AD and BC: Explained

BC and AD can be quite confusing when we want to understand about certain history with respect to the time period.

What is BC and AD?

BC and AD are two units used to label or number the time period or the number of years in Julian and Gregorian Calendar based on the birth date of Jesus Christ.

There is no direct answer to his date of birth as research on the same is still going on and there are conflicting information from different scholars, historians, researchers, calendars and religious texts.

A portrait of Jesus

BC stands for ‘Before Christ’. It is the time period before the birth of Jesus Christ.

AD stands for ‘Anno Domini’. It is the time period after the birth of Jesus Christ.

In which era are we living?

As we all know, we are living in 2020. If we convert this year to the above explained label, it will be 2020 AD.

How to calculate?

Calculator Stock Illustrations, Cliparts And Royalty Free ...

We just learned that we are living in 2020 AD. We can assume, Jesus Christ to be born in 1 AD (just to understand and use BC-AD label).

This means, all the time periods and eras before 1 AD (the year 1 in normal numbers) is called BC.

Hence, if we subtract the current year with the given time period in BC, we can easily calculate the year in normal numbers

For example:

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Invention of wheel

According to LiveScience, ‘wheel’ was invented in 3,500 BC.

That is, 3,500 years before 1 AD or 1 year (in normal numbers)

So, 2020 (the current year in AD) + 3,500 (years in BC) = 5520 years

Hence, we can say that the wheel was invented 5520 years ago.

Some important facts

  • There is no year 0 or 0 AD in the calendars.
  • These calendars are based on Christianity.
  • Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem (a city located in West Bank, Palestine) while his actual date of birth is debatable and unknown. Though, we can say that he was born in 1 AD.
  • This labelling system is a part of Julian and Gregorian Calendars. While, Gregorian Calendar is widely acceptable and used in almost all countries.
  • ‘BCE’ stands for ‘before the common era’ which is same as ‘Before Christ’ shortened as ‘BC’.
  • ‘CE’ stands for ‘Common Era’ which is same as ‘Anno Domini’ shortened as ‘AD’.


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