The epoch as of 2015 is the Holocene epoch, which began approximately 11,500 years ago, following the Pleistocene epoch and the last ice age. The Holocene epoch is part of a time period in the larger Neogene geological time period, which started more than 20 million years ago.
The Holocene epoch, like other geological periods, contains some defining characteristics. This epoch includes the advancement of human civilization and its written history. Additionally, the Holocene has a warmer climate than past geological periods, primarily due to glacial retreat. This glacial retreat also created the defining landscapes on the planet and helped form distinct geological and geographical boundaries.