Around 1400 BC, Babylonian astronomers inscribed clay tablets with dated charts containing information on the movements of the moon, stars and sun. These charts are an early precursor to the appointment diary which continues to print information on lunar and solar movements.

Such movements linked astronomy to divining the future, and so later printed almanacs came to include horoscopes, astronomical data, religious and agricultural calendars, and medical tips. Almanac meaning ‘calendar’ appears in Latin in the twelfth century. One possible – and charming – etymology is the Arabic ‘al-munak’, or making a camel kneel; this term for a halt may have widened to refer to a station in a journey, and hence a measuring point in the journeys of heavenly bodies.