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The Solar Year of the Coligny Calendar a.pdf


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TALANTA XXXVIIII-XXXIX (2006-2007)

THE SOLAR YEAR OF THE COLIGNY CALENDAR
AS AN ANALOGUE OF THE ROMAN SOLAR YEAR
Brent Davis

In this essay, Fotheringham’s suspicion that ‘the Coligny calendar is, like our
Easter calendar, a calendar accommodated to the Julian calendar’ (Rhys and
Fotheringham 1910, 285) is reassessed with Samon as March, in line with the
conclusions of the first in this pair of essays. We find that the resulting relationship between the two calendars is symmetrical and extremely simple, such
that converting dates from one calendar to the other becomes straightforward.
Days marked IVOS are shown to cluster with some precision around dates with
strong traditional associations. In light of these findings, it is suggested that
Fotheringham’s suspicion may have been correct but for his alignment of the
year.
REASSESSING FOTHERINGHAM’S IDEA WITH SAMON AS MARCH

With Samon as March, the Gaulish solar months parallel the Roman months in
length, as shown in the preceding essay, suggesting that Fotheringham may have
been correct in his suspicion that the two calendars existed in a standardised relationship. However, based upon the fact that Samon means ‘summer’, Rhys placed
Samon in June, near the summer solstice (ibid., 210; Rhys 1905, 73).
Let us then reassess Fotheringham’s idea with Samon as March, and do so in the
most straightforward way: by plotting the behaviour of the two calendars against
each other. If the correspondence between the lengths of the solar months does
indicate a standardised relationship between the calendars, then this exercise
should reveal it.

Sequential use of the plate
Some scholars (e.g., Duval and Pinault 1986, 415; Olmsted 1992, 46) believe
that the plate was used sequentially, from left to right in repeated iterations. Others
(e.g. Rhys and Fotheringham 1911, 350; MacNeill 1926, 33; Lainé-Kerjean 1943,
255-6) have suggested that the years on the plate were employed in a simple but
non-sequential pattern. Here, we will examine the behaviour of both patterns of use
against the Roman calendar, beginning with sequential use.

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