Is there any information about the calendar system used in Carthage ? Was it solar or lunar ? What date did Carthaginians took for a reference day (1st day of the 1st year) ?

3 Answers 3


The Carthaginians were culturally Phoenician, and most evidence I've come across points to the calendar being lunisolar. There are some pretty strong indications that it would have been similar to (or evolved into) the Hebrew calendar, and there are several month names that are shared with other cultures in the region. Phoenician feasts and rituals revolve around the harvest, which would likely point toward marking the new year on the spring equinox. See Goldfarb and Markoe for more information.


The lunisolar calendar began in the first iteration of the city-state Babylon, when the sun and moon were still synchronized to 30 days. It has, obviously, de-synchronized since. The queen of Babylon used the moon-based calendar to given names to the months so that her family would be each identified with a heavenly body, with herself as the moon. The calendar that she replaced was the one that was used in Byblos, a city that was already old when Babylon was built. It is strictly sun-based, and was defined in the writing called Book of Enoch that has subsequently been edited as earth changes dictated. The last and most profound edit caused the book to be re-titled The Book of Jubilees, because it intercalated two weeks, one in the spring and one in the autumn, along with other adjustments to be aligned with the actual path of the sun. There were 14 copies or partial copies of this calendar found in the caves in Qumran, all written 200 years before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. It was still used to set the temple feasts by the priests when the temple was destroyed by the Romans. The moon-based calendar was forced on the nations that were captured first by Babylon, then by the nations that rose from the Babylonish after-effects of their captivity, including Egypt. Ethiopia still has a sun-based calendar similar to the adjusted one, but it is only used for calculating their Christian church days of festivals. The Jubilee, or Qumran calendar, as it is variously called, is not in use by any known political unit today, due to the Roman political system being adopted world-wide. The Hebrew prophets said that it would be re-established when a king is anointed over the regathered 12 tribes in the end times.

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    Sources to support your assertions would greatly improve this answer. Jul 31, 2017 at 19:29
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    I do apologize but I failed to find a link between your answer and the question. Could you please elaborate on how this might influenced the Carthaginian calendar? And on your sources, please?
    – ahmed
    Jul 31, 2017 at 22:14

The Carthaginians used the African calendar, also known as the "Coptic Calendar", which was based on the era of Nabonassar, which is the Babylonian calendar as adopted from the Chaldeans. The months of the ancient African calendar are as follows:

  1. Thoth
  2. Paophi
  3. Athyr
  4. Cohiac
  5. Tybi
  6. Mesir
  7. Phamenoth
  8. Pharmouti
  9. Pachons
  10. Payni
  11. Epiphi
  12. Mesori

Each month had 30 days plus there were 5 or 6 epagomenal days depending on the year which were placed at the end of the year.

The Punic Thoth 1 was on the same day as Thoth 3 in the era of Nabonassar, thus was 2 days in front of the regular Babylonian calendar. The year 546 in the era of Nabonassar and the day Punic Thoth 1 corresponds to our day October 15, 203 B.C.

The African calendar was a solar calendar and a variant of it is still in use by the Coptic church. In ancient times, this same calendar was used throughout north Africa, including Libya, Egypt and Ethiopia.

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    Very interesting, especially about the Coptic Church, but I don't know off-hand if its correct, so I can't up-vote what seems like an excellent answer. Do you know of some references for this?
    – Razie Mah
    Apr 6, 2014 at 10:47
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    Also did they switch calendars at some point? I'm confused why this answer is so different than the other.
    – Razie Mah
    Apr 6, 2014 at 10:52
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    OK, but can you please add at least one reference (link, book title, whatever) to back up your statements?
    – Mike
    Apr 24, 2014 at 4:39
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    The Coptic didn't exist before the calendar reforms of Ptolomy III in 238 B.C., and wasn't widely adopted in Egypt until much later. It was also based on the Egyptian, not the Babylonian calendar. The Babylonian and Chaldean calendars were lunisolar and the basis of the Caananite calendars (i.e. Phoenician and Hebrew referenced above). The month names are Egyptian, and were used in both Caananite and Egyptian systems (borrowing of month names seemed to be common). books.google.com/books?id=FI9pAgAAQBAJ, books.google.com/books?id=S_T6Pt2qZ5YC, others.
    – Comintern
    Apr 30, 2014 at 1:03
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    There are no references for this and it just sounds like revisionist afro centrism. Which is a reasonable thing for me to assume since Carthage is often targeted by Afro Centrist revisionists in today's academia.
    – Seph
    Jun 9, 2017 at 13:19

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