Season of the Inundation

The Season of the Inundation or Flood (Ancient Egyptian: Ꜣḫt)[lower-alpha 2] was the first season of the lunar and civil Egyptian calendars. It fell after the intercalary month of Days over the Year (Ḥryw Rnpt)[3] and before the Season of the Emergence (Prt).[4]

Season of the Inundation[1][lower-alpha 1]
in hieroglyphs


The pronunciation of the Ancient Egyptian name for the Season of the Inundation is uncertain as the hieroglyphs do not record its vowels. It is conventionally transliterated Akhet.[5][6] The name refers to the annual flooding of the Nile.

Lunar calendar

In the lunar calendar, the intercalary month was added as needed to maintain the heliacal rising of Sirius in the fourth month of the season of the Harvest. This meant that the Season of the Inundation usually lasted from September to January. Because the precise timing of the flood varied, the months of "Inundation" no longer precisely reflected the state of the river but the season was usually the time of the annual flooding.[7] This event was vital to the people because the waters left behind fertile silt and moisture, which were the source of the land's fertility.

Civil calendar

In the civil calendar, the lack of leap years into the Ptolemaic and Roman periods meant the season lost about one day every four years and was not stable relative to the solar year or Gregorian calendar.


The Season of the Inundation was divided into four months. In the lunar calendar, each began on a dawn when the waning crescent moon was no longer visible. In the civil calendar, each consisted of exactly 30 days[3] divided into three 10-day weeks known as decans.

In ancient Egypt, these months were usually recorded by their number within the season: I, II, III, and IV Ꜣḫt. They were also known by the names of their principal festivals, which came to be increasingly used after the Persian occupation. These then became the basis for the names of the months of the Coptic calendar.

Egyptian Coptic
Transliteration Meaning
I Ꜣḫt
First Month of the Flood
II Ꜣḫt
Second Month of the Flood
Hwt Hwr
Third Month of the Flood
IV Ꜣḫt
Kꜣ ḥr Kꜣ
Fourth Month of the Flood
Soul upon Soul

See also


  1. Alternative representations of the inundation season include






    , and

    [2] and

  2. Manuel de Codage: Axt.


  1. Clagett, Marshall (1995), Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book, Vol. II: Calendars, Clocks, and Astronomy, Memoirs of the APS, No. 214, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, p. 4.
  2. Vygus, Mark (2015), Middle Egyptian Dictionary (PDF).
  3. Allen, James P. (2000), Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 103–106.
  4. Clagett (1995), p. 5.
  5. "Inundation", Glossary, Leiden University.
  6. Strudwick, Nigel C. (2005), Texts from the Pyramid Age, p. 87.
  7. Silverman, David P. (1997), Ancient Egypt, London: Duncan Baird Publishers, p. 93.
Preceded by
Days over the Year
Ḥryw Rnpt
Egyptian Seasons
Season of the Inundation

days: 120 days
Succeeded by
Season of the Emergence
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