Holocene calendar

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"Holocene era" redirects here. For the geological epoch, see Holocene.

The Holocene calendar, also known as the Holocene Era (HE) or Human era, is a year numbering system that adds exactly 10,000 years to the currently world-dominant Common Era Anno Domini, placing its first year near the beginning of the Holocene epoch and the Neolithic revolution. The Human Era was first proposed by the scientist Cesare Emiliani in 1993.[1][2][3]


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:

  • The Anno Domini era is based on an erroneous estimation of the birth year of Jesus. The era places Jesus' birth year in 1 BC, but modern scholars have determined that he was born in or before 4 BC. Emiliani argues that replacing it with the approximate beginning of the Holocene era makes sense.
  • The birth of Jesus is a less universally relevant epoch event than the approximate beginning of the Holocene era.
  • The years BC are counted down when moving from past to future, making calculation of timespans difficult.
  • The Anno Domini era has no year zero, with 1 BC followed immediately by AD 1, complicating the calculation of timespans further.

Instead, HE places its epoch to 10,000 BC. 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.


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.


Conversion from Julian or Gregorian AD years to the Human Era can be achieved by adding 10,000 to the AD year. The current year of AD 2015 can be transformed into a Holocene year by adding the digit "1" before it, making it 12015 HE. BC years are converted by subtracting the BC year from 10,001. A useful validity check is that the last single digits of BC and HE equivalent pairs must add up to 1 or 11.

Comparison of some historic dates in the gregorian and the Holocene calendar
Gregorian years ISO 8601 Human Era
Holocene Epoch
30001 BC −30000 20000 BHE Pleistocene
10001 BC −10000 0 HE Approximate begin of the Holocene
10000 BC −9999 1 HE
9000 BC −8999 1000 HE Earliest known walled city (Jericho)
8000 BC -7999 2001 HE Start of After the Development of Agriculture (A.D.A.)
4713 BC -4712 5288 HE Start of the Julian date (JD) at January 1, Greenwich noon, Julian proleptic calendar
3761 BC -3760 6240 HE Begin of Anno Mundi in the Jewish calendar
2720 BC -2719 7281 HE Regency of Pharao Djoser, Building of the first pyramid
2700 BC -2699 7301 HE
1000 BC −0999 9001 HE
776 BC -0775 9226 HE Begin of the first Olympiad
753 BC -0752 9248 HE Legendary Founding of Rome, Start of ab urbe condita
544 BC -0543 9457 HE Legendary death of Siddhartha Gautama, Start of the Buddhist Era
100 BC −0099 9901 HE
45 BC -0044 9956 HE Introduction of the Julian calendar
44 BC -0043 9957 HE Assassination of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March
2 BC −0001 9999 HE
1 BC +0000 10000 HE Year Zero at ISO 8601
1 AD +0001 10001 HE Begin of the Vulgar Era Anno Salutis
2 AD +0002 10002 HE
535/536 AD +0535/+0536 10535/10536 HE Extreme weather events of 535–536
622 AD +0622 10622 HE Migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina (Hijrah), Begin of the Islamic calendar
1492 AD +1492 11492 HE Voyages of Christopher Columbus
1502 AD +1502 11502 HE
1582 AD +1582 11582 HE Introduction of the Gregorian calendar
1639 AD +1639 11639 HE Wars of the Three Kingdoms
1651 AD +1651 11651 HE
1707 AD +1707 11707 HE Acts of Union 1707, Foundation of the Kingdom of Great Britain
1776 AD +1776 11776 HE United States Declaration of Independence
1775 AD +1775 11775 HE American Revolutionary War
1783 AD +1783 11783 HE
1789 AD +1789 11789 HE Storming of the Bastille, Begin of the French Revolution
1800 AD +1800 11800 HE Foundation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with the Acts of Union 1800
1804 AD +1804 11804 HE Coronation of Napoleon I
1815 AD +1815 11815 HE Battle of Waterloo
1816 AD +1816 11816 HE Year Without a Summer Eighteen hundred and frozen to death
1861 AD +1861 11861 HE American Civil War
1865 AD +1865 11865 HE
1914 AD +1914 11914 HE World War I
1918 AD +1918 11918 HE
1922 AD +1922 11922 HE Foundation of the Irish Free State and the current United Kingdom; Independence of the Kingdom of Egypt
1937 AD +1937 11937 HE Transformation of the Irish Free State to the Republic of Ireland
1939 AD +1939 11939 HE World War II
1945 AD +1945 11945 HE
1950 AD +1950 11950 HE Commencement date of Before Present
1962 AD +1962 11962 HE Cuban Missile Crisis
1969 AD +1969 11969 HE First manned Moon landing
1993 AD +1993 11993 HE Publication of the Holocene calendar by Cesare Emiliani
2015 AD +2015 12015 HE Current Year
10000 AD +10000 20000 HE


  1. ^ Cesare Emiliani, "Calendar Reform", Nature 366 (1993) 716.
  2. ^ The Holocene Calendar at Meerkat Meade.
  3. ^ Human Era Calendar by Harry Weseman.

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