Sunday, March 24, 2019

BC or BCE?

The Oldest Country in the World?  Is it China, Japan or Iran? What about Greece, Rome and Egypt? I read in Thoughtco that the makeup of these ancient empires largely consisted of agglomerations of city-states or fiefdoms, which overlapped jurisdictions with the imperial government.  

I wondered when our modern nation-states/countries came about.  The answer: in the 19th century - today's nation-states came about from the dissolution of empires, around communities that shared a common geography, language, or culture.

The thoughtco article says that the Republic of San Marino is one of the world's smallest countries and is the world's oldest.  It was founded on September 3, 301 BCE.  It wasn't recognized as independent until 1631 by the pope, who controlled much of central Italy politically. San Marino's constitution is the world's oldest dating from 1600.  

Japan is the next being founded in 660 BCE.  In the eighth century Japanese culture and Buddhism spread across the islands.  Modern Japan came about in 1868.

China is the third with the first recorded dynasty existing more than 3,500 years ago. China celebrates 221 BCE as the founding of the modern country, the year Qin Shi Huang proclaimed himself the first emperor of China.  In the third century the Han dynasty unified Chinese culture and tradition.  in the 13th century, the Mongols invaded, decimating the culture. The Repulic of China came about in 1912, and the People's Replic of China was created in 1949.

Here are the more founding dates:
  • France (CE 843)
  • Austria (CE 976)
  • Hungary (CE 1001)
  • Portugal (CE 1143)
  • Mongolia (CE 1206)
  • Thailand (CE 1238)
  • Andorra (CE 1278)
  • Switzerland (CE 1291)
You noticed that the terminology used is now BCE and CE - Before the Common Era and Common Era.  I read a few rationales for this - from accuracy to the removal of Christian context.  It is part of the ISO 8601 standard which came about in 1988.  Here's the section on CE/BCE:

"To represent years before 0000 or after 9999, the standard also permits the expansion of the year representation but only by prior agreement between the sender and the receiver. An expanded year representation [±YYYYY] must have an agreed-upon number of extra year digits beyond the four-digit minimum, and it must be prefixed with a + or − sign instead of the more common AD/BC (or CE/BCE) notation; by convention 1 BC is labelled +0000, 2 BC is labeled −0001, and so on."

Isn't this a great spring image?  A lawn full of dandelions - everything a bee could desire!  If you look, you can see the little leaves in the lawns.  They are ready!


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