Earliest event with a precise known date?

I happened to read an article about Kim Jong-Un today that mentioned that his exact date of birth is not precisely known. This of course is more a function of the secrecy of North Korea than anything else, but it got me thinking about the precision of dates in history.

With that in mind, I was wondering what is the earliest event for which we know precisely the date on which it took place? The first one that comes to my mind is the assassination of Caesar, which took place on 15 March in 44 BC (the Ides of March).

I imagine there must be some older examples out there, but am not enough of a historian to know what they are.

Probably a record of a comet sighting that allows us to verify the date.

Eclipse of Thales. 28th May 585 BC. Stopped a battle between the Medes and Lydians.

Solar and Lunar eclipses (if reported) can establish date, time and location to fairly accurate degrees. There are other astronomical phenomena which can also do this, (Babylonian astronomers record relate the days before and after Alexanders victory at Gugamela, for instance) but eclipses are both easy to locate and be reported by laymen.

Eclipse is much more accurate than a comet which can be seen for a long time.

October 22, 4004 B.C.

Except that the idea of “stopping a battle” and in fact the entire war which had run 6 years already, doesn’t seem to be believable… its poorly evidenced. The account mentions the war had numerous night time battles,and a lunar eclipse lasts longer.


Mursili’s eclipse, 24 June 1312 BC - there’s a minority that puts it at 13 April 1308 BC, but there are several regional political factors that favour the earlier date. And those are the only two candidate dates.

Still, it’s going to be difficult to verify a date that is not associated with an eclipse.

so it seems that the best bet is some event that could be definitively linked to an astronomical occurrence as a marker in time.

So what events do we know of? And by event, I mean something like a well-known birth, death, marriage, treaty, natural disaster, etc.

I suppose AK84’s example of the end of a battle might be a good one, if we were sure that it actually happened at the time of the eclipse.

Unless we can verify it independently, like we can with an eclipse, how can we be sure that the recorded date is accurate? Ancient historians weren’t necessarily slaves to accuracy like we expect modern historians to be.

Similar past threads.

Earliest historical event with a confirmed date

Who is the oldest probably real person we know the name of?

earliest known birth/death dates

What is the oldest extant written document?

Oldest historic event

OK. So I guess the more appropriate thing to ask would have been what is the earliest recorded date that someone posted this question at the SDMB :smack:

Fun fact. We don’t know exactly when the assassination of Julius Ceaser happened. We know it was 15th March 44BC, but there was a rather big mixup in the implementation of the Julian Calender reforms, so what was the Ides of March 44BC cannot be stated with any great accuracy.

Febraury 5, 2007, posted by sweeteviljesus.

And there was no solar eclipse on that date. Not on this planet anyway.

Reddit thread in “Ask Historians”:

What is the earliest recorded date that we can identify?