I hope that I may ask this question here as I have seen some favorably received questions related to the Julian calendar on this site.

From James Evans' book, ``The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy,'' is the following snippet (pg. 165):

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In praticular, it indicates that ``to bring the [Julian] calendar back into step with the original plan, Augustus decreed in 8 B.C. that all intercalations be omitted until A.D. 8.''

I know the Romans were ``inclusive'' counters---so may I interpret this as meaning that leap years did not resume until 12 A.D.?

Another source: https://www.tondering.dk/claus/cal/julian.php specifically states: ``There were no leap years between 9 BC and AD 8 (or, according to some authorities, between 12 BC and Ad 4).''

QUESTION: Does anyone know for certain if A.D. 8 was a leap year or not; and would you please provide an authoritative reference if you know of one?

Thank you.

I have also read elsewhere: ``


1 Answer 1


8 AD was definitely a leap year.

It was believed since Scaliger that the leap year sequence was (45), 42, 39 ... 12, 9 BC, AD 8, 12 ... This was based strictly on sources in literature. Chris Bennett claims that an astronomical papyrus published in 1999 (pOxy 61.4175) which gives lunar ephemeris in late 24 BC and implies that Scaliger was definitely wrong, and the correct sequence is actually 44, 41, ... 11, 8 BC, AD 4, 8, 12 ...

The major source for Roman chronology questions is A. K. Michels, The Calendar of the Roman Republic (Princeton, 1967).

If you just want the answers, Bennett's page has clear tables. It also has a very good list of primary sources.


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