posted on Mar, 3 2003 @ 11:13 PM
The Romans counted from the date of the foundation of Rome (and while the account of events at that time is plainly somewhat fabulous) I'm aware of
no evidence that the calendar they used was in error -certainly after say, 400 BC.
If the events in the Bible are demonstrably true the timing of Christ's birth is pretty plainly 4 BC: largely based on known dates of Emperors and
(The Greeks tended to count in terms of Olympic Games, incidentally)
In fact, there was a good level of awareness of the date in the first millennium (the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle constantly refers to it, and there was a
fair hubbub in 999 AD as the first millennium approached.
Obviously, literacy was not widespread; but I'd suspect that most people knew the year and knew the Church calendar prettty well.
Also, it's fair to assume that the average person had far greater knowledge of stars and other celestial phenomena than is the case now: their lives
depended on the seasons. Evidence for this is abundant from Hesiod c800 BC to Chaucer -14th Century AD.