Holocene calendar

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

The Holocene calendar, also known as the Holocene Era (HE) is a year numbering system that adds exactly 10,000 years to the currently world-dominant AD or CE era system, placing its first year near the beginning of the Holocene epoch and the Neolithic revolution, making the current year 12016 HE. It 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:

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.

Shifts in estimation of onset

Scientists have improved their understanding of and can now more accurately date the beginning of the Holocene. A consensus viewpoint has solidified and was formally adopted by the IUGS in 2013. Currently estimates places its start at 11.7ka B2K. This conflicts with the dating proposed for HE and means that it is not clear how it would be altered from the 1993 proposal in Nature. In the twenty-odd years after 1993 it has mostly been a curiosity and has not gained widespread use even within the geological, palaeontological or archaeological scientific communities.


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 2016 can be transformed into a Holocene year by adding the digit "1" before it, making it 12016 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 The approximate beginning of the Holocene
10000 BC -9999 1 HE
9000 BC -8999 1001 HE Jericho, the earliest known walled city
8000 BC -7999 2001 HE Start of After the Development of Agriculture (A.D.A.)
6000 BC -5999 4001 HE First copper found in the Middle East. The Copper Age begins
4713 BC -4712 5288 HE The start of the Julian date (JD) at January 1, Greenwich noon, Julian proleptic calendar
3761 BC -3760 6240 HE Beginning of Anno Mundi in the Jewish calendar
3085 BC -3084 6916 HE Pharaoh Narmer (a.k.a. Menes) unifies Egypt
3000 BC -2999 7001 HE Beginning of Indus Valley Civilization
2720 BC -2719 7281 HE The reign of Pharaoh Djoser. The construction of the Pyramid of Djoser, the first Egyptian pyramid
2700 BC -2699 7301 HE
1792 BC -1791 8209 HE The birth of Hammurabi
1379 BC -1378 8622 HE The reign of the Pharaoh Akhenaten begins
1000 BC -0999 9001 HE
776 BC -0775 9225 HE The beginning of the first Olympiad
753 BC -0752 9248 HE The legendary Founding of Rome. The beginning of ab urbe condita
551 BC -0550 9450 HE The birth of Confucius
544 BC -0543 9457 HE The legendary death of Siddhartha Gautama. The start of the Buddhist Era
535 BC -0534 9466 HE The beginning of the Sungai Batu civilization, Malaysia
323 BC -0322 9678 HE Death of Alexander the Great in Babylon
221 BC -0220 9780 HE The founding of Imperial China by the Qin dynasty
218 BC -0217 9783 HE Hannibal's invasion
100 BC -0099 9901 HE
45 BC -0044 9956 HE The introduction of the Julian calendar
44 BC -0043 9957 HE The Assassination of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March
27 BC -0026 9974 HE The beginning of the Principate with Augustus Caesar
5 BC -0004 9996 HE A possible date of the Birth of Jesus
2 BC -0001 9999 HE
1 BC +0000 10000 HE Year Zero at ISO 8601
1 AD +0001 10001 HE The beginning of the Vulgar Era Anno Salutis
2 AD +0002 10002 HE
14 AD +0014 10014 HE The death of Augustus
30 AD +0030 10030 HE The possible date of the crucifixion of Jesus
476 AD +0476 10476 HE Fall of Rome
535 AD +0535 10535 HE Extreme weather events of 535–536
536 AD +0536 10536 HE
622 AD +0622 10622 HE The migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina (Hijrah), Begin of the Islamic calendar
632 AD +0632 10632 HE Death of Muhammad. Muslim conquests begin
800 AD +0800 10800 HE The Coronation of Charlemagne
1066 AD +1066 11066 HE Norman Invasion
1096 AD +1096 11096 HE The beginning of the First Crusade
1340 AD +1347 11347 HE The Black Death decimates Asia and Europe
1353 AD +1353 11353 HE
1453 AD +1453 11453 HE The Fall of Constantinople
1492 AD +1492 11492 HE The Voyages of Christopher Columbus
1502 AD +1502 11502 HE
1582 AD +1582 11582 HE The introduction of the Gregorian calendar
1639 AD +1639 11639 HE Wars of the Three Kingdoms
1651 AD +1651 11651 HE
1688 AD +1688 11688 HE The Glorious Revolution
1707 AD +1707 11707 HE Acts of Union 1707. The 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 and beginning of the French Revolution
1800 AD +1800 11800 HE The foundation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with the Acts of Union 1800
1804 AD +1804 11804 HE The Coronation of Napoleon I
1815 AD +1815 11815 HE Battle of Waterloo
1816 AD +1816 11816 HE Year Without a Summer
1861 AD +1861 11861 HE American Civil War
1865 AD +1865 11865 HE
1912 AD +1912 11912 HE Sinking of the RMS Titanic; Xinhai Revolution in China. Beginning of the Minguo calendar.
1914 AD +1914 11914 HE World War I
1918 AD +1918 11918 HE
1917 AD +1917 11917 HE The February and the October Revolution in Russia
1922 AD +1922 11922 HE The 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 into 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
2016 AD +2016 12016 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.

External links

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