One of the daunting aspects of studying the Middle East is the confluence of several, often unrelated, languages, each with its own alphabet. Having gained some control over these, the student then comes up against a jumble of calendars. While many of these complications are lessened when focusing on a particular region or period of time, the cosmopolitan nature of the Ottoman Empire evolved a dense fabric of interwoven languages (Persian, Turkish, and Arabic) and of calendars, which were not only in use alongside each other, but were blended to create new subspecies! Handbooks and concordances have existed for a long time to enable the scholar to translate solar, lunar, agricultural, and urban time reckonings into modern calendars. We are most familiar with the standard Gregorian/Hijra guides, as Europeans were once deeply involved in concordances of Old Style (Julian) and New Style (Gregorian) conversion tables.
The Ottoman fiscal calendar is one of the more peculiar challenges which must be attended to, in order to control adequately the immense store of documents from the last centuries of the Turkish Empire. This calendar was employed particularly in the State’s fiscal and trade sectors; hereafter it is identified by the code SM, for sene-i-maliye, the fiscal year. It is a solar calendar, first put into use in AD 1676, and adopted by more areas of trade and administration until it becanle the official standard calendar of the empire in AD 1839. The supremacy of SM usage then lasted until AD 1917, when it was first modified to accord with Gregorian NS reckoning over Julian OS. Finally, SM usage was discontinued entirely in December of AD 1925, and replaced by the “Western” Gregorian calendar.