The number representing a year or a century gets smaller as we approach AD / CE.

I was wondering what happens if we have an exact BC / BCE date. Do months and days also get smaller as we approach AD / CE?

So, for example, between 500/01/25 BC and 500/12/25 BC, their order from old to new is 500/12/25 BC - 500/01/25 BC or the opposite?


  • 5
    Uhhhh.........no. – T.E.D. Jan 19 '18 at 23:23
  • 3
    I may be bucking the trend here, but I voted for this as being On-Topic. It seems trivial to regulars of this site, but OP is probably not the only one unsure of how to manage date intervals spanning both BCE and CE. Passing mention of Julian and Gregorian calendars is probably in order as well. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 20 '18 at 3:58
  • What do you mean by 500/01/25 BC? You should either use the ISO-8601 Format (most likely -0500-01-25) or proper US format which should be recognized by most people here. ISO-8601 allow years from 1583 to 9999. For times before 1583 the details should be mutually agreed between the partners who exchanges date values. – Wernfried Domscheit Jan 21 '18 at 16:39

The order of months in a year does not change, neither does the order of days in a month. January in a particular year is always before December in the same year.

So, for your example, 25 January 500 BCE is earlier than 25 December 500 BCE.

As a more general point, it is worth writing historic dates out in full, rather than using numbers for months.

To illustrate the problem, consider the date 9/11/2001. Now, everyone will probably recognise this as the date of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 11 September 2001. However, without that context, the date 9/11/2001 would be read as 9 November 2001 in the UK and other parts of the Commonwealth.

(Given the magnitude of the events of 9/11, even most UK pedants don't argue the point in this particular instance, although Brits often have to pause to make the adjustment to a US date format).

For clarity, it is always worth writing dates out in full so there can be no confusion.

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