why is the history of the world/civilization studied using BC/AD?



why is the history of the world/civilization studied using BC/AD?

In: Other

Because it’s the dating system that the biggest part of the world is most familiar with, in day-to-day stuff. It’s 2021 right now, so if I were to see something that was dated 1000 BC/BCE, I could easily look at that and say “Whoa, that was about 3000 years ago!” If I saw something that was dated year 2760 of the Hebrew calendar, I wouldn’t necessarily know it, but that’s actually the same year as 1000 BC – or one year off, depending on date, but whatever. We always work best in the system that we’re most used to.

History has many, many dating systems, from long-lived calendars to things like “in the 5th year of the rule of King X.” It can be really hard to keep track of them mentally. So to make things easy, we translate the year to the system that we’re most familiar with, just like how we (in English-speaking places) might study the history of Germany, or India, or wherever and translate their historical sources into English for study.

Because Christianity dominated/dominates the western world and almost all history was/to some extant is told from the western perspective (former colonies are telling their own histories now but the scholarly nomenclature has stuck).

Because that’s the system that was commonly used in Western countries.

We need some point in time to start counting the years from, and it is completely arbitrary – choosing to start 2021 years ago is as good as any other point. However, since the BC/AD system has been widely used for the past 1200 years, there was no reason to change it.

BC (Before Christ) and AD (anno domini – the year of our Lord) relating to Christianity/ Life of Jesus were designated to years based on the reckoning of when Jesus was born. So anything dated before Jesus’ birth is BC, after birth is AD.

However, more recently these are being replaced with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) to move away from the religious association

Edit: as I understand, it was a monk in 525 AD (Dionysius Exiguus) who began counting the years after the birth of Jesus using the dates that were set down in the Easter Tables by the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD – they set out the date for when Easter was to be be celebrated.

BC/AD grew in popularity under the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (9th Century) where the system was used as the standard for dating acts of government throughout Europe.

I’m going to try to give you a more detailed answer that just “because that’s what medieval Europeans used” and tell you why they used it.

Even today it’s hard to tell exactly when something happened. When they created this calendar system in the 6th century they felt they could accurately count back to the birth of Christ by tracing the papal lineage (among other methods). Beyond that it was very difficult to determine when something happened due to different dating systems. For example, the Romans would rarely use a specific year. Instead they would write “in the fourth year of the reign of X.” But the Europeans often wouldn’t know when X reigned or the order of the Roman succession. They did not have access to the historical documents that we have today recovered. So essentially they said, “we know for certain when this event happened and how many years there have been since that event. Therefore will count everything from there going forward and everything else we can figure out later.” That is what led to AD, the number of years Christ has reigned, and BC, everything before Christ.

BC is before Christ, AD is anno domini (year of our lord). There were many different calendar systems over time but given the dominance and global reach of the west the Gregorian Calendar is the standard. It’s much easier to navigate and trade if everyone has a standard system, which is also why the prime meridian is in Greenwich England, because at the time the British were the rulers of the seas. Now many scholars use BCE and CE as before common era, but IMO that’s dumb because we’re still counting from Jesus we’re just pretending we’re not.

The New Testament of the Bible, being at the end, marks the end of the Biblical era. The Biblical era is generally associated with the ancient world. (Most events taking place during Bronze and Iron ages)

As others have stated, in the middle ages it was decided to standardize a new dating/year system. BC and AD is what stuck, and is still used today (sometimes alternatively referred to as BCE and CE).

There’s so much controversy over exactly how old the Earth/time is (or how long humans have been around for) so any dating system is going to be arbitrary to begin with. But, it just makes certain things easier, like keeping track of age, collecting the seasons together, etc.

The history of the world **isn’t** studied using BC/AD. It’s studied using whatever techniques are available and appropriate for the respective field. Eg. Geologists will determine dates based on radiometric dating, which give an approximate age of materials and not a calendar date. Historians will study events and civilisations based on whatever time keeping method was used in the records that they have, that could be the Gregorian calendar that we use today, or the Julian, Mayan, Egyptian, Chinese or any one of dozens of different calendars used throughout history.

Any dates that are ascertained from that work is later converted to the Gregorian calendar so it’s in a standard format that reduces confusion. And in many cases BCE/CE are used instead of BC/AD to maintain secularity.

From time to time, I’ve wondered about an alternative that we -don’t- use.

Consider temperature. Whether °F or °C, there a “zero” on each scale that we all agree on — but • those scales are relative, and • you can go below zero, in each case. Fortunately, there is also an absolute scale, an absolute zero,on which you can count up but not back.

The comparison with calendars ends with the “relative” part. EVERY calendar — Judeo-Christian, Hebrew, Arabic, “in the reign of” — is relative to something. Why?

**There is NO “absolute zero” in calendar-keeping.** (Especially not one that everyone would agree on.)

Besides, no one wants this year to be 4,543,002,021.