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This practice was first suggested in the sixth century A. It took quite a while for it to become a worldwide standard, however.
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(Jesus was actually probably born four to six years earlier.) Before the development of the BC/AD system of year counting, years were usually identified by their relation to the ruler of that time.
The purpose of this is to remove religious connotations in historical references.
E or "Common Era." The new reference names were introduced by Jewish academics in the 19th century.
It is no surprise, then, that they began to use the same method of dating for both their religious timekeeping and secular events. There have been several suggestions to pick an earlier starting point, which would enable a single system to address all of history.
Joseph Scaliger proposed Julian Era dates, from 4713 BCE.