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The terms (AD) and before Christ (BC) are used to label or number years in the Julian and
Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by as a modification of the , reducing the average year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days, and adjusting for the drift in the that the inaccuracy ha ...
s. The term is
Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
and means "in the year of the Lord", but is often presented using "our Lord" instead of "the Lord", taken from the full original phrase "''anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi''", which translates to "in the year of our Lord
Jesus Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it i ...

Jesus Christ
". This
calendar era #REDIRECT Calendar era A calendar era is the period of time elapsed since one ''epoch'' of a calendar and, if it exists, before the next one. For example, it is the year as per the Gregorian calendar, which numbers its years in the Western Christ ...
is based on the traditionally reckoned year of the
conception
conception
or
birth Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring, also referred to in technical contexts as parturition. In mammals, the process is initiated by hormones which cause the muscular walls of the uterus to contract, expelling the fe ...
of Jesus, with ''AD'' counting years from the start of this
epoch In chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-E ...
and ''BC'' denoting years before the start of the era. There is no
year zero A year zero does not exist in the Anno Domini The terms (AD) and before Christ (BC) are used to label or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was in ...
in this scheme, so the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC. This dating system was devised in 525 by
Dionysius Exiguus Dionysius Exiguus (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republ ...

Dionysius Exiguus
of
Scythia Minor Scythia Minor or Lesser Scythia (: , ) was in ancient times the region surrounded by the at the north and west and the at the east, roughly corresponding to today's , with in , and in . By the 7th century BC, several Greek colonies were bui ...
, but was not widely used until the 9th century. It is often directly contrasted to the more ancient, '' Anno Mundi'' (AM) (conferring "in the years of the world") which recounts the ages based on
biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek ...

biblical
tradition beginning with the
Creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) is a symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came t ...
account. To this day, it is firmly observed through virtually all
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), suc ...
religious sources, some minor non-Jewish orthodox societies, and is a reference in many aged and restituted manuscripts. The
Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by as a modification of the , reducing the average year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days, and adjusting for the drift in the that the inaccuracy ha ...
is the most widely used
calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A calendar date, date is the designation of a single, specific day within such a system. A calendar is al ...

calendar
in the world today. For decades, it has been the unofficial global standard, adopted in the pragmatic interests of international communication, transportation, and commercial integration, and recognized by international institutions such as the United Nations. Traditionally, English follows
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
usage by placing the "AD" abbreviation before the year number. However, BC is placed after the year number (for example: AD , but 68 BC), which also preserves syntactic order. The abbreviation is also widely used after the number of a century or
millennium A millennium (plural millennia or millenniums) is a period of one thousand year A year is the orbital period of a planetary body, for example, the Earth, moving in Earth's orbit, its orbit around the Sun. Due to the Earth's axial tilt, the ...

millennium
, as in "fourth century AD" or "second millennium AD" (although conservative usage formerly rejected such expressions). Because BC is the English abbreviation for ''Before Christ'', it is sometimes incorrectly concluded that AD means ''After Death'', i.e., after the death and resurrection of Jesus. However, this would mean that the approximate 33 years commonly associated with the life of Jesus would be included in neither the BC nor the AD time scales. Terminology that is viewed by some as being more neutral and inclusive of non-Christian people is to call this the Current or
Common Era Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar (and its predecessor, the Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in , was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on , by edict. I ...
(abbreviated as CE), with the preceding years referred to as Before the Common or Current Era (BCE).
Astronomical year numbering Astronomical year numbering is based on AD/ CE year numbering, but follows normal decimal The decimal numeral system A numeral system (or system of numeration) is a writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing ...
and
ISO 8601 ISO 8601 is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task which is applied to a common and repeated use of rules ...
avoid words or abbreviations related to Christianity but use the same numbers for AD years.


History

The ''Anno Domini'' dating system was devised in 525 by
Dionysius Exiguus Dionysius Exiguus (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republ ...

Dionysius Exiguus
to enumerate the years in his
Easter table As a moveable feast A moveable feast or movable feast is an observance in a Christian liturgical calendar, borrowed from the Hebrew Lunisolar calendar, which therefore occurs on a different date (relative to the Roman Civil calendar, civil or ...
. His system was to replace the Diocletian era that had been used in an old
Easter table As a moveable feast A moveable feast or movable feast is an observance in a Christian liturgical calendar, borrowed from the Hebrew Lunisolar calendar, which therefore occurs on a different date (relative to the Roman Civil calendar, civil or ...
because he did not wish to continue the memory of a tyrant who persecuted Christians. The last year of the old table, Diocletian Anno Martyrium 247, was immediately followed by the first year of his table, Anno Domini 532. When he devised his table,
Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman who played a critical role in Crisis of the Roman Republic, the events that led to the d ...
years were identified by naming the consuls who held office that year—he himself stated that the "present year" was "the consulship of Probus Junior", which was 525 years "since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ". Thus Dionysius implied that Jesus' incarnation occurred 525 years earlier, without stating the specific year during which his birth or conception occurred. "However, nowhere in his exposition of his table does Dionysius relate his epoch to any other dating system, whether consulate,
Olympiad An Olympiad ( el, Ὀλυμπιάς, ''Olympiás'') is a period of four years associated with the Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and win ...

Olympiad
, year of the world, or
regnal year A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Rom ...
of Augustus; much less does he explain or justify the underlying date." Bonnie J. Blackburn and
Leofranc Holford-Strevens Leofranc Holford-Strevens (born 19 May 1946) is an English classical scholar, an authority on the works of Aulus Gellius Aulus Gellius (c. 125after 180 AD) was a Roman author and grammarian, who was probably born and certainly brought up in Rom ...
briefly present arguments for 2 BC, 1 BC, or AD 1 as the year Dionysius intended for the Nativity or
incarnation Incarnation literally means ''embodied in flesh'' or ''taking on flesh''. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient Sentience is the capacity to be aware of feeling Feeling was originally used to describe the physical sensation of to ...
. Among the sources of confusion are: * In modern times,
incarnation Incarnation literally means ''embodied in flesh'' or ''taking on flesh''. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient Sentience is the capacity to be aware of feeling Feeling was originally used to describe the physical sensation of to ...

incarnation
is synonymous with the conception, but some ancient writers, such as
Bede Bede ( ; ang, Bǣda , ; 672/326 May 735), also known as Saint Bede, The Venerable Bede, and Bede the Venerable ( la, Beda Venerabilis), was an English Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sanc ...

Bede
, considered incarnation to be synonymous with the Nativity. * The civil or consular year began on 1 January, but the Diocletian year began on 29 August (30 August in the year before a Julian leap year). * There were inaccuracies in the lists of consuls. * There were confused summations of emperors' regnal years. It is not known how Dionysius established the year of Jesus's birth. Two major theories are that Dionysius based his calculation on the Gospel of Luke, which states that Jesus was "about thirty years old" shortly after "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar", and hence subtracted thirty years from that date, or that Dionysius counted back 532 years from the first year of his new table. It has also been speculated by Georges Declercq that Dionysius' desire to replace Diocletian years with a calendar based on the incarnation of Christ was intended to prevent people from believing the imminent
end of the world End of the world or The End of the World may refer to: * End of the world (civilization), various types of events that threaten to destroy or cripple human civilization * End of the world (religion), theology concerned with what is believed to be ...
. At the time, it was believed by some that the
resurrection of the dead General resurrection or universal resurrection is the belief in a resurrection of the dead, or resurrection from the dead (Koine Greek, Koine: , ''anastasis nekron''; literally: "standing up again of the dead") by which most or all people ...
and end of the world would occur 500 years after the birth of Jesus. The old '' Anno Mundi'' calendar theoretically commenced with the creation of the world based on information in the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites. The ...
. It was believed that, based on the ''Anno Mundi'' calendar, Jesus was born in the year 5500 (5500 years after the world was created) with the year 6000 of the ''Anno Mundi'' calendar marking the end of the world. ''Anno Mundi'' 6000 (approximately AD 500) was thus equated with the end of the world but this date had already passed in the time of Dionysius.


Popularization

The
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a who inhabited . They traced their origins to the 5th century settlement of incomers to Britain, who migrated to the island from the coastlands of . However, the of the Anglo-Saxons occurred within Britain, and the ide ...
historian Saint (Venerable) Bede, who was familiar with the work of
Dionysius Exiguus Dionysius Exiguus (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republ ...

Dionysius Exiguus
, used ''Anno Domini'' dating in his ''
Ecclesiastical History of the English People The ''Ecclesiastical History of the English People'' ( la, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum), written by the Venerable Bede Bede ( ; ang, Bǣda , ; 672/326 May 735), also known as Saint Bede, The Venerable Bede, and Bede the Venerabl ...
'', which he completed in AD 731. In the ''History'' he also used the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
phrase ''ante ..incarnationis dominicae tempus anno sexagesimo'' ("in the sixtieth year before the time of the Lord's incarnation"), which is equivalent to the English "before Christ", to identify years before the first year of this era. Both Dionysius and Bede regarded ''Anno Domini'' as beginning at the incarnation of
Jesus Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it i ...

Jesus Christ
, but "the distinction between Incarnation and Nativity was not drawn until the late 9th century, when in some places the Incarnation epoch was identified with Christ's conception, i. e., the Annunciation on March 25" ("Annunciation style" dating). On the continent of Europe, ''Anno Domini'' was introduced as the era of choice of the
Carolingian Renaissance The Carolingian Renaissance was the first of three medieval renaissances, a period of cultural activity in the Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Franks, Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe dur ...
by the English cleric and scholar
Alcuin Alcuin of York (; la, Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus; 735 – 19 May 804) – also called Ealhwine, Alhwin, or Alchoin – was an English scholar, clergyman, poet, and teacher from York, Northumbria. He was born around 735 and became the ...
in the late eighth century. Its endorsement by Emperor
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
and his successors popularizing the use of the epoch and spreading it throughout the
Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient nort ...
ultimately lies at the core of the system's prevalence. According to the
Catholic Encyclopedia The ''Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church'' (also referred to as the ''Old Catholic Encyclopedia'' and the ''Original Catholic Encyclopedia'') i ...
, popes continued to date documents according to
regnal years A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign, from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, ...
for some time, but usage of AD gradually became more common in Catholic countries from the 11th to the 14th centuries.Patrick, 1908 In 1422,
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
became the last Western European country to switch to the system begun by Dionysius.
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
countries only began to adopt AD instead of the
Byzantine calendar The Byzantine calendar, also called "Creation Era of Constantinople" or "Era of the World" ( grc, Ἔτη Γενέσεως Κόσμου κατὰ Ῥωμαίους, also or , abbreviated as ε.Κ.; literal translation of ancient Greek "Roman ye ...
in 1700 when Russia did so, with others adopting it in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although ''Anno Domini'' was in widespread use by the 9th century, the term "Before Christ" (or its equivalent) did not become common until much later. Bede used the expression ''"anno ..ante incarnationem Dominicam"'' (in the year before the incarnation of the Lord) twice. ''"Anno ante Christi nativitatem"'' (in the year before the birth of Christ) is found in 1474 in a work by a German monk. In 1627, the French
Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbolism ...
theologian
Denis Pétau Denis Pétau (August 21, 1583December 11, 1652), also known as Dionysius Petavius, was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (frenc ...

Denis Pétau
(Dionysius Petavius in Latin), with his work ''De doctrina temporum'', popularized the usage ''ante Christum'' (Latin for "Before Christ") to mark years prior to AD.


New year

When the reckoning from Jesus' incarnation began replacing the previous dating systems in western Europe, various people chose different Christian feast days to begin the year: Christmas,
Annunciation The Annunciation (from Latin '), also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady, or the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the ...

Annunciation
, or Easter. Thus, depending on the time and place, the year number changed on different days in the year, which created slightly different styles in chronology: * From 25 March 753 AUC (today in 1 BC), i.e., notionally from the incarnation of Jesus. That first "Annunciation style" appeared in
Arles Arles (, also , ; oc, label= Provençal, Arle ; Classical la, Arelate) is a city and commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: ...

Arles
at the end of the 9th century then spread to Burgundy and northern Italy. It was not commonly used and was called ''calculus pisanus'' since it was adopted in
Pisa Pisa ( , or ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides essential public ser ...

Pisa
and survived there till 1750. * From 25 December 753 AUC (today in 1 BC), i.e., notionally from the birth of Jesus. It was called "Nativity style" and had been spread by Bede together with the ''Anno Domini'' in the early Middle Ages. That reckoning of the Year of Grace from Christmas was used in France, England and most of western Europe (except Spain) until the 12th century (when it was replaced by Annunciation style) and in Germany until the second quarter of the 13th century. * From 25 March 754 AUC (today in AD 1). That second "Annunciation style" may have originated in
Fleury Abbey Fleury Abbey (Floriacum) in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, Loiret, France, founded in about 640, is one of the most celebrated Benedictine monasteries of Western Europe, which possesses the relics of St. Benedict of Nursia. Its site on the banks of the L ...
in the early 11th century, but it was spread by the Cistercians.
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central-Northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Al ...

Florence
adopted that style in opposition to that of Pisa, so it got the name of ''calculus florentinus''. It soon spread in France and also in England where it became common in the late 12th century and lasted until 1752. * From Easter, starting in 754 AUC (AD 1). That ''mos gallicanus'' (French custom) bound to a
moveable feast A moveable feast or movable feast is an observance in a Christian liturgical calendar, borrowed from the Hebrew Lunisolar calendar, which therefore occurs on a different date (relative to the Roman Civil calendar, civil or solar calendar) in diffe ...
was introduced in France by king
Philip Augustus Philip II (21 August 1165 – 14 July 1223), byname Philip Augustus (french: Philippe Auguste), was King of France The monarchs of the Kingdom of France The Kingdom of France ( fro, Reaume de France, frm, Royaulme de France, french: lin ...

Philip Augustus
(r. 1180–1223), maybe to establish a new style in the provinces reconquered from England. However, it never spread beyond the ruling élite. With these various styles, the same day could, in some cases, be dated in 1099, 1100 or 1101.


Birth date of Jesus

The date of birth of Jesus of Nazareth is not stated in the gospels or in any secular text, but most scholars assume a date of birth between 6 BC and 4 BC. The historical evidence is too fragmentary to allow a definitive dating, but the date is estimated through two different approaches—one by analyzing references to known historical events mentioned in the Nativity accounts in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew and the second by working backwards from the estimation of the start of the
ministry of Jesus In the Christian gospels, the ministry of Jesus begins with his baptism in the countryside of Roman Judea and Transjordan, near the river Jordan by John the Baptist, and ends in Jerusalem in Christianity, Jerusalem, following the Last Supper ...
. Paul L. Maier "The Date of the Nativity and Chronology of Jesus" in ''Chronos, kairos, Christos: nativity and chronological studies'' by Jerry Vardaman, Edwin M. Yamauchi 1989 pp. 113–29''New Testament History'' by Richard L. Niswonger 1992 pp. 121–24


Other eras

During the first six centuries of what would come to be known as the Christian era, European countries used various systems to count years. Systems in use included
consular dating A consul is an official representative of the government of one Sovereign state, state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between th ...
, imperial
regnal year A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Rom ...
dating, and Creation dating. Although the last non-imperial consul,
Basilius ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. In the English language, English-speaking world it is perhaps most widely understood to mean "king" or "emperor". The title w ...
, was appointed in 541 by Emperor
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
, later emperors through to
Constans II Constans II ( gr, Κώνστας, ''Kōnstas''; 7 November 630 – 15 July 668), nicknamed "the Bearded" (ὁ Πωγωνᾶτος; ''ho Pogonâtos''), was emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 641 to 668. He was the last attested emperor to serve ...
(641–668) were appointed consuls on the first of January after their accession. All of these emperors, except Justinian, used imperial post-consular years for the years of their reign, along with their regnal years. Long unused, this practice was not formally abolished until Novell XCIV of the law code of Leo VI did so in 888. Another calculation had been developed by the
Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asia ...

Alexandria
n monk Annianus around the year AD 400, placing the Annunciation on 25 March AD 9 (Julian)—eight to ten years after the date that Dionysius was to imply. Although this incarnation was popular during the early centuries of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
, years numbered from it, an ''Era of Incarnation'', were exclusively used and are still used in
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the ...

Ethiopia
. This accounts for the seven- or eight-year discrepancy between the Gregorian and Ethiopian calendars. Byzantine chroniclers like
Maximus the Confessor Maximus the Confessor ( el, Μάξιμος ὁ Ὁμολογητής), also known as Maximus the Theologian and Maximus of Constantinople ( – 13 August 662), was a Christian monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single ...

Maximus the Confessor
,
George SyncellusGeorge Syncellus ( el, Γεώργιος Σύγκελλος, ''Georgios Synkellos''; died after 810) was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine (probably in the Old Lavra of Saint Chariton or Souka, near Tekoa) ...
, and Theophanes dated their years from Annianus'
creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) is a symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came t ...
of the world. This era, called '' Anno Mundi'', "year of the world" (abbreviated AM), by modern scholars, began its first year on 25 March 5492 BC. Later Byzantine chroniclers used ''Anno Mundi'' years from 1 September 5509 BC, the
Byzantine Era The Byzantine calendar, also called "Creation Era of Constantinople" or "Era of the World" ( grc, Ἔτη Γενέσεως Κόσμου κατὰ Ῥωμαίους, also or , abbreviated as ε.Κ.; literal translation of ancient Greek "Roman yea ...
. No single ''Anno Mundi'' epoch was dominant throughout the
Christian world Christendom historically refers to the "Christian world": Christian states, Christianity by country, Christian-majority countries and the countries in which Christianity dominates or prevails.SeMerriam-Webster.com : dictionary, "Christendom"/ref> ...
.
Eusebius of Caesarea Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου), ...

Eusebius of Caesarea
in his ''
Chronicle A chronicle ( la, chronica, from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its pop ...
'' used an era beginning with the birth of
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...

Abraham
, dated in 2016 BC (AD 1 = 2017 Anno Abrahami). Spain and Portugal continued to date by the
Spanish Era The Spanish era ( la, Æra Hispanica), sometimes called the era of Caesar, was a calendar era (year numbering system) commonly used in the states of the Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese and Occitan: ''Peninsula Iber ...
(also called
Era of the Caesars The Spanish era ( la, Æra Hispanica), sometimes called the era of Caesar, was a calendar era (year numbering system) commonly used in the states of the Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese and Occitan: ''Peninsula Iber ...
), which began counting from 38 BC, well into the Middle Ages. In 1422,
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
became the last Catholic country to adopt the ''Anno Domini'' system. The
Era of Martyrs The Era of the Martyrs ( la, anno martyrum), also known as the ''Diocletian era'' ( la, anno Diocletiani), is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria The Church of Alexandria ) , name = Alexa ...
, which numbered years from the accession of
Diocletian Diocletian (; la, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus; born Diocles; 22 December c. 244 – 3 December 311) was from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in , Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become a commander of ...
in 284, who launched the most severe
persecution of Christians The persecution of Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Te ...
, was used by the
Church of Alexandria The Church of Alexandria in Egypt is the Christian Church headed by the Patriarch of Alexandria. It is one of the Pentarchy, original Apostolic Sees of Christianity, alongside Rome, Antioch, Constantinople and Jerusalem. Tradition holds that the C ...

Church of Alexandria
and is still used, officially, by the Coptic Orthodox and
Coptic Catholic The Coptic Catholic Church ( ar, الكنيسة القبطية الكاثوليكية; la, Ecclesia Catholica Coptorum) is an Eastern Catholic The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catho ...
churches. It was also used by the
Ethiopian Ethiopians are the native inhabitants of Ethiopia, as well as the global diaspora of Ethiopia. Ethiopians constitute Ethiopians#Component Ethnicities, several component ethnic groups, many of which are closely related to ethnic groups in neighbo ...
church. Another system was to date from the
crucifixion of Jesus The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st-century Judea Judea or Judaea, and the modern version of Judah (; from he, יהודה, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Yəhūda'', Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Yehūḏā''; e ...
, which as early as Hippolytus and
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religio ...

Tertullian
was believed to have occurred in the consulate of the Gemini (AD 29), which appears in some
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
manuscripts.


CE and BCE

Alternative names for the ''Anno Domini'' era include ''vulgaris aerae'' (found 1615 in Latin), "Vulgar Era" (in English, as early as 1635), "Christian Era" (in English, in 1652), "
Common Era Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar (and its predecessor, the Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in , was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on , by edict. I ...
" (in English, 1708), and "Current Era". Since 1856, the alternative abbreviations CE and BCE (sometimes written C.E. and B.C.E.) are sometimes used in place of AD and BC. The "Common/Current Era" ("CE") terminology is often preferred by those who desire a term that does not explicitly make religious references. For example, Cunningham and Starr (1998) write that "B.C.E./C.E. do not presuppose faith in
Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity, the Major religious groups, world's largest ...

Christ
and hence are more appropriate for
interfaith dialog , Ladkah, India Interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive, and positive interaction between people of different religion, religious traditions (i.e. "faiths") and/or spiritual or humanistic Humanism is a philosophical ...
than the conventional B.C./A.D." Upon its foundation, the
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
adopted the
Minguo Era The Republic of China calendar () or Minguo calendar () is one of the calendars used in the Greater China "Greater China" is an informal geographical area that shares commercial and cultural ties with the Han Chinese The Han Chi ...
but used the Western calendar for international purposes. The translated term was (). Later, in 1949, the People's Republic of China adopted () for all purposes domestic and foreign.


No year zero: start and end of a century

In the AD year numbering system, whether applied to the Julian or
Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by as a modification of the , reducing the average year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days, and adjusting for the drift in the that the inaccuracy ha ...
s, AD 1 is immediately preceded by 1 BC, with nothing in between them (there was no
year zero A year zero does not exist in the Anno Domini The terms (AD) and before Christ (BC) are used to label or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was in ...
). There are debates as to whether a new decade, century, or millennium begins on a year ending in zero or one. For computational reasons,
astronomical year numbering Astronomical year numbering is based on AD/ CE year numbering, but follows normal decimal The decimal numeral system A numeral system (or system of numeration) is a writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing ...
and the
ISO 8601 ISO 8601 is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task which is applied to a common and repeated use of rules ...
standard designate years so that AD 1 = year 1, 1 BC = year 0, 2 BC = year −1, etc. In common usage, ancient dates are expressed in the Julian calendar, but ISO 8601 uses the Gregorian calendar and astronomers may use a variety of time scales depending on the application. Thus dates using the year 0 or negative years may require further investigation before being converted to BC or AD.


See also

*
Before Present Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural ...
*
Holocene calendar The Holocene calendar, also known as the Holocene Era or Human Era (HE), is a year numbering system that adds exactly 10,000 years to the currently dominant ( AD/ BC or CE/BCE Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gre ...


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * Bede. (731)
''Historiam ecclesiasticam gentis Anglorum''
Retrieved 2007-12-07. * * * Corrected reprinting of original 1999 edition. * * (despite beginning with 2, it is English) * Declercq, G. "Dionysius Exiguus and the Introduction of the Christian Era". ''Sacris Erudiri'' 41 (2002): 165–246. An annotated version of part of ''Anno Domini''. * Doggett. (1992)

(Ch. 12), in P. Kenneth Seidelmann (Ed.) ''Explanatory supplement to the astronomical almanac.'' Sausalito, CA: University Science Books. . * Patrick, J. (1908)

In ''The Catholic Encyclopedia''. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2008-07-16 from New Advent

* * *


External links


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