To reverently bestow the seasons: Calendrical narratives in early China and Rome

Rebecca Anne ROBINSON*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Calendrical documents were of great importance in the ancient world, regulating civil and religious time, and based on astronomical knowledge. Calendars not only regulated the flow of time, but demonstrated a regime’s mastery over the cosmos, demonstrating their right to rule. As such, calendars are documents that are produced at the intersection of competing interests: political, astronomical, and religious. This paper examines calendrical reforms of the early Han and Roman empires. In both states, calendar reforms were initiated due to the failures of previous calendrical systems to align civil and cosmic time. While astronomical knowledge was similar in both ancient China and Rome, the resulting calendars are remarkably different, and reflect not only the state of astronomical knowledge, but the socio-political concerns of each society. In this paper, I discuss the ways in which each of these calendars was written, not only the creation of the calendars, but the ways in which contemporary scholars and near-contemporary historians wrote about these calendars. I argue that although the calendars produced through these reforms were not alike, the ways in which they were produced and written about reveals a similar attempt to juggle astronomical, political, and religious concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntersections of Religion and Astronomy
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages27-35
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781000217278
ISBN (Print)9780367369460
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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