I am using Microsoft Project 2003 for an historic timeline, this means historical dates that go back 1000s of years. I realize using ms-project may be overkill, but it is actually the same as a project, but with pre-modern start dates.

I tried doing this in Excel and got it to work after a fashion using my first date as a minus (for ex. -4026). Then I set up a custom format so that it appears as 4026 B.C.E. (B.C.E. represent "anno mundi" or "BC"). I tried adding a spinner control but it's values cannot go below 0, so I can't highlight columns until I get to a positive date. Solved that by adding another row starting from 0.

Nevertheless, it's cumbersome, so I'd prefer to use MS-Project if possible.

Is this possible? Are there any alternatives?

Thanks in advance.

1 Answer 1


To get something that looks like this:

enter image description here

  1. Create a new Project and set the project calendar to 24 Hours and a start date of 1/1/2018.
  2. Customize the Start1 field with this formula: (4200+[Number1])+DateSerial(2018,1,1) (where 4200 is bigger than your largest BCE date)
  3. Customize the Text1 field to format the dates as needed; e.g. IIf([Number1]=0,"0",IIf([Number1]<0,[Number1] & " B.C.E",[Number1] & " A.D"))
  4. Enter the tasks like this, where the Start1 calculated date is manually copied to the Start field:

enter image description here

5. Format the Gantt Timescale like this:

enter image description here

6. Format the Gantt Bar Styles like this:

enter image description here

  • This works by converting years to days so that they fit within the date range usable by MS Project. Commented May 21, 2018 at 16:18

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