World era

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The term world era describes a calendar in which the years of the world are counted from its creation .


Christian worldaires were calculated since the 3rd century, first probably by Sextus Iulius Africanus , and later used especially in the Byzantine culture .


The basis for this is formed by the ideas of Christian chiliasm , which is based on the following premises:

  • The world was created in seven days, so it lasts seven days.
  • Because the Bible says "a thousand years are like one day before you" ( Psalm 90 :EU ), the world lasts seven thousand years.
  • Of this, the last day from the year 6001 is God's kingdom, corresponding to the last day of creation, the Sabbath , but before that comes in the year 6000 the Antichrist and the end of our world.
  • Christ was born half a day earlier in the year 5500.


On this basis, the unclear and often contradicting figures of the Old Testament were used until the birth of Christ fell in the year 5500. The main problem is the synchronization with the other elements of the (Christian) calendar:

  • The date of Easter is repeated in the Julian (not in the Gregorian ) calendar according to the product of week × leap year × lunar cycle (the return of the full moon on the same date after 235 lunar months), i.e. every 7 × 4 × 19 = 532 years. The beginning of an era should, if possible, coincide with the beginning of such a cycle, even if there cannot be Easter before Christ.
  • The beginning of an era should, if possible, coincide with the beginning of the 15-year cycle of indications .

However, these requirements could not be met at the same time. For the worlds there were initially the following competing positions:

Some chronicles, such as that of John Malalas , also use other eras that are not otherwise attested.


The Byzantine era gained general acceptance from the late 7th century, but the Alexandrian era is still used in the world chronicles of Georgios Synkellos and Theophanes , which deviates 16 years from the Byzantine and 17 years from the proto-Byzantine era.

In chronicles, for dating documents , etc., the Byzantine era is used throughout. The parallel use of several eras, however, means that when messages are taken over from older chronicles, they are sometimes classified in the wrong year or brought several times in different years.

The worldaires only became really common at a time when, according to their calculations, the end of the world should have come. The violent unrest, especially during the reign of Emperor Anastasios I (491-518), can be explained, among other things, by the fact that it began in the year 6000 of the Proto-Byzantine era and was therefore often identified with the Antichrist.

In the Slavic Orthodox countries, the Byzantine World Era remained common after the end of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and was only abolished in Russia by Tsar Peter the Great .


  • William Adler: Time immemorial: archaic history and its sources in Christian chronography from Julius Africanus to George Syncellus. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC 1989, ISBN 0-88402-176-9 (Dumbarton Oaks Studies, 26)
  • Alden A. Mosshammer: The Easter computus and the origins of the Christian era. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2009, ISBN 978-0-19-954312-0 .
  • Venance Grumel: La chronology . Presses Univ. de France, Paris 1958 (Traité d'études byzantines, 1).
  • Hans Lietzmann and Kurt Aland: Calculation of the times of the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages and the modern age for the years 1–2000 AD. 4th edition, Berlin, de Gruyter 1984, ISBN 3-11-010049-5 .


  2. Wolfram Brandes: Anastasios ho dikoros . End times expectation and imperial criticism in Byzantium around 500 AD. In: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 90, 1997, pp. 24–63.