Overview
Timeline of Events
Religion and Spirituality
Science and Technology
Art, Literature and Music
Daily Life
Key Personalities

Timeline of Events

  • 5500-3100 B.C. - Predynastic Egyptian cultures develop (5500-3100 B.C.), and begin using agriculture (c. 5000 B.C.). The earliest known civilization arises in Sumer (4500-4000 B.C.). The earliest recorded date in Egyptian calendar (4241 B.C.) and the first year of Jewish calendar (3760 B.C.) are documented. The Chinese practice simple farming methods in 3550 B.C. by moving to new fields after exhausting the old soil. The first phonetic writing appears (c. 3500 B.C.). The Pharaoh Menes unites upper and lower Egypt by 3400 B.C. Copper is used by Egyptians and Sumerians. The first wheel is developed in Mesopotamia (c. 3200 B.C.), as well as the plow and the nail (c. 3500 B.C.) and the yoke (c. 3000 B.C.). Western Europe is neolithic, without metals or written records. Sumerians develop a city-state civilization (c. 3000 B.C.).

  • 3000-2000 B.C. - Pharaonic rule begins in Egypt. By 2900 B.C., slaves begin constructing the Great Pyramid at Giza near Cairo. King Khufu (Cheops), 4th dynasty (2700-2675 B.C.), completes construction around 2680 B.C. The Egyptians begin using hieroglyphics to write. The Great Sphinx of Giza (c. 2540 B.C.) is built by King Khafre. Papyrus is used. Phoenician settlements are established on the coast of what is now Syria and Lebanon. Semitic tribes settle in Assyria. Sargon, the first Akkadian king, builds the Mesopotamian empire. The Gilgamesh epic (c. 3000 B.C.) occurs. Abraham leaves Ur (c. 2000 B.C.). Systematic astronomy is developed in Egypt, Babylon, India, and China. The most ancient civilization on the Indian subcontinent, the sophisticated and extensive Indus Valley civilization, flourishes in what is today Pakistan. In Britain, Stonehenge is erected according to some unknown astronomical rationale. By 2500 B.C., the Minoan civilization develops on the Mediterranean island of Crete.

  • 2000-1500 B.C. - Hyksos invaders drive Egyptians from Lower Egypt (17th century B.C.). Amosis I frees Egypt from Hyksos (c. 1600 B.C.). The Assyrians rise to power and build the cities of Ashur and Nineveh. A twenty-four-character alphabet is developed in Egypt. The Israelites are enslaved in Egypt. Cuneiform inscriptions are used by Hittites. The peak of Minoan culture on Isle of Crete brings the earliest form of written Greek. Hammurabi, king of Babylon, develops the oldest existing code of laws (18th century B.C.).

  • 1500-1000 B.C. - Ikhnaton develops monotheistic religion in Egypt (c. 1375 B.C.). His successor, Tutankhamen, returns to earlier gods. Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt into Canaan and issues the Ten Commandments. The Greeks destroy Troy (c. 1193 B.C.). Greek civilization ends in Mycenae with the invasion of the Dorians. Chinese civilization develops under the Shang Dynasty. The Olmec civilization in Mexico brings stone monuments and picture writing.

  • 1000-900 B.C. - Solomon succeeds King David, and builds the temple in Jerusalem. After Solomon's death, the kingdom is divided into Israel and Judah. Hebrew elders begin to write Old Testament books of Bible. Phoenicians colonize Spain with the settlement at Cadiz.

  • 900-800 B.C. - Phoenicians establish Carthage (c. 810 B.C.). The Iliad and the Odyssey are composed by Greek poet Homer.

  • 800-700 B.C. - The prophets Amos, Hosea and Isaiah deliver messages to Israel. The first recorded Olympic games are held (776 B.C.). Rome is founded by Romulus (753 B.C.). The Assyrian king Sargon II conquers the Hittites, Chaldeans, and Samaria, bringing an end to the Kingdom of Israel. The earliest written music is recorded. Chariots are introduced into Italy by the Etruscans.

  • 700-600 B.C. - The Assyrian Empire ends (616 B.C.). Nineveh is destroyed by the Chaldeans (Neo-Babylonians) and Medes (612 B.C.). Byzantium is founded by the Greeks (c. 660 B.C.), and the Acropolis is built in Athens. Key figures of the period are Solon, Greek lawgiver (640-560 B.C.), Sappho of Lesbos, Greek poet (c. 610-580 B.C.), and Lao-tse, Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism (born c. 604 B.C.).

  • 600-500 B.C. - King Nebuchadnezzar builds the Babylonian empire and destroys Jerusalem (586 B.C.). The Babylonian Captivity of the Jews begins in 587 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar constructs an astonishing array of temples, streets, palaces and walls, as well as the Hanging Gardens, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient world. Cyrus the Great creates the great empire of Persia, conquers Babylon (539 B.C.), and frees the Jews. Athenian democracy develops. Key persons include Aeschylus, Greek dramatist (525-465 B.C.), Pythagoras, Greek philosopher and mathematician (582-507 B.C.), and Confucius (551-479 B.C.), Chinese philosopher. The Analects or Lun-yü (“collected sayings”) are compiled by the second generation of Confucian disciples. Buddha (563-483 B.C.) founds Buddhism in India.

  • 500-400 B.C. - The Greeks defeat the Persians in the battles of Marathon (490 B.C.), Thermopylae (480 B.C.), and Salamis (480 B.C.). Peloponnesian Wars between Athens and Sparta (431-404 B.C.) occur, with Sparta victorious. Pericles comes to power in Athens (462 B.C.). Greek culture flourishes during the Age of Pericles (450-400 B.C.). The Parthenon is built in Athens as a temple of the goddess Athena (447-432 B.C.), with Ictinus and Callicrates as the primary architects and Phidias the sculptor. Important figures include Sophocles, Greek dramatist (496-406 B.C.), Hippocrates, Greek “Father of Medicine” (born 460 B.C.), and Xerxes I, king of Persia (rules 485-465 B.C.).

  • 400-300 B.C. - The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, evolve in final form. Philip of Macedon, who believed himself to be a descendant of the Greek people, is assassinated (336 B.C.) after subduing the Greek city-states. He is succeeded by his son, Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), who destroys Thebes (335 B.C.), conquers Tyre and Jerusalem (332 B.C.), occupies Babylon (330 B.C.), invades India, and dies in Babylon. His empire is divided among his generals; one of them, Seleucis I, establishes the Middle East empire with capitals at Antioch (Syria) and Seleucia (in what is today Iraq). The trial and execution of Greek philosopher Socrates is held (399 B.C.). Dialogues are recorded by his student, Plato (c. 427-348 or 347 B.C.). Euclid performs work on geometry (323 B.C.). Key figures include Aristotle, Greek philosopher (384-322 B.C.), Demosthenes, Greek orator (384-322 B.C.), and Praxiteles, Greek sculptor (400-330 B.C.).

  • 300-251 B.C. - The First Punic War (264-241 B.C.) occurs, and Rome defeats the Carthaginians and begins its domination of the Mediterranean. The Temple of the Sun is erected at Teotihuacán, Mexico (c. 300 B.C.). The Mayan calendar is invented in Yucatán. The first Roman gladiatorial games are held (264 B.C.). Key figures include Archimedes, Greek mathematician (287-212 B.C.).

  • 250-201 B.C. - The Second Punic War (219-201 B.C.) occurs, and Hannibal, Carthaginian general (246-142 B.C.), crosses the Alps (218 B.C.), reaches the gates of Rome (211 B.C.), retreats, and is defeated by Scipio Africanus at Zama (202 B.C.). The Great Wall of China is built (c. 215 B.C.).

  • 200-151 B.C. - The Romans defeat Seleucid King Antiochus III at Thermopylae (191 B.C.), ushering in a period of Roman world domination. The Maccabeans revolt against the Seleucids (167 B.C.).

  • 150-101 B.C. - The Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.) occurs, and Rome destroys Carthage, killing 450,000 and enslaving the remaining 50,000 inhabitants. Roman armies conquer Macedonia, Greece, Anatolia, the Balearic Islands, and southern France. The Venus de Milo is completed (c. 140 B.C.). Important persons include Cicero, Roman orator (106-43 B.C.).

  • 100-51 B.C. - Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.) invades Britain (55 B.C.) and conquers Gaul (France) (c. 50 B.C.). Spartacus leads a slave revolt against Rome (71 B.C.). The Romans conquer the Seleucid empire. Roman general Pompey conquers Jerusalem (63 B.C.). Cleopatra rules over Egypt (51-31 B.C.). The Chinese develop the use of paper (c. 100 B.C.). Key figures include Virgil, Roman poet (70-19 B.C.) and Horace, Roman poet (65-8 B.C.).

  • 50-1 B.C. - Caesar crosses Rubicon to fight Pompey (50 B.C.). Herod is made Roman governor of Judea (37 B.C.). Caesar is murdered (44 B.C.). Caesar's nephew, Octavian, defeats Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium (31 B.C.), and establishes the Roman empire as Emperor Augustus. The Pantheon is built for the first time under Agrippa. Important figures include Ovid, Roman poet (43 B.C.-A.D. 18).

  • 1-49 A.D. - Jesus Christ is born (exact date unknown, c. 4 B.C. to 7 A.D.). After Augustus, Tiberius becomes emperor, and is succeeded by Caligula, who is followed by Claudius. Jesus Christ is crucified (c. 30 A.D.). The Han dynasty in China is founded by Emperor Kuang Wu Ti. Buddhism is introduced to China.

  • 50-99 A.D. - Claudius is poisoned and succeeded by Nero, who commits suicide in 68 A.D. Paul the Apostle makes various missionary journeys (34-60 A.D.) to spread Christianity. The Jews revolt against Rome, and Jerusalem is destroyed (70 A.D.). The Roman persecutions of Christians begin in 64 A.D. The Colosseum is built in Rome (71-80 A.D.). Trajan rules in 98-116 A.D., and the Roman empire extends to Mesopotamia, Arabia, and the Balkans. The first Gospels of St. Mark, St. John, St. Matthew are written.

  • 100-149 A.D. - Hadrian rules Rome (117-138 A.D.), codifies Roman law, rebuilds the Pantheon, establishes a postal system, and builds a wall between England and Scotland. The Jews revolt under Bar Kokhba (122-135 A.D.). The final Diaspora (dispersion) of the Jews begins.

  • 150-199 A.D. - Marcus Aurelius rules Rome (161-180 A.D.). The oldest Mayan temples are erected in Central America (c. 200 A.D.).

  • 200-249 A.D. - The Goths invade Asia Minor (c. 220 A.D.). The Roman persecutions of Christians increase. The Persian (Sassanid) empire is re-established. The Han Dynasty ends in China.

  • 250-299 A.D. - Invasions of the Roman empire by the Franks and Goths increase. Buddhism spreads in China. Mayan civilization experiences its Classical period (250-900 A.D.), during which time the Mayans develop hieroglyphic writing, as well as advances in art, architecture, and science.

  • 300-349 A.D. - Constantine the Great rules during 312-337 A.D., and reunites the eastern and western Roman empires, establishing a new capital (Constantinople) on the site of Byzantium (330 A.D.). Constantine issues the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christianity (313 A.D.), and becomes a Christian on his deathbed (337 A.D.). The Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) defines orthodox Christian doctrine. The first Gupta dynasty begins in India (c. 320 B.C.).

  • 350-399 A.D. - The Huns (Mongols) invade Europe (c. 360 A.D.). Theodosius the Great rules during 392-395 A.D., as the last emperor of a united Roman empire. The Roman empire is permanently divided in A.D. 395, and the western empire is ruled from Rome while the eastern empire is ruled from Constantinople.

  • 400-449 A.D. - The Western Roman empire disintegrates under weak emperors. Alaric, king of the Visigoths, sacks Rome (410 A.D.). Attila, Hun chieftain, attacks Roman provinces (433 A.D.). St. Patrick returns to Ireland (432 A.D.) and brings Christianity to the island. St. Augustine writes the City of God (411 A.D.).

  • 450-499 A.D. - Vandals destroy Rome (455 A.D.), and the Western Roman empire ends as Odoacer, German chieftain, overthrows the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, and becomes king of Italy (476 A.D.).