Anno Domini dating system

AD, or Anno Domini, is a time designation used to label years used in the Georgian and Julian calendars. Anno Domini can be translated to “In the Year of our Lord” or “In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ“. The designation occurs after the supposed birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, with 1 AD being the year in which Jesus Christ was born. However, a supposed error was made in the Calendar, meaning Jesus Christ was supposedly born 6 years before 1 AD, or in 6 BC. The era term had become too wide-spread to fix this error by the time it became known, however.

There is no year 0 in the BC/AD time designation scheme, meaning that 1 AD proceeds directly after 1 BC. The BC/AD designation scheme, and the Georgian calendar, is normally recognised as the most wide-spread calendar in the world, being recognized as the global standard by associations such as the U.N (United Nations).

Anno Domini is commonly confused and thought to be After Death. However, this is not the case, as it eliminates the supposed 33 years of Jesus’ life from both the BC and AD scales. Usually, Latin usage of the abbreviation is followed, in which AD is placed before the year, while BC is placed after the year. For example, AD 2013 and 200 BC. Despite this, the use of dates such as 2013 AD is becoming more and more commonplace.


The Anno Domini dating system was coined in 525 AD, to follow the years of the Easter Table made by Dionysius Exiguus. The old system, Diocletian, ended in 247 and was immediately preceded by AD 532. It is also believed that the system replaced the Diocletian system to stop people from believing that the end of the world was imminent.


The popularization of Anno Domini dates started to occur in 731 AD, in which Venerable Bede, a historian, completed his Anglo-Saxon book. As the book gained popularity, the Anno Domini dating system spread across Europe at an alarming rate, and was eventually introduced as the official era by Emperor Charlemagne. However, BC, or Before Christ, did not become popular until much later. This is due to the fact that Venerable Bede only used the phrase twice in his writing, meaning that it was largely unknown until the book was reviewed in further detail.


A popular version or spin-off of the Anno Domini system is the Common Era dating system. This type of dating system is largely used by Atheists and people of a religion that is different to Christianity or people of a religion that does not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, i.e. Judaism. The Common Era dating system is largely identical to the Anno Domini dating system, except that Anno Domini is replaced by Common Era, or CE, and that Before Christ is replaced by Before Common Era, or BCE. The Common Era dating system is more appropriate for those who do not believe in Christ, as it allows a non-believer to state the dates without appearing to be a believer of God or Jesus Christ.

Lack of the year 0

Because 1 BC is directly preceded by AD 1, there is a lack of a year 0. This has caused a lot of arguments over the centuries, due to the fact that there is no clear ground on whether a new millennium or century starts when the last two (or three) digits are 00/000 or 01/001. While most people treat it as a full zero approach, some historians believe that this is wrong, due to the real lack of a year 0.

Due to mechanical reasons, standards such as the ISO 8601 automatically assign years so that AD 1 = Year 1, 1 BC = Year 0, and that 2 BC = Year -1. This solves the problem of a year 0, but using this approach it means that a new millennium would start in 1001, 2001, 3003 […] and so on.


There have been multiple proposed reforms of the Georgian Calendar/Anno Domini dating system, due to it leaning towards Christianity and other issues. Many of the reforms that are proposed fail to gain momentum, and none have currently been able to take over the Anno Domini dating system. However, these are the main 3 reforms:

• Human Era (also known as the Holocene era or the Holocene calendar) The Human Era was proposed due to several issues with the Anno Domini dating system, such as the date of Christ being born – i.e., when Christ should have been born in 1 BC, Christ was actually born in 4 BC after extensive research by scholars and historians. Other issues include the lack of a year 0, and the fact that BC years count down, making time-spans hard to calculate.

• World Calendar The World Calendar was proposed in 1930 by Elizabeth Achelis of New York. It is a 12-month calendar based on equal quarters. It has interesting proposals such as a “Worldday”, a world holiday that occurs at the end of a year, as well as the usual leap days in leap years. However, the idea has been widely accepted, but never implemented properly into communities.

• International Fixed Calendars (also known as the International Perennial Calendars) The International Fixed Calendar has 13 months, rather than the usual 12 in most calendars, and was proposed by Moses B. Cotsworth in 1902. It is a solar calendar that was proposed for calendar reforms, and is also considered to be a Perennial Calendar. The calendar year is based off of 13 months, each with 28 days, totalling 364 days, with an extra holiday day at the end of the year to total 365 days. Each year is matched with the corresponding Georgian year, so for example, the 1st of January on the International Fixed Calendar will correspond with the 1st of January on the Georgian calendar. Leap years occur in the International Fixed Calendar every 4 years, similar to the Georgian calendar with the Anno Domini dating system.


QR Code
QR Code ad (generated for current page)