The Ethiopian calendar adds a leap year every four years, without exception. This is similar to the Julian calendar, which most Western countries stopped using the late 1700s, in favor of the Gregorian calendar. It skips leap years if the year divisible by 100 (like 1500), but not if the year divisible by 4 (like 1600). Over time, this difference in leap years has led the Ethiopian calendar to lag 7 or 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar.
Why does this matter? According to the Gregorian calendar, we are in the year 2018. According to the Ethiopian calendar, we are in the year 2011.
Unreliable Suppliers Have Been A Problem Since Ancient Times
In ancient Egypt, temples were not just religious places but economic ones. Think medieval monasteries. Depending on their size, ancient Egyptian temples could own large tracts of land, command the labor of dozens to thousands of people, and be local and even regional trade hubs. This meant temples needed bureaucracies to keep themselves running. Bureaucracies meant scribes who could write, and the records they wrote. Which is why historians love ancient Egyptian temples.
Pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai, third pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty, had a lovely temple to the sun set up. Some of its scribes' records survived to be studied by modern historians. They demonstrate that he might have been pharaoh, but Neferirkare Kakai still had to deal with the hassle of unreliable suppliers, just like modern-day corporations. To quote Wilkinson's The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt:
Deliveries of foodstuffs and other supplies were also meticulously recorded, but here again there were systemic failures that even the most assiduous record keeping could not mask. Among the commodities due each day at Neferirkare’s sun temple were fourteen consignments of special bread. During one year, none arrived on the first day of the month, none on the second, and none on the third or fourth, until on the fifth day of the month seventy batches were delivered in one go.
The next six days’ supplies failed to materialize at all and seem to have been written off. By contrast, the next eleven days’ deliveries were received on time.
The cheese, which is believed to be approximately 3,200 years old, was found while the team was excavating the tomb of Ptahmes, mayor of Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt. Among a group of jars found at the site, one unbroken jar had a mysterious white mass. It was found with a canvas cloth. So the archaeologists thought it might be some sort of food, that had once been covered with a cloth, and had the white mass tested. As you probably guessed from the title of this post, it was cheese!
Technically, it contained “a dairy product obtained by mixing sheep/goat and cow milk.” Since the canvas cloth wouldn't have stopped a liquid, like milk, from escaping over time then it was likely a solid cheese.
The oldest type of soup dates from about 6,000 BCE in ancient Egypt. The recipe calls for sparrow and hippopotamus meat. The first known system of taxation was in Ancient Egypt around 3000–2800 BCE in the First Dynasty of Egypt of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. So soup is indeed older than taxes!
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By Lillian Audette
This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!