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The Rongorongo of Easter Island

The Lunar Calendar on Tablet C (Mamari)

In his 1958 Grundlagen zur Entzifferung der Osterinselschrift Thomas Barthel identified two and a half lines of side a of Tablet C as containing a lunar calendar. There is not the slightest doubt that Barthel was right. In 1991 the Journal de la Société des Océanistes published an article in English by Jacques Guy analyzing those lines. Guy compared those lines with the names of nights collected by Thomson in situ in 1886, and with the phases of the moon during that period, as seen on Easter Island. He concluded that those lines were not a calendar strictly speaking, but an astronomical canon for telling in advance when to insert two intercalary nights, Hotu and Hiro, to ensure that the calendar anticipated the phases of the moon.

The image below shows the calendar, which starts on line 6 of side a of the tablet, approximately 160mm from its beginning. The hieroglyphs are colour-coded to show their probable function. In blue, the signs claimed by Guy to be taxograms for "night" (i.e. pure ideograms without a phonetic function), in green those claimed to be phonetic components, in black, red, and olive-green, distinctive groups of uncertain meaning.





According to Guy, the calendar is an astromical canon in two parts:

More on the calendar.

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