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Evidence of Periodicity in Ancient Egyptian Calendars of Lucky and Unlucky Days

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2008

Sebastian Porceddu
Affiliation:
Oritmurrontie 46, 04430 Järvenpää, Finland; Email: Sebastian.porceddu@helsinki.fi
Lauri Jetsu
Affiliation:
Observatory, P.O. Box 14, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland; E-mail: lauri.jetsu@helsinki.fi
Tapio Markkanen
Affiliation:
Observatory, P.O. Box 14, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland; E-mail: tapio.markkanen@helsinki.fi
Jaana Toivari-Viitala
Affiliation:
Institute for Asian and African Studies, P.O. Box 59 (Unioninkatu 38B), 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland; E-mail: jaana.toivari-viitala@helsinki.fi

Abstract

This article presents an experiment in time series analysis, specifically the Rayleigh Test, applied to the ancient Egyptian calendars of lucky and unlucky days recorded in papyri P. Cairo 86637, P. BM 10474 and P. Sallier IV. The Rayleigh Test is used to determine whether the lucky and unlucky days are distributed randomly within the year, or whether they exhibit periodicity. The results of the analysis show beyond doubt that some of the lucky days were distributed according to a lunar calendar. The cycles of the moon thus played an important role in the religious thinking of the Egyptians. Other periods found using the Rayleigh Test are connected to the civil calendar, the mythological symbolism of the twelfth hour of the day and possibly the period of variation of the star Algol.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 2008

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