Eli5 How was time marked BCE?

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Since those that lived BCE didn’t know that the years were descending, how did they mark time during that time period?

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6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

BCE is a term for the Gregorian calendar created much later in 1582. Different civilizations had different calenders before that. They counted time forward like normal.

Some civilisations even had lunar calenders that are still followed to this day.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The most common way of counting the years was to use the name of the king or emperor at the time. We still do this in terms such as the “Nixon era” or the “Thatcher period”. To get the individual year you number them sequentially. “Second year of the Clinton administration” for example.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The Hebrew calendar is around 4000 years older than the current one. Eastern nations usually counted the number of years since the emperor or king was crowned. Ancient Rome counted from the founding of the city. For a lot of societies, a single year was as long a period as needed tracking, so they wouldn’t bother.

Anonymous 0 Comments

In addition to these answers, way back when, it didn’t really matter to the common folk what year it was. You got up, worked, ate dinner and went to bed. The season mattered, but there was no reason for the average person to know exactly when such and such an event happened in the past.

Anonymous 0 Comments

For a [comparison,](https://calendars.fandom.com/wiki/Ab_urbe_condita) the Roman year 753 AUC (Ab Urbe Condita) is the 0 year marking the birth of Jesus Christ. AUC refers “From the Founding of the City (of Rome). Consequently, Christian historians in later times marked years as Anno Domini (In the year of our Lord) and BC (Before Christ).

BC / AD shifted to BCE (Before Current Era) and CE (Current Era) for a more neutral approach to year naming starting around the 1970s/80s.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are a few different calendars, but they basically marked years from some real or possibly mythical event in their group history. With some religious calendars it was something like the beginning of the world. Most common though was the years marked since the establishment of a particular government or something similar.