Dies ist eine Internet-Sonderausgabe des Aufsatzes
„Old Armenian and Caucasian Calendar Systems [III]:
The Albanian Month Names“
von Jost Gippert (1987).
Sie sollte nicht zitiert werden. Zitate sind der Originalausgabe in
„Annual of Armenian Linguistics“ 9, 1988, 35-46
zu entnehmen.

This is a special internet edition of the article
„Old Armenian and Caucasian Calendar Systems [III]:
The Albanian Month Names“
by Jost Gippert (1987).
It should not be quoted as such. For quotations, please refer to the original edition in
„Annual of Armenian Linguistics“ 9, 1988, 35-46.

Alle Rechte vorbehalten / All rights reserved:
Jost Gippert, Frankfurt 1999-2001

Old Armenian and Caucasian Calendar Systems: The Albanian Month Names
Free University, Berlin

      0.1. It was M. Brosset who in his 1832 article on the Georgian calendar first drew attention to the month names of the Caucasian "Albanians." The material he disposed of was a list of these names which he had found in the Paris manuscript Arm. 114 and which formed part of a "concordance entre les mois égyptiens, éthiopiens, athéniens, bithyniens, cappadociens, géorgiens et albaniens" of the Armenian author Anania Širakac`i. Having this list at hand, Brosset was at once struck by "la concordance réciproque des mois et de leurs noms, et les significations de ceux-ci, dans les trois langues arménienne, géorgienne et albanienne." With no hesitation, he identified the name of the first Albanian month, Navasardos, with the first month of the Armenians, Navasardi. The name of the second Albanian month, Toulen, was traced back to the Georgian Sthwla. The names of the tenth months, Mareri, Mareli and Orili, were stated as having the same origin in all three languages.1
      0.2. After some other variants of the Albanian month name list had been revealed in Armenian manuscripts containing the works of Anania Širakac`i and Hovhannes Imastaser, and in Georgian manuscripts containing the lexicon of Sulxan-Saba Orbeliani, much additional work was devoted to the subject. The most important advances were made possible by the proposal that the Albanians should be regarded as the ancestors of the Eastern Caucasian tribe of the "Udi" who now live in two villages in Sovyet Azerbaydžan, and that the month names should be etymologized on the basis of the Udi language. In this way, new interpretations were put forth for at least six of the names.2 However, there remains ground to be gained if we return to Brosset's view of a strong parallelism between the three Old Caucasian calendars.
      1.1. For convenient consultation, it is worthwhile listing the variant readings offered by the different manuscripts synoptically.3 The columns contain the lists according to the following manuscripts: 1) Paris 114 as read by Brosset;4 2) Paris 114 as re-read by Dulaurier;5 3 and 4) Erevan Matenadaran 1999, f. 217 and 1973, f. 34 as part of the works of Anania;6 5 through 8) Erevan Matenadaran 2001, f. 41/2068, f. 358/2180, f. 265/1971, f. 17 as part of the works of Hovhannes;7 9) Tbilisi ms. Arm.178; 10 and 11) Tbilisi Georgian mss. A 288 and S 277 containing Saba's lexicon;8 12) Tbilisi Georgian ms. A 873, containing the same lexicon.9

   Par.114-B  Par.114-D  Ere.1999
 1.  Navasardos  Nawasardows  Nawasardon
 2.  Toulen  Towlēn  Towlen
 3.  Namotsn  Namoc`n  Namoc`
 4.  Hile  Yilē  Šili
 5.  Bocavon  Bokavoh  Bokawon
 6.  Maré  Marē  Marē
 7.  Bodjconé  Bdčkowē  Bočkonē
 8.  Tzukhoulé  Caxowlē  Caxolen
 9.  Bontocé  Bondokē  Bowndokē
 10.  Orili  Ōreli  Orelin
 11.  Ikhnaḯ  Exnay  Exnea
 12.  Bakhniaḯ  Baxneay  Xabnea

   Erev.1973  Erev. 2001  Erev.2068
 1.  Nawasardown  Nawasardown  Nawasardon
 2.  Towen  Towlēn  Towlini
 3.  Kamoc`  Namoc`  Nama
 4.  C`ilē  C`ilē  C`ili
 5.  Bokawon  Bokawon  Bokaon
 6.  Bičowkēn  Marē  Marē
 7.  Mreli  Awčakonē  Bočkon
 8.  Caxowli  Cakowlēn  Caxowlēn
 9.  Bondowkē  Bondokēn  Bondokē
 10.  Orelin  Orēlin  Orelin
 11.  Exna  Exna  Exnea
 12.  Xibna  Xebna  Xaba

   Erev. 2180  Erev. 1971  Tb. Arm.178
 1.  Nawasardown  Nawasardown  Nawasardown
 2.  Towlēn  Towlēn  Towlēn
 3.  Namoy  Namoy  Namoy
 4.  C`ilē  C`ilē  Yilē
 5.  Bokawon  Bokawon  Bokawon
 6.  Bočoykēn  Bočokēn  Bočokēn
 7.  Marili  Mareli  Mareli
 8.  Caxowli  Caxowli  Caxowli
 9.  Pondowk  Pontowkē  Pontokē
 10.  Arelin  Arelin  Arelin
 11.  Exneay  Exneay  Exneay
 12.  Xebnay  Xebnay  Xebnay

   Tb.A 288  Tb.S 277  Tb.A 863
 1.  navasartun  navasartun  navasartun
 2.  t'ulen  t'ulen  tulen
 3.  namuc  namuc  namuc
 4.  cile  cile  cile
 5.  bak'aon  bok'aon  bokaon
 6.  mare  mare  mare
 7.  avč'uk'ine  avbuk'ine  avč'uk'ine
 8.  nak'ulion  c'ak'ulin  c'ak'ulin
 9.  bunt'ok'e  bont'ok'e  bondoke
 10.  vorsilin  vorsilin  vorsilin
 11.  iexan  iexan  ivxan
 12.  xebna  xebna  sebna.

      1.2. Before trying to analyze the single month names, we must deal with the divergences between the variants listed above. Many of these divergences explain themeelves on the basis of Armenian palaeography. This holds true, e.g., for the confusion of initial <C`-> and <Y-> in the case of the 4th month, cp. the variants C`ilē/Yilē.10 The same confusion can be made responsible for the variants Namoc' and Namoy of the 3rd month if we assume that there had been one original list which was written in Armenian capitals throughout. The difference between variants such as Exnay and Exna for the 11th month probably cen be traced to the influence of the later Armenian pronunciation which gave up the second component of the diphthong -ay. The influence of later Armenian pronunciation reveals itself in the "Georgian" lists, too, cp. the rendering of -rd- by <-rt-> = [-rt`-] in the name of the first month and the development of word initial e- and o- to <ie-> and <vo-> in iexan and vorsilin.11 It is easy to see that the Georgian tradition depends on an Armenian list very similar to the one preserved in Erev. 2001. The most important problem is the original order of the sixth and seventh months, for which no offhand solution can be offered.
      2. On the basis of these preliminary considerations, the month names admit the following treatment:
      1. It is obvious that the name of the first month should be identified with its Armenian counterpart, nawasardi, which has to be regarded as a loan from Middle Iranian. The application of Udi grammar allows us to fix /navasardun/ as the original form: the name here would have been characterized by a genitive ending (-un)12 just as the Armenian nawasardi and the Georgian axalc'lisa-, all meaning `(month) of the New Year'. The variant of the Paris ms. can be explained by assuming a confusion of the Armenian capitals <-S> and
< N>.13
      2. The name of the second month has long been equated with the Udi word t'ul `wine grape'.14 The form might well represent a genitive again, although this form is attested as t'ullai (< *t'ulnai) today;15 cp. the alternate genitives of k'oǰ `house' given as k'oǰai and k'oǰin in Schiefner's word list.16 The etymology as proposed is strongly supported by a comparison of the Georgian counterpart stulisay which no doubt means a month `of the vintage'. It is not necessary, of course, that the "Albanian" name should be borrowed from Georgian as Brosset proposed. Georgian stulisay is sufficient as a semantic parallel, all the more since such a parallel can be cited from Armenian, too: In the Girk` tłt`oc`, we meet with a month name kt`oc` which must have been an alternate denotation of the third month and which has to be connected with the verb kt`el `vintage'.17 Finally, the Udi etymology of tulen matches with a modern name of the month of August given in Łukasyan's dictionary, viz. t'ulaferek'alxaš. This name can be interpreted as `month of the consecration of the wine grape'.18
      3. For the third month name, two etymologies based on Udi words have been put forth so far. The first relies upon the form given in the Paris manuscript and refers to the Udi word namaz `praying', which is a loan from Iranian.19 The second traces the month name back to Udi nam 'maist, moisture', a borrowing from Iranian as well.20 In view of the variant readings such as namoy and nama (< *namay), one would prefer the latter solution, because these forms can be interpreted as genitives, again. This would of course mean that the variants containing the letter <c`> are the secondary ones.21 One more proposal suggests itself in connection with the Armenian counterpart, sahmi. Given that the Armenian capital letters <S> and <N> were easily confused,22 one wonders whether Namoy, etc., should not represent an original *Samoy to be identified with the Armenian form. As there is no variant reading with an <S>, this conjecture remains speculative, however.
      4. The name of the fourth month has convincingly been deduced from the Udi word c'il `seed', the attested forms representing the genitive case, once again.23 For the variant reading yile,24 it is not necessary to refer to an Udi sound mechanism,25 because it can be explained by the confusion of the Armenian letters <C`> and <Y> alone.
      5. The name of the fifth month is the one preserved with the fewest divergent readings. The original form can no doubt be restituted as Bok'awon.26 Of the several Udi etymologies that were proposed for this name, it is the connection with the verb boq'sun `to pick, pluck, gather' which proves the most probable one:27 Starting from the verbal noun boq' `plucking', Bok'awon can be regarded as representing a genitive plural form;28 as such, it exactly matches its Armenian counterpart k`ałoc`, which cen be connected etymologically with the verb k`ałel, meaning `to pluck' as well.29
      6. and 7. As stated above, the manuscripts do not allow for an off-hand solution of the disarray concerning the names of the sixth and seventh months. No etymology was proposed, either, that would help to restitute the original forms and their order.30 The comparison with the Armenian and Georgian calendars leads to a conceivable suggestion, however: Given the perfect identity of the seventh months in Armenian and Georgian, mehekani and mihrak'nisay, we should try to find this name in the Albanian material, too. If we consider the names as given to be mingled with each other, we may well assume that the original form of the seventh month was something like *M(a)rekēn or *M(a)rekonē, which would fit with the Armenian and Georgian counterparts. For the sixth month, this would leave *Bočoy, *Awčoy31 or a similar form. Although I cannot offer any Udi interpretation of such forms, the reconstruction is nevertheless supported by the Armenian arac` in that -oy would point to a genitive plural, too. The reason for the disorder could be that in the original list, the sixth month had been left out first (by haplography due to the proceeding Bokowon, if it was *Bočoy or something like this) and that it was later inserted above or below *M(a)rekēn (*M(a)rekonē). Finally, the form Mareli and its variants might owe their last syllable to an anticipation of the next month, which in all the manuscripts in question reads Caxowli, or to an influence of the name of the tenth month, for which cf. below.
      8. In the case of the eighth month, there are no difficulties with respect to the stem form, which must with certainty be restituted as Caxowl-. As for the etymology, W. Schulze (in personal communication) draws my attention to the Udi word for `spring', z̃oġul,32 for which caxowl- might well be an "Armenized" substitute. Curiously enough, this etymology agrees with the one proposed by Brosset, who claimed that the name reflects the Georgian word zapxuli, meaning `spring' as well.33 Should Udi z̃oġul be a borrowing from Georgian? As for the divergent forms of the ending, they may all represent the Udi genitive case.
      9. and 10. The name of the ninth month remains unclear. Neither the forms with initial B- nor those with initial P- admit of any conceivable Udi etymology.34 As the Armenian and Georgian counterparts, ahekani and vardobisay, have to be regarded as `festival months', one would expect the same background for the Albanian name, too. And in fact, the -k- contained in it seems to represent just the Iranian suffix of the Armenian ahekani. It is only a vague suspicion, now, that there could have been a second "mingling" as in the case of the sixth and seventh months, by which the initial part of a form *areken (≈ Arm. ahekani < Iran. *ahrakān-, cp. *M[a]rekēn ≈ Arm. mehekani < Iran. *mihrakān-) passed into the following line. This explanation has to take account the name of the tenth month. Here, too, we would expect a form rendering an Iranian festival name, viz. the one represented in Armenian mareri and Georgian marialisay. An "Albanian" genitive such as *Marelin might well have been the required form.35 If we compare this with the variants attested, we have to state that just the initial M- is wanting.36 According to the suggestions made above, this could well be due to an assimilatory influence of the neighboring ninth month if it were called *arekēn. Later, one of the two "similar" month names could have fallen off by haplography, and the resulting gap could have been filled with the secondary Bownd- name. Tempting as it is, this assumption remains problematical because it does not explain in which way the latter element was introduced and what it meant.
      11. The name of the eleventh month has found a convincing etymology within Udi, once more. It has been identified with the genitive of the word ex `mowing'.37 This etymology, again, is confirmed by the semantical convergence with both the Armenian and the Georgian counterparts: Cp. margac` as a `(month) of the meadows'38 and tibisay as a `(month) of the haycrop'.39 Besides, an Udi name exna-xaš for the month of "June" is still attested today.40
      12. The twelfth month name, too, strongly suggests an etymological derivation from Udi word material because it obviously contains the same genitive ending -nay as Exnay does. Of the two proposals that were made so far, neither is convincing, however. The first, which takes the variant presented in the Erevan ms. 1973 as its basis, connects the name with the Udi numeral `three', xib.41 Even if we accept that the actual vocalism should be preserved in but one manuscript, it remains questionable why the twelfth month should be called the "third one." The second proposal identifies the name with the genitive of the Udi word beՙġ, meaning the `sun'.42 Although there is a month "of the sun" in Armenian areg, too,43 it cen hardly be taken as a witness because it is not the twelfth but the eighth month. And after all, this proposal depends on just one testimony, again, viz. the Paris manuscript reading Baxneay, which might well have been influenced by the neighboring Exnay.
      Even though the last Albanian month name remains unclear in this manner, the details discussed above lead to the general conclusion that the Albanian calendar shared the common traits of the neighboring calendars, Armenian and Georgian. The results can be summarized in the following table of correspondences (etymological identity is denoted by "=", semantical or functional convergence by "≈"; not matching equivalents are left out):

   Old Armenian    Albanian    Old Georgian
 1.  nawasard-i  =  nawasard-un   axalc'l-isay
 2.  (kt`o-c`: 3.)   t'ul-en   stul-isay
 3.  sahm-i  =  *samo-y??  
 4.  tre/trekan-i      =  t'irisdin-isay/t'irisk'n-isay
 5.  k`ało-c`   bokawo-n
 7.  mehekan-i  =  *m(a)rekē-n?  =  mihrak'n-isay
 9.  ahekan-i  =  *areke-n??   vardob-isay
 10.  marer-i  =  *marel-in?  =  marial-isay
 11.  marga-c`   ex-nay   tib-isay
 12.  hroti-c`       kueltob-isay.

      The existence of so many common traits presupposes, of course, that all three calendars reflect the same system of time reckoning. There is no evidence, however, that in historical times, i.e., in the time of the beginning literacy, the years of the Armenians, Georgians and Albanians were in fact synchronous. In particular, we have no testimony that the so called "vague year" of the Armenians was shared by their neighbors. If we take the sixth and seventh centuries as the period in question, we have to assume that the beginning of the Armenian year moved from the middle of July to the first days of June.44 For the Georgian year, the sources suggest only that most probably its beginning was in the month of August at that time.45 For the shape of the Albanian year, we have no autochthonic evidence at all. There is an explicit tradition, however, by which both the Georgian and the Albanian year are defined with reference to the Julian calendar. It is the comparative table which Hovhannes Imastaser worked out as a result of his investigations in time reckoning. This table is arranged according to the Julian months and contains the datings of the major Christian festivals. But the events are classified relative to various other calendars as well, viz. the Armenian, Greek, Syriac, Persian, Hebrew, Arab, Macedonian, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Athenian, Bithynian, Cappadocian, Georgian, and Albanian calendars.46 From this table, we learn that the year of both the Georgians and the Albanians was parallel to the Egyptian year with its first month beginning on the 29th August.47
      As Hovhannes Imastaser lived in the twelfth century, there might be some doubt as to whether his information concerning a time six centuries earlier can really be relied upon, all the more since no indication is given of what sources he had used.48 There is one remarkable coincidence, however, which suggests that Hovhannes's data are trustworthy in this respect. In the table, the first day of the Persian year is equated with the 6th of August. If we recall the events reported in the "Life of St. Nino,"49 we will remember that just the 6th of August is mentioned here, being the Christian day of the "Lord's Transfiguration." As the text tells us, there was a great pagan festival at the same time, too, which was devoted to the Zoroastrian god Armaz.50 Given that the Georgian king Mirian was a member of the Sasanian dynasty, it is conceivable that the festival in question was nothing but the Iranian New Year's day.51
      Like this, there is some evidence that Hovhannes's information concerning the neighboring peoples are confidential. As for the old Georgian and Albanian calendars, this would imply that they were in fact not synchronous with the Armenian calendar in historical times. There is no reason to believe, however, that the Georgians and the Albanians could not have shared a common way of time reckoning with the Armenians earlier. If we assume that the vague year was used before the beginning of the "Great Armenian Era" in 552 AD, too, we arrive near the year of 350 AD for the 1st nawasardi falling together with the 29th of August. It might have been near that time that the Georgians and the Albanians substituted their "annus vagus" by the "Egyptian" year.52


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Copyright Jost Gippert, Frankfurt a/M 13. 8.2001. No parts of this document may be republished in any form without prior permission by the copyright holder.