In Egypt, September 11 marks a new year

September 11 in Egypt marks renewal and celebration. Photo: Ancient Egyptian Calendar

CAIRO, September 16, 2013 — For ancient Egyptians, September 11 marks the beginning of the new year.

In Egypt there are 4 calendars: the ancient Egyptian, Coptic or Alexandrian, Gregorian and the Hijra or the Islamic calendar.


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The Gregorian calendar is the official calendar in Egypt, but some Egyptians still follow the ancient calendars.

September 11 coincides with the new ancient Egyptian year which is 6255.  Ancient Egypt was the first civilization to introduce numbers and mathematic,s as life was connected to the Nile River and it was essential to measure the time of its flood, the level of water. Hence, the priests divided the year into 365 days, the week was 10 days and there were 3 seasons: Inundation, summer and winter.

When numbers were introduced by the ancient Egyptians, Mathematics as a science was born. They introduced addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. Although some of their calculations were elementary, mathematics helped in daily life. It was a particular help in constructing buildings and temples. The Giza Pyramids are considered as the greatest mathematical mystery.

Some Egyptologists believe that Imhotep the Wiser who designed the step pyramid of king Zoser c.2670 B.C. invented the earliest calendar, which was  believed to be very simple. It was neither Solar nor Lunar. The ancient Egyptian calendar depended on the star Sirius (Sothis) that was believed to return to the same part in the calendar every 1460 years- a period known as the Sothic. 


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According to Simon Cox and Susan Davis in their book “A to Z of Ancient Egypt”:

“Isis was symbolised in the heavens by the star known today as Sirius, the brightest object in the night sky after the planets and the moon.  The appearance of this star on the horizon towards the end of June heralded the Egyptian New year and also coincided with the annual inundation of the Nile”.

Most of the ancient Egyptian festivals were related to the Nile River as the source of life. They depended on the river for almost everything. Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that the sacred river shaped their identity. It was through the magical powers of Isis that the flood of the Nile was believed to occur. Sometimes the Nile River is referred to as the tears of Isis.

“Nayrouz” is a word used to describe the feast of the new year in ancient Egypt, it is believed to be derived from the word” Nairwou” meaning river in Coptic Orthodox language. The celebration of the ancient Egyptian New Year coincided with September 11.


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Hopefully September 11 can stand for the renewal of life and celebration instead of the tragic events at the Twin Towers and in Benghazi.


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Anwaar Abdalla

Anwaar Abadallah Khalik Ibrahim has her Ph.D. from Ain Shams University (1999, first degree honour) and currently lectures on Civilization and Cultural Affairs for Helwan University.  Dr. Abdalla Kahlik Ibrahim also works as an official coordinator for the cultural exchange program between Helwan Uni and TSU in the USA entitled “Cultural Immersion 2011-2014.”

Additionally, Ms. Abdallah is a member of the Egyptian and Arab women’s writer’s union and the Cairo Women Association.  She is also the translator of several books published by the Ministry of Culture including Shadows on the Grass, Impossible Peace and The Secret Rapture. Dr. Ibrahim is also an accomplished author and essayist in both Arabic and English publications. 

 

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