The Gallic calendar

The Coligny calendar, which was named after the place where it was discovered, is one of the museum's most impressive works. Five years and 600 words in the Celtic language are inscribed on the numerous fragments of a bronze plaque.

Locate in the museum

Bronze (engraved)
L. 1.48 m; Thickness 0.02 to 0.05 m; H. 0.90 m

Second half of the first century

Europe / France / Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes / Ain department / Coligny

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History of the work

The Coligny calendar dates from the first century and is named for the place where it was discovered in 1897: the town of Coligny in the Ain department. Some 550 bronze fragments were discovered. Of these fragments, 400 pieces belong to a statue representing Mars and 150 pieces are part of the calendar. They were unearthed during agricultural work and were purchased by the Lyon Museum of Fine Arts.

How was time tracked in Antiquity ?

The Coligny calendar is a "lunar type with intercalation"; that is, partially moon-based and partially sun-based. This means that the months are established according to the phases of the moon, but certain months are added periodically to take into account the solar year.
This calendar covers a five-year period. Each month has a name – Giamon, Simivi, Equos, Elemban, Aedrin, Cantlos, Samon, Duman, Riuros, Anacan, Ocron and Qutios – and lasts from 29 to 30 days.
In contrast to our current calendars, there are no names for the days, which are simply preceded by a hole where a peg was placed to mark the date.