Synchronoptic view

A synchronoptic view is a graphic display of a number of entities as they proceed through time. A synchronoptic view can be used for many purposes but is best suited to the visual display of history. A number of related timelines can be drawn on a single chart showing which events and lives are contemporary and which are unconnected.

A synchronoptic view has important educational advantages. Visible information is much more easily learned, than when it is presented only in pure text form. History is an ideal subject for a synchronoptic view. Multiple timelines are able to show how events interacted. Multiple lifelines can show which people were contemporaries. (See example)

A combination of maps is also synchronoptic when it displays successive moments in time.


The concept in question is made visual — hence optic. The elements are displayed synchronously: i.e. which events in one area happened at the same time as events in another seemingly unrelated area. Thus synchron-optic.

Synchronoptic also means visible at the same time", or "with parallel views". i.e. The user gets a view of all the information in one go.

Carte chronographique

Barbeu-Dubourg - Chronographie (Tableau 34)
Carte chronographique (1753)

Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg (1709–1779) was the first to develop a synchronoptical visualisation with his Chronographie universelle & details qui en dependent pour la Chronologie & les Genealogies (1753) abbreviated to Carte chronographique.[1] The chronographic chart consisted of 35 prints which were designed to be stuck together in a row, enabling 6,500 years to be represented in 6.5 metres (21 ft).[1] The horizontal axis representing the passage of time was consistent throughout, but the vertical axis was varied depending on the categories Barbeu-Dubourg considered relevant for that period of history.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Schmidt-Burkhardt, Astrit. "Learning in the Age of Enlightenment". George Maciunas Foundation Inc. Retrieved 18 March 2019.

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Archaeomagnetic dating

Archaeomagnetic dating is the study and interpretation of the signatures of the Earth's magnetic field at past times recorded in archaeological materials. These paleomagnetic signatures are fixed when ferromagnetic materials such as magnetite cool below the Curie point, freezing the magnetic moment of the material in the direction of the local magnetic field at that time. The direction and magnitude of the magnetic field of the Earth at a particular location varies with time, and can be used to constrain the age of materials. In conjunction with techniques such as radiometric dating, the technique can be used to construct and calibrate the geomagnetic polarity time scale. This is one of the dating methodologies used for sites within the last 10,000 years. The method has been conceived by E. Thellier in the 1930s and the increased sensitivity of SQUID magnetometers has greatly promoted its use.

Before Present

Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in archaeology, geology and other scientific disciplines to specify when events occurred in the past. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use 1 January 1950 as the commencement date of the age scale, reflecting the origin of practical radiocarbon dating in the 1950s. The abbreviation "BP" has alternatively been interpreted as "Before Physics"; that is, before nuclear weapons testing artificially altered the proportion of the carbon isotopes in the atmosphere, making dating after that time likely to be unreliable.In a convention that is not always observed, many sources restrict the use of BP dates to those produced with radiocarbon dating.


Chronostratigraphy is the branch of stratigraphy that studies the age of rock strata in relation to time.

The ultimate aim of chronostratigraphy is to arrange the sequence of deposition and the time of deposition of all rocks within a geological region, and eventually, the entire geologic record of the Earth.

The standard stratigraphic nomenclature is a chronostratigraphic system based on palaeontological intervals of time defined by recognised fossil assemblages (biostratigraphy). The aim of chronostratigraphy is to give a meaningful age date to these fossil assemblage intervals and interfaces.


Circa (from Latin, meaning 'around, about') – frequently abbreviated c., ca. or ca and less frequently circ. or cca. – signifies "approximately" in several European languages and as a loanword in English, usually in reference to a date. Circa is widely used in historical writing when the dates of events are not accurately known.

When used in date ranges, circa is applied before each approximate date, while dates without circa immediately preceding them are generally assumed to be known with certainty.


1732–1799: Both years are known precisely.

c. 1732 – 1799: The beginning year is approximate; the end year is known precisely.

1732 – c. 1799: The beginning year is known precisely ; the end year is approximate.

c. 1732 – c. 1799: Both years are approximate.

Era (geology)

A geologic era is a subdivision of geologic time that divides an eon into smaller units of time. The Phanerozoic Eon is divided into three such time frames: the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic (meaning "old life", "middle life" and "recent life") that represent the major stages in the macroscopic fossil record. These eras are separated by catastrophic extinction boundaries, the P-T boundary between the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic and the K-Pg boundary between the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic. There is evidence that catastrophic meteorite impacts played a role in demarcating the differences between the eras.

The Hadean, Archean and Proterozoic eons were as a whole formerly called the Precambrian. This covered the four billion years of Earth history prior to the appearance of hard-shelled animals. More recently, however, the Archean and Proterozoic eons have been subdivided into eras of their own.

Geologic eras are further subdivided into geologic periods, although the Archean eras have yet to be subdivided in this way.


Floruit (UK: , US: ), abbreviated fl. (or occasionally flor.), Latin for "he/she flourished", denotes a date or period during which a person was known to have been alive or active. In English, the word may also be used as a noun indicating the time when someone flourished.

Fluorine absorption dating

Fluorine absorption dating is a method used to determine the amount of time an object has been underground.

Fluorine absorption dating can be carried out based on the fact that groundwater contains fluoride ions. Items such as bone that are in the soil will absorb fluoride from the groundwater over time. From the amount of absorbed fluoride in the item, the time that the item has been in the soil can be estimated.

Many instances of this dating method compare the amount of fluorine and uranium in the bones to nitrogen dating to create more accurate estimation of date. Older bones have more fluorine and uranium and less nitrogen. But because decomposition happens at different speeds in different places, it's not possible to compare bones from different sites.

As not all objects absorb fluorine at the same rate, this also undermines the accuracy of such a dating technique. Although this can be compensated for by accommodating for the rate of absorption in calculations, such an accommodation tends to have a rather large margin of error.

In 1953 this test was used to easily identify that the 'Piltdown Man' was forged, almost 50 years after it was originally 'unearthed'.

Geologic Calendar

The Geologic Calendar is a scale in which the geological lifetime of the earth is mapped onto a calendrical year; that is to say, the day one of the earth took place on a geologic January 1 at precisely midnight, and today's date and time is December 31 at midnight. On this calendar, the inferred appearance of the first living single-celled organisms, prokaryotes, occurred on a geologic February 25 around 12:30pm to 1:07pm, dinosaurs first appeared on December 13, the first flower plants on December 22 and the first primates on December 28 at about 9:43pm. The first Anatomically modern humans did not arrive until around 11:48 p.m. on New Year's Eve, and all of human history since the end of the last ice-age occurred in the last 82.2 seconds before midnight of the new year.

Geological period

A geological period is one of the several subdivisions of geologic time enabling cross-referencing of rocks and geologic events from place to place.

These periods form elements of a hierarchy of divisions into which geologists have split the Earth's history.

Eons and eras are larger subdivisions than periods while periods themselves may be divided into epochs and ages.

The rocks formed during a period belong to a stratigraphic unit called a system.

Holocene calendar

The Holocene calendar, also known as the Holocene Era or Human Era (HE), is a year numbering system that adds exactly 10,000 years to the currently dominant (AD/BC or CE/BCE) numbering scheme, placing its first year near the beginning of the Holocene geological epoch and the Neolithic Revolution, when humans transitioned from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to agriculture and fixed settlements. The year 2019 in the Holocene calendar is 12019 HE. The HE scheme was first proposed by Cesare Emiliani in 1993 (11993 HE).

Law of superposition

The law of superposition is an axiom that forms one of the bases of the sciences of geology, archaeology, and other fields dealing with geological stratigraphy. It is a form of relative dating. In its plainest form, it states that in undeformed stratigraphic sequences, the oldest strata will be at the bottom of the sequence. This is important to stratigraphic dating, which assumes that the law of superposition holds true and that an object cannot be older than the materials of which it is composed.


Limmu was an Assyrian eponym. At the beginning of the reign of an Assyrian king, the limmu, an appointed royal official, would preside over the New Year festival at the capital. Each year a new limmu would be chosen. Although picked by lot, there was most likely a limited group, such as the men of the most prominent families or perhaps members of the city assembly. The Assyrians used the name of the limmu for that year to designate the year on official documents. Lists of limmus have been found accounting for every year between 892 BC and 648 BC.

During the Old Assyrian period, the king himself was never the limmum, as it was called in their language. In the Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian periods, however, the king could take this office.

New Earth Time

New Earth Time (or NET) is an alternative naming system for measuring the time of day. In NET the day is split into 360 NET degrees, each NET degree is split into 60 NET minutes and each NET minute is split into 60 NET seconds. One NET degree is therefore equivalent to four standard minutes, and one standard hour is equivalent to 15 NET degrees.

NET is equivalent to the UTC read from a 24-hour analog clock as the clockwise angle past midnight of the hour hand. For example, noon is 180°0'0" NET and at that time the hour hand is pointing straight down forming a 180° angle when measured from the top, at midnight. A full circle is 360 degrees and one NET day.

Nitrogen dating

Nitrogen dating is a form of relative dating which relies on the reliable breakdown and release of amino acids from bone samples to estimate the age of the object. For human bones, the assumption of about 5% nitrogen in the bone, mostly in the form of collogen, allows fairly consistent dating techniques.Compared to other dating techniques, Nitrogen dating can be unreliable because leaching from bone is dependent on temperature, soil pH, ground water, and the presence of microorganism that digest nitrogen rich elements, like collagen. Some studies compare nitrogen dating results with dating results from methods like fluorine absorption dating to create more accurate estimates. Though some situations, like thin porous bones might more rapidly change the dating created by multiple methods.

Proleptic Gregorian calendar

The proleptic Gregorian calendar is produced by extending the Gregorian calendar backward to dates preceding its official introduction in 1582. In countries that adopted the Gregorian calendar later, dates occurring in the interim (between 1582 and the local adoption) are sometimes "Gregorianized" as well. For example, George Washington was born on February 11, 1731 (Old Style), as Great Britain and its possessions were using the Julian calendar with English years starting on March 25 until September 1752. After the switch, that day became February 22, 1732, which is the date commonly given as Washington's birthday.

Spanish era

The Spanish era or era of Caesar (Latin: Æra Hispanica) was a dating system commonly used in the states of the Iberian Peninsula from the 3rd century until the 14th–15th centuries, when it was phased out in favour of the Anno Domini system. Year one of this calendar era coincides with what is now known as 38 BC, possibly the date of a new tax imposed by the Roman Republic on the subdued population of Iberia. Whatever the case, the date signifies the beginning of the Pax Romana in Iberia.

To convert an Anno Domini (AD) date to the corresponding year in the Spanish era, add 38 to the Anno Domini year, such that Era 941 would be equivalent to AD 903.

Official usage ceased in different parts of the peninsula at different times: Aragon in AD 1349, Valencia 1358, Castile 1383, and Portugal 1422. While the year officially began on 1 January under the Spanish era, that was changed to 25 December when the Anno Domini system was adopted (while the Church used 11 January).


A stratotype or type section is a geological term that names the physical location or outcrop of a particular reference exposure of a stratigraphic sequence or stratigraphic boundary. If the stratigraphic unit is layered, it is called a stratotype, whereas the standard of reference for unlayered rocks is the type locality.

Terminus post quem

Terminus post quem ("limit after which", often abbreviated to TPQ) and terminus ante quem ("limit before which", abbreviated to TAQ) specify the known limits of dating for events. A terminus post quem is the earliest time the event may have happened, and a terminus ante quem is the latest. An event may well have both a terminus post quem and a terminus ante quem, in which case the limits of the possible range of dates are known at both ends, but many events have just one or the other. Similarly, terminus ad quem ("limit to which") is the latest possible date of a non-punctual event (period, era, etc.), while terminus a quo ("limit from which") is the earliest. The concepts are similar to those of upper and lower bounds in mathematics.


A timeline is a display of a list of events in chronological order. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with dates paralleling it, and usually contemporaneous events; a Gantt chart is a form of timeline used in project management.

Timelines can use any suitable scale representing time, suiting the subject and data; many use a linear scale, in which a unit of distance is equal to a set amount of time. This timescale is dependent on the events in the timeline. A timeline of evolution can be over millions of years, whereas a timeline for the day of the September 11 attacks can take place over minutes, and that of an explosion over milliseconds. While many timelines use a linear timescale -- especially where very large or small timespans are relevant -- logarithmic timelines entail a logarithmic scale of time; some "hurry up and wait" chronologies are depicted with zoom lens metaphors.

Key topics
Astronomic time
Geologic time
Genetic methods
Linguistic methods
Related topics

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