Tuesday, August 21, 2007

AD, OT and AGO

The Romans counted backwards, as any fule kno. They counted down slowly until they got to O and then started counting forwards again until they got to 43. "Hurrah!" they cried. "Time to invade Britain!"

In preparation for her forthcoming Archaeology at York University, Emily today wrote all the major periods of history and pre-history on the bedroom wall (Yes. It needs decorating. Okay. I take the hint) and it struck me as very odd that we still do this counting-backwards-to-Jesus's-birth thing in 2007. Though, of course, if we didn't do the counting backwards thing, it wouldn't be 2007, it'd be Something Else, and I suppose it's because we could never agree what the Something Else would be that we've stuck with 2007.

It's just that many people these days aren't Christians. A lot of them say they are, but they're just of the births-marriages-and-deaths kind. And lots of people - lots and lots and lots, in fact - belong to other religions. And some, like me, don't belong to any, and feel that if we didn't have God as an excuse for lots of wars we might be much nicer to each other.

So I think that dating everything from the birth of Jesus now seems a bit old-fashioned, and distinctly unscientific. Perhaps it's become a useful starting point for that's-as-far-as-we-can-remember-back, and we're all used to it being 2007. So, okay, it can stay as 2007. It's all this counting backwards that should be done away with, because it's very confusing.

How many people care that AD stands for Anno Domini which is In the Year of our Lord anyway? I'd change it to something like OT for Our Time.

Prior to that would be just AGO, as in "Twelve thousand years ago." Because, at those distances into the past, the odd couple of thousand years don't matter. The Palaeolithic period, or Old Stone Age, is at present reckoned to be from 450, 000 BC to 10,000 BC (hah! counting backwards again). So if you do away with AD you just have to add on 2007. So the Palaeolithic period would now go from 452,007 years ago to 12,007 years ago. And the 2007 years suddenly don't seem that important, do they?

This is Daphne, probably offending everybody, at 9.30pm on August 21, 2007 OT.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Though, studying mainly historical archaeology (York's famous for it) the Christian takeover will loom large in my life.

I'll do some more prehistory, just for that reason.

The arrogance of the religious! Every amazing civilisation that is now buried in a desert somewhere thought its god just as important as yours!

9:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the Jewish calendar the year is 5767 which is 2007CE (Common Era) not AD and before that is BCE (Before the Common Era). I'm not sure exactly why it is the "Common Era" but I quite like being common.

9:55 pm  
Blogger Silverback said...

Maybe Emily will find time to start up her blog again from York so we can all keep in touch with history.

It's been 8 months after all......that's 8 months AGO.


11:14 pm  

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