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The History of Time

Since I was a child I had always wondered how it was decided that we had 7 days in a week and 30 days in a month. I wondered why the calendar week started on Sunday and ended on Saturday when the Latin American calendar started on Monday and ended on Sunday. Until I read Roy's Making Societies, I had never considered the fact that other societies (beyond American and Latin American) might have different calendars or week schedules. It is fascinating to me to learn that the names of the days came from the planets, and that in other romantic languages they mean the same thing.
I always assumed the week was based on the Christian religion. Since the bible says that God rested on Sunday or Sabbath, it made sense to me that it would be the first day of the week. It seems however that the Greeks developed the first Angel-European week and then it was spread throughout the Mediterranean but Alexander the Great. The Romans and the Jews eventually fused their calendars through Christianity. The new calendar ended up moving throughout the globe.
I find it so interesting how basically all of our calendars and our schedules depend on the moon and sun. The tides come in the evening and go out in the morning. They are controlled by the moon and they control the rotation of the planet. But according to Making Societies , the calendars, even though they are based on the moon they do not directly correlate with the days of the month or the seconds in the day.
The Anglo-European calendar is linear and the Aztec calendar is circular which also reflects the differences in the perception of time. I must agree with the book that even after having the Aztec calendar explained to me I have yet to be able to understand it.


I agree! This concept of time as being "invented" by our ancestors is just fascinating. It makes sense to base things on the moon, etc. but concepts like the week that were just decided are so interesting.

It would be a hard adaptation to live in a society that does not live according to scheduling things to the minute- although at the same time- perhaps a bit refreshing! I know that when I lead wilderness trips it is a great feeling to just wake up and go to bed with the sun. The minutes and hours don't matter much beyond that (unless you do have to "beat the tides" or something).

The way time, as an object, was constructed is very interesting. I find it amazing that in many cultures, time doesn't exist. People from such cultures don't speak in past or present tense and they don't have planned days, they just go with the flow so to speak. I can't imagine a world like that. In America, time is everything... it truly rules our lives.

I also found the history of time interesting. I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Europe and travel to many countries. Each country truly has a different perspective on what time is and how it is valued. In Spain their night life is what is important and dinner is not served till 10 pm. The work schedule is also changes dramatically based on the country. In America we value the dollar and in Europe it seems that they value the family and spending time with each other.