How can historians be sure about specific years in history?  For example, how did you find the decree of Artaxerxes (the king to issue first instruction to rebuild Jerusalem) to have taken place in 458 BC specifically?  I don’t think the Bible mentions these dates. Is there a special way or a tool for this?
There are some dates from the rather distant past we are quite sure about.  For example we have a few examples in which ancient records mention a particular solar eclipse which we can identify by comparison to what we know about the motions of the sun and moon.  Specifically, one well known example is a total solar eclipse of June 15 753 BC.  The Assyrians mentioned this eclipse and recorded an insurrection in Ashur at the same time.  Based on this exact date, historians can place quite precise dates on many events in the Near East which occurred after this eclipse.  There are other eclipses whose timing we know from physics which have also been recorded in history.  For example there is the eclipse which was mentioned by the Urarit culture, also in Mesopotamia, which occurred  May 3 1375 BC.  Because we do not have a specific event mentioned to coincide with this eclipse, it is useful to estimate dates, but not nearly as precise as the Assyrian record.  Also, the Chines reported an eclipse "During the first year of the reign of King Yi" which occurred in April 21 899 BC.  This allows historians to give quite precise dates to Chinese historical events past that date. 
Another helpful marker is provided by some truly remarkable catastrophes such as the eruption of Vesuvius or the fantastic eruption of Santorini in the Aegean Sea in about 1600 BC.  This date is plus or minus about 40 years, with C-14 yielding a date of 1600-1640 BC. 
Of course not all events in the ancient past have dates precise to within one year.  Our ability to assign precise dates to events which occurred with South American or Central American civilizations is not nearly so good.  We can use C-14 data to find the age of objects, but normally they are not tied to definite events.
With the reign of Artaxerxes, because this falls in Mesopotamia after the eclipse of 753 BC.  Besides, there was another famous eclipse in 585 BC which was predicted by Thales.  These and other reasons allow us to give exact years for many events in the history of Persia, such as the year Artaxerxes came to power.
John Oakes 

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