This article was a lecture held at the Conference of the
Astronomical Observatory of the University  of Rome

The Proceedings of the International Conference "COSMOLOGY THROUGH TIME" (June 17-21, 2001) will be published in the journal Memorie della Società Astronomica Italiana.


CONSIDERATION OF THE ORIGIN OF THE YEARLY COUNT IN THE JULIAN AND THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR

 

SEPP ROTHWANGL
CALENdeRsign
A-8020 Graz (Austria )
Erlengasse 12
calendersign@chello.at

 

ABSTRACT.
It is outside the realm of probability that the Dionysian yearly counting Anno Domini (AD), was determined randomly. It is, however, probable that the adjustment of this yearly count had the aim eliciting the coincidence of a conjunction of all planets with the second millennium in order to mark the end of an assumed religious age. With the alignment of 531 CE as the astronomical basis for calculation, stimulated by the end-of-world fear resulting from the Anno Mundi chronology (AM), Dionysius Exiguus, with his adjustment of 1 AD, killed two birds with one stone: calculating a Greatest Year and letting it coincide with the assumed end of a Platonic age, with the result that the conjunction occurred at the millennium (the conjunction of all planets in May 2000).

1. How do we count the years in the common Christian Gregorian calendar?

Anno Domini (AD) or Christian or Common Era (CE) counts the years after  the adjusted date of Christ's incarnation, which traditionally is celebrated annually at 25th March during the former Northward Spring Equinox (NSE). To this count, introduced in sixth century by Dionysius Exiguus, we owe the calendrical numbering of the current years as well as the jubilee with the second millennium.

To answer the question of how we calculate years or time at all, it is necessary to describe the worldview and religious background of the age when the time calculation was created.
For example, Franz Boll said:
Mankind measures time using the stars. Lay people, whose knowledge is based on belief, rather than science, say:  "The course of the stars determines time," and from this, religious people derive the saying that "Heaven guides everything on Earth." (Boll, 1903).

Even in the prayer, the words “on earth as in heaven” implies that believers and superstitious folk expect good or bad events to come from the positions of the stars, and they construct horoscopes to predict the future or derive the power of political leaders from the stars. The dividing lines between knowledge, belief, religion, and superstition are blurred and depend on some particular point of view. Like a puzzle, these concepts can be put together in a way that will help us understand it all.

If we assume Jesus Christ was a historical person and accept the story of his birth accept as a fact, we have several indications for his date of  birth, such as the death of Herod the Great in 4 BCE and the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem, which may have been a triple alignment of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BCE (Ferrari D’Occhieppo, 1994), or some other astronomical events, like a conjunction and occultation in 6 BCE (Molnar, 1999), or even a comet in 12 BCE (Baratta, 2001). But even if we assume that the Gospel of Matthew is only myth and literature, there is a core of truth telling of this star. All these possibilities lead to a date rather different than our present yearly count.

2. The circumstances of the creation of the AD count.

Early Christianity used several other calendar systems before introducing the AD count, such as counting the years of the rule of the Roman emperor Diocletian, and the Anno Mundi (AM), an era counting years beginning at the assumed creation of Adam (world). The AM yearly counting system was the base of the five-volume Chronography of Sextus Julius Africanus, which he published during the consulate of Gratus and Seleucus (AD 221). Although it has since been lost, there are many other authors who mention or give excerpts describing his AM (creation of the world) count, which became very popular. The AM count is based on a teleological concept that would provide history with God's plan of salvation and thus is constructed on a time frame that depends on the words of  the Bible:
Ps. 90:4: For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 
2 Peter 3:8:  one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Similar words are found also in the Koran, which declares:
Sure 22: Verily a Day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning. Again, Sure 32: He rules affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all) go up to Him, on a Day, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning. 

In the concept of Africanus, the biblical seven-day creation plays a major role, and in this time frame, 6000 years (relating to the six days of creation of the world in Genesis) would elapse between the creation of the world, and the seventh day would be the Day of the Lord or Day of Judgment. 

In addition, a time concept developed describing the whole history of the world within one single day of 12 hours, a kind of doomsday. (Please consider that modern cosmology also uses a similar concept to explain cosmic development, and  this view has mankind appearing in the last seconds of the day.)

This depiction was in accordance with a seven-day time frame, because the Bible says Adam was created on the sixth day (Friday) of the week, also supposedly  the weekday when Christ (the second Adam) was crucified.
The assumed 6000 years of human history were equated in this time concept to only one single "Christian doomsday," in which Christ appeared during the last (11th) hour. 
"Writing in the first half of the third century, Origen, in his Commentary on Matthew, employed this analogy of the twelve hours of the day to divide the whole of biblical history into ages. Accordingly, he locates Noah at the third hour, Abraham at the sixth, Moses at the ninth, and, finally, Christ at the eleventh hour." (Declercq, 2000)

A passage in the New Testament seems to agree with this concept of AM that Christ appeared in the 11th (the last) hour.
I John 2:18: "Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour."
Consequently, in the AM count, the date of Christ’s birth was adjusted in the middle of sixth millennium to the year AM 5500, because it corresponded with the 11th hour of the available 12. (6000 : 12 * 11 = 5500)
The AM method profoundly influenced early Byzantine and Roman Christian chronology, as shown in the chronicles of Hippolytus in Rome, Sulpicius Severus, Panodoros, and others. Out of this concept arose the Alexandrian method of Annianos, who lived in the year that the patriarch Theophilus died (AD 412), and later the Byzantine yearly count, which is still in use by some Orthodox groups. The six-day time frame was in harmony with the six-ages-of-man doctrine of  St. Augustine of Hippo, who paralleled the moment of  Christ's coming with the step from the fifth to the sixth and last age in the life of a man, which takes place between maturity and senility.
The world eras of these authors, and therefore the date of creation, differ from each other by several years, being adjusted to lunar cycles and best-fitting Easter rules. The year 1 AD, for example, corresponds in the Alexandrian count to AM 5493, in the Byzantine count to AM 5509, and in the basic count of Africanus, to AM 5502.

The AM time systems became very popular, but created a huge problem: end-of-world fever, caused by a threatening  Seventh Day that equated to the end of the 6000-year period and corresponded to a date 500 years after Christ's birth year.

"At the turn of the fourth to fifth centuries, i.e. precisely the moment when the barbarian invasions may have stirred up apocalyptic anxieties, the North African bishop Julius Hilarianus, for instance, wrote a treatise ”On the Duration of the World,” in which he calculates 5530 years from creation to the Passion of Christ, and 369 years from that event until the consulate of Caesarius and Atticus (AD 397); there remain, so he concludes, 101 years to go before the Resurrection of the dead." (Declercq, 2000).

The AM count produced a kind of self-fulfilling calendrical doomsday in AM 6000 that increased when, some 30 years later (about the length of Christ's lifetime) a conjunction of all planets occurred in 531 CE, after which - as ancient philosophers like Plato and Pythagoras said - everything that happened since beginning of time was expected to repeat in exactly the same way.


Image: Planetary alignment of 31-May 531CE; JDN 1915156
Right ascension: Moon 4h 35m; Sun 4h 35m; Mercury 4h 36m; Venus 5h 56m; Mars 4h 35m; Jupiter 5h 45m; Saturn 5h 33m.

There were three strategies available to combat the fear caused by this time concept, averting   Chiliasm, Millenarianism, and world-end fever: 
1) shift the era of creation to the past in order to show that the dreaded year AM 6000 had long passed, as did the chronicler John Malalas identifying  year 6000 with passion of Christ;
2) rejuvenate the age of the world and shift the year AM 6000 into the future, which was the result of the fourth century chronicler Eusebius, who, influenced by Jerome, delayed the birth date of Christ by three centuries to AM 5199. According to their popular world-year-count the year 6000 would occur around 800 CE. (In fact the Venerable Bede in 9th century rejuvenated the age of the world again for by some 1200 years, presumably because of the dreaded year 6000, and dated the year of Christ’s birth back to AM 3952) (Bede, 1999); or
3) re-number the years from another point in time such as AUC (ab urbe condita = the years since foundation of Rome) or AD, instead of the numbering the years from the creation of the world.

These strategies provided people with a variety of yearly counts. One method, still valid in the Gregorian calendar, was AD of Dionysius Exiguus.

3. The adjustment of the year of incarnation (AD) in the Liber de Paschate.

We owe the origin of the yearly count to the Scythian canonist and chronologer, Dionysius Exiguus, who first suggested this count in his Liber de Paschate (“Book of Easter”).

The crucial lines to Bishop Petronius, addressed as “dominus beatissimus et nimium desideratissimus pater” read in the “epistola prima deratione paschae” (Dionysius, 2000).

Quia vero sanctus Cyrillus primum cyclum ab anno Diocletiani centesimo quinquagesimo tertio cœpit et ultimum in ducentesimo quadragesimo septimo terminavit, nos a ducentesimo quadragesimo octavo anno ejusdem tyranni potius quam principis, inchoantes, noluimus circulis nostris memoriam impii et persecutoris innectere, sed magis elegimus ab incarnatione Domini nostri Jesu Christi annorum tempora prænotare, quatenus exordium spei nostræ notius nobis existeret, et causa reparationis humanæ, id est, passio Redemptoris nostri, evidentius eluceret.

The significant words translated into English read:

…Because the blessed Cyril began his first cycle in the 153rd year of Diocletian and ended his last cycle in the 247th year of Diocletian, we have to start in the 248th year of this man who was a  tyrant rather than emperor. However, we did not want to preserve the memory    of an impious persecutor of Christians in our cycles, but chose rather to mark the times with the years from the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that the commencement of our hope will appear more familiar to us and the origin of the redemption of mankind, that is the Passion of our Redeemer, will shine in a more glorious way." (Declerq, 2000)

 As scholars and the Christian paradigm say, Dionysius had no concrete data for the date of Christ's birth, but was focused on a best-fitting Easter cycle and therefore he made a mistake in the date when he fixed his year of incarnation.

4. Critical analysis of the arguments that Dionysius gives for the adjustment.

If one looks at this text more closely, Dionysius gives us four reasons for his argument that must be more critically considered:

1. Dionysius explains superficially - without mentioning the AM count - that he links the new Easter-cycle to the incarnation of Christ, and no longer to the years of Diocletian, because he was a cruel persecutor of Christians. He adjusts the beginning of this new count to a year that is 532 years before the 248th  year of the Diocletian era and thus arrives at the year 1 AD, which generates the new yearly counting and offers a new starting point. It is evident, as mentioned above concerning the problems with the AM count, that to shake off the pagan heritage of the Diocletian calendar was not the only reason to invent a new yearly count.

2. Please note that Dionysius calls his count “anno ab incarnatione Domini Iesu Christi.” The Christian feast of incarnation is celebrated traditionally on March, 25th at former Northward Spring Equinox (NSE) and relates to the former beginning of the new year and to Pisces, which, due to precession, became the new spring equinox constellation during this time and is expressed in the first Christian symbol, ICHTHYS (i.e., fish in Latinised Greek), meaning the new spring equinox constellation and dawn of the age of Pisces (Santillana and Dechend, 1994). This pictograph expresses, in a way, what is called in German "Zeitgeist" - the feeling of this newly starting age. It is also seen in the symbol of the sacrificed lamb, which mirrors the expired age of Aries.
ICHTHYS is a pictograph of the acronym:  Iesous CHristos THeou HYios Soter (Jesus Christus, son of God, Savior).

   


     

Images: The petroglyphs from the catacomb di S. Callisto show the first symbols of Roman Christian tombs: fish; the Greek acronym for fish, which is for the Latin ICHTHYS; shepherd with sacrificed lamb (Aries); symbol XP (Chi and Rho, Greek letters symbolizing Christos); and anchor. (photos by Calendersign, 2001)

3. Dionysius said that it was necessary to start a new cycle because the Easter cycle of St. Cyril had ended in the 247th year of the Diocletian era. The statement that Dionysius had to calculate a new Easter-cycle starting with the year 248 of  Diocletian because no other was available is without any basis and appears to be a pretext. Certainly there were a lot of other calculations of Easter being made at that time that worked for many decades or centuries into the future. For example, almost 100 years before Dionysius, the computist Victorius of Aquitaine  calculated a 19 x 28 = 532 year Easter cycle.

4. The 247th year of Diocletian, which is mentioned as last year of St. Cyril’s cycle, was a “Greatest Year”, when on 31 May 531 CE all planets visible to naked-eye including the sun and the moon were in close conjunction. This event was for the Indian astronomer Aryabhata of Kusumpara reason for a calculation and adjustment of the Indian age, called Kali Yuga, which he published in his work called Aryabhatiyam. As B. L. van der Waerden and R. Billard show, Aryabhata used the common multiple of the planetary periods to figure out a similar alignment of all classical planets on 17th Feb. 3102 BCE and established there the start of the Kali Yuga (Waerden, 1968, 1972, 1980). We find the same date later in Persian and Arabic chronologies, such as Abu Mashar’s “Book of the Conjunctions”, where it is identified as the date of the Deluge. Abu Mashar calculated from there 3671+1 years until the triple alignment of Jupiter and Saturn (571 CE), which he called the conjunction announcing the Arab people (Burckhardt and Waerden, 1968). Interestingly, there is dated also the birth of Mohammad.<


Image: Planetary alignment on 17 - Feb - 3102 BCE; JDN 588465
Right ascension: Moon 21h 2m; Sun 20h 27m; Mercury 19h 25m; Venus 21h 20m; Mars 20h 14m; Jupiter 21h 22m; Saturn 18h 29m.

5. The hidden goal and chronological result of the calculation by Dionysius Exiguus.

It is reasonable to assume Dionysius may have done the same as Aryabhata, who calculated and located a planetary alignment more than 3,600 years from his age into the past. But could Dionysius have calculated into the future? The answer to this question lies in the consideration of the apocalyptic belief and expectation of the Lord’s return found in Christianity.

Chronologically or astrologically considered, this return could occur at a similar event as the Star of Bethlehem, or after a time period like the 2,000-year-long assumed age of Pisces, which began with the incarnation of Jesus. On the other hand, Christ's return could occur at the end of the so-called Large Year, when an alignment of all planets takes place and, as the old cyclical worldview tells, the movements of the planets brought them back to the same location in the Greatest Year as at the beginning of time, a point from which the planets would  start out anew, like the hands of a watch from 12:00. Both of these are encoded in the Book of Revelation, which discusses the end of time (Boll, 1914; Santillana and Dechend, 1994)

6. The significance of the constant of precession in relation to the length of an age. 

To calculate the time period of an age, another celestial movement beside planetary alignments is involved. It is the precession of the equinoxes, due to the gyroscopic movement of Earth’s axis.

The length of an age is limited by the duration in which a current constellation, year by year, functions as the announcer of the spring equinox until it is replaced by the next. Such an age is also called a Platonic month, while the whole wobble of Earth’s axis describes the cycle of precession  in the Platonic year with about 25,800 years. Hipparchos and Ptolemy reckoned   the equinoctial precession's value as 100 years for each 1° shifting on the ecliptic. (Ptolemaios, Heiberg 1903).  Later Sassanian, Persian, and Arabic astronomers reckoned its value at 66.6 years for each 1°, which led to an accepted duration of 2000 years for each 30° (average ecliptic length of one constellation) of the zodiac (See list of medieval testimony of precessional constant 66.6 years/1° in Appendix).

The number 666, the “Number of the Beast” in Revelation describes the assumed constant of precession of 66.6 years for each 1° in a hidden, cryptic way. Please be aware that in Greek, “zodiac,” syllable by syllable, means ”circle of animals” or  “circle of beasts”. It takes 666 years to shift the point of equinox along one of the 36 Decans, which are always depicted as humans on ancient zodiacs and cover the range of 10°. A calendrical and  archeoastronomical analysis of Revelation shows that it deals with end of age and thus with the appearance of new equinoctial constellation due to precession (Rothwangl, 2000).

If one assumes that the age of Pisces started with Christ’s incarnation at vernal equinox, related to the symbol ICHTHYS, and if one calculates with the constant of precession 66.6 years each 1°, then after 2000 years one age ends, and a new age starts.  Focusing on the end of the age, Dionysius also searched for a salient future alignment of the planets, which is calculable by a common multiple of the planetary periods. Thus he found the second significant moment: the Greatest Year, which is at the end of the Large Year, when all the different movements of the planets bring them to a common location and all planets align again.


Image: The alignment of all planets on 5-May-2000; JDN 2451670
Right ascension: Moon 3h 55m; Sun 2h 51m; Mercury 2h 34m; Venus 2h 14m; Mars 3h 55m; Jupiter 3h 0m; Saturn 3h 11m.

 7. Other symbolic expressions of an alignment of all planets.

What Aryabhata and Dionysius calculated was,  in fact, a universal anchor for time or creation. Aristotle called it the Greatest Year:

"... there is a yearly unit, which Aristotle calls the Greatest Year rather than a large year. It concerns the period in which the circular paths of the Sun, Moon and the five planets will pass through in such a way that all these heavenly bodies are located in the same constellation.... The time in which all planets meet again in the same sign is the "Greatest Year." In the winter of this year there will be a Cataclysm (tide or flood disaster), in the summer will be an Ekpyrosis (world-wide fire). It seems to be that, these periods alternate: the world is afflicted by times of conflagration, then by times of inundation." (Censorinus, De die natale, ch. 18)  

Similar account used Platon in Timaios 39 C-D; Marcus Tullius Cicero, inSomnium Scipionis (= De re publica 6,24);  Seneca in Questiones naturales III 29,1;  Berossos; Gervasius of Tilbury; and many more up until Bede in de temporum ratione 9 and 31.

Ancient philosophers here are describing nothing less  than the Olympic Symposium of the Gods that took place after the creation of men by Prometheus. This symposium of all Olympic, thus celestial,  gods describes, in old symbolic language, a meeting or conjunction, of all of the "old" naked-eye planets. Both words mean the same thing, i.e., conjunction means "meeting or alignment," and symposium means "sitting together at a common meal!"

 8. How it was possible for Dionysius Exiguus to calculate the alignment of 2000 in advance?

Besides the well-known synodic planetary periods, the shape in which conjunctions reappear, like the alignments of Jupiter and Saturn over a period of 59 years that describe a shifting triplicity, gave a definitive instrument of forecast.  One thousand years before Dionysius, the large  - 854 years lasting  - commensurable period of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Sun was known (Ferrari D’Occhieppo, 1994 and Waerden, 1968). After this period, these four celestial bodies return closely to the same location on the zodiac and same date of a solar calendar. This means that with the planetary positions of the year 292 CE as base, one can calculate two such large periods and thus predict their positions for the year 2000.

9. A recently published text gives an additional clue.

A family document from the middle ages, of which only a copy has survived, offers  a new view for the adjustment of 1 AD. This text  gives the quotation from the Liber de Paschate in a slightly different way that reveals the secret plan of Dionysius best, if we compare it with the document that the Vatican published in the Patrologia Latina.

The Patrologia Latina text reads:
… sed magis elegimus ab incarnatione Domini nostri Jesu Christi annorum tempora prænotare, quatenus  exordium spei nostræ notius nobis existeret, et causa reparationis humanæ, id est, passio Redemptoris nostri, evidentius eluceret.  

The private text (Rothwangl, 2000) reads:
sed magis elegimus ab incarnatione Domini nostri Jesu Christi annorum tempora prænotare, quatenus exordium spei nostræ notius nobis existeret, et causa reparationis humanæ, id est, reditus redemptionis nostrae, evidentius eluceret.

English translation of both:
…but chose rather to mark the times with the years from the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that the commencement of our hope will appear more familiar to us and the origin of the redemption of mankind, that is the passion of our redeemer (Patrologia Latina) / return of redemption (Wirklicht), will shine in a more glorious way.

There is a small but important difference between the two versions, which obviously deal with the same matter. The Vatican text focuses on the passion of the Redeemer, but  or rent.

The comparison reveals that in fact the two documents support two completely different things. The first (passio Redemptoris) means the crucifixion of Jesus, which, however, calendrically has nothing to do with his incarnation and the year 1 AD that lies some 30 years earlier. The second (reditus redemptionis) points to the return of redemption. Redemption started  in the past with Christ’s incarnation, calendar-related with NSE and ICHTHYS, but - with a view to the future – it gives a hint to the end of the Piscean age, which in Revelation is linked with precession and doomsday. This difference shows us the genuine reason why Dionysius Exiguus chose this, of all years, as “anno ab incarnatione”, which later became “Anno Domini.”

 The private document also mentions some commensurable planetary periods, which can be used to figure out easily planetary alignments of some hundred years apart:

3 Trine, 2 Saturn, 5 Jupiter (59 years)
43 Trine, 29 Saturn, 72 Jupiter, 400 Mars, 854 years 1 moon (before)
65 Jupiter, 875 Moon
152 Venus, 243 years
5 Venus, 99 moon, 8 years, 2920 days
101 Trines, 2006 years ...

 
… anno MM A.D. est reditus C.M ... et hic est finis piscis.

English translation of last line:
…Year 2000 A.D.  is the return of C.M. and this is the end of the age of Pisces.

This document demonstrates that the reason for the adjustment of Christ's incarnation was to shine light on the date of the redemption’s return, which was expected on one hand when Pisces lost its function of announcing the spring equinox, and on the other hand when an alignment of all planets recurred. It explicitly says that the year 2000 will bring the end of the age of Pisces. It also shows the ancient well-known common multiples of the commensurable planetary periods. The same or similar periods are found in cuneiform or papyri texts and were called by B. L. van der Waerden, Pinches and Sachs “goal year texts” (in German Zieljahrestexte), as the periods point to the time when the planets will align again (Waerden, 1972).

10. The crucial problems Dionysius Exiguus faced and solved.

The worldview of Dionysius faced the following “realities” related to calendrical time:
1. the imminent end of the biblical time frame in AM 6000 (Chiliasm or Milleniarianism);
2. the alignment of 531 CE;
3. the precalculated alignment 1469 years after this (in May 2000); and
4. the calculated length of the precessional age, a 2000-year period obtained by using the constant of precession of 66.6y/1°.

With the alignment of 531 CE as the basic astronomical event for calculation, and stimulated by the end-of-world fear because of the AM count, Dionysius Exiguus,  with his adjustment of 1 AD, tried to kill two birds with one stone: orientating his count at the Greatest Year (a conjunction of all planets in May 2000) and letting it coincide with the assumed end of a Platonic age, so that the conjunction occurred at the millennium.  The pretext of adjusting Easter was used to veil his true intention.

Graphic: Timeline to show the significance of  planetary alignments and the assumed precessional constant for adjustment of ages and yearly count.


Summary.

Seven points summarize the calendrical significance of the Year 2000 and the connection of the planetary positions in May 2000 with the definition of the yearly counting:

1. The period of 2000 years was a definitive base from which to calculate the year 1 AD. Under the concept of the world in antiquity and early medieval times, the period of 2000 years was a precessional age calculated by using  periods of the starry sky. 

2. The most important basis for calculating such an age is the duration in which one constellation holds its function as a spring constellation until it loses it due to precession to the succeeding constellation. This period is also called a Platonic month. The whole cycle of precession lasts about 25,800 years and is called a Platonic year. In late antiquity and in the medieval orient, the assumed precession-constant of 66.6 years for 1° served as a design fundamental. Because of using this constant, it was calculated that the spring equinox would progress 30° at the zodiac in 2000 years. A new constellation would announce spring, bringing in a new age. So one age after Christ’s incarnation, whose pictogram became ICHTHYS (fish or Pisces), a new spring equinox constellation, Aquarius, became the object of a 2000-years calculated age.

3. Another point of view was the so-called Greatest Year, when a conjunction of all classical planets including sun and moon occurs. The period in between two Greatest Years (conjunction of all planets) was called the Great Year, after which - as the ancient assumption states - all history would repeat itself from the beginning of the world.

4. The conjunction of all planets in the year 531 CE is the starting point of two worldwide time-bearings to similar alignments. The one with a view into the past was the adjusting of the Indian Kali Yuga by Aryabhata. The other, looking into the future, but focusing also on the period of 2000 years, was the establishment of 1 AD by Dionysius. 

5. The content of  a private family text tradition refers to the secret meaning of the yearly counting by Dionysius Exiguus. 

6. An essential reason for inventing the AD count was that  with the year 6000 AM of the previous creation-of-the-world era (year 500 CE), the seventh and final day, Doomsday, was threatening and the rising end-of-the-world fear was averted  by a new time calculation. The creation of  the new AD count shifted the Last Day to the end of the age of Pisces.

7. The year 1 AD of the Catholic Christian yearly counting was defined by using the conjunction of all planets in the year 531 CE and the commensurate planetary periods to calculate the date of a future occurrence of the same conjunction. After finding the future alignment of all planets (which took place in May 2000), the starting point of the new yearly counting was established exactly 1999 years before it, in 1 AD, by determining the length of one age, using the constant of precession (66.6y/1°). This is why the same planetary conjunction occurs in the year 2000 of the Christian yearly counting, as it often does at the beginning of ages.

It is outside the realm of probability that the Dionysian yearly counting was determined randomly. It is also rather improbable that a mythic conjunction of all planets should so closely coincide with the second millennium at the arbitrary end of a religious age by accident!
The Christian way of yearly counting came  to an end, whose foundation was laid by adjusting the first year of AD and by aiming to the Last Day, at the second millennium. In German, this day is called the "First Day" (Juengster Tag), showing a further reference to an age, just like another symbol of Jesus, alpha and omega, the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.

 

Appendix

List of medieval  testimony of the value of the precessional constant 66.6 years each 1°, resulting in 2000 years each 30°:

Acknowledgments

The alignment of May 2000 will similarly repeat 675 years later on the day of the  Northward Spring Equinox, which is arbitrary point of the daily Count to Equinoctial Planetary alignment (CEP). Both alignments are mirrored on a scale of 1:1 billion by the Planet Trail "HEAVEN on EARTH", which is in a tourist area of the Eastern Alps of Austria. The Planet Trail was developed in cooperation with the Institute of Astronomy, University of Vienna and was decorated with Science Week Austria’s Award 2001 for excellence.  
The English translation of this article is owed, with heartful thanks, to Ms. Joan Griffith.

References

Baratta, G.B.: 2000, The Ancient Babylonian and Chinese Observations, and the Problem of the Birth Date of Jesus Christ. Poster session given at Conference Cosmology Through Time. Monte Porcio Catone.

Bede: 1999, The Reckoning of Time translated, with introduction, notes and commentary by Faith Wallis. Liverpool University Press.

Boll, Franz: 1903, Spaera. Neue Griechische Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Sternbilder. Leipzig.
1914, Aus der Offenbarung Johannis. Hellenistische Studien zum Weltbild der Apokalypse. Leipzig-Berlin

Burckhardt, J.J., van der Warden B.L.: 1968, Das astronomische System der Persischen Tafeln I, Centaurus 13, S. 1-28

Censorinus: 1964, Censorini de dies natali liber. Otto Jahn. Amsterdam.

De Santillana, Giorgio, and Hertha von Dechend: 1994, Die Mühle des Hamlet. Ein Essay über Mythos und das Gerüst der Zeit. Wien.

Declercq, Georges: 2000, Anno Domini. The Origins of the Christian Era. Turnhout Belgium.

Dionysius Exiguus: 2000, Liber de Paschate. Patrologia Latina.  Internet version by Rodolphe Audette. URL: http://hermes.ulaval.ca/~sitrau/calgreg/denys.html.

Ferrari D’Occhieppo, Konradin: 1994, Der Stern von Bethlehem. Berlin.

Rothwangl, Sepp: 2000, Wirklicht. (V)Erzählung zur Zeitenwende. Graz.