Roman Calendar - Archaeology

Roman Calendar -- Background and Archaeology

    Some 200 fragments of Roman Calendars have been found so far, and they are collectively known as Fasti. There is a common style and format reflected in all of them, but there are also many differences, particularly regional differences. Some beautiful examples have been found in nearly complete condition with the original colors still visible.

Some calendars were carved in marble or stone, but many were painted on walls for decoration. The calendar reconstructed here is based on the wall-painted versions. There are two aspects of the painted calendars which were not incorporated in this Hypertext version. First, the Nones were usually lined up horizontally by squeezing in the first six days of some months into the space taken up by four in the others. This gave an orderly visual effect to the top part of the calendar, but was not applied to the Ides.

The second aspect not reproduced in this Hypertext version was the tendency to squeeze in the names of the gods to whom particular days were sacred. In lieu of doing this, which does have some aesthetic value, we have merely linked the calendar date to a page describing every aspect of the particular day. Furthermore, different geographical areas often held different gods in special esteem, and this led to regional variations in calendars. This doesn't seem so strange when one considers that even within the US, Mardi Gras often appears only on Southern calendars, and Lincoln's birthday sometimes does not.

The calendar represented here is from the heyday of the Empire, when the Julian calendar was well-established. Although the original calendar of the Roman Republic was replaced, due to its many problems, some obsolete conventions continued to be maintained in the new calendar, such as voting days.

Click on any of the above calendar images to study the larger sized picture.


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