr 12 'Month of Adar' Ara Makarua Intercalary 13 Addari ~ Ara VeAdr Erra (Pisces) Adar February/March


Except in year 17 of 19year cycle, when intercalary month was after Ara Ullu.

Until the 5th century BC the calendar was fully observational, but beginning about 499 BC the months began to be regulated by a lunisolar cycle of 19 years equaling 235 months. Although usually called the Metonic cycle, Meton (432 BC) probably learned of the cycle from the Babylonians. After no more than three isolated exceptions, by 380 BC the months of the calendar were regulated by the cycle without exception. In the cycle of 19 years, the month Adaru 2 was intercalated, except in the year that was number 17 in the cycle, when the month Ululu 2 was inserted. During this period, the first day of each month (beginning at sunset) continued to be the day when a new crescent moon was first sightedthe calendar never used a specified number of days in any month.

[edit] Days
Counting from the new moon, the Babylonians celebrated every seventh day as a "holy-day", also called an "evil day" (meaning "unsuitable" for prohibited activities). On these days officials were prohibited from various activities and common men were forbidden to "make a wish", and at least the 28th was known as a "rest-day". On each of them, offerings were made to a different god and goddess, apparently at nightfall to avoid the prohibitions: Merodach and Ishtar on the 7th, Ninlil and Nergal on the 14th, Sin and Shamash on the 21st, and Enki and Mah on the 28th. Tablets from the sixth-century BC reigns of Cyrus the Great and Cambyses indicate these dates were sometimes approximate. The lunation of 29 or 30 days basically contained three seven-day weeks, and a final week of eight or nine days inclusive, breaking the continuous seven-day cycle.[1] Among other theories of Shabbat origin, the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia advanced a theory of Assyriologists like Friedrich Delitzsch[2] that Shabbat originally arose from the lunar cycle,[3][4] containing four weeks ending in Sabbath, plus one or two additional unreckoned days per month. [5] The difficulties of this theory include reconciling the differences between an unbroken week and a lunar week, and explaining the absence of texts naming the lunar week as Shabbat in any language.[6] According to Marcello Craveri: "The Sabbath (in Hebrew Shabbath) was almost certainly derived from the Babylonian Shabattu, the festival of the full moon, but, all trace of any such origin having been lost, the Hebrews ascribed it to Biblical legend." [7] The Babylonians additionally celebrated the 19th as a special "evil day", the "day of anger", because it was roughly the 49th day of the (preceding) month, completing a "week of weeks". Sacrifices were offered to Ninurta and the day dedicated to Gula, and it may be supposed that prohibitions were strengthened. Further, reconstruction of a broken tablet seems to define the rarely attested Sapattum or Sabattum as the 15th day of the lunation, more or less the full moon. This word is cognate with Hebrew Shabbat, but is monthly rather than weekly; it is regarded as a form of Sumerian sa-bat ("mid-rest"), attested in Akkadian as um nuh libbi ("day of midrepose"). This conclusion is a contextual restoration of the damaged Enma Eli creation account, which reads: "[Sa]bbath shalt thou then encounter, mid[month]ly." [1]

[edit] See also

Ancient Near East portal

Assyrian calendar Babylonian astronomy Hebrew calendar Islamic calendar MUL.APIN Zoroastrian calendar