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During the first six centuries of what would come to be known as the Christian era, European countries used various systems to count years. Systems in use included consular dating, imperial During the first six centuries of what would come to be known as the Christian era, European countries used various systems to count years. Systems in use included consular dating, imperial regnal year dating, and Creation dating.[citation needed]

Although the last non-imperial consul, Basilius, was appointed in 541 by Emperor Justinian I, later emperors through to Constans II (641–668) were appointed consuls on the first of January after their accession. All of these emperors, except Justinian, used

Although the last non-imperial consul, Basilius, was appointed in 541 by Emperor Justinian I, later emperors through to Constans II (641–668) were appointed consuls on the first of January after their accession. All of these emperors, except Justinian, used imperial post-consular years for the years of their reign, along with their regnal years.[32] Long unused, this practice was not formally abolished until Novell XCIV of the law code of Leo VI did so in 888.

Another calculation had been developed by the Alexandrian monk Annianus around the year AD 400, placing the Annunciation on 25 March AD 9 (Julian)—eight to ten years after the date that Dionysius was to imply. Although this incarnation was popular during the early centuries of the Byzantine Empire, years numbered from it, an Era of Incarnation, were exclusively used and are still used in Ethiopia. This accounts for the seven- or eight-year discrepancy between the Gregorian and Ethiopian calendars. Byzantine chroniclers like Maximus the Confessor, George Syncellus, and Theophanes dated their years from Annianus' creation of the world. This era, called Anno Mundi, "year of the world" (abbreviated AM), by modern scholars, began its first year on 25 March 5492 BC. Later Byzantine chroniclers used Anno Mundi years from 1 September 5509 BC, the Byzantine Era. No single Anno Mundi epoch was dominant throughout the Christian world. Eusebius of Caesarea in his Chronicle used an era beginning with the birth of Abraham, dated in 2016 BC (AD 1 = 2017 Anno Abrahami).[33]

Spain and Portugal continued to date by the Spanish Era (also called Era of the Caesars), which began counting from 38 BC, well into the Middle Ages. In 1422, Portugal became the last Catholic country to adopt the Anno Domini system.[22]

The Era of Martyrs, which numbered years from the accession of Diocletian in 284, who launched the most severe persecution of Christians, was used by the Church of Alexandria and is still used, officially, by the Coptic Orthodox and Coptic Catholic churches. It was also used by the Ethiopian church. Another system was to date from the crucifixion of Jesus, which as early as Hippolytus and Tertullian was believed to have occurred in the consulate of the Gemini (AD 29), which appears in some medieval manuscripts.

Alternative names for the Anno Domini era include vulgaris aerae (found 1615 in Latin),[34] "Vulgar Era" (in English, as early as 1635),[35] "Christian Era" (in English, in 1652),[36] "Common Era" (in English, 1708),[37] and "Current Era".[38] Since 1856,[39] the alternative abbreviations CE and BCE (sometimes written C.E. and B.C.E.) are sometimes used in place of AD and BC.

The "Common/Current Era" ("CE") terminology is often preferred by those who desire a term that does not explicitly make religious references.[40][41] For example, Cunningham and Starr (1998) write that "B.C.E./C.E. […] do not presuppose faith in The "Common/Current Era" ("CE") terminology is often preferred by those who desire a term that does not explicitly make religious references.[40][41] For example, Cunningham and Starr (1998) write that "B.C.E./C.E. […] do not presuppose faith in Christ and hence are more appropriate for interfaith dialog than the conventional B.C./A.D."[42] Upon its foundation, the Republic of China adopted the Minguo Era but used the Western calendar for international purposes. The translated term was 西 (xī yuán; 'Western Era'). Later, in 1949, the People's Republic of China adopted 公元 (gōngyuán; 'Common Era') for all purposes domestic and foreign.

In the AD year numbering system, whether applied to the Julian or Gregorian calendars, AD 1 is immediately preceded by 1 BC, with nothing in between them (there was no year zero). There are debates as to whether a new decade, century, or millennium begins on a year ending in zero or one.[4]

For computational reasons, astronomical year numbering and the ISO 8601 standard designate years so that AD 1 = year 1, 1 BC = year 0, 2 BC = year −1, etc.[note 4] In common usage, ancient dates are expressed in the Julian calendar, but ISO 8601 uses the Gregorian calendar and astronomers may use a variety of time scales depending on the application. Thus dates using the year 0 or negative years may require further investigation before being converted to BC or AD.

See also