This note proposes the use for historians and chronologists what are called "Holocene Days". Briefly, it is a system of sequentially enumerating days from an arbitrary set standard, giving each successive day a unique numerical referent. The standard will be 1 January, 10,001 BCE. The name "Holocene Day" is a reference to the Holocene Era count or Human Era count, a dating system similar to astronomical year numbering but adding 10,000 and filling in the lacuna of the absent year 0 in the Common calendar. In such a system, the common civil year would be transcribed by placing a 1 before it (i.e. 12008). The Human Era proposal was first made by Cesare Emiliani, an Italian-American geologist and micropaleontologist, in 1993.
The current proposal is to extend the logic of Holocene dating to include sequential days. Just this kind of system is already in some use, primarily among astronomers - the Scaliger, or Julian dates. Scaliger dating was created in 1582, the same year the Gregorian calendar superceded the old Julian calendar, by Italian scholar Giuseppe Scaliger ("Julian" days are not named for the older calendar, they were named - somewhat confusingly - by Scaliger in honor of his father). The base he used was 1 January 4713 BCE.
The rationale for enumerating days is to provide reference points for the historical record in which comparisons and ratios are easily computed along an arbitrary standard referent which does not depend on any of the numerous calendars in use today, but rather relies upon the most basic and easily recognized unit of time - the day. Indeed, Emiliani, created the original system precisely for easier geological, archaeological, dendrochronological and historical dating, counting and labeling the days within each Holocene Year simply extends the system. Why utilize a new system when an older one, the Scaliger, already exists? Primarily because the base of 10,001 is easier to use than 4713, because it covers all of human development since the retreat of the last ice sheets, and because Scaliger has found a homew among a particular community (astronomers), while the Holocene system was developed specifically for archeologists and historians, among others.
What would some Holocene days look like?
|The beginning date in the Scaliger system||001,931,769|
|Beginning of the Common Era||003,652,789|
|14 October, 1066||004,041,696|
|04 July, 1776||004,301,283|
|20 July, 1969||004,372,255|
|The day this essay was written (1 Jan. 2008)||004,385,464|
Bruce R. Gordon
Back to Regnal Chronologies