Our Dating System

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Our Dating System

Since most of us are currently in the year 2007, I found myself wondering some things about how the year is determined.


1) When did the years start being marked by the "A.D." and "B.C." designations?  at what point did christianity gain critical mass to designate the year?

2) What was the prior system based off of? (I'm thinking specifically of the Romans)

3) Does anyone have a link that breaks down the various dating systems of different cultures and when/how they came into effect?

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wow I've also been recently

wow I've also been recently wondering about this.  I have somewhat of an understanding but would also love more info.

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The Romans used to use "AUC"

The Romans used to use "AUC" which translated as "after the founding of the city (Rome)", which they figured as 754 BC (I think that's the year - may not be exact." It was some monk in the middle ages that guessed the date of Jesus' birth to get the year 1 - and until (at least) the late middle ages people usually expressed the year as __ year of such and such a king's reign.

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  Quote: he Anno Domini


he Anno Domini system was developed by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus (born in Scythia Minor) in Rome in 525, as an outcome of his work on calculating the date of Easter.

Just check it out at Wikipedia.

The more politically correct system used in recent history texts is the 'Common Era' system. That is B.C. (Before Christ) is now B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and Anno Domini (The Year of Our Lord) is now C.E. (Common Era).

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A peculiarity of our

A peculiarity of our English usage is that we have retained the Latin for years following the supposed birth of Jesus (Anno Domini - A.D.) but express the years prior to his birth in English, not Latin (Before Christ - B.C.). In some Latin texts the expression ante Christum (abbreviated A.C.) is used. The inconsistency of using a Latin expression for one instance and English for another has always struck me as very strange.

The phenomenon of referring to a sequentially numbered year is fairly recent for most cultures. Throughout much of history it was far more common to reckon years with reference to the reign of the monarch, even in Christianized cultures. Many documents survive from even after the Protestant Reformation that indicate this. An example would be: "Given under our hand and seal in the third year of the reign of our Lady Sovereign Elizabeth, by the grace of God defender of the faith."

The Romans themselves didn't actually use the A.U.C. (ab urbe conditia "from the founding of the city&quotEye-wink system, but rather referred to years by the Consuls who served during that year, or the years of an Emperor's reign.

The BC/AD, BCE/CE system is impractical because it requires us to use, in effect, negative dates. Since there was no year zero, it makes it even more challenging mathematically to deal with a range of time that encompasses both BCE and CE years.