The era of the Tannaim was from 10-220 CE

The era of the Amoraim was from 200 to 500 CE

A couple questions:

1) Who or what flipped the switch to determine that one era was ending and another was beginning?

2) Were the names "Tanna" & "Amora" assigned retroactively (ex: like WWI was called "The Great War" before WWII happened) OR did they know in the moment that the "Tanna" period ended and that the "Amora" period began?

(if the latter, would make sense that Rav "רב תנא הוא ופליג" since he was the last Tanna/ first Amora- Kesuvos 8a)


3) Same questions can be asked re: the "Amoraim"/ "Savoraim" divide, and then "Rishonim" period etc- how did all these eras get set?

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    Short version: once the Mishnah closed, the period of the Tannaim ended. Once the Gemara closed, the period of the Amoraim ended. It’s generally considered that Rabbeinu Gershom marked the end of the Geonim. The line between Rishonim is extremely blurry, but it’s typically placed somewhere around the Shulchan Aruch. – DonielF Mar 14 '19 at 3:39
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    Hint: what does “tanna” mean and what does “amora” mean? Therein lies the answer to your question(s). – Oliver Mar 14 '19 at 3:43
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/31574 – DonielF Mar 14 '19 at 4:03
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    The second half of your #3 is a duplicate of judaism.stackexchange.com/q/32041 – DonielF Mar 14 '19 at 4:03
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    Another partial duplicate: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/93090 – DonielF Mar 14 '19 at 5:56

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