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Timeline of World History, B.C.

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Approx. Time Events & People
3500 BC The wheel is used in Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq.
3114 BC, August 13Start of the Mayan calendar. The Mayans had 20 days in their month starting with day 0 and ending with day 19. They understood zero not only as a place holder, but as a true counting number.
3100 BCWork begins on Stonehenge in England. Some of the stones came from 240 miles away, the Preseli Mountains in southwestern Wales. What possessed the Neolithic people to build such a monument is still unknown.
2900 BC First Egyptian hieroglyphs appear.
2750 BC Egyptians build first known dam called the Sadd el-Kafara, 37 ft tall, 348 ft wide of rubble masonry filled with 100,000 tons of gravel and stone.
2700 BC Egyptians create the 365 day calendar with the new year starting in June.
2560 BCThe Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt is finished. It will be the tallest man-made sturcture for 3,800 years being eclipsed by St. Pauls Cathedral in 1240.
2000 BC Minoan Bronze age culture on Crete develops hieroglyphic script and extensive palace complex at Knossos.
1650-1700 BC Minoan "Linear A" asyllabic script created - still mostly undeciphered. Scientist believe, unlike Linear B, it represents a non-Greek language.
1650 BC Minoan "Linear B" script is created and used until about 1200 BC. In 1953 Michael Ventris and John Chadwick decipher the text and read the first inscription in 3,000 years.
1450 BCMinoan culture destroyed, perhaps by the Mycenaeans.
1200 BCInvasion of the Sea Peoples destroys Mycenaean civilization. Greece enters a 400 year "Dark Age"; writing is forgotten; cities abandoned.
1185 BC The Greeks and Illium (another name for Troy, hence "The Illiad") square off in the Trojan War.
1130 BC Iron used for weapons and tools.
1120 BC Magnetic compass invented
1100 BC Phoenicians develop alphabetic script
1000 BC Chinese develop gunpowder by mixing saltpeter, charcoal, and sulfur and grinding carefully
750-700? BCHomer writes the Iliad and the Odyssey
750-680? BCHesiod writes Theogony, ("Birth of the Gods"), which details a version of Greek mythology.
776 BCThe Greek city of Olympia starts hosting a series of athletic games to honor Zeus. Three other cities hold annual athletic events to toher deities, so the Olympic games are played every four years.
775-750 BC Lycurgus gives laws to the Spartans which included the banning of silver and gold, redistribution of all land, creation of a senate, eating at public mess (so no dainty desire for expensive food would develop), and forbidding all useless occupations.
753 BC, April 21According to legend, Rome is founded by Romulus. Twelve birds circled overhead during the founding ceremonies and legend had it that the city would survive for 12 centuries.
725 BC Sparta conquers Messenia and forms Helot slavery. Having slaves to do all the tedious work of farming allows the Spartans to spend all their time in military training.
650 BCEarliest coins appear. Later, Lydian kingdom produces the first true coins with guaranteed quality and weight.
650 BCEarliest writing in the Americas by the Olmec culture.
621 BCDraco publishes his harsh laws for Athens. Many crimes punishable by death (hence the term 'Draconian').
600 BCAnaximander theorizes that humans arose from other species.
594 BCWide reaching reforms of Solon in Athens.
585 BC, May 28 Greek philosopher Thales predicts an eclipse.
578 BCTarguinius Priscus builds the Bloaca Maxima, the first sewer system in Rome, allowing it to grow into an immense city.
559 BC Cyrus the Great becomes king and will lead Persia to form a great empire that will stretch from Egypt to India.
550 BC The Greek engineer Eupalinos designs a water tunnel 1036 meters long through a solid limestone mountain to bring water to the ancient city of Samos. Work started on both ends and met in the middle, an extraordinary feat of ancient mentioned by Herodotus.
532 BC Pythagoras starts his school in Croton Greece. He founds a brotherhood which sees the world through numbers.
509 BC Rome expells the last of its 7 kings, and starts a republic. This date is highly suspect since its one year before the Athenians start their democracy and the official records were burned by the Gauls.
508 BC Cleisthenes reforms enacted in Athens. Attica divided into demes.
505 BC Cleisthenes starts what will become democracy in Athens
500 BC The concept of the wheel rolls into Britain, but not the Americas.
490 BC Twenty-six miles from Athens on the plain of Marathon, 11,000 Athenians fight 100,000 Persians. If the Greeks lose the battle, the city of Athens will flee to the hills. If the Athenians win the battle at Marathon, the Athenians will stay and try to hold the city against the Persian navy. While the battle rages the Athenians waited for the word, to flee or to fortify. A lone runner, Eucles, runs 26 miles and brings the much awaited news. According to legend, he utters "Nike" (victory) and then dies from exhaustion. 6,400 Persians are killed but only 192 Greeks.
480 BC Spartan King Leonidas, 300 Spartans, and their allies make a sacrificial last stand at Thermopylae against Xerxes and the Persians. King Xerxes demands the surrender of the Greeks weapons, to which King Leonidas replies, "Molon Labe", or "Come and take them." (See: Texas Independence, "Come and Take It" flag).
September 480 BC General Themistocles leads the Athenian navy to victory over the Persian Navy at battle of Salamis. Themistocles uses varies ruses to trick the Persians into battle in the narrow straits of Salamis, where the larger, more numerous Persian ships could not use their advantages.
479 BC 110,000 Greek hoplites defeat 300,000 Persians at the battle of Plataea. The Persians suffered 257,000 casualties, the Greek only 159.
480 BC Anaxagoras of Clazomenae arrives in Athens. He taught the philosophy of Ionia to the Athenians sparking the flowering of Western philosophy.
485 BC Protagoras of Abdera (485-415) is born. He states that truth, goodness, and all other values are relative, depending solely on the person or society.
484-425 BC Herodotus of Halicarnassus aka, the first Historian. Oddly enough, for being a Historian, we know practically nothing about him. He writes The Histories about the Persian War with Greece creating the genre of historical writing.
460-455 BC Birth of Thucydides who writes The Peloponnesian War and builds upon Herodotus's work of recording history. Thucydides though, is more direct and rigorous in his writing, leaving out extraneous stories and dubious material. He also omits references to the gods as causing events in human affairs.
480 BCSecond Persian War. The Athenians retreat, and the Persian forces led by Xerxes destroy Athens, but Greek forces win a major naval battle at Salamis.
371 BC The Theban commander Epaminondas defeats the reigning champs of the Peloponnese, the Spartans, in the Battle of Leuctra. This is the beginning of the end of the Spartans as a Greek superpower.
356 BC, July 21 To do something significant so he would be remembered, Herostratus burns down the Ephesian Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
450 BC At the insistance of the Plebes, who were tired of the elites manipulating the legal system against them, had all the Roman laws written on metal plates for all to see. The laws, known as the Twelve Tables of Roman law, are accessible to all now - and memorized by all, even the illiterate.
433 BC The Parthenon in Athens is completed after 40 years of work. This stunning piece of architecture was the crowning achievement of Pericles.
430 BC Democritus theorizes that matter is composed of tiny grains that cannot be subdivided. He calls them "atomos".
415 BC The disastrous Athenian invasion of Sicily. Before his death, Pericles warned the Athenians not to try to expand their empire until the war with Sparta was completed. They knew better and destroyed two fleets trying to win new territory. Although not the final blow in the war with Sparta, this disaster started the decline of Athens.
406 BC Battle of Arginusae.
404 BC Sparta finally defeats Athens in the Peloponnesian War with a navy financed by the Persians.
399 BC Socrates is put on trial. He is arrogant and antagonistic during the proceedings. Had he been more gracious he might have escaped the hemlock. The vote was 281 to 220.
396 BC Rome defeats the Etruscan city of Veii after 80 years of war and starts the eventual rise of Rome. The Etruscans were skilled engineers and craftsmen. Many of the "Roman" innovations, like their numerals, were really taken from the Etruscans.
371 BC The Thebans defeat of a Spartan Army at Leucrra. This marks the end of the centuries-old Spartan reputation of being unbeatable.
386 BC The Gallic Senones tribesmen sack Rome and occupy it for seven months. The Romans never forgot this.
386 BC Plato starts "The Academy" in Athens.
Battle of Mantinea Epaminondas leads the Thebans to war against the Spartans again, and wins again. He is killed in the battle. The war between Thebes and Sparta leaves Greece weaken just in time for the upstart Macedonians to enter the stage.
21 July 356 BC Herostratus burns the temple of Artemis in Ephesus to ground in an attempt to immortalize his name. Alexander the Great was born the same night.
338 BC Philip of Macedon conquers Greece in the battle of Chaeronea.
336 BC Aristotle starts "The Lyceum" in Athens .
333 BCAlexander the Great defeats Persia under Darius at battle of Issus. Alexander was the fourth in a line of great men and scholars: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. Darius escapes and gathers his forces for the next battle.
October 1, 331 BCAlexander's 35,000 troops fight Darius's 200,000 in the battle of Gaugamela. Darius has leveled the wide plain to allow better use of his chariots and superior numbers. Alexander leads his troops off to the edge of the prepared field. This tactic opens a gap in the Persian lines that Alexander drives into, threatening King Darius himself. In panic Darius flees. Seeing their king depart, some in the Persian army scatter.
332 BCAlexander the Great conquers Egypt. The Greeks bring coinage into Egypt for the first time.
Summer 326 BCAt the Hyphasis river, Alexander's army refuses to march further into India and he is forced to turn back.
323 BCAlexander dies near Babylon and is reported to have left kingdom, "to the best". Four of his generals carve up the empire and usher in the Hellenistic period.
310 BCGreek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos born. He was one of the first to suggest the earth moved about the sun.
287 BCStrato of Lampsacus (ca. 340-ca. 270 BC) becomes the third head of the Aristotle's school, the Lyceum. Strato correctly theorizes that objects accelerate when falling. He notes this by observing water flows from a roof as a solid stream at first and then breaks into droplets as it is getting faster. Another demonstration is that stones dropped from higher heights have larger craters in sand.
297 BC The Pharos Lighthouse built by the Ptolemies
279 BC"One more such victory and we are lost," said the Greek King Pyrrhus after the battle of Asculum in Italy with the Romans.
280 BC King Pyrrhus of Epirus wins a battle against the Romans, but his casualties are very high.
264-241 BC First Punic War between Rome and Carthage (called "Punic" from "Phoenician"). Hamilcar Barca commands the army and never loses a major battle. Hamilcar feels betrayed when the politicians of Carthage surrender. He feels they can still win the war. Hamilcar makes his son Hannibal swear an oath to hate Rome.
256 BC A convoy of Roman ships rescuing soldiers from Africa is caught in a storm and 90,000 Romans die, one of the worst disasters in maritime history.
250 Alexandrian Librarian Eratosthenes of Cyrene calculates dimensions of the earth to within a 5 percent. After reading that on the summer solstice the sun is directly overhead at Aswan and shines straight down into a well, one the same day of the year, he calculates the angle of a shadow at noon in Alexandria to be 7 degrees. Knowing the distance to Aswan was 5,000 stadia, the circumference must be 360/7 times larger or about 250,000 stadia (25,000 miles).
221 BC Qin Shi Huang unites all of china under his rule. He standardizes units of measure, coinage, and the Chinese script. Qin improves commerce by creating an extensive network of roads and canals. On the dark side, he burns books, kills scholars, and causes famine by his many public works projects like the Great Wall. Believing that eating mercury will prolong his life, he eats mercury and dies of heavy metal poisoning at the age of 49.
218 BC Second Punic War - Hannibal Barca crosses the Alps to attack Rome. (Hannibal is praised by Machiavelli for being brutal in visible examples, thereby gaining order in his army, so the amount of true cruelty to his soldiers was less than if he had been softer). Hannibal is wildly successful militarily, but cannot pry the Italian cities away from Rome.
216 BC Hannibal has one of the greatest military victories at Cannae. About 70,000 men from the Roman forces are killed, only 6,000 of Hannibal's.
202 BC Hannibal, who did not want to fight with such inferior army, but is ordered to by the council, is defeated at the battle of Zama by Scipio Africanus.
197 BC, June The end of the Greek phalanx of tightly packed soldiers with long spears is signaled when the descendent kingdom of Alexander the Great under the command of Philip V of Macedonia loses to the more flexible Roman army led by Titus Quinctius Flaminius at the Battle of Cynoscephalea.
146 BC In the same year the Roman armies obliterate Carthage in the Third Punic war and destroy Corinth in Greece. To any doubters it is now clear that Rome is the dominant power.
133 BC Tiberius Gracchus has Marcus Octavius physically ejected from the Assembly to prevent Octavius from vetoing one of Tiberius's laws. This egregious violation of ancient law and custom starts a series of events that will eventually destroy the Republic. Ironically, Plutarch claimed Marcus Octavius was an ancestor of Emperor Augustus.
87-80 BC Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla fight a civil war over Rome.
82 BC Sulla makes himself the first dictator without a time limit on his powers. Sulla is deeply conservative and sets the senate back in power. He resigns in 80 BC snug in the feeling that he has restored the Republic. Ironically, it is his own example of siezing absolute power that some men, I'm looking at you Julius, see and know this is possible now. In trying to save the Republic, Sulla destroys it.
73 BC Spartacus, a former Roman soldier and gladiator fights against Rome.
44 BC Julius Caesar assassinated.
52 BC, SeptemberBattle of Alesia - Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, retreats to a natural fortress at Alesia. Caesar orders his men to build fortifications all around the fortress so Vercingetorix is trapped inside. Reinforcements for the Gauls start to arrive, and Caesar orders his men to build fortifications on the other side. The Romans are now trapped inside a "donut" with Gauls on the inside and outside. Caesar narrowly wins the battle through a personal charge with his German cavalry.
51 BC Cleopatra & Ptolemy XII inherit Egypt. Ptolemy was the name of Alexander the Great's general who "inherited" Egypt. Cleopatra was the name of Alexander the Great's sister. Almost three centuries later, the Greek influence in Egypt was still strong. Cleopatra was the first Ptolemy to learn the tongue of the common Egyptians.
31 BC Against all odds, Octavian defeats Antony at battle of Actium. (His soldiers lose heart when Antony leaves the fight to follow Cleopatra who is fleeing the battle).
27 BC Caesar Augustus made Roman Emperor.
5 BC - 6 AD Jesus born
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