Expressing dates BC

Nov 2019
2
Montpellier
Hello scholars and historians!

I have been puzzled by some odd phrase.

In a text I have to translate they use this kind of phrase: the late 1200s BC.

Which period does it refer to?
. the latter part of the 1200s BC, i.e. the years around 1220—1200?
or
. the 'higher' years of the 1200s BC, i.e. 1299—1280?
or
. the end of the 12th century BC, i.e. around 1120—1100?

And of course the same question applies to: the early 1200s BC.

Which period does it refer to?
. the early part of the 1200s BC, i.e. the years around 1299—1280?
or
. the 'lower' years of the 1200s BC, i.e. 1220—1200?
or
. the beginning of 12th century BC, i.e. around 1200—1180?

I am getting contradictory feedback.

Does anyone have an authoritative opinion on this?

Thank you
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,365
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I don't think so: 1200s, as for I know, is a way to indicate a decade [like 1210s, 1220s ...], so that 1200s BC is the decade from 1209 BC to 1200 BC.

So "late 1200s BC" is like to say "late 90s", it's referred to the dacade.

This means that "late 1200s BC" indicates the years from 1204 BC to 1200 BC [this is cultural, anyway the last years of that decade].
 
Nov 2016
1,267
Germany
* in the last (two) decades of the 13th century BC(E)

* in the first (two) decades of the 13th century BC(E)

* in the late 13th century BC(E)

* in the early 13th century BC(E)
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,365
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Interesting case: it's ambiguous. The last [or the first, depending if before of after year zero] decade of a century have indicated adding that "s" [1200s BC (decade) - Wikipedia].

I'd say that the answer is in the context. Probably, since it's related to a century far in the past it makes more sense to think to the last decades of the century [1220 - 1200 BC].
 
Oct 2018
1,833
Sydney
Yeah, I agree that it's ambiguous. I know that I have used the expression in a decade-specific context. For example, I have used the term '300s' to refer to AD 300-309. But I have also heard people say '1800s' when they mean the 19th century.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,726
Dispargum
Hello scholars and historians!

I have been puzzled by some odd phrase.

In a text I have to translate they use this kind of phrase: the late 1200s BC.

Which period does it refer to?
. the latter part of the 1200s BC, i.e. the years around 1220—1200?
or
. the 'higher' years of the 1200s BC, i.e. 1299—1280?
or
. the end of the 12th century BC, i.e. around 1120—1100?

And of course the same question applies to: the early 1200s BC.

Which period does it refer to?
. the early part of the 1200s BC, i.e. the years around 1299—1280?
or
. the 'lower' years of the 1200s BC, i.e. 1220—1200?
or
. the beginning of 12th century BC, i.e. around 1200—1180?

I am getting contradictory feedback.

Does anyone have an authoritative opinion on this?

Thank you
1299-1280 is the early 1200s BC
1220-1200 is the late 1200s BC
 
Nov 2019
2
Montpellier
OK, it seems it is a way of referring to a century and not a decade.

Unless one of you has enough knowledge to counter Chlodio's assertion, to the effect that:

. the early 1200s BC refers roughly to the years 1299-1280
. the late 1200s BC refers roughly to the years 1220-1200

we may close that thread.

Thank you for your contributions.