عنوان مقاله [English]
Calendars are one of the main bases of the administrative affairs of ancient archives in all administrative structures. What distinguishes the Achaemenid imperial administrative structure from other ancient states is the variety of archives in this period in terms of script, language and calendar. At the center of the kingdom, the Old Persian and Elamite calendars were used. In the Mesopotamia and Jewish islands on the Nile, Babylonian calendar and in Egypt, Egyptian calendar was used. Despite the fact that in correspondence between different archives a standard calendar was not used, the main question of the present research is how Achaemenians coordinated these calendars? In order to answer this question, the first calendars in this period based on the royal inscriptions and Persepolis archives along with Mesopotamia and Aramaic documents from Egypt and Bacteria are introduced, and then the ways in which these calendars are adapted in administrative documents have been investigated. The hypothesis of this paper is that the Achaemenians tried to adapt different calendars without requiring different parts of the kingdom to use the same calendar. Since the Old Persian, Elamite and Babylon calendars had the same structures –they were lunisolar, in which the lunar months and the solar year were calculated– in order to begin the year at the spring equinox, it was necessary to add intercalary months to the calendar during the year. In Mesopotamia and Elam, the addition of the intercalary month was influenced by political factors. However, in this study, it is suggested that the Achaemenians coordinated the local calendars in their administrative system by mathematical and astronomical calculations and by the addition of the intercalary. The best evidence for this claim is the Egyptian administrative documents, in which, in coordination with the Imperial bureaucracy and along with the traditional solar calendar, the lunisolar dating is also used.
Keywords: Achaemenid, Old Persian Calendar, Babylonian Calendar, Egyptian Calendar, Intercalary Month.
Achaemenid Empire dominated a vast territory with a variety of ethnicities, languages and cultures; each had its own traditional script and Calendar. They did not directly interfere in the internal affairs of the dominated communities, except in those cases which maintaining order was necessary. In this period, local customs such as traditional calendars continued. But this diversity creates problems in the administrative affairs. That is, various types of chronology, made correspondence between satrapies difficult, and it seemed necessary to equalize calendars, especially in cases of the New Year and the year of accession. For example, in the royal inscriptions and the Persepolis archives, there are three types of chronological records (Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian). Also, the type of Calendar in the Achaemenid Aramaic texts from Bactria, in the south-eastern part of Empire, is Babylonian.
The question of this research is how did the Achaemenians match the different local Calendars? Was there a standard calendar used in correspondence between different archives of the Achaemenid Empire?
This research has a theoretical nature and tries to explain how the Achaemenid administrative structure worked. We used the recent academic researches and theories to study on Calendars issues in this period. The research method is descriptive-analytic and includes the study of published administrative archival documents from all over the Achaemenid realm.
Among the whole of Achaemenid royal inscriptions, Bisotun is more important in terms of information about the technic of Chronology. The inscription is written in Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian languages, and Darius I expresses the events in each three versions of text with chronology (Kent, 1953: 116-135); 20 dates are given. This inscription clearly illustrates the diversity of Calendars during the Achaemenid period (Basello, 2006: 22; de Blois, 2006: 44). Besides, The Persepolis fortification archives should be mentioned, which are mainly in Elamite. Whether in Bisotun or in the Persepolis fortification archives, although local Calendars are used, all are match in months and the time of king’s accession.
Taghizadeh repeatedly points out that the Elamite calendar is derived from the Babylonia, and it is likely that the Persian calendar has shown a great similarity to the Babylonian calendar (Taghizadeh, 1316: 90-83; 1341: 51-48). But Rainer emphasizes that the Babylonian and Elamite calendar were not coincident (Reiner, 1973), and the comparative comparison by Basello (2002) suggests that they did not conform before the Achaemenid period. So, it is more likely that, as De Blois also expressed (De Blois, 2006: 42), the Persians have matched and coordinated these calendars.
In royal inscriptions and administrative documents, the king’s rule is the base of chronology. It is so important to mention that in Old Persian and Babylonian calendar, New Year began from the beginning of the spring, but in the Egyptian calendar, New Year was in the late autumn. All of the king’s accessions were not in the first month of the New Year; so, the year of the king might have been a different number in the each calendar. How did the Achaemenid bureau match the king’s time of rule with the annual calendars?
The Achaemenians, based on administrative texts from Babylonia and other Imperial Centers, used the Babylonian royal tradition of chronology. In this way, the first year of the King’s rule was calculated from the beginning of New Year, but surely they did not come to power all at the beginning of the year. In this case, if a king came to power during the year, it would not be calculated for the first year of his rule. It was called “šanat reš šarruti,” and the first year of its rule was calculated from the beginning of the New Year (Dandamaev & Lukonin, 2004: 291).
There was no unified Calendar system in the Achaemenid Empire. In all the archives of this period, for various matters, including salaries of employees and workers, religious affairs, construction, purchase and sale of land and merchandise, and other current affairs, as usual, the date and time of registration were recorded. The study of the methods of dating in the texts of these archives shows that, as a rule, dating was based on the great king’s rule year and the month, and rarely mentioned the day. All local calendars were perfectly matched; for example, Egyptian administrative documents of this period have lunisolar date, which shows the effects of the Achaemenid bureaucratic system.
The implementation of these Calendars requires finesse and regular communication with the Imperial Centers. It seems that the scribes were trained for this work, and it is unlikely that they would receive a definite plan from the administrative centers.