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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.Relative Dating and Absolute Dating are two types of such techniques which are under practice to determine the age of the fossils, objects or civilizations.The relative dating is the technique in the Geology through which the age is determined with relation to the other objects.So, when you see 2000 cal BP, think "2000 years before the calendar year 1950" or what calculates to the calendar year 50 BCE.No matter when that date is published, it will always mean that.Long after the Gregorian calendar was established throughout most of the world, atomic clocks have allowed us to adjust our modern calendars with leap seconds to correct for the slowing spin of our planet and other corrections.But, perhaps the most interesting outcome of all this investigation is the wide variety of modern mathematicians and programmers who have taken a crack at perfecting the matches between ancient calendars using modern technology.
Contrary to this, absolute dating is the technique, using which the exact age of the artifacts, fossils, or sites are ascertained.
That methodology has been refined and improved several times over the last few years.
BP was first established as a way to clarify the relationship between calendar years and radiocarbon dates.
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.
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).