Ancient Calendars Essay

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Time Keepers

Celestial bodies - the sun, moon, planets, and stars - have provided us a reference for measuring the passage of time throughout human existence. Ancient civilizations like: China, India, Babylon, and Greece relied upon the apparent motion of these bodies through the sky to record and determine seasons, months, and years. We know little about the details of timekeeping in prehistoric eras. However, records and artifacts usually uncover that in every culture, people were preoccupied with measuring and recording the passage of time. Stonehenge, built over 4000 years ago in England has no written records, but its alignments show its purposes apparently included the determination of seasonal or celestial events, such as lunar
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Luckily, our neighbors to the East, the Arabs, found the documents to be of great interest and kept old Greek astrological records. In the Renisannce period of Christianity the church officials decided to re-examine the ancient records, and actually found some validity in some of the scientific data. Amazingly enough the Christian church decided to implement data from ancient pagan cultures to help create the most widely used calendar to date, the Gregorian calendar.
Ancient Greek astronomers made some amazing mathematical and philosophical discovers about our universe. From the Hellenistic Greek observations in approximately 300 B.C.E., to the invention of the first telescope in the seventeenth century, to the launching of today’s space probes, one thing is evident: astrological observations are imperative to creating a calendar.
Currently, the concept of a year is based on the earth's motion around the sun. The time from one fixed point, such as a solstice or equinox, to the next is called a tropical year; its length is currently 365.242. Our concept of a month is based on the moon's motion around the earth, although this connection has been broken in the calendar commonly used now, the Gregorian calendar. The time for the moon to complete a full cycle of phases is called a synodic month, and its length is currently 29.53 days. Note that these numbers are averages. The actual length of a

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