As told in the prologue in the beginning of the Seeress of Kell, there are five ages in which the events in the world of the Belgariad and the Malloreon take place. As the ages moved toward the final Event, the ages grew shorter.
The First Age began when the Gods created man, and each God selected the men that pleased them to be their own people. The people who were not selected were left Godless. Some went in search of the Spirit known as UL, and others denied the Gods and went "into the far north to wrestle with demons." Others "turned to worldly matters, and they went away into the east and built mighty cities there." The Dals were of the people cast out and not selected by a God, and they learned "from the stars, from the rocks, from the hearts of men and from the minds of the spirits...." Their discoveries marked the end of the First Age.
The Second Age began when Torak stole the Orb from Aldur, and cracked the world. The Second Age ended when Belgarath, Riva Iron-Grip, Dras Bull-neck, Cherek Bear-Shoulders, and Algar Fleet-foot went to the City of Endless Night and stole back the Orb from Torak.
In the Third Age, a Dal journeyed north while aiding the Melcenes, and came across Torak's House at Ashaba. In the instant that the traveler looked upon the face of Torak, the Third Age ended and the Fourth began.