I am helping edit a book which covers a lot of Muslim history, and includes many mentions of years such as 619, 632, etc. The author originally listed them as 'A.D. 619' and so on, but has suggested that the 'A.D.' is unnecessary.

Aside from whether you prefer CE to AD, is it confusing to have ancient year dates listed without anything to distinguish the era?

What is the correct method of formatting such dates?
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Hello Anthony

You can get some information [url="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/brunel/A3176345 "]here[/url].

I personally love the archaeological dating using BP (before present).
"Jesus Christ was born in 2005 BP"

Hi Paco, thanks for the link. I found the article interesting and informative.

I don't think I made my question quite clear before. What I am unsure of is whether it is OK to list a date without any reference point, if the context makes it clear which side of the epoch the date is on.

For example, which of the following is correct, or are they both OK?
Muhammad was born in about 570.


Muhammad was born in about AD 570 (or 570 CE).

By the way, I've never heard of the BP dating system before. I started imagining what it would be like to use it, and it made my head spin, so I stopped. [:^)]
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For your purposes J, possibly the most relevent para of the site Paco sent you is this one:
Whether the year of Douglas Adams' birth is written AD1952 or 1952CE makes absolutely no difference to the fact that the reference point of '1952' is still the birth of Christ. To imply that non-Christians have anything in 'common' with Jesus or that his birth in any way defines a new era could be thought of as more offensive than the archaic, obsolete 'Anno Domini'.

So, if it is the same thing, whether AD, CE or BP (which is new to me also), then logically no identifying letters need be used, and it would be just as acceptable to write "Muhammad was born in about 570."

Presumably, one would only need to use and identifier to speak of BC, & BCE.
Hello Anthony

I'm sorry. I gave you a wrong information. BP (Before Present) dating system is based on the year 1950.

From [url=""]Answers.com[/url]
Before Present
Before Present is a year numbering system, used for the far past times, relating dates to the year 1950. For example, 12,000 BP means 12,000 years before 1950.

BP dating system is used this way;

Mesopotamia, from agriculture to civilization
Mesopotamia is located on the fertile flood plain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in a hot desert ecology. Human settlements based on irrigation agriculture first appeared coincident to the establishment of Eridu about 7400 BP. A great stepped tower, a ziggurat, which culminated a series of 20 structures built one upon another during a span of 3500 years evidences Eridu's importance. Public architectural monuments were the focus of early Mesopotamian community centers. By 6500 BP. large scale canal systems and many towns with public architecture had been founded. Eridu was the largest.

The Eridu period was followed by the Uruk, named for its largest and most impressive city. Settled by 6000 BP., Uruk grew to a population of 10,000 within a millennia. A significant number of developments occur in Mesopotamia during the Uruk period, including increased economic specialization, the introduction of metals, and use of beasts of burden, the wheel, cart and implements like the plow. River based exchange networks existed. Uruk's large and impressive Anu ziggurat was repeatedly enlarged to become Mesopotamia's largest.

During the dynastic period (5600 - 5100 BP.) a dozen city states evolved coincident with a widespread abandonment of rural settlement in the region. The population of Uruk rose to about 50,000 people and sprawled to cover 450 hectares, making it the world's first known urban center. Defensive walls around urban concentrations appeared. A significant new development during the Dynastic period was clay tablets with written script dating to 5,400 BP. A developed system with presentation conventions and 1500 ideographic and pictographic elements evolved. The Sumerian symbols can be equated with the forms of the earlier token convention dated to 10,000 BP. Writing facilitated cultural continuity, community organization and commodity transaction. During this period, about 5,000 BP., the first recognizable states appeared.

Abbie, I think what you're telling me is that it depends on context. If the context could leave a reader confused as to whether the date was BC or AD, it would be advisable to us AD, CE or some of clarifying identifier. If it is clear in the context which side of the epoch the date is on, the letters are unnecessary. Right?

By the way (By the bye?Emotion: smile ), if I understood Paco correctly, in the "BP" system, any particular event in history would annually become a year 'older,' making it impossible to memorize a date for an historical event. For example, this July, the year of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence would change from 228 to 229 BP. That's why it made my head spin. But maybe I'm not getting it.
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Sorry Paco, I was working on my last post when you posted. I'm glad to have that cleared up. While I still wonder 'why 1950?' it makes more sense than a fluid, shifting system. Anyway, why not 1950?
I suppose it's as good as any other year, but I'm quite happy with the one we've got now!

In reference to your response to me, J, i think that was the thrust of what I read.
I suppose it's as good as any other year, but I'm quite happy with the one we've got now!

Me too.

Many thanks to both of you for your input.

Another thing—my forum username is based on 'first initial/middle name,' so you can call me Anthony. Or keep using J if you'd rather. It's not a big thing to me.

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