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We need a fixed point in time as a starting point so that all the BP dates are equivalent no matter when they are published.
Since the BP designation was originally associated with radiocarbon dating, archaeologists chose the year 1950 as a reference point for 'the present.' That date was chosen because radiocarbon dating was invented in the late 1940s.
Scholars now typically cite both raw, uncalibrated radiocarbon dates as years RCYBP (radiocarbon years before the present as 1950), alongside calibrated versions of those dates as cal BP, cal AD and cal BC (calibrated or calendar years BP, AD, and BC).
That probably seems excessive, but it will always be useful to have a stable starting point in the past to hook our dates on, despite the outmoded religious underpinnings of our modern, multiculturally-shared calendar.
(Before Christ) have long been used by archaeologists in Europe and the Americas; their reference point is the birth of Christ.
(Before Current Era) are sometimes used instead of A.
Most importantly, researchers discovered that radiocarbon dates are affected by the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, which has fluctuated greatly in the past for both natural and human-caused reasons (such as the invention of iron smelting, the Industrial Revolution, and the invention of the combustion engine).One advantage to using BP is it avoids the occasionally irate philosophical debate about whether, in this multicultural world of ours, it is more appropriate to use AD and BC, with their explicit references to Christianity, or to use the same calendar but without the explicit references: CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before the Common Era).The problem is, of course, that CE and BCE still use the estimated date of the birth of Christ as the reference points for its numbering system: the two years 1 BCE and 1 CE are numerically equivalent to 1 BC and 1 AD. But the dates themselves are exactly comparable to dates expressed as A. as a way to express a date without specifically referencing Christianity.
For example, the entry of humans into the New World during the Pleistocene (Ice Age) is thought to have occurred by about 15,000 years ago, or 15 ka (which is equivalent to approximately 13,000 B.