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What does B.C. stand for?
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What does B.C. mean?

B.C. stands for Before Christ, and it means the number of years before the time of Jesus Christ. That was about 2000 years ago, so the date 552 B.C. means 2552 years ago.

Some people use B.C.E. instead. That stands for Before the Common Era, and is used in order to avoid Christian references. Quatr.us feels that since this is a Christian dating system, it's a little silly to try to hide that.

Why don't we just say 2552 years ago, if that's what we mean? Why would that be inconvenient? (scroll down for the answer).

To find out about A.D., click here.

Click here to go back to the page you came from.

*The answer is, because we keep going forward in time. So if you wrote in a book that something happened 2552 years ago (or whatever), the next year the books would still say 2552, but now it would be 2553, and the year after that it would be 2554 years ago. It would be too confusing.

Bibliography and further reading about history timelines:

More about A.D. or C.E.
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Decorative timelines for your classroom:

This one is American history


and this one is African-American history:

It's harder to do all of World History in one chart:

but this World History timeline sums it all up.



A timeline game to play - more fun than flash cards!

Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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