Historical times definition/chronological time/different ways of counting

Historical time is the historical references used to organize the most important events and major changes in societies and civilizations. Historical times definition

It is a way of counting time based on the action of human beings on Earth , through the experiences that a people, nation or all humanity have gone through.

Historical time is marked by great events, such as wars, the fall of empires, great constructions, great epidemics and regime changes.

Historical times mark different forms of political, economic, social and cultural organization of civilizations and may vary between social groups.

Difference between historical time and chronological time

Chronological time is the time of clocks and calendars , this time is measured in exact and constant fractions of time: a day is always 24 hours, an hour is always sixty minutes and a year is always 12 months. Historical times definition

Chronological time began to be measured by natural phenomena such as the position of the sun and the phases of the moon. Then, man created instruments to control time, such as the hourglass, the clock and the calendar.

Unlike chronological time, historical time is the time marked by great events , such as:

Historical time does not respect the predictability and rigor of calendars or clocks, it is imprecise and unpredictable and its counting considers the sequence of events of short and long duration.

There are different ways of counting historical time

Time is a cultural creation and each civilization develops different ways of understanding and counting it, which can be observed in the different existing calendars. Historical times definition

Considering the three major monotheistic religions in existence, we have 3 different calendars:

Christian or Gregorian Calendar

The Catholic Church calendar begins with the birth of Jesus Christ during the Ancient Age. This is one of the main milestones for counting time in our civilization.

The year of Christ’s birth is considered to be year 0. All the years before his birth are counted in descending order and include the letters BC (before Christ).

Jewish or Hebrew Calendar

The Jewish calendar began in the year 3761 BC, which according to Jewish tradition was the year of Adam’s creation . This means that in 2020, we would be in the year 5780 or 5781 (depending on the month) of the Hebrew calendar.

This calendar is also divided into 12 months, but these months do not correspond to the same division of months in the Christian calendar.

Muslim Calendar

The Muslim calendar is used by the Islamic religion and begins in the year 622 of the Christian calendar, that is, 622 years after the birth of Christ. Historical times definition

This is the year that marks the date that Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina, an event known as the Hegira . This calendar is based on the phases of the moon and also has 12 months.

Time was perceived differently in some civilizations

Our civilization is based, above all, on the Gregorian calendar, which is organized in a linear way with a beginning, middle and end. The beginning is marked by the birth of Jesus Christ and the end, according to the Bible, will be marked by his return.

Other civilizations, however, understand time differently. For the Mayans and Aztecs , for example, time happened in cycles that were repeated, so their calendar was circular.

Human history timeline

The historical time of our civilization is divided into major phases, as described in the timeline:

In each of these phases, civilization had common characteristics that allow its classification:


Prehistory corresponds to the entire period before the emergence of writing and is usually divided into two phases: the Stone Age and the Metal Age. Historical times definition

  • Stone Age: begins about 2 million years ago, with the emergence of the genus Homo and extends to about 5,000 BC, when the Metal Age begins;
  • Age of Metals: marks the period when hominids began to manufacture objects with metal. This phase lasts until the middle of 3000 BC, when writing appears.

Old age

The Ancient Age appears with writing and is the period of the first civilizations , characterized by complex and hierarchically structured political and social organizations.

During this period, the eastern civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persians, Hebrews and Phoenicians stand out. It is also the period of development of Chinese and Indian civilizations.

In Western civilizations, the Greeks and Romans stand out , who had a great influence on the cultural, political and social formation of the entire West.

It was also during this period that the Inca, Mayan, Aztec and Olmec civilizations developed on the American continent.

Middle Ages

The Middle Ages spanned from the 5th to the 15th century and was marked by the development of the political and social economic system called feudalism . This phase is divided between the High Middle Ages and the Low Middle Ages: Historical times definition

  • High Middle Ages : development and heyday of the feudal system;
  • Late Middle Ages : Decline of the feudal system and beginning of the development of capitalism.

Modern age

In the Modern Age , mercantile capitalism develops as the dominant production system and absolutism establishes itself as a form of government.

This is the period of the great navigations , the discovery of new continents and the colonization and exploration of several countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas by European nations.

Contemporary age

The Contemporary Age begins with the French Revolution , which opens the way for other bourgeois revolutions that put an end to absolutist regimes in Europe.

This phase is also highlighted by the Industrial Revolution and the wars of independence carried out in Latin America.

What are other ways to tell time?

We can also come across other ways of counting time, such as biological time, geological time and psychological time. Historical times definition

biological time

Biological time refers to the phases of life , such as birth, development, reproduction and death. This time is different for the human species and for other animals.

While humans can live up to 100 years, some species, such as flies, live between 15 and 30 days. This means that the life and death cycle of a fly respects a very different time from that of a human being.

geological time

Geological time is used to describe the chronology of Earth’s geological formation and its changes since the planet formed.

The Earth is believed to have existed for about 4.6 billion years. This means that all the rock formation on the planet is the result of millions or billions of years of activities in the Earth’s crust.

Thus, the time limits used as a reference for geology are enormously greater than those of men, who appeared on Earth only about 130 thousand years ago.

psychological time

Psychological time is another type of timekeeping and is related to the perception of the passage of time by individuals. Historical times definition

When a person goes through an experience with strong emotional intensity, for example, he may have the feeling that the experience lasted much longer or much less than the chronological time would mark.

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