Latin chronologia, from
Ancient Greek χρόνος,
chrónos, "time"; and -λογία, -logia) is the science of
arranging events in their order of occurrence in time. Consider, for
example, the use of a timeline or sequence of events. It is also "the
determination of the actual temporal sequence of past events".
Chronology is part of periodization. It is also part of the discipline
of history, including earth history, the earth sciences, and study of
the geologic time scale.
1 Related fields
Calendar and era
2.1 Ab Urbe condita era
2.2 Astronomical era
3 Prehistoric chronologies
4 Chronological synchronism
5 See also
5.4 Fiction writing
8 Further reading
8.1 Published in the 18th–19th centuries
8.2 Published in the 20th century
8.3 Published in the 21st century
9 External links
Chronology is the science of locating historical events in time. It
relies upon chronometry, which is also known as timekeeping, and
historiography, which examines the writing of history and the use of
Radiocarbon dating estimates the age of formerly
living things by measuring the proportion of carbon-14 isotope in
their carbon content.
Dendrochronology estimates the age of trees by
correlation of the various growth rings in their wood to known
year-by-year reference sequences in the region to reflect year-to-year
Dendrochronology is used in turn as a calibration
reference for radiocarbon dating curves.
Calendar and era
Main article: Calendar
The familiar terms calendar and era (within the meaning of a coherent
system of numbered calendar years) concern two complementary
fundamental concepts of chronology. For example, during eight
centuries the calendar belonging to the
Christian era, which era was
taken in use in the 8th century by Bede, was the Julian calendar, but
after the year 1582 it was the Gregorian calendar. Dionysius Exiguus
(about the year 500) was the founder of that era, which is nowadays
the most widespread dating system on earth. An epoch is the date (year
usually) when an era begins.
Ab Urbe condita era
Main article: Ab urbe condita
Ab Urbe condita is
Latin for "from the founding of the City
(Rome)", traditionally set in 753 BC. It was used to identify the
Roman year by a few Roman historians. Modern historians use it much
more frequently than the Romans themselves did; the dominant method of
identifying Roman years was to name the two consuls who held office
that year. Before the advent of the modern critical edition of
historical Roman works, AUC was indiscriminately added to them by
earlier editors, making it appear more widely used than it actually
It was used systematically for the first time only about the year 400,
by the Iberian historian Orosius. Pope Boniface IV, in about the year
600, seems to have been the first who made a connection between these
this era and Anno Domini. (AD 1 = AUC 754.)
Main article: Astronomical year numbering
Anno Domini era (which contains only calendar
years AD) was extended by
Bede to the complete
Christian era (which
contains, in addition all calendar years BC, but no year zero). Ten
centuries after Bede, the French astronomers
Philippe de la Hire
Philippe de la Hire (in
the year 1702) and
Jacques Cassini (in the year 1740), purely to
simplify certain calculations, put the Julian Dating System (proposed
in the year 1583 by Joseph Scaliger) and with it an astronomical era
into use, which contains a leap year zero, which precedes the year 1
While of critical importance to the historian, methods of determining
chronology are used in most disciplines of science, especially
astronomy, geology, paleontology and archaeology.
In the absence of written history, with its chronicles and king lists,
late 19th century archaeologists found that they could develop
relative chronologies based on pottery techniques and styles. In the
field of Egyptology,
William Flinders Petrie
William Flinders Petrie pioneered sequence dating
to penetrate pre-dynastic
Neolithic times, using groups of
contemporary artefacts deposited together at a single time in graves
and working backwards methodically from the earliest historical phases
of Egypt. This method of dating is known as seriation.
Known wares discovered at strata in sometimes quite distant sites, the
product of trade, helped extend the network of chronologies. Some
cultures have retained the name applied to them in reference to
characteristic forms, for lack of an idea of what they called
themselves: "The Beaker People" in northern Europe during the 3rd
millennium BCE, for example. The study of the means of placing pottery
and other cultural artifacts into some kind of order proceeds in two
phases, classification and typology: Classification creates categories
for the purposes of description, and typology seeks to identify and
analyse changes that allow artifacts to be placed into sequences.
Laboratory techniques developed particularly after mid-20th century
helped constantly revise and refine the chronologies developed for
specific cultural areas. Unrelated dating methods help reinforce a
chronology, an axiom of corroborative evidence. Ideally,
archaeological materials used for dating a site should complement each
other and provide a means of cross-checking. Conclusions drawn from
just one unsupported technique are usually regarded as unreliable.
The fundamental problem of chronology is to synchronize events. By
synchronizing an event it becomes possible to relate it to the current
time and to compare the event to other events. Among historians, a
typical need to is to synchronize the reigns of kings and leaders in
order to relate the history of one country or region to that of
another. For example, the Chronicon of Eusebius (325 A.D.) is one of
the major works of historical synchronism. This work has two sections.
The first contains narrative chronicles of nine different kingdoms:
Chaldean, Assyrian, Median, Lydian, Persian, Hebrew, Greek,
Peloponnesian, Asian, and Roman. The second part is a long table
synchronizing the events from each of the nine kingdoms in parallel
columns. The image to the right shows two pages from the second
By comparing the parallel columns, the reader can determine which
events were contemporaneous, or how many years separated two different
events. To place all the events on the same time scale, Eusebius used
Anno Mundi (A.M.) era, meaning that events were dated from the
supposed beginning of the world as computed from the Book of Genesis
in the Hebrew Pentateuch. According to the computation Eusebius used,
this occurred in 5199 B.C. The Chronicon of Eusebius was widely used
in the medieval world to establish the dates and times of historical
events. Subsequent chronographers, such as
George Syncellus (died
circa 811), analyzed and elaborated on the Chronicon by comparing with
other chronologies. The last great chronographer was Joseph Justus
Scaliger (1540-1609) who reconstructed the lost Chronicon and
synchronized all of ancient history in his two major works, De
emendatione temporum (1583) and Thesaurus temporum (1606). Much of
modern historical datings and chronology of the ancient world
ultimately derives from these two works. Scaliger invented the
concept of the Julian
Day which is still used as the standard unified
scale of time for both historians and astronomers.
In addition to the literary methods of synchronism used by traditional
chronographers such as Eusebius, Syncellus and Scaliger, it is
possible to synchronize events by archaeological or astronomical
means. For example, the Eclipse of Thales, described in the first book
Herodotus can potentially be used to date the Lydian War because
the eclipse took place during the middle of an important battle in
that war. Likewise, various eclipses and other astronomical events
described in ancient records can be used to astronomically synchronize
historical events. Another method to synchronize events is the use
of archaeological findings, such as pottery, to do sequence dating.
List of timelines – specific chronologies
Timeline of world history – overall historical chronology
Paschal full moon
French revolutionary era
Aspects and examples of non-chronological story-telling:
^ Richards, E. G. (1998). Mapping Time: The
Calendar and History.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 12–13.
^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chronology". Encyclopædia
Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
^ Memidex/WordNet, "chronology," memidex.com (accessed September 25,
^ Literally translated as "From the city having been founded".
^ Richards 2013, pp. 591-592.
^ Greene, Kevin (November 2007). Archaeology : An Introduction.
University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Chapter 4. Retrieved
^ Grafton, Anthony (1994). Joseph Scaliger: A Study in the
Classical Scholarship. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
^ Kelley, David H. (2011). Exploring Ancient Skies: A Survey of
Ancient and Cultural Astronomy. Springer. p. 614.
Hegewisch, D. H., & Marsh, J. (1837). Introduction to historical
chronology. Burlington [Vt.]: C. Goodrich.
B. E. Tumanian, “Measurement of
Time in Ancient and Medieval
Armenia,” Journal for the
Astronomy 5, 1974,
Kazarian, K. A., “
Chronology by B. E. Tumanian,”
Journal for the
History of Astronomy, 4, 1973, p. 137
Porter, T. M., "The Dynamics of Progress: Time, Method, and Measure".
The American Historical Review, 1991.
Published in the 18th–19th centuries
Weeks, J. E. (1701). The gentleman's hour glass; or, An introduction
to chronology; being a plain and compendious analysis of time. Dublin:
Hodgson, J., Hinton, J., & Wallis, J. (1747). An introduction to
chronology:: containing an account of time; also of the most
remarkable cycles, epoch's, era's, periods, and moveable feasts. To
which is added, a brief account of the several methods proposed for
the alteration of the style, the reforming the calendar, and fixing
the true time of the celebration of Easter. London: Printed for J.
Hinton, at the King's Arms in St Paul's Church-yard.
Smith, T. (1818). An introduction to chronology. New York: Samuel
Published in the 20th century
Keller, H. R. (1934). The dictionary of dates. New York: The Macmillan
Poole, R. L., & Poole, A. L. (1934). Studies in chronology and
history. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Langer, W. L., & Gatzke, H. W. (1963). An encyclopedia of world
history, ancient, medieval and modern, chronologically arranged.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Momigliano, A. "Pagan and
Historiography in the Fourth
Century A.D." in A. Momigliano, ed., The Conflict Between Paganism and
Christianity in the Fourth Century,The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1963,
Williams, N., & Storey, R. L. (1966).
Chronology of the modern
world: 1763 to the present time. London: Barrie & Rockliffe.
Steinberg, S. H. (1967). Historical tables: 58 B.C.-A.D. 1965. London:
Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P. (1975).
Chronology of world history: a
calendar of principal events from 3000 BC to AD 1973. London:
Neugebauer, O. (1975). A
History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy
Bickerman, E. J. (1980). The
Chronology of the Ancient World. London:
Thames and Hudson.
Whitrow, G. J. (1990).
Time in history views of time from prehistory
to the present day. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press.
Aitken, M. (1990). Science-Based Dating in Archaeology. London: Thames
Richards, E. G. (1998). Mapping Time: The
Calendar and History. Oxford
Published in the 21st century
Koselleck, R. "
Time and History." The Practice of Conceptual History.
Timing History, Spacing Concepts. Palo Alto: Stanford University
Ronald H. Fritze; et al. (2004). "Chronologies, Calendars, and Lists
of Rulers". Reference Sources in History: An Introductory Guide (2nd
ed.). ABC-CLIO. pp. 4+. ISBN 978-0-87436-883-3.
Olena V. Smyntyna (2009). "Chronology". In H. James Birx. Encyclopedia
of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture. Sage.
Anthony Grafton (2009). Cartographies of Time: A
History of the Timeline. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
ISBN 9781568987637 inconsistent citations
Look up chronology in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Dating the Past
Pragmatic Bayesians: a decade of integrating radiocarbon dates in
chronological models from the
University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield at the Internet
Archive. Accessed 2008-01-04.
Open Library. Works related to chronology
Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "General Chronology". Catholic
Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
Chattopadhyay, Subhasis. Chronicity and Temporality: A Revisionary
Prabuddha Bharata or Awakened India 120
(10):606-609 (2015). ISSN 0032-6178
Far future in religion
Far future in science fiction and popular culture
Timeline of the far future
Eternity of the world
Unit of time
Daylight saving time
History of timekeeping devices
sundial markup schema
Time and fate deities
Wheel of time
Philosophy of time
A-series and B-series
B-theory of time
Multiple time dimensions
Static interpretation of time
The Unreality of Time
and use of time
Time-based currency (time banking)
Time value of money
Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow
Geological history of Earth
Absolute time and space
Arrow of time
Theory of relativity
Time translation symmetry
Time reversal symmetry
Dating methodologies in archaeology
Ab urbe condita
Anno Domini / Common Era
Hindu units of time
Hindu units of time (Yuga)
Canon of Kings
Lists of kings
Pre-Julian / Julian
Old Style and New Style dates
Adoption of the Gregorian calendar
Astronomical year numbering
Chinese sexagenary cycle
ISO week date
Winter count (Plains Indians)
Geological history of Earth
Geological time units
Global Standard Stratigraphic Age (GSSA)
Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP)
Law of superposition
Amino acid racemisation
Terminus post quem