Intercalation in the Traditional Setswana Calendar

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Bruce S Bennett


Precolonial Southern African farming societies used lunisolar calendars. The details have largely been lost since these calendars were abandoned in favour of the Gregorian calendar. This article seeks to investigate possible reconstructions of the Setswana calendar, especially in terms of intercalation. It is suggested that month-names may be analysed as ‘observation’ and ‘comment’ types, with observation names providing seasonal markers. It is concluded that more study is necessary but methods of intercalation probably lay between case-by-case month-naming and explicit intercalation. Stellar observations were important but it is unclear how they related to the lunisolar calendar.


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