Poster abstract details

On two Runic calendars in Rome and in Paris
Nicoletta Lanciano, Silvia Listorti, Massimo Ricci


We began to study the Primstaff, runic calendar or new moon staff, of the “Astronomico e Copernicano” Museum of the Observatory of Rome for the first time in 1979.
According to the inscription on the handle, the calendar came to the Kircheriano museum of the “Collegio Romano” in 1785 from Thot Hagris, in Norway, and this was later donated to the Copernican museum on 28 April 1886.
In our work we have tried to interpret its symbols and functioning, comparing the Primstaff of the Roman Museum with that preserved in the Bibliothèque of S. Geneviève in Paris, in order to identify any matches or differences.
However the succession of signs deploy, in both, in accordance to the runic calendars classics: they are organized in such a way to refer the days of the year through 52 repetitions of 7 "runes" (letters of an ancient Nordic alphabet called Futhark) engraved on the two wide sides of the staff, one for each season. Solstices, Equinoxes, Celebrations and Christian Feasts are marked with lines or additional symbols above the corresponding days. The calendars are perpetual and, through a relatively simple calculation, is possible to determine the Sunday letter.
The lunar month, that exists only on the calendar of the Copernican Museum, is divided into 19 runes alternated by spaces for a total of 29 (or 30) days that are repeated up to close the year. The lunar cycle allows to determine in which days of the year there will be new moons marked by the golden number.
The identification of the feasts and of the Saints mentioned on the calendar is very important to trace the construction period of the calendar and to know their origins. The interpretation of the symbols has also allowed to establish the Finnish origin to the calendar of S. Geneviève in Paris.