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Common Era - Wikipedia


The Gregorian calendar is the global standard for the measurement of dates. Despite originating in the Western Christian tradition, its use has spread throughout the world and now transcends religious, cultural and linguistic boundaries. As most people are aware, the Gregorian calendar is based on the supposed birth date of Jesus Christ. Do they mean the same thing, and, if so, which should we use? This article provides an overview of these competing systems. The idea to count years from the birth of Jesus Christ was first proposed in the year by Dionysius Exiguus, a Christian monk. Standardized under the Julian and Gregorian calendars, the system spread throughout Europe and the Christian world during the centuries that followed.

Later on, it was found Jesus likely wasn't born that yearbut a few years earlier i. Marking it as the "Christian Era" or more commonly, the "Common Era" allows the same epoch to be used even though the best calculation for Jesus's birth has changed.

While Christians make up a very large chunk of the world's population, they are no where near the majority. When "Christian Era" is used, it's still clear what epoch is being referred to i.

Modern dates are understood in the Western world to be in the Gregorian calendar, but for older dates writers should specify the calendar used. Dates in the Gregorian calendar in the Western world have always used the era designated in English as Anno Domini or Common Era, but over the millennia a wide variety of eras have been used with the Julian calendar.

Dating conventions and abbreviations

While this issue always seems to get mired in arguments about political correctness, I'd offer another perspective. They're inconsistent.

The Gregorian calendar is the global standard for the measurement of dates. These abbreviations have a shorter history than BC and AD, although they still date acknowledging that the starting point for CE 1 is essentially a convention. Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in archaeology, geology and other The abbreviation "BP" has alternatively been interpreted as "Before Physics"; that is, before nuclear weapons 1 Usage of "BP"; 2 Radiocarbon dating; 3 Radiocarbon calibration; 4 Other dating conventions; 5 See also; 6 References. Many people use the abbreviations B.C. and A.D. with a year (for example, A.D. ). We use this before a date to indicate that we do not know exactly when .

It's very strange that going across the arbitrary division line between two years also requires a change in the language of abbreviation. Also, traditional convention says that BC comes after a date e.

While that convention is no longer universally maintained, it's odd and confusing.

Language Reports

They're prone to misinterpretation. In particular, the language inconsistency noted above has given birth to a widely-held misconception that AD is an English abbreviation for after death i.

All dates prior to Christ's birth were identified as BC (= “before Christ”) and all dates The abbreviation BC always appears after the date; the abbreviation AD . Common Era or Current Era (CE) is one of the notation systems for the world's most widely Bede also introduced the practice of dating years before what he supposed was the year of birth of Jesus, and the practice of not using a year zero. . The Southern Baptist Convention supports retaining the BC/AD abbreviations. This page contains the astronomical dating conventions used of Fred of the religiously neutral abbreviations BCE (for "Before Common Era").

Obviously this is wrong, but it was actually the first explanation I heard as a child, which then caused great confusion when I encountered a teacher telling me that it meant something else in some obscure dead language. I'm not alone in having heard this false etymology, as many internet discussions will attest.

They're literally wrong. As noted in a previous answer, the birth of Jesus Christ is now estimated by most scholars to have occurred at least a few years earlier. I've seen everything from 7 to 2 BCE -- and yes, in this particular sentence, using the abbreviation BC seems to me an oxymoron.

But the dates themselves are exactly comparable to dates expressed as A.D. or Because the present changes every year, archaeologists, by convention, use.

In any case, "common era" solves this problem by just admitting that we're using a common convention, which even Christian scholars now widely regard as inaccurate. But it's still a convenient and "common" way of referring to our "era" of year reckoning. Insisting that we hold onto the older style too seems to be promoting ignorance of the fact that the abbreviations are literally false.

They cause confusion.

One item of confusion occurs because of the erroneous after death etymology above. I distinctly recall asking someone about this when I was a small child: "So how do they number the years while Jesus was alive? National Bureau of Standards. This value is defined as "modern carbon" referenced to AD Radiocarbon measurements are compared to this modern carbon value, and expressed as "fraction of modern" fM.

The ages are expressed in years before present BP where "present" is defined as AD The year was chosen because it was the standard astronomical epoch at that time. It also marked [2] the publication of the first radiocarbon dates in December[12] and also antedates large scale atmospheric testing of nuclear weaponswhich altered the global ratio of carbon to carbon Dates determined using radiocarbon dating come in two kinds: uncalibrated also called Libby or raw and calibrated also called Cambridge dates.

This has to do with the fact that the level of atmospheric radiocarbon carbon or 14 C has not been strictly constant during the span of time that can be radiocarbon-dated.

Uncalibrated radiocarbon ages can be converted to calendar dates by means of calibration curves based on comparison of raw radiocarbon dates of samples independently dated by other methods, such as dendrochronology dating on the basis of tree growth-rings and stratigraphy dating on the basis of sediment layers in mud or sedimentary rock.


Such calibrated dates are expressed as cal BP, where "cal" indicates "calibrated years", or "calendar years", before From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American Antiquity. Environmental Archaeology: Principles and Practice.

Abbreviations for Years: How to Use BC, AD, BCE & CE Correctly

Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. American Geophysical Union. Archived from the original on Retrieved Hogg Quaternary Geochronology.

How do we punctuate and capitalize these abbreviations? . BC, BCE, and CE follow the date and AD precedes it, as advised above. As for. BC and AD are abbreviations for before Christ and Anno Domino mean before the Christ's birth The most commonly used convention in radiocarbon dating. BC is an abbreviation of the English phrase before Christ, while AD is an Also, traditional convention says that BC comes after a date (e.g.

Thus, the year 1 BC was followed by the year AD 1. Furthermore, modern scholars believe Christ's birth was actually four years earlier than Exiguus thought.

In spite of these deficiencies, the dating system devised by Exiguus is now too deeply ensconced in the Western world to easily change. Perhaps the most unfortunately characteristic of this convention is that "BC" is a suffix used after the year while "AD" is a prefix used before the year.

This is inconvenient when generating computerized lists because extra columns must be reserved for both prefixes and suffixes. However, Exiguus' dating system still lacks a "0" year which makes calendrical calculations awkward.

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