If you’re not a super hot fan of history, or a nerd like me, you may never have wondered where the eras like “ancient” and “medieval” and “modern” officially start and stop — or even if they have official points in time where you can stick a pin and say “there, that’s where it changes over.”
The end of the medieval and the start of the modern era is actually like that — get three historicians or freaks like me in a room and no one can agree where the two eras really stop and start. There’s too many influences and major powers at work.
Not so with the ancient (or classical) era. There’s almost universal agreement on when the ancient era ended.
With the fall of Rome.
The last day of the Roman Empire is more or less agreed upon as having happened today in 476 — 1,536 years ago, when the last Western Roman Emperor, Orestes, was captured by revoluting Germanic tribes and executed near Piacenza, and Rome itself fell to foreign domination and ruin. The Eastern Empire (Byzantium, with Constantinople as its shining capital) rose to significance after this.