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Moon 08.02.2015. | Fire Island, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Artist's Description

The Moon’s regular phases make it a very convenient timepiece, and the periods of its waxing and waning form the basis of many of the oldest calendars. Tally sticks, notched bones dating as far back as 20–30,000 years ago, are believed by some to mark the phases of the Moon. The ~30-day month is an approximation of the lunar cycle. The English noun month and its cognates in other Germanic languages stem from Proto-Germanic *mǣnṓth-, which is connected to the above-mentioned Proto-Germanic *mǣnōn, indicating the usage of a lunar calendar among the Germanic peoples (Germanic calendar) prior to the adoption of a solar calendar. The PIE root of moon, *méh1nōt, derives from the PIE verbal root *meh1-, “to measure”, “indicat[ing] a functional conception of the moon, i.e. marker of the month” (cf. the English words measure and menstrual), and echoing the Moon’s importance to many ancient cultures in measuring time (see Latin mensis and Ancient Greek μείς (meis) or μήν (mēn), meaning “month”). Read more

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