Holocene calendar

"Holocene era" redirects here. For the geological epoch, see Holocene.

The Holocene calendar, also known as the Holocene Era or Human Era (HE), is a year numbering system that adds exactly 10,000 years to the currently dominant AD (or CE) numbering scheme, placing its first year near the beginning of the Holocene geological epoch and the Neolithic Revolution, when humans transitioned from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to agriculture and fixed settlements. The current year in the Holocene calendar is 12,017 HE. The HE scheme was first proposed by scientist Cesare Emiliani in 1993. [1]


Cesare Emiliani's proposal for a calendar reform sought to solve a number of alleged problems with the current Anno Domini era, which number the years of the commonly accepted world calendar. These issues include:

  • The Anno Domini era is based on an erroneous estimation of the birth year of Jesus. The era places Jesus's birth year in AD 1, but modern scholars have determined that he was likely born in or before 4 BC. Emiliani argues that replacing it with the approximate beginning of the Holocene makes sense.
  • The reported birth of Jesus is a less universally relevant epoch event than the approximate beginning of the Holocene.
  • The years BC are counted down when moving from past to future, making calculation of time spans difficult.
  • The Anno Domini era has no year zero, with 1 BC followed immediately by AD 1, complicating the calculation of timespans further.

Instead, HE uses the "beginning of human era" as its epoch, arbitrarily defined as 10,000 BC denoted year 1 HE, so that AD 1 matches 10,001 HE. [1] This is a rough approximation of the start of the current geologic epoch, the Holocene (the name means entirely recent). The motivation for this is that human civilization (e.g. the first settlements, agriculture, etc.) is believed to have arisen within this time.