Conflicting Chronologies in the Pre-modern World: Measuring Time from Antiquity to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
4–6 October 2018
Call for Papers
Since Antiquity the reckoning of days, months, years, and whole epochs has always involved degrees of fluidity. Classical poets divided the mythical past into five ages of man, while astronomers developed increasingly accurate observations of the movements of the sun, moon, and stars to mark the seasons, the calendar, and to predict the weather and eclipses. For dating historical events, multiple time-constructions were used, including Olympiads, political and religious office, regnal eras, generational reckoning, and the Julian calendar. Attempts at synchronisation often conspired with political agenda and could lead to conflicting chronologies.
With Christianity came new temporal problems, as AD dating began to dominate previous methods of reckoning. In addition, medieval Christians needed certain time calculations for liturgical use, including the date of Easter and the hours of the day in prayer. At the same time, they calculated and recalculated the six ages of the world and developed an elaborate framework for the apocalypse, the end of all time. By the Renaissance, the rediscovery of ancient time-reckoning and the origins (and ends) of ancient civilisations presented fresh challenges: thinkers wrestled with different time-keeping systems as they sought to reconstruct a historical ‘origin identity’ for a place or a city alongside the practical realities of contemporary Christian life.
Questions of chronology in specific historical periods (e.g. ancient Greece, Augustan Rome, medieval England, the Renaissance) have received a lot of attention. This interdisciplinary conference will build on these studies by… read more