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Old 12-19-2012, 08:39 PM   #1
Aiwendil
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Fourth Age Date Conversion

I recently had to convert some dates from years of the Fourth Age into Shire Reckoning, and I came across this Encyclopedia of Arda entry. This entry notes that there appear to be some contradictions in the way Fourth Age years and Third Age/Shire Reckoning years are said to correspond. After re-reading appendix D, however, it seems to me that there is no contradiction at all. So now I'm wondering whether it's I that am missing something or they. (My apologies for such an abstruse, quibbling sort of topic.)

So, the last year of the Third Age was T.A. 3021 (or in Shire-reckoning 1421); that much is clear. In several places in the appendices, year equivalences are given that suggest that year 1 of the Fourth Age was the year following T.A. 3021, so F.A. 1 = T.A. 3022. This would mean that to obtain a F.A. date, one subtracts 3021 from the T.A. date (or 1421 from Shire-reckoning). So Eomer's death is given as T.A. 3084 and F.A. 63; Gimli's departure is given as T.A. 3141 and F.A. 120; and it is explicitly stated that Fourth Age 1 was called 1422 in the Shire.

However, in other places, it appears that T.A. 3021 was F.A. 1. So the offset between T.A. and F.A. is 3020, not 3021. Supporting this are: the statement that Findegil's copy of the Red Book is dated 'S.R. 1592 (F.A. 172)'; the fact that Pippin's retirement to Gondor is stated in one place to have been in F.A. 64 and in another S.R. 1484; and the statement that 'for purposes of record in the Kingdom Fourth Age 1 was the year that began according to the New Reckoning on March 25, 3021, old style'.

That's the apparent contradiction that Encyclopedia of Arda seems unable to resolve. But it seems to me that it overlooks one crucial fact. Appendix D makes it clear that in all systems used in the Third Age, the year began in mid-winter, whereas in the Fourth Age the year began on March 25, to commemorate the destruction of the Ring. In view of this, surely it is clear that F.A. 1 corresponds neither to T.A. 3021 nor to T.A. 3022, but rather to the period that in the T.A. reckoning would be March 25, 3021 to March 24, 3022. So if an event occurred in, say, T.A. x, it would be in F.A. (x - 3021) if it happened before March 25 or F.A. (x - 3020) if it happened after March 25. Conversely, an event in F.A. y would be in T.A. (y + 3020) if it happened before January 1 and T.A. (y + 3021) if it happened after January 1.

Thus, if Eomer died in, say, February of T.A. 3084 (S.R. 1484), that would have been F.A. 63. And if Pippin retired the following June, it still would have been T.A. 3084 (S.R. 1484), but it now would have been F.A. 64. No contradiction at all.

Does this make sense, or is there something I'm missing?
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:47 AM   #2
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I think you got it.
F.A.1 started on T.A. 3021 on 25 March and the full year went to 24 March before F.A. 2 started on 25 March.

T.A 3021 started on Midwinter and went through to Midwinter. So there would be roughly a three month period where the Third Age 'new year' started and before the Fourth Age New Year started. The Shire Reckoning would be consistant since it did not start anew. Since some dates are given as Third Age and some as Fourth Age, it can get convoluted. As for EOA, I think they try and use everything written, so inconsistencies can occur when factoring in a version from HOME for instance. I stick with Appendix D myself.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:51 AM   #3
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I agree that there is no contradiction. I differ about how T.A. 3021/F.A. 1 coincide. The change to a March 25 new year (start of 3019) and the change to Fourth Age (late 3021) were established over two years apart. Years had already been starting on March 25 as of T.A. 3019, so T.A. 3021 and F.A. 1 would be exactly the same year from beginning to end.

My understanding, based on Appendix D, has long been as follows. Have I missed something? Forgive redundancies as I am somewhat reworking this out to myself in light of reading others' interpretation.

According to Appendix D in the New Reckoning, March 25 would begin the new year as of T.A. 3019. By the time T.A. 3021/F.A. 1 came, March 25 had already marked the new year for two years:

Quote:
The New Reckoning was begun in the restored Kingdom in T.A. 3019. It represented a return to Kings' Reckoning adapted to fit a spring-beginning as in the Eldarin loa.
In the New Reckoning the year began on March 25 old style, in commemoration of the fall of Sauron and the deeds of the Ring-bearers. The months retained their names, beginning now with Viressė (April), but referred to periods beginning generally five days earlier than previously.
[Also note that the year actually starts with Viressė (April) now, so Viressė/April 1 has been backed up to the old March 25 (thus the comment about 'five days earlier than previously') to allow the year to start on the first day of a month, I presume. I will continue to refer to it as March 25, for simplicity.]

The question I have instead: when did the year numeral actually change to/from '3019'? Was '3018' retroactively used for an extra three months to allow 3019 to first turnover on March 25? Or was '3019' held over three months to allow 3020 to start with March 25? In either scenario, it would at least not matter to the F.A. conversion as long as the change to the new year started prior to 3021.

Or are you thinking that the numeral would have continued to change on their midwinter according to the Stewards' Reckoning (Yestarė between Rinagariė and Narvinyė, December 22 on our calendar, January 1 in our function)?

When the New Reckoning was taken up in T.A. 3019, it's not as if it was already determined as well that F.A. would take place of T.A. 3021. This was actually done in retrospect, with Elrond leaving in September of that year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil View Post
In view of this, surely it is clear that F.A. 1 corresponds neither to T.A. 3021 nor to T.A. 3022, but rather to the period that in the T.A. reckoning would be March 25, 3021 to March 24, 3022.
Given the T.A. 3019 change to a 'March 25 new year' already happened, F.A. 1 would have to correspond directly to T.A. 3021. Since March 25 is the first day of the year, years would've run:

Midwinter - Midwinter - March 24 T.A. 3018 (or maybe this in 3019 instead)
March 25 - March 24 T.A. 3019
March 25 - March 24 T.A. 3020
March 25 - March 24 T.A. 3021 (= March 25 - March 24 F.A. 1)
March 25 - March 24 T.A. 3022 (= March 25 - March 24 F.A. 2)

Elrond left in September T.A. 3021, and it was decided retroactively that the previous Viressė 1 (old March 25) T.A. 3021 would now be observed as the start of F.A. 1 - but it would have already been the first day of 3021, so only the year's name has been changed. Not its starting day. The years have to be the same, 3021 and 1:

Quote:
The Fourth Age was held to have begun with the departure of Master Elrond, which took place in September 3021; but for purposes of record in the Kingdom Fourth Age 1 was the year that began according to the New Reckoning in March 25, 3021, old style.
In New Reckoning, Viressė 1 (F.A. 1/T.A. 3021). In 'old style' Stewards' Reckoning, March 25 T.A. 3021 (but still would've been observed as the first day of the year when it happened because of the change of 3019).
_______________

While the New Reckoning begins years on our March 25 from T.A. 3019 onwards, Shire Reckoning continued to start new years midwinter on Yule 2.

If Yule 2 is adjusted/converted to December 22 and I count correctly, then there would be a 96 day gap between the hobbit new year and the Gondorian new year (or 269 in the opposite direction), and thus the nominal year for each would coincide only for a period of each cycle (just like two people with birthdays in different months).

Here's my understanding of how it would've happened. Days again given in our modern calendar, for simplicity:


___________

A different sort of contradiction could exist, however, though I suspect this would've been corrected by historians (Findegil?) or altogether not an issue as hobbits wouldn't have actually recorded things in their own 'F.A.' terms, continuing to favor S.R. and leaving the conversion to - you guessed it - us.

According to the end of Appendix D, the hobbits decided that the Fourth Age began Yule 2 1422 (Dec. 22 T.A. 3021), and chose not to observe the Age shift nine months earlier on March 25 T.A. 3021 as humans had:

Quote:
Fourth Age 1 was thus called 1422; and in so far as the Hobbits took any account of the change of Age, they maintained it began with Yule 2 1422, and not in the previous March.
So given that, wouldn't the F.A. conversion differ by a year if you were hearing it from a hobbit (-1 in F.A.) instead of a Gondorian from April through December of each year? As I said though, I believe any such differences would've been eradicated from any of the written works we're 'presented' with, bringing all in line with the Gondorian calendar's F.A.
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Last edited by Legolas; 12-31-2012 at 01:02 PM. Reason: clarifying
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:43 AM   #4
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Makes sense to me. I was going from the memory of a slightly drunken and tired mind that did not consult either the Appendix or the Encyclopedia of Arda, so overliiked the two year "change" in the Third Age Reckoning. I would think that the year 3019 was longer, as it would have started per the reckoning of the preceding years. It was then "reset" as of March 25 and went to March 24 3020, so would have been technically, a year and three months long.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:51 AM   #5
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A reflection of a Primary World problem familiar to genealogists and historians when dealing with dates in the Julian Calendar (which also began on 25 March). The usual modern convention is to modify them as needed to, e.g., 22 Feb. 1688/9.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:10 PM   #6
Aiwendil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legolas
The change to a March 25 new year (start of 3019) and the change to Fourth Age (late 3021) were established over two years apart. Years had already been starting on March 25 as of T.A. 3019, so T.A. 3021 and F.A. 1 would be exactly the same year from beginning to end.
I had completely overlooked the fact that the change in the new year occurred before the beginning of the Fourth Age.

Actually, it seems to me that this means there is still a contradiction. Leaving aside Shire Reckoning, we then have T.A. 3021 = F.A. 1, with no overlap between F.A. 1 and T.A. 3022. Each T.A. year x from 3021 onward corresponds exactly to the F.A. year (x - 3020). But then we have these facts:

- Eomer's death date is given as T.A. 3084 and F.A. 63. But T.A. 3084 should be F.A. 64.

- Gimli's departure is given as T.A. 3141 and F.A. 120. But T.A. 3141 should be F.A. 121.

The apparent discrepancies between S.R. and F.A. can still be explained away as in my first post, with events falling between Yule and March 25 or between March 25 and Yule as necessary. But if T.A. and F.A. years correspond exactly, then it fails for the two cases above.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:44 PM   #7
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I wonder if that relates to my last point about the hobbits not observing the March 25 T.A. 3021 starting date for F.A. 1, instead using the start of their next new year.

The quote from Appendix D says they chose to acknowledge F.A. 1 as starting with S.R. 1422; do we also see that they continued to reckon years by midwinter even in their own conversions S.R. > T.A. before that? It seems so.

In the final pages of Appendix B where events for 3020 and 3021 are given, there is a footnote that says months and days are given in the Shire calendar, but also Frodo's recurring illness on March 13 is listed at the starts of 3020 and 3021, squarely co-labeled S.R. 1420 and 1421. By New Reckoning, those dates should've been in the final days of 3019 and 3020.

Are the T.A. years are recorded according to men, but the F.A. years given according to hobbit conversion instead (where S.R. 1422 = T.A. 3022 = F.A. 1)?
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