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date: 30 November 2022

Metonlocked

, Athenian astronomer

Metonlocked

, Athenian astronomer
  • G. J. Toomer
  •  and Alexander Jones

Extract

Meton, Athenian astronomer, is dated by his observation of the summer solstice, together with *Euctemon, in 432 bce (Ptol. Alm. 3. 1). He is famous for his introduction of the luni-solar calendaric cycle named after him, with 19 solar years and 235 months, of which 110 were ‘hollow’ (containing 29 days) and 125 full (containing 30 days), making a total of 6,940 days. The basis of the cycle (though not the year-length of 365 5/19 days) was undoubtedly derived from Babylonian practice. We may presume that Meton intercalated a thirteenth month in the same years as the Babylonians, and prescribed a fixed sequence of full and hollow months, but this is conjectural. He used the month-names of the Athenian calendar, but his cycle was intended not as a reform of that, but to provide a fixed basis for dating astronomical observations (in which it was later superseded by the cycle of *Callippus), and for Meton's own astronomical calendar (parapēgma).

Subjects

  • Science, Technology, and Medicine

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