Jewish, Christian and Pagan Synchronization Problems of Time in Late Antiquity

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Christoph Markschies

The late Roman provinces of Palaestina represent many starting points for studying concepts of time and time consciousness. One glance at the inscriptions reveals that people here live in very different pagan, Jewish and Christian chronological systems. Since apparently none of these systems determined everyone's time consciousness or only did so in a very superficial sense, manifold synchronization problems arose. Along these problems emerged the need for synchronization experts - Bishop Eusebius, who lived in the port city of Caesarea, presented in the early fourth century with his "Chronicle" annotated synchronization tables from a Christian point of view; similar tools are also known from pagan contexts.


The project evaluates both the different time systems, their presentation in objects such as texts, and the attempts of synchronization in their diversity. In particular, it focuses on life with different time systems: How were different time systems hierarchically organized by an individual or a group in everyday life? Which ones were preferred for which reasons? Is it possible to compare such individual, pre-scientific synchronisation attempts with, for example, what an individual nowadays has to do when she or he adjusts her or his clocks from summer to winter time (and vice versa)? And did similar neuronal processes take place?


Maren Niehoff and Ayelet Landau from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are collaborating on the project.

Eusebius/Hieronymus, Chronicon: (Bern, Burgerbibliothek, Cod. 219, f. 26v – Eusebius-Hieronymus: Chronicon http://e-codices.ch/en/bbb/0219/26v)