Holocene calendar

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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) numbering scheme, placing its first year near the beginning of the Holocene geological epoch and the Neolithic Revolution, when humans transitioned from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to agriculture and fixed settlements. The year 2019 in the Holocene calendar is 12019 HE. The HE scheme was first proposed by Cesare Emiliani in 1993 (11993 HE). [1]

A calendar era is the year numbering system used by a calendar. For example, the Gregorian calendar numbers its years in the Western Christian era. The instant, date, or year from which time is marked is called the epoch of the era. There are many different calendar eras such as Saka Era.

<i>Anno Domini</i> Western calendar era

The terms anno Domini (AD) and before Christ (BC) are used to label or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The term anno Domini is Medieval Latin 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".

Common Era or Current Era (CE) is one of the notation systems for the world's most widely used calendar era. BCE is the era before CE. BCE and CE are alternatives to the Dionysian BC and AD system respectively. The Dionysian era distinguishes eras using AD and BC. Since the two notation systems are numerically equivalent, "2019 CE" corresponds to "AD 2019" and "400 BCE" corresponds to "400 BC". Both notations refer to the Gregorian calendar. The year-numbering system used by the Gregorian calendar is used throughout the world today, and is an international standard for civil calendars.



Cesare Emiliani's proposal for a calendar reform sought to solve a number of alleged problems with the current Anno Domini era, which number the years of the commonly accepted world calendar. These issues include:

Calendar reform or calendrical reform, is any significant revision of a calendar system. The term sometimes is used instead for a proposal to switch to a different calendar design.

Holocene The current geological epoch, covering the last 11,700 years

The Holocene is the current geological epoch. It began approximately 11,650 cal years before present, after the last glacial period, which concluded with the Holocene glacial retreat. The Holocene and the preceding Pleistocene together form the Quaternary period. The Holocene has been identified with the current warm period, known as MIS 1. It is considered by some to be an interglacial period within the Pleistocene Epoch.

Instead, HE uses the "beginning of human era" as its epoch, arbitrarily defined as 10,000 BC denoted year 1 HE, so that AD 1 matches 10,001 HE. [1] This is a rough approximation of the start of the current geologic epoch, the Holocene (the name means entirely recent). The motivation for this is that human civilization (e.g. the first settlements, agriculture, etc.) is believed to have arisen within this time. Emiliani would later propose that the start of the Holocene be fixed at the same date as the beginning of his proposed era. [2]

AD 1 Year

AD 1 (I), 1 AD or 1 CE is the epoch year for the Anno Domini calendar era. It was the first year of the Common Era (CE), of the 1st millennium and of the 1st century. It was a common year starting on Saturday or Sunday, a common year starting on Saturday by the proleptic Julian calendar, and a common year starting on Monday by the proleptic Gregorian calendar. In its time, year 1 was known as the Year of the Consulship of Caesar and Paullus, named after Roman consuls Gaius Caesar and Lucius Aemilius Paullus, and less frequently, as year 754 AUC within the Roman Empire. The denomination "AD 1" for this year has been in consistent use since the mid-medieval period when the anno Domini (AD) calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years. It was the beginning of the Christian/Common era. The preceding year is 1 BC; there is no year 0 in this numbering scheme. The Anno Domini dating system was devised in AD 525 by Dionysius Exiguus.

In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age but shorter than a period. The current epoch is the Holocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period. Rock layers deposited during an epoch are called a series. Series are subdivisions of the stratigraphic column that, like epochs, are subdivisions of the geologic timescale. Like other geochronological divisions, epochs are normally separated by significant changes in the rock layers to which they correspond.

Civilization Complex state society

A civilization or civilisation is any complex society characterized by urban development, social stratification imposed by a cultural elite, symbolic systems of communication, and a perceived separation from and domination over the natural environment.


Human Era proponents claim that it makes for easier geological, archaeological, dendrochronological and historical dating, as well as that it bases its epoch on an event more universally relevant than the birth of Jesus. All key dates in human history can then be listed using a simple increasing date scale with smaller dates always occurring before larger dates. Another gain is that the Holocene Era starts before the other calendar eras. So it could be useful for the comparison and conversion of dates from different calendars.

Geology The study of the composition, structure, physical properties, and history of Earths components, and the processes by which they are shaped.

Geology is an earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Geology can also include the study of the solid features of any terrestrial planet or natural satellite such as Mars or the Moon. Modern geology significantly overlaps all other earth sciences, including hydrology and the atmospheric sciences, and so is treated as one major aspect of integrated earth system science and planetary science.

Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In North America archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology, while in Europe it is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines.

Dendrochronology method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree rings

Dendrochronology is the scientific method of dating tree rings to the exact year they were formed. As well as dating them this can give data for dendroclimatology, the study of climate and atmospheric conditions during different periods in history from wood.


When Emiliani discussed the calendar in a follow-up article in 1994, he mentioned that there was no agreement on the date of the start of the Holocene epoch, with estimates at the time ranging between 12,700 and 10,970 years BP. [2] Since then, scientists have improved their understanding of the Holocene on the evidence of ice cores and can now more accurately date its beginning. A consensus view was formally adopted by the IUGS in 2013, placing its start at 11,700 years before 2000 (9701 BC), about 300 years more recent than the epoch of the Holocene calendar. [3] This would mean all Holocene calendar dates would have to be pushed back by 300 years (for example, AD 1 would become 9701 HE instead of 10001 HE).

Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in archaeology, geology and other scientific disciplines to specify when events occurred in the past. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use 1 January 1950 as the commencement date of the age scale, reflecting the origin of practical radiocarbon dating in the 1950s. The abbreviation "BP" has alternatively been interpreted as "Before Physics"; that is, before nuclear weapons testing artificially altered the proportion of the carbon isotopes in the atmosphere, making dating after that time likely to be unreliable.

Ice core Cylindrical sample drilled from an ice sheet

An ice core is a core sample that is typically removed from an ice sheet or a high mountain glacier. Since the ice forms from the incremental buildup of annual layers of snow, lower layers are older than upper, and an ice core contains ice formed over a range of years. Cores are drilled with hand augers or powered drills; they can reach depths of over two miles (3.2 km), and contain ice up to 800,000 years old.

International Union of Geological Sciences international non-governmental organization

The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) is an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the field of geology.


Conversion from Julian or Gregorian calendar years to the Human Era can be achieved by adding 10,000 to the AD/CE year. The present year, 2019, can be transformed into a Holocene year by adding the digit "1" before it, making it 12,019 HE. Years BC/BCE are converted by subtracting the BC/BCE year number from 10,001.

Comparison of some historic dates in the Gregorian and the Holocene calendar [ disputed ]
Gregorian year ISO 8601 Holocene yearEvent
10001 BC −10000 [lower-alpha 1] 0 HEBeginning of the Holocene Era
9701 BC −9700300 HEEnd of the Pleistocene and beginning of the Holocene epoch [3]
4714 BC −47135287 HE Epoch of the Julian day system: Julian day 0 starts at Greenwich noon on January 1, 4713 BC of the proleptic Julian calendar, which is November 24, 4714 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar [4] :10
3761 BC −37606240 HEBeginning of the Anno Mundi era in the Hebrew calendar [4] :11
3102 BC −31016899 HEBeginning of the Kali Yuga era in Hindu cosmology [ citation needed ]
2250 BC −22517751 HEBeginning of the Meghalayan age, the current and latest of the three stages in the holocene era. [5] [6]
45 BC −00449956 HEIntroduction of the Julian calendar
1 BC +000010000 HE Year zero at ISO 8601
AD 1 +000110001 HEBeginning of the Common Era and Anno Domini, from the (incorrect) estimate by Dionysius of the Incarnation of Jesus
622, 1  AH +062210622 HEMigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina (Hegira), starting the Islamic calendar [7] [8]
1582 +158211582 HEIntroduction of the Gregorian calendar [4] :47
1912 +191211912 HE Epoch of the Juche [ citation needed ] and Minguo calendars [ citation needed ]
1950 +195011950 HE Epoch of the Before Present dating scheme [9] :190
1970 +197011970 HE Unix Epoch [10]
1993 +199311993 HEPublication of the Holocene calendar
2019 +201912019 HECurrent year
10000 +1000020000 HE
  1. Emiliani [1] states his proposal "would make the year AD 1 into the year 10,001" but does not mention the Julian or Gregorian calendar. The proposal does not explicitly designate any particular date as the beginning of the era.

See also

Related Research Articles

An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy, a calendar era used for a given calendar, or the geological eras defined for the history of Earth.

The proleptic Julian calendar is produced by extending the Julian calendar backwards to dates preceding AD 8 when the quadrennial leap year stabilized. The leap years that were actually observed between the implementation of the Julian calendar in 45 BC and AD 8 were erratic: see the Julian calendar article for details.

Year 1 BC was a common year starting on Friday or Saturday of the Julian calendar and a leap year starting on Thursday of the Proleptic Julian calendar. It is also a leap year starting on Saturday, in the Proleptic Gregorian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Lentulus and Piso. The denomination 1 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years. The following year is 1 AD in the widely used Julian calendar, which does not have a "year zero".

The 10th millennium BC spanned the years 10,000 BC to 9001 BC. It marks the beginning of the transition from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic via the interim Mesolithic and Epipaleolithic periods, which together form the first part of the Holocene epoch that is generally reckoned to have begun c. 9700 BC and is the current geological epoch. It is impossible to precisely date events that happened around the time of this millennium and all dates mentioned here are estimates mostly based on geological and anthropological analysis.

The Era of the Martyrs, also known as the Diocletian era, is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria beginning in the 4th century AD and by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the 5th century to the present. Western Christians were aware of it but did not use it. It was named for the Roman Emperor Diocletian who instigated the last major persecution against Christians in the Empire. Diocletian began his reign 20 November 284 during the Alexandrian year that began on 1 Thoth, the Egyptian New Year, or 29 August 284, so that date was used as the epoch: year one of the Diocletian era began on that date. This era was used to number the year in Easter tables produced by the Church of Alexandria.

Cesare Emiliani Geologist, paleontologist

Cesare Emiliani was an Italian-American scientist, geologist, micropaleontologist, and the founder of paleoceanography, developing the timescale of marine isotope stages, which despite modifications remains in use today.

Anno Mundi calendar era

Anno Mundi, abbreviated as AM, or Year After Creation, is a calendar era based on the biblical accounts of the creation of the world and subsequent history. Two such calendar eras have seen notable use historically:

The Late Pleistocene is a geochronological age of the Pleistocene Epoch and is associated with Upper Pleistocene stage rocks. The beginning of the stage is defined by the base of the Eemian interglacial phase before the final glacial episode of the Pleistocene 126,000 ± 5,000 years ago. Its end is defined at the end of the Younger Dryas, some 11,700 years ago. The age represents the end of the Pleistocene epoch and is followed by the Holocene epoch.

Anno Lucis dating system used in Freemasonry

Anno Lucis is a dating system used in Masonic ceremonial or commemorative proceedings, which is equivalent to the Gregorian year plus 4000. It is similar to Anno Mundi.

Year zero does not exist in the anno Domini system usually used to number years in the Gregorian calendar and in its predecessor, the Julian calendar. In this system, the year 1 BC is followed by AD 1. However, there is a year zero in astronomical year numbering and in ISO 8601:2004 as well as in all Buddhist and Hindu calendars.

Preboreal geological age of the Holocene Epoch

The Preboreal is a stage of the Holocene epoch. It is preceded by the Tarantian and succeeded by the Boreal. It lasted from 10,300 to 9,000 BP in radiocarbon years or 8350 BC to 7050 BC in Gregorian calendar years. It is the first stage of the Holocene epoch.

In the geologic time scale, the Meghalayan is the latest age or uppermost stage of the Quaternary. It is also the upper, or latest, of three subdivisions of the Holocene epoch or series. Its Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) is a Mawmluh cave formation in Meghalaya, northeast India. Mawmluh cave is one of the longest and deepest caves in India, and conditions here were suitable for preserving chemical signs of the transition in ages. The global auxiliary stratotype is an ice core from Mount Logan in Canada.

In the geologic time scale, the Northgrippian is the middle of the three ages of the Holocene epoch which lies in the Quaternary period. It was officially ratified by the International Commission on Stratigraphy in July 2018 along with the Greenlandian and the Meghalayan.


  1. 1 2 3 Emiliani, Cesare (1993). "Correspondence – Calendar Reform". Nature. 366 (6457): 716. Bibcode:1993Natur.366..716E. doi:10.1038/366716b0. Setting the beginning of the human era at 10,000 BC would date […] the birth of Christ at [25 December] 10,000
  2. 1 2 Emiliani, Cesare (1994). "Calendar reform for the year 2000". Eos. 75 (19): 218. Bibcode:1994EOSTr..75..218E. doi:10.1029/94EO00895.
  3. 1 2 Walker, Mike; Jonsen, Sigfus; Rasmussen, Sune Olander; Popp, Trevor; Steffensen, Jørgen-Peder; Gibbard, Phil; Hoek, Wim; Lowe, John; Andrews, John; Björck, Svante; Cwynar, Les C.; Hughen, Konrad; Kershaw, Peter; Kromer, Bernd; Litt, Thomas; Lowe, David J.; Nakagawa, Takeshi; Newnham, Rewi; Schwander, Jacob (2009). "Formal definition and dating of the GSSP (Global Stratotype Section and Point) for the base of the Holocene using the Greenland NGRIP ice core, and selected auxiliary records" (PDF). Journal of Quaternary Science. 24 (1): 3–17. Bibcode:2009JQS....24....3W. doi:10.1002/jqs.1227. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-11-04.
  4. 1 2 3 Dershowitz, Nachum; Reingold, Edward M. (2008). Calendrical Calculations (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-0-521-70238-6.
  5. "ICS chart containing the Quaternary and Cambrian GSSPs and new stages (v 2018/07) is now released!" . Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  6. Conners, Deanna (September 18, 2018). "Welcome to the Meghalayan age" . Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  7. Aisha El-Awady (2002-06-11). "Ramadan and the Lunar Calendar". Islamonline.net . Retrieved 2006-12-16.
  8. Hakim Muhammad Said (1981). "The History of the Islamic Calendar in the Light of the Hijra". Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project . Retrieved 2006-12-16.
  9. Currie Lloyd A (2004). "The Remarkable Metrological History of Radiocarbon Dating [II]" (PDF). Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 109 (2): 185–217. doi:10.6028/jres.109.013. PMC   4853109 . PMID   27366605.
  10. "The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7, Rationale, section 4.16 Seconds Since the Epoch". The OpenGroup. 2018.

Further reading