We know that the Citadel measures time as "years after Aegon's Conquest". Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude they used a different system pre-Targaryen conquest, and only switched over to the system because it was a very historic occurrence. What system did the Maesters of the Citadel use before Aegon Targaryen made his realm?

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    How did SFF measure time before @Aegon's conquest? – Möoz Apr 4 '17 at 21:16
  • The Citadel didn't exist before Aegon, did it? – caird coinheringaahing May 6 '17 at 23:59
  • @user00001 Yes, it was founded after a second son of a Hightower lord who was too sickly to do anything but study, and his elder brother built the citadel and dedicated it to him and his beloved learning after he died. – JDSweetBeat May 11 '17 at 19:43

We don't know... because the Maesters have not told us.

There are none who can say with certain knowledge when the world began, yet this has not stopped many maesters and learned men from seeking the answer. Is it forty thousand years old, as some hold, or perhaps a number as large as five hundred thousand—or even more? It is not written in any book that we know, for in the first age of the world, the Dawn Age, men were not lettered.
- The World of Ice and Fire, The Dawn Age

The are thousands of years of history prior to Aegon's Conquest, but the maester never really tells why they chose the conquest, just that they did.

The maesters of the Citadel who keep the histories of Westeros have used Aegon's Conquest as their touchstone for the past three hundred years. Births, deaths, battles, and other events are dated either AC (After the Conquest) or BC (Before the Conquest).
- The World of Ice and Fire, The Conquest

In addition the information may be out there, we as readers, have not been given "access"

One issue that plagues all studies of the ancient records is how differently the varied cultures reckon days and seasons and years. Archmaester Walgram's great work, The Reckoning of Time, delves deeply into this problem, but there is little consensus on what the dates we have actually mean in our own reckoning.
- The World of Ice and Fire, Other Lands

If we could get our hands on a copy of The Reckoning of Time we might have a much better answer...

For the explanation of the physical passage of those years see: What is a "year" in Westeros?

The second answer provides the most relevant information IMO.

  • Unfortunately that does not seem like a piece GRRM would write... he has his hands tied up with WoW, ADoS, Dunk and Egg (he isn't pumping these out fast enough IMO) and Fire and Blood. I think he will probably die before he finishes even all of these, unfortunately. Thanks for the answer. – JDSweetBeat Apr 3 '17 at 16:40
  • It's sort of a broader question on how time actually works. For example, years and days are a measure of specific interactions between Earth/Sun etc., but even without that days come as a night/day cycle, years as a seasonal cycle etc. How do you really come across a concept of years that don't match up with seasonal patterns? What is your basis for a unit in time? None of this information is something we're given. – DariM Apr 4 '17 at 0:15
  • @DariM From what we are given we can assume a day, month, and year is about the same length of time as on Earth (I believe GRRM even said this, though I am too laze to link to it). – JDSweetBeat Apr 4 '17 at 0:58
  • Right, but that's a convenience of out-of-universe logic. We go through complex logic involves earth's rotations and revolutions relative to the Sun and Moon, and even then you have leap years and leap seconds, days with more daylight, etc. coming into play. In a temperate region, we can track seasons within the year. Seasons are a result of tilt relative to sun etc. How that would actually work in-universe is a different story. – DariM Apr 4 '17 at 2:08

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