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Ancient Astronomy

Ancient Astronomy, the Zodiak and the Armenian Calendar

It should be no surprise to anyone who knows something of Armenia's history that astronomy is such an important part of the national character. Sun symbols, signs of the zodiac, and ancient calendars predominated in the region while the rest of the world was just coming alive, culturally speaking. Egypt and China were still untamed wilderness areas when the first cosmic symbols began appearing on the side of the Geghama Mountain Range around 7000 BC.   

Planet Names

Some of the Planets and Constellations have distinct Armenian Names from the Greek:

   MARS                    H'RAT

   MERCURY            PAILATSU

   JUPITER                 LUSENTAK

   SATURN                YERVAK

   ORION                   HAIK

   TAURUS                TSUL

Others are translations of the Greek Names:

   ARIES                    OV'N/KHOI (Ram)

   GEMINI                 YERKVORIAKNEHR (Twins)

   CANCER               KHETSKETIN (Crab)

   LEO                        ARIUTS (Lion)

   VIRGO                   KUIS (Virgin)

   LIBRA                     KSHEHRK (Scales)

   SAGITARIUS         AGHEGHNAVOR (Archer)

   CAPRICORN         AITSYEGHJUR (Goat)

   AQUARIUS           JERHOS (Water Bearer)

   PISCES                   ZUK (Fish)

The Haik Calendar

The actual beginning of a calendar in Armenia goes back to Navasardi 1 (August 11th), 2492 BCE, when King Haik defeated the Babylonian King Bel (Nemruth). In order to commemorate the event in following years, he changed the first day of the year to August 11, and renamed each month of the year (less two) using his ten sons and daughters names.

The Haik calendar was based on twelve months (each month had 30 days), plus 5 days collectively called Aveliats. This combination (12x30) + 5 = 365 days in a year.

However the actual solar year on earth is 365 and one quarter day (less about 11 minutes). Over four years time, these quarter days give us one complete day. The effect of the Haik calendar was that every four years, New Years and other holidays arrived the day before, two days before every eight years, etc. until they reappeared on their original day after 1460 years. 

This 1460 cycle of time was named the "Haikia" or "Hayots" cycle of time, which was also used in Egypt. In the 552 CE council at Dvin, it was decided to use a new system for counting years, called Hayots Mets Tvakane (Armenian Great Numbers), which partially corrected the problem but it was not until 1084 that the Armenian scientist Hovhannes Sarkavag initiated a new "small year" system of counting which added one day every four years (leap days). This system ended the moving of the days on the calendar.

According to the Haik Calendar, 2014 CE is year 4507 (give or take 11 minutes).


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