Chronological systems in Roman – Byzantine Palestine and Arabia: the evidence of the dated Greek inscriptions
By Yiannis E. Meimaris, in collaboration with K. Kritikaou and P. Bougia
Research Center for Greek and Roman Antiquity, 1992
Introduction: The study of the Greek inscriptions from Roman-Byzantine Palestine and Arabia and any attempt to set them against proper historical background is facilitated by the dates given in the inscriptions themselves. The present work focuses on the chronological formulae inserted in the epigraphical texts in order to provide these dates. Only texts in which absolute dates appear have been examined here.
Because of the variety of dating modes contemporaneously employed in Palestine and Arabia during the first eight Christian centuries, the identification of the underlying reckoning system is an arduous task. Moreover, although the basic chronological unit is the solar year, two additional factors complicate the conversion of an epigraphical date into its Julian equivalent: a) the exact departure point of the era within the given year (epoch) and b) the character of the calendar in use, i.e. its beginning and the duration of its months. In any case, the converted dates must be rendered according to the Julian year, for this was the legitimate year from 46 BC until AD 1582.