Humans have become such dominant drivers of planetary changes that scientists are now debating the establishment of a new epoch: the Anthropocene. The concept of the Anthropocene has gained rapid visibility, quickly becoming a trademark of 21st century scientific literature. Interestingly, some studies claim that this idea can be traced back to the 19th and 20th centuries, others suggest that this concept is strongly associated with emerging multidisciplinary views of humans as drivers of global environmental change. In this article, we analyse bibliographical data to trace the key 20th century contributions towards the development of this concept in scientific literature. Using data from Web of Science, we identify five historical citation peaks and show that their associated key publications stem both from natural and social sciences, clearly highlighting the multidisciplinary nature of Anthropocene science. With the ongoing debate for a formal definition of the Anthropocene epoch, we argue that a geological definition aligned with the interdisciplinary development of the concept may be the best way to ensure that it remains relevant to the wider scientific community.