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The Holocene is a geological epoch which began approximately 12,000 years ago[1] (10 000 14C years ago). According to traditional geological thinking, the Holocene continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words ὅλος (holos, whole or entire) and καινός (kainos, new), meaning "entirely recent". It has been identified with the current warm period, known as MIS 1, and can be considered an interglacial in the current ice age.

Human civilization, in its most widely used definition, dates entirely within the Holocene. The word anthropocene is sometimes used to describe the time period from when humans have had a significant impact on the Earth's climate and ecosystems to the present.



It is generally accepted that the Holocene started approximately 12,000 years BP (before present day), i.e., around 10,000 BCE. The period follows the Wisconsin glaciation (also known as the Baltic-Scandinavian Ice Age or the Weichsel glacial). The Holocene can be subdivided into five time intervals, or chronozones, based on climatic fluctuations:

The Blytt-Sernander classification of climatic periods defined, initially, by plant remains in peat mosses, is now of purely historical interest. The scheme was defined for north Europe, but the climate changes were claimed to occur more widely. The periods of the scheme include a few of the final, pre-Holocene, oscillations of the last glacial period and then classify climates of more recent prehistory.

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