Why Holocene Calendar is unique

When I discussed Holocene calendar on a couple of history forums people would usually start to suggest other calendars. Or they would start discussing what historical event to choose as a starting point of some new calendar era. It’s as if they think there is a buffet of calendars where they can choose whatever they want. But reality is, if you want to have a calendar that you can use in practice, the choice is very limited.

First, let’s look at history:

Our goal is to have all events in written history marked with positive year numbers. An obvious solution would be to select Event 1 as a start of the new era. But there is a problem. Events in the early history cannot be dated precisely. We can say that Egypt was unified in 3200 BC, but we don’t really know. It’s just an estimate, and it can change in the future. 

So, we can’t use Event 1 as a starting point. At this moment many people would say that there is no solution to this problem, so let’s not bother doing anything about it. But there actually is a simple solution: just put the starting point before written history.

We have to abandon the idea of selecting some historical event as a starting point, because it just won’t work. The starting point has to be before any historical event, preferably with a substantial gap between it and the first historical event. You may say that such a starting point would be arbitrary. First of all, start of Christian Era is arbitrary as well, but it works somehow. And arbitrary doesn’t mean random. We need to select the starting point in such a way that we can easily translate historical literature into the new system. Basically our new system should use the same centuries and millennia as Christian timeline:

I don’t think most people realise how important this is. We should be able to just rename each century and each millennium. If you select the starting point in such way that you can’t just rename millennia, then you can’t easily translate history literature. So you’d have to rely on historians writing new books using your new system, which they will never do. So basically any system that doesn’t utilise the same millennia as Christian timeline is practically useless. 

That leaves us with a very limited number of options. You can use 4000 BC as a starting point, if you want to focus only on written history. In fact I used this system for a number of years before I switched to Holocene Calendar. You may select 3000 BC if you want to be more precise in terms of how long the written history actually is. But in this case you’d have some very first historical events positioned before your new calendar epoch. You can have a bunch of other starting points like 5000 BC, 6000 BC and so on. But I don’t know why you would select them. And finally there is 10000 BC. 

The last option is better than all the rest, because it is easily built into the system that we are used to, the Christian timeline. Even if you use Holocene Calendar as it was originally proposed, it’s very easy to translate dates in Common Era. Just add a 10000 to any date. For example 2020 CE is 12020 HE.

And if you use the modified version of Holocene Calendar where you count years in each decamillennium separately, then you don’t even need to translate dates in the Common Era.

This is very important for translating historical literature, because we have disproportionately more literature related to the current decamillennium than we have literature related to the previous one. If we can just avoid translating CE dates, that’s a huge advantage. 

Look at the amount of Wikipedia articles I’ve already translated into Holocene Calendar era. It would have been impossible if I used some random starting point instead of 10000 BC.

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