Dies ist eine Internet-Sonderausgabe des Aufsatzes
„Old Armenian and Caucasian Calendar Systems [I]“
von Jost Gippert (1986).
Sie sollte nicht zitiert werden. Zitate sind der Originalausgabe in
„Annual of Armenian Linguistics“ 8, 1987, 63-72
zu entnehmen.

This is a special internet edition of the article
„Old Armenian and Caucasian Calendar Systems [I]“
by Jost Gippert (1986).
It should not be quoted as such. For quotations, please refer to the original edition in
„Annual of Armenian Linguistics“ 8, 1987, 63-72.

Alle Rechte vorbehalten / All rights reserved:
Jost Gippert, Frankfurt 2001

Old Armenian and Caucasian Calendar

Free University of Berlin

      The discussion of the Old Armenian month names has been reopened by a recent article in this journal.1 The author dealt mainly with the Iranian elements in the list, confronting it with a synoptical table of Middle Iranian calendar systems. In a paper read in Oslo, July 1986, I tried to show that such a confrontation hardly yields new insights with regard to the Old Armenian calendar.2 It does not explain, e.g., why most of the “Iranian” month names etymologically are names not of months but of festivals, and how they were combined with perhaps autochthonous designations to give a twelve-month calendar. Instead I claimed that a different comparison should be more effective, i.e., with the calendar systems of the neighboring nonIranian peoples. This holds for two such systems which had in fact been confronted with the Armenian calendar for the first time as early as 1832,3 but had been left out of the discussion again in more recent times.4
      The results of my Oslo paper, in which I could deal with the Old Georgian calendar only, can be summarized as follows:
      The Old Georgian month names, which were used until in the seventh or eighth century Latin designations were taken over, have come down to us in three branches of tradition. First, we have the list compiled by the Georgian lexicographer Sulxan-Saba Orbeliani (early eighteenth century) in his “Leksik'oni kartuli”, used by M. Brosset, through the Georgian prince Teimuraz, in his article in 1832. Second, a comparable list was preserved in Armenian tradition in the calendar treatises of the authors Anania Širakac`i (seventh century) and Hovhannes Imastaser (twelfth century). The third and most important branch of tradition is the Old Georgian textual material itself, which reveals some 50 attestations within Bible translation and hagiography. These attestations, while largely agreeing with the lists for relative sequence, do not reestablish the chronological shape of the Old Georgian year compared with, e.g., the Julian year because there are contradictions with other parallel traditions. A tentative conclusion leads to the following equational table:

 Latin month  ≈ Georgian month
 January  surc'q'nisay
 February  mihrak'nisay
 March  igrik'isay
 April  vardobisay
 May  marialisay
 June  tibisay
 July  kueltobisay
 August  axalc'lisay
 September  stulisay
 October  ? t'irisk'nisay
 November  ? t'irisdinisay
 December  ap'nisay.

      It can easily be shown that the basic structure of the Old Georgian and the Old Armenian month lists was the same. In word formation every month is in a genitive form (navasard-i, ara-c` etc.), the Georgian forms being built on genitive -isa-; the structure is an attibutive scheme “month of (the) x.” The etymological basis also agrees. If we start with the month axalc'lisay, and confront the Georgian list with the Armenian starting with nawasardi, we can state agreements in at least five positions:

 Georgian month  Armenian month
 1. axalc'l-isay  nawasard-i
 2. stul-isay  hor̄-i
 3. t'irisk'n-isay ?  sahm-i
 4. t'irisdin-isay ?  trē
 5. ap'n-isay  k`ało-c`
 6. surc'q'n-isay  ara-c`
 7. mihrak'n-isay  mehekan-i
 8. igrik'isay  areg
 9. vardob-isay  ahekan-i
 10. marial-isay  marer-i
 11. tib-isay  marga-c`
 12. kueltob-isay  hroti-c`.

      Identity can be postulated for mihrak'n-isay and mehekan-i (7.), for marial-isay and marer-i (10.), from the Iranian preforms *mihrakāna- and maδyār- > *marear.5 We can connect t'irisdinisay and trē through the Iranian name of the god Tīr.6 The Georgian axalc'l-isay, obviously built on axal-c'el- `New Year', represents a loan translation of the Iranian preserved in the Armenian nawasardi.7 As a semantic concordance, the Georgian tib-isay has long been interpreted as `month of mowing or haycrop',8 which fits quite well with the Armenian marga-c` `month of the meadows'.
      Although many of the Old Georgian (and some Old Armenian) month names remain unclear, the mass of concordances above can hardly be accidental. It suggests that both lists had a common skeleton in the Iranian calendar of festivals, filled in with names reflecting seasonal terms. Some further observations: The two remaining Armenian month names from Iranian festivals, ahekani and hrotic`,9 match the Georgian vardobisay and kueltobisay, both from a noun in -oba-, a suffix forming names of festivals (vard-oba- `rose feast', from vard-i `rose'); vardoba- and kueltoba- seem to stand for the Iranian models of ahekani and hrotic`, although kueltoba- is not yet clear.10
      I now want to examine some problems of the Old Armenian month names for which Old Georgian gives evidential support. The present part is devoted to the names that have an Iranian origin. In a second part, I shall deal with the etymology of the Armenian hor̄i and sahmi. A discussion of the “Albanian” month names and of the chronological facts involved in the comparison of the Armenian and Caucasian calendars will finish the article.
      An Iranian etymology has been claimed for six Armenian month names, only three of which fully agree with the rules for borrowings from Arsacid Middle Iranian (Parthian), viz. nawasardi (1.), mareri (10.) and hrotic` (12.). The first must be the genitive singular of an -a-stem *nawasard, from a Parthian *nau̯a-sard- `New Year'. Mareri is the genitive of *marear, traceable to Avestan maiδiiāiriia-, the `fifth seasonal feast', assuming a Parthian *maδi̯ār-.11 The form hrotic`, genitive plural of an -i-stem *hro(r)t-, exactly reflects the Iranian “immortal souls” and “protecting spirits” which through Avestan frauuaṣ̌i- must be an -i-stem frau̯ar-ti-12 for Western Iranian. Thus, hrotic` is not identical with the Middle Persian festival name fravardigān, but rather with the first month, fravardīn, in its turn derived from the festival, too.13 A special treatment, however, is required for the three remaining “Iranian” names, trē (4.), mehekani (7.), and ahekani (9.).
      The -e- vowels in mehekani and ahekani cannot be motivated on the basis of the proposed Iranian preforms, *mihrakān- `festival of the god Mithra' and *āhrakān `fire festival'.14 These forms if from Arsacid times, should have given m(r)hakan- (with syncope of the pretonic -i-) and a(r)hakan- as regular outcomes. In fact, both of these are attested in Armenian tradition: mrhakan-, an adjective `related to Mithra', occurs in Agathangelos's history,15 while ahakani is a varia lectio of ahekani.16 Since just the oldest manuscript preserves the “abnormal” form,17 we must assume that the canonical ahekani reflects a later development. The same assumption can be made for mehekani, too, but here it is the Georgian evidence which is decisive.
      Mihrak'nisay, the normal Georgian form, must be the nominative (in -y) of an hypostatical paradigm built on an underlying genitive (-isa).18 Because Georgian syncope strikes the vowels a and e in certain syllables it is not clear by itself whether the basic stem here is mihrak'n-, mihrak'en- or mihrak'an-. From the Parthian *mihrakān- it is the stem mihrak'an- which becomes at once preferable.
      Theoretically, a genitive like mihrak'nisa could belong to a vocalic stem in -a- or -e; however, no Parthian words were borrowed into Georgian as stems in -a- or -e-, so that we can ignore this possibility. The nominative mihrak'ni19 offers no counterevidence because it can be due to abbreviation or to false restitution from the genitive mihrak'nisa-. The reconstruction is in turn supported by forms like mirk'anisa-, e.g., in Bible translation.20 These forms can be analogical levellings of different syncopations: Originally genitive mihrak'nisa and nominative *mihrk'ani both reflected underlying *mihrak'an-.
      There is at least one more Old Georgian month name to be traced to an Iranian festival name, viz. marialisay.21 The basic stem here is certainly *marial-; and a nominative marial-i is attested, too.22 If we assume that marial- is due to regular Georgian dissimilation of two rsounds, we reach *mariar- which exactly represents the state between Armenian mareri < *marear- and Parthian maδi̯ār-. Returning to mehekani, this form must surely share a common predecessor with Georgian mihrak'nisay, viz. *mihrakan- < Parthian *mihrakān-. We are forced to assume that mehekan- did develop within Armenian, from m(r)hakan- < *mihrakan- just as ahakan- became ahekan-.
      To explain the development of -a- to -e- in the middle syllables of mehekani and ahekani, we must consider the third Iranian name that left traces in both the Armenian and the Georgian calendar: trē.
      The name trē was treated by R. Schmitt in his article mentioned above. He considers it to be the genitive of a noun *Tri < Proto-Armen. *Tiri, exactly matching a Parthian *tīrī. Trē would be from a preform *Treay = /tareay/, with a sound change as in tēr `master, lord' < *ti-ayr.23 Schmitt's argument, however, offers several problems with respect to relative chronology. The equation of ē in trē and in tēr is crucial, because the element *ti- in the preform of the latter word has to be traced back to pretonic tē- itself, as the maintenance of the first i in ti-kin `lady' shows; in view of words like asteay, genitive astēi `spear', one wonders which period of Armenian sound history to assign the change *-eay to -e to. Second, a Proto-Armenian *Tiri would lead to *Tir, not *Tri, because apocopy of final syllables is prior to syncopy. The central problem is one of stem class chronology when positing a nominative *tiri.24
      A connection between Georgian t'irisdinisay and Armenian trē became probable as soon as the latter was traced back to the name of the Iranian god Tīr.25 This, however, leaves the second element of the Georgian t'irisdinisay unexplained, as it does the name of the third Georgian month, t'irisk'nisay. It is just this element, t'iri-, which bears the clue of the problem.
      In my Oslo paper I concluded that the material available does not suffice to decide which is the true order of the two months in the table above (and in Saba Orbeliani's lexicon). Both cases fail to reveal the exact names of the months.26 With due caution, I proposed that t'irisk'nisay and t'irisdinisay could be two different names of the one (fourth) month matching Armenian trē. This was suggested by the fact that for Armenian trē, too, there existed a parallel form which can be etymologically cognate: trekani, which occurs at least once in the Girk` t`łt`oc`.27 Given the identification of mehe-kani and mihrak'nisay with the Iranian ”Mithra-festival“ *mihrakān-, tre-kani should be equated with t'iris-k'nisay and an Iranian festival name, too. The festival can only be that of the god Tīr, the 13th day of the month of Tīr, and called tīragān in Middle Persian.28
      Neither trekan-i nor t'irisk'n-isay can however match exactly tīragān, which points to a Parthian *tīrakān-. The Armenian -e- of the central syllable, again, fails to agree with the Parthian -a-. But in this case, we may assume that the name should be reconstructed as *tīr(i)i̯akān- > *tireakan-, regularly yielding trekan- in Armenian. The Georgian t'irisk'nisay, of course, seems to disagree, since we would expect *t'iriak'nisay. We seek, then, some evidence for the -s- of t'irisk'n- being a secondary linguistic or graphical phenomenon. In the 1956 edition of the Armenian author Hovhannes Imastaser a list of Georgian month names as part of a calendar treatise is reproduced after four different Erevan manuscripts.29 In three of them the third and fourth month names occur in nearly identical forms, viz. tirisdi/ tirisdini, tiritdi/tirissdini and tirisdi/tirisdini; further agreeing with the forms tirist`i/tirisdeni and tirisdin/tirisdini attested in the treatise of Anania Širakac`i.30 The fourth manuscript, however, offers a very divergent reading which must be taken seriously: trisidisos and treakan (in this order!).31 Although there might be an Armenian influence, the latter form seems to conceal just the postulated *t'iriak'an-.
      The -s- of t'irisk'n- can be motivated as an analogical levelling from the neighbouring name, t'irisdinisay. Equating t'irisk'nisay with Armenian trekani and assuming that t'irisdinisay originally meant the same month, the latter form should converge semantically with Armenian trē as the synonym of trekani. We should thus postulate the meaning ”month of (the god) Tīr“ for t'irisdinisay, too. This form cannot be a genitive of the god's name alone: it can, however, come from a borrowing from Armenian, indeed attested in the genitive form Tri dic`.32 The plurale tantum di-k` `deity' contained in this figure, taken over into Georgian, yields *di-ni, which might have been reinterpreted as a singular *din-i in the appositive construction with the single deity Tīr. T'irisdinisay is seen to be built upon the Georgian rendering of the apposition Tri dic`, *t'iris dinisa,33 ”the (month) of Tīr, (of) the deity“; the -s- of t'iris- spread into the synonymous t'irisk'nisay after both names lost their transparency,34 doubtlessly, more easily if the original form of t'irisk'nisay was *t'iriak'nisay, not *t'irak'nisay.35
      Georgian thus supports Armenian trekani as *tiriakan- < Iranian *tīr(i)yakān- as opposed to, e.g., Middle Persian tiragān; and throws new light on the origin of trē, which should reflect a stem in -ya-, namely *tīr(i)ya-.36 As *tiriya, this would have led to an Armenian nominative Tri (by apocope, and syncopy of the first syllable -i-),37 which persists in Tri dic` if we assume that only the final member of the group was inflected.38 Trē would be an archaic genitive of Tri < *tiriya-, retained instead of a regular *trwoy (from the stems in *-iyo-), because it was no longer analyzed.
      Returning to mehekani and ahekani, we can now propose that the vowel -e- is due to influence of trekani, where the -e- was justified, a development that must have taken place within Armenian.39
      One problem remains with regard to mehekani: the vowel -e- of the first syllable, which cannot continue Iranian *-i-, cp. the adjective mrhakan.40 A secondary assimilation of the reduced vowel resulting from syncope to the -e- of the following syllable, which was secondary itself, would match, e.g., the result in mehean `shrine' if this really is connected with the name of Mithra, too,41 the preform being something like *mihr(i)yan; cp. the genitive meheni. There are, however, other forms (the personal names Mehružan/Merhužan/Mehužan or the family name Mehran42) for which such an assimilation cannot be presumed. Together with some other similar cases, such as the name Meherdates met with in Tacity,43 they point to a different suggestion: There might have existed an Arsacid pronunciation with the -i- lowered to -e- by which the Armenian forms were influenced.44 As we have no authentic testimony of the pronunciation of short vowels in Western Iranian of that time, we must leave this problem open.45


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Copyright Jost Gippert, Frankfurt a/M 12. 8.2001. No parts of this document may be republished in any form without prior permission by the copyright holder.