This is one of several translated excerpts from Byzantine sources produced and mounted with historical introduction and commentary by Paul Stephenson.


 

JOHN SKYLITZES, SYNOPSIS HISTORION

The Year 6508, in the 13th Indiction: the Byzantine dating system

Basil and Constantine, c. 26 (ed. Thurn, p. 343; tr. Wortley, p. 326)

In the year 6508 (1), in the thirteenth indiction (2), the emperor sent a great and powerful force against the Bulgarian fortified positions on the far side of the Balkan (Haimos) mountains, under the command of the patrikios Theodorokan and the protospatharios Nikephoros Xiphias, who established Roman control over Great Preslav, Little Preslav and Pliska without loss and taking trophies.


Notes

(1) The year is calculated as the Annus Mundi, the year since the creation of the world. Several systems were calculated and used by Byzantine authors, to whom the indiction, which ran from 1 September to 31 August (below), was the standard measurement of time. For example, according to the Alexandrian system, the Creation was calculated at 5500 BC, but was corrected to 25 March 5492. By the time Skylitzes wrote a unified system was widely recognized, according to which the world was created 5508 years before the Incarnation, or more precisely on 1 September 5509 BC. Thus, it coincided nicely with the beginning of the first year of the first tax cycle (indiction).

(2) Indiction: Initially an extraordinary tax, the indiction was regularized on a yearly basis by Diocletian, having a five year cycle. Under Constantine I this became a fifteen year cycle. Thus Skylitzes here refers to the thirteenth year of a fifteen year tax cycle, which, in this case, must have begun on 1 September AM 6495. In order to calculate the indiction according to the AD dating system, add 3 to the total and divide by 15, to the next whole number (without fractions). The remainder is the indiction. So, 31 August 1999 ends the year AM 7507 in the seventh indiction.


Paul Stephenson, July 1999

Revised January 2012