Calendars in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Standardization and Fixation
The project was based in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, with Professor Sacha Stern as Principal Investigator and five Research Associates working in several areas including the seven-day week, late antique hemerologia, medieval Jewish calendar disputes, and medieval Arabic and Hebrew monographs on astronomy and calendars. It was funded by an ERC Advanced Grant of €2,499,000, the largest ever achieved in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
The study of calendars has been neglected by historians as a merely technical curiosity; but in fact, the calendar was at the heart of ancient and medieval culture, as a structured perception of time, and as an organizing principle of social life. Our study of calendars covered a wide range of historical periods and cultural traditions, and employed a wide range of disciplines: social history, ancient and medieval astronomy and mathematics, the study of religions, literature, epigraphy, and codicology. It was interesting to discover how Roman, Christian, Jewish, and Islamic calendars evolved, in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, towards ever increasing standardization and fixation.
To this end, we focused on specific manifestations of this process:
Study of these research areas enabled us to reflect on how and why calendars became increasingly standardized and fixed. Our Research Associates and their main research areas are:
- Dr Ilaria Bultrighini (the week in the Roman Empire; the 'hemerologia')
- Dr Nadia Vidro (Jewish calendar cycles)
- Dr François de Blois (Biruni’s 'Chronology')
- Dr Ilana Wartenberg (Israeli’s 'Yesod Olam')
- Dr Israel Sandman (Israeli’s 'Yesod Olam')
- Professor Sacha Stern is working in all areas, and especially on the dispute of 921-2 CE.
- Our project administrator is Casey MacKenzie Johnson.
Workshops on project-related themes were organized on a regular basis, with the participation of international experts and open access to the public.