Important Events in Human History

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by Shane Ross (version: 01.2006)

A timeline of human evolution, history, technology, and the fates of human societies.

This is History, history understood as a single, coherent, evolutionary process, when taking into account the experience of all peoples in all times.

See an updated version here.

(For my reference. All dates approximate. Suggestions welcome..)

=====> All dates B.P. (Before Present) unless otherwise noted. <=====

250 million-Present | A regular 26 to 34 million year cycle of catastrophe for the Solar System may be in effect

65 million | Asteroid impact might not have killed the dinosaurs. See article on 'Impact Hyperbole'

13 million | Last common ancestor of all apes, including humans. A specimen of tree-dwelling Pierolapithecus catalaunicus was discovered in Spain.

5.5 million | Unknown last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees.

4 million | First bipedal human ancestor. Bipedalism appears suddenly in the fossil record. Could be Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominid that lived in the wooded grasslands of the Horn of Africa.

1.8 million-100,000 | Homo erectus in Africa, Asia, and Indonesia (and Europe?). First use of crude stone tools and may have harnessed naturally occuring fire (1.5 Myr, Swartkrans, South Africa). Genetic studies indicate modern humans are not descended from H. erectus, which appears as an evolutionary side-branch and dead end.

340,000 | Geminga supernova, 300 light-years away

200,000-150,000 | Genetic Eve (or "mitochondrial Eve"), the most recent common female ancestor of all living humans (from mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA, dating). The mtDNA from Eve merely acts as a tracer that links all present-day humans to a single population of ancient humans, who lived in Africa.

150,000-30,000 | Archaic Homo sapiens, otherwise known as Neanderthals, appear in the fossil record, distinct from earlier protohumans. They occupied Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. Differ from modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) in skeletal details and behavior. Recent genetic studies also indicate that modern humans are not descended from Neanderthals. They used crude stone tools and may have harnessed naturally occuring fire. They buried their dead and cared for their sick. Hands could not grip complicated tools, preventing them from engaging in fine motor skills, such as carving and painting. Cultural sharing between Neanderthals and modern humans or Homo erectus during time of overlap?

150,000-60,000 | Modern humans appear (sometimes called Homo sapiens sapiens), originally in Africa, probably east Africa. Same stone tools as Neanderthals. No art. Unimpressive hunting skills, killing easy-to-kill, not-at-all-dangerous animals. No fishing.

140,000 | Diaspora of Neanderthals and modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens)? First domestication of large mammal, the dog.

94,000-12,000 | Prehistoric 'Hobbit'. A little over 3 feet tall, a distinct humanoid species, Homo floresiensis people flourished on Flores from 94,000 to 12,000 years ago, when a volcano killed them off. They apparently hunted dwarf elephants with spears.

80,000 | Oldest intentional burial by archaic Homo sapiens, in Africa.

70,000 | Catastrophic volcanic eruption; 'volcanic winter' tied to rapid genetic divergence in humans; kills most hominids?

60,000-40,000 | Genetic Adam (or "Y-chromosomal Adam"), the most recent common male ancestor of all living humans (from Y-chromosome dating). Why the different date from mtDNA analysis? A male bottleneck?

60,000-40,000 | Great Leap Forward (anthropological "big bang" of human expression) among Homo sapiens sapiens (modern humans). First standardized stone tools. First jewelry. First painting. Timing of innovation coincides with first appearance of modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens; Cause of innovation unknown, could be due to increase in brain size, some say vocal box became well developed. Most likely first took place among one group of humans in Africa.

60,000 | Diaspora of humans reaches China via Southeast Asia; dog and wolf become distinct.

50,000 | Human population: 1.2 million hunter-gatherers, H. sapiens sapiens.

50,000 | First human settlement in the Americas, according to evidence found at a South Carolina site. If true, beats the oldest accepted date by 35,000 years. Did they come by sea from Africa or Europe?

45,000 | Humans begin to enter southwestern Europe. Some 6 percent of Europeans are descended from the continent's first founders, who entered Europe from the Near East (these people are modern Basque and Scandinavians). Skeletons are fully modern. Tools of bone: fishhooks, engraving tools, needles. Multi-piece tools. Harpoons, spear-throwers, bows and arrows to catch large, difficult animals. Nets, lines, and snares for fishing. First art: cave paintings, statues, and musical instruments.

40,000-35,000 | Within a few thousand years, Neanderthals disappear, likely due to modern humans (Cro-Magnon people) with superior weapons and culture. How? Superior technology and language skills used to infect, kill, or displace Neanderthals? No hybridization of humans and Neanderthals. Neanderthal brains bigger than Cro-Magnon brains, but did not save them.

=====> Homo sapiens sapiens, modern humans, from here on. <=====

40,000 | More old evidence of humans in the Americas (Ancient 'footprints' found in Mexico). If true, this beats the oldest previously accepted evidence of humans in the Americas by some 25,000 years.

40,000-30,000 | "Big Bang" of artistic expression?, according to most paleoanthropologists; sophisticated works of art first appear in the fossil record. (=><= earlier date set at 60,000-40,000 years ago)

40,000-30,000 | Boats appear. Humans from Eurasia sail to Australia/New Guinea (a single landmass, due to lower sealevel). Had to sail to places that could not be seen on the horizon. Purposeful colonization or accidental? Watercraft won't appear elsewhere until 11,000 BC, in the Mediterranean.

40,000-35,000 | First mass extinction of large mammals caused by humans, in Australia/New Guinea. Giant kangaroos, rhino-like marsupials, and marsupial leopard; tame, unused to humans, unafraid of them; killed off or else indirectly eliminated furing first few thousand years of human settlement.

30,000-20,000 | The ancestors of another 80 percent of modern Europeans arrived in Europe 30,000 to 20,000 years ago, before the peak of the last glaciation, and 10 percent came in the Neolithic era about 10,000 years ago, when the Ice Age ended and agriculture was first introduced to Europe from the Near East.

30,000 | Earliest figurines found in a German cave. Three small ivory carvings found at Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany suggest a high level of artistic skill among craftspeople living between 30,000 and 35,000 years ago.

30,000-20,000 | Vela supernova; at maximum light, would have outshown the full moon. The radiation from this event would have affected humans worldwide. About 1300 light-years away, the Vela is more than three times closer to Earth than the next nearest human-era supernova event, which occured in AD 1016. More than five times closer than the Crab eruption, the third closest, in AD 1054.

30,000 | Oldest star map, depicting Orion the Hunter, in Ach Valley, Germany. Oldest coal mine, Landek, Czechoslovakia. Oldest necklace, Mandu Mandu, Australia.

28,000 | Art depicting "dangerous animanls", like mammoths, rhinos, and bears, in a cave at Arcy-sur-Cure, France.

27,000 | Earliest art of "shamanic" influence? Spiritual?

27,000 | First weaving, Czech Republic. Of the Gravettian people who roamed between Southern Russia and Spain between 22,000 and 29,000 years ago scratching out a living on a semi-frozen landscape.

25,000 | First religious relics and altars, in Spain.

20,000 | Expansion of people into cold Siberia, eastern Eurasia. Needles for sewing; necessary to make warm clothes.

18,000 | Glacial maximum of last Ice Age; sea level 120 meters below present.

=====> All dates BC (equivalently BCE) from here on <=====

12,000-11,000 | Rapid settlement of first North and then South America (accepted date, but people could've been in the Americas at 50,000 or 40,000 years ago, according to some evidence).

  • People walk from Siberia on Bering land bridge, exposed during that time.
  • Whole of Americas has 10 million hunter-gatherers (?).
  • Like in Australia/New Guinea, the first human appearance coincides with mass extinction of large mammals: elephants, horses, lions, cheetahs, camels, large ground sloths.
  • Mass extinction leaves humans in the Americas with no large mammals to domesticate, or share disease immunity with.

11,000-9000 | Ain Mallaha, one of the first settled villages known anywhere

  • on a hillside, by a spring
  • overlooking swampy bottom of upper Jordan valley
  • three successive permanent villages
  • each with several round houses (3-8 m diameter)
  • close together, around a central open space with storage pits
  • at 11,000 - 9,000 BC, one of the first settled villages known anywhere
  • population estimated around 200 - 300 people
  • somewhat wetter and greener environment than today
  • such rich resources that foragers could have relatively permanent settlements

10,500-9000 | Abu Hureyra in the Middle Euphrates Valley, a permanent hunter-gatherer base camp exploiting gazelle migrations.

10,000 | Human settlement in the Near East confined to the Levant (the easternmost Mediterranean shoreline) and to the Zagros Mountains of Iran and Iraq and their western foothills. Some locations, like the Jordan Valley and the Middle Euphrates Valley, are more densely populated, often by large hunter-gatherer communities located at the margins of several ecological zones.

10,000-Present | Legends and myths from the ancient past of a rare and mysterious humanoid race sharing Earth with mankind continue to endure-- with the help of periodic reports of sightings and bits of intriguing (but inconclusive) evidence for the matter

9000-4000 | The Sahara (modern desert) was more humid, held numerous lakes, and teemed with wild animals ; During this period, Saharans begin to tend cattle and make pottery, then to keep sheep and goats, and they may also have been starting to domesticate sorghum and millet

8500 | First farmers, agriculture. Domestication of wheat, pea, olive, and sheep, in southwest Asia.

  • A new settlement appears on the same site as Abu Hureyra, this time a permanent village of rectangular mud-brick houses connected by narrow alleyways.
  • At first the inhabitants hunt gazelle intensively;
  • Later, cereals quickly become important (in just a few centuries?), although wild foods remain important too for 2500 years

8000 | End of Last Ice Age (12000-8000); previously connected landmasses become separated by rising sea level, e.g., Greater Australia (Australia/New Guinea/Tasmania), Greater Eurasiamerica (Eurasia/Americas/Indonesia/Borneo/Taiwan); ancestral memory of this dividing of Eurasamerica into two separate landmasses may have been preserved in later writings.

8000 | Farmers settled at Ali Kosh, north of the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Mesopotamia (map). 'Mesopotamia' meaning 'the land between the rivers', is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew Aram-naharayim, 'Aram of the (two) rivers', the area of the upper and middle Euphrates and Tigris. The word came to mean the whole Tigris-Euphrates district.

7500 | Food production, domestic animals, and polished (Neolithic) stone tools in China, the first in East Asia

7000 | Settlers at Abu Hureyra switch abruptly (100 years?) from hunting gazelles to raising domesticated sheep and goats, in addition to the cereals, lentils, peas

7000 | Domestication of the pig, Greece.

6500 | Beginnings of trade(?) Farming communities in Near East trade with each other, passing such exotic materials as obsidian (fine-grained volcanic glass for toolmaking) from village to village over long distances.

6500 | Jericho in the Jordan Valley, an impressively sized community, covers nine acres. Its small beehive-shaped houses clustered behind massive stone walls. A small town, perhaps in constant fear of marauders after its large grain stocks and stored trade goods, bartered from the coast and interior deserts. The oldest known continuously inhabited city on Earth.


  • Food production begins in western and central Europe and Indus valley with the arrival of Southwest Asian crops and animals
  • Euphrates irrigation begins
  • Agriculture independently(?) develops in north-central China (millet).

5600 | Great Flood? Rising seas of the Mediterranean burst through the narrow Bosporus Valley, and the salt water of the Mediterranean poured into the now-Black Sea with magnificent force; previously, Black Sea had fallen over 100 meters below the level of the world's oceans due to freezing in Northern Europe and Asia. This process caused a nearly instantaneous rise in beaches, river levels and destroyed all life in its path. This catastrophic event may have become the stuff of ancient storytelling. More than 200 distinct Great Flood stories abound in the lore of ancient peoples, just as creation stories do. More than 85 percent of these mention a large vessel that saved the human race from extinction. The abundance of Great Flood stories points to something more than just an interest in beginnings. It suggests that the memory of some unprecedented flood catastrophe was firmly etched in the minds of ancient peoples. The most popular ancient account.

5500 | Pastoralism (cattle, sheep, goats) in the Sahara | Potters' wheels in Mesopotamia.

5200 | Food production in Egypt (likely from Southwest Asia's Fertile Crescent)

5000 | Food production arises in Sahel region of Africa (sorghum, African rice & guinea fowl) | Nile settlers harness the cycle of floods | The Egyptian calendar, regulated by sun and moon: 360 days, 12 months of 30 days each

4500 | First gold jewelry, in Varna, Bulgaria.


3500 | Austronesian Expansion begins (3500 BC - AD 1000); Settlers from South China reach Taiwan

3500 | First pyramids, made of earth, constructed in Peru.

3500-2400 | Sumerian Period in Mesopotamia(?): city states: Kish, Uruk, Ur, Lagash. Gilgamesh, cuneiform, ziggurat.

3500 | Sumerian city-state of Uruk reaches 10,000 population (?); cylinder seals. See a map showing Uruk and Ur and another website on Uruk.

3300 | First invention of writing - Sumerians of Mesopotamia develop cuneiform writing. Quickly adopted(?) by Egyptians | Sumerian city-states emerge (?); Sumerians develop the wheel, the 60 second minute

3200 | Menes (Narmer) King of Upper Egypt conquers Lower Egypt forming single (Old) Kingdom. Development of hieroglyphics in Egypt. Embalming of the dead developed in Egypt

3100 | Egpytian Empire arises (map); first Dynasty of Egypt; grapes first crushed and fermented to produce wine


  • Food production arises in tropical West Africa region, ancestral home of the Bantu language group (African yams, oil palm)
  • Bantu Expansion begins (3000 BC - AD 1); Settlers from West Africa (Cameroon and Nigeria) leave their homeland to fill much of sub-Saharan Africa, displacing the Pygmy and Khoisan people groups
  • Austronesian Expansion reaches the Philippines; cultural "package" from Taiwan: pottery, stone tools, and domesticates
  • First(?) art with undisputable "spiritual" content, tombs in Ireland
  • First map of the moon, in Knowth, Ireland.
  • Bureaucracy, surplus, warehousing, taxes, accounting, gold mines

3000-1100 | The Bronze Age in Greece: the Minoans and Mycenaeans

2800 | Pyramid of Djoser near Cairo

2800 | Minoan culture on island of Crete in Aegean Sea

2750 | Imhotep, the first great physician and architect in history, contructs the first (stepped) stone pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt under ruler Zoser; the first great monumental building built by man.

2700 | Ur graves show fine arts, distant trade for gold, gems, spices

2600 | First paved rode, Egypt.

2550 | Khufu (Cheops-4th Dynasty) completes first Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt; which reigns as the tallest structure on Earth until completion of the Eiffel Tower in 1886

2500 | Walled cities in Egypt and Mesopotamia suggest insecurity


  • Egyptians discover use of papyrus
  • Potter's wheels and kilns used in Mesopotamia
  • Egyptian ships import gold from Africa
  • Map of Babylonia
  • Bow and arrow used in warfare
  • The horse is domesticated in China (independent from Ukraine, 4000 BC?)
  • Equinoxes and solstices determined in China: lunar year of 360 days changes to variable sun-moon cycle
  • Austronesian Expansion reaches Indonesian islands of Celebres and North Borneo and Timor

2480 | Great Pyramind at Giza begun?

2430 | Earliest record of slaves being sold in Mesopotamia

2340-2180 | Akkadian Empire arises in Mesopotamia. Sargon I (c2371-2316) unites Mesopotamia around capital Akkad, near modern day Baghdad.

2200 | Serious drought in Middle East and throughout the world

2200-2113 | Ur III Period in Mesopotamia: Sumerian Revival (?). Ur-Nammu (law code), King Shulgi

2180 | Akkadian Empires collapses; Akkad falls to invading barbarians from the northeast

2180 | Babylonians build first underwater tunnel under the Euphrates River using bricks and "cut and cover" method

2100 | Final stage of construction at Stonehenge

2060 | Sumeria has revival (?) under the third dynasty of Ur which falls to the Babylonians circa 1950 BC

2050 | Seahenge built, UK coast

2006-1792 | Amorite Period in Mesopotamia: struggle between Assyrians and new dynasties founded by Amorite leaders (Amurru) based at Larsa, Mari, and Babylon

2000-1600 | Brutal climate change in North Africa


  • Babylonia uses highly developed geometry as basis for astronomic measurements: knows signs of the zodiac
  • Egyptians use knotted rope triangle with "Pythagorean" numbers to construct right angles
  • Minos palace has light and air shafts, bathrooms with water supply
  • Irrigation system in Egypt utilizes Nile floods
  • Decimal system in Crete
  • Water dam in India built of polished marble
  • Edwin Smith Papyrus describes medical and surgical practices
  • Mercury used in Egypt
  • Four basic elements known in India: earth, air, fire, and water
  • Austronesian Expansion reaches Java and Sumatra
  • China's first written accounts, during the Xin Dynasty

1991 | 12th Dynasty in Egypt; capital Thebes; expansion of the Empire

1950 | Third Dynasty of Ur falls to the Babylonians and the Sumerian era ends (?).

1920 | Abram/Abraham, founder of Judaism (subsequently Christianity and Islam), Epic of Gilgamesh set down in writing. It's an ancient Sumerian story, including account of Great Flood (?); The earliest Sumerian versions date to about 400 years after the supposed reign of Gilgamesh, who is now thought to have been historical.

1800 | Postulated time for the biblical destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, the "wicked cities of the plain" in the Dead Sea region, also of Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar, of which Zoar was spared.

1800 | Chinese Empire arises; first Chinese dynasty | Smelted (bloom) iron comes into use; Bronze Age fades into the Iron Age | Horses reach Egypt, transforming North African warfare thereafter | Sumerian king list compiled

1792 | Babylonian Empire arises ; first Babylonian Dynasty (Hammurabi) in Mespotamia

  • 1792-1750 Hammurabi founds and rules (1792-1750) over a mostly united Mesopotamia, and compiles law code (Code of Hammurabi, which includes guidelines for medical practices, including eye surgery, and permissible fees). Union under Hammurabi eventually destroyed by raiders from Asia Minor (Hittites(?) from modern Turkey)

1760 | Alphabetic writing emerges as simpler way of recording information than Egyptian hieroglyphics (Sumerian cuneiform?)

1700 | Movement of Jacob/Israel's family into Goshen, Egypt? Time of Joseph (perhaps dated to Hyksos period); date uncertain

1700 | Anamolous printed clay tablet, the Phaistos Disk, recently uncovered in Crete. Appears as the work of a printing contraption, with movable type, etc., but pressing into clay rather than pressing ink on paper. Pre-dates all other inventions of printing by millenia. Why was this forgotten for so long? Were the people of Crete Hittites?

1628 | Catastrophic eruption of volcanic island Thera (Atlantis?), now Santorini, in northern Mediterannean. (Perhaps this is why the printing technology which produced the Phaistos Disk was lost.) The resulting wave surge from this eruption was also was responsible for the demise of the Manoan Civilization on Crete. It is also theorized that this event may have partially caused the Biblical Plaques in Egypt at the time of the Jewish Exodus.

1600 | Austronesian Expansion reaches New Guinea

1600-1400 | The Golden Age of the Minoans in Crete

1600-1500 | Hittite Kingdom: centered in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), they had two periods of prominence: the Old Hittite Kingdom (map) (c1600-1500) and the New Hittite Kingdom (map) (c1375-1200)

1580 | Triumph of Egyptian Empire over 'known world'; 18th Dynasty in Egypt; Capitals Thebes & Akhetaten

1500 | Mayan Empire arises in Central America | Dog introduced into Australia from Indonesia during Austronesian Expansion; established itself in the wild to become the dingo

1400 | The destruction of palaces on Crete. The Mycenaeans appear to take over in Crete.

1350 | First known outbreak of smallpox when Hittite warriors catch disease from Egyptian prisoners | Biblical Walls of Jericho fall (due to earthquake?)

1300 | Independent (?) invention of writing in China (=><= earlier reference in 2000 BC).

1292-1225 | Ramses II reigns of 67 years in Egypt till his death in 1224; Egypt reaches its zeneth during his reign

  • 1250 | Israelite Exodus from Egypt (?) under Moses and Aaron

1184 | The Fall of Troy (traditional date)

1180 | First Babylonian Empire falls into anarchy (?)

1100 | The beginning of the Iron (or Dark) Age in Greece.

1100-221 | Conquest and absorption of most of China's non-Chinese-speaking population by Chinese-speaking states, during Zhou Dynasty

1085 | 21st Dynasty in Egypt - Capitols Tanis & Thebes - Power splits with Lower Egypt ruled from Tanis and Upper Egypt ruled from Thebes

1010-931 | Israelite Kingdom: kings Saul, David and Solomon reign over United 12 Hebrew Tribes (Kingdom)

  • 1010-970 David rules United Kingdom of Israel (map)
  • 1000 David takes Jerusalem and makes it his capital.
  • 966-958 David's son Solomon constructs First Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem (ancient Jerusalem map)
  • 931 The United Kingdom is divided into Israel and Judah (map)

1000 | Iron working begins in sub-Saharn Africa among the Bantu

883-612 | Neo-Assyrian Empire (map): conquer Mesopotamia and Syro-Palestine in savage campaigns;

  • 883-859 Ashurnasirpal II
  • 858-824 Shalmaneser III
    • 853 Battle of Qarqar
  • 744-727 Tiglath-pileser III
    • Neo-Assyrian Empire arises?
  • 726-722 Shalmaneser V
  • 721-705 Sargon II
    • 722/721 Fall of Samaria and the Kingdom of Israel under the forces of the Assyrian king Sargon II; population deported
    • Fall of Israel results in the dispersion (diaspora) of the "Ten Tribes of Israel" into Assyria and Persia-Media, where their history is said to have ended; Kingdom of Judah remains
  • 704-681 Sennacherib (Senake-riba)
    • 701 First invasion of Judah by Sennacherib, which routed rebellious Jews and exacted a heavy toll upon them.
    • 690 Second invasion of Judah by Sennacherib thwarted by a plague in the 185,000 man Assyrian Army.
    • 689 City of Babylon destroyed by the Assyrians under Sennacherib.
  • 680-669 Esarhaddon
  • 668-630 Ashurbanipal
  • 629-627 Ashuretililani
  • 626-612 Sinsharishkin
  • 612-609 Ashuruballit ?

800-600 | The period of Greek colonization.

800-700 | Homer's Iliad and Odyssey

800-750 | Iron Age settlement on Palatine Hill, along the Tiber River, the site of future Rome; cremation of the dead becomes common

776 | Olympic Games instituted in Greece with the Stadion, a 192 meter (600 ft) footrace

753 | Traditional year for the founding of Rome by Romulus (king 753-715)

750 | The founding of Ischia (map).

740 | Israelite prophet Isaiah receives his vocation in the Temple and begins to prophesy.

700 | Early Rome at odds with its neighbors, the "Sabines"

670 | Rome: First major bridge "Pons Sublicius" (wood piles) built across the Tiber River; Temple to Jupiter erected

650-550 | Celtic tribes from central Europe encrouch on northern Italy

626-539 | Neo-Babylonian (Chaldaean) Empire (map)

  • 626-604 Nabopolassar
    • Neo-Assyrian Empire falls to Neo-Babylonians
      • 612 Fall of Nineveh, captured by Nabopolassar allied with the Medes and Persians.
      • 609 Fall of Haran
      • 605 Battle of Carchemish
  • 604-561 Nebuchadnezzar (or 605-562?); builds "Hanging Gardens"
    • 597, March 16th, Fall of Jerusalem; Nebuchadnezzar captures Jerusalem. The Babylonian Captivity and Exile of Judah begins (population deported to Babylon) ; Prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel
    • 587/586 July-August, destruction of Jersulame's Temple of Solomon by Nebuzarradan, under orders of King Nebuchadnezzar; fresh deportations continue for five years more.
  • 561-559 Amel-marduk (Evil-merodach)
  • 559-555 Nergal-shar-usur (Neriglissar)
  • 555 Labashi-marduk
  • 555-539 Nabunaid (Nabonidus)

621 | Draco and the first written laws in Athens. Beginning of the archaic period in architecture.

612 | Sappho born on the island of Lesbos.

600 | Indisputably independent invention of writing, by people in modern Mexico (Mexican Amerindians).

594 | Solon (c. 640-560) given extraordinary powers in Athens. Economic and poltical reforms.

561 | Buddha was born; Upanishads

560-527 | The tyrrany of Pisistratus in Athens.

551 | Confucius was born

539-333 | Medo-Persian (Achaemenian) Empire (map)

  • 539-529 Cyrus
    • 539 Cyrus, king of the Persians, enters Babylon
    • 538 The Edict of Cyrus is proclaimed, allowing the Jewish exiles to return to the Promised Land
  • 521-485 Darius I
  • 485-464 Xerxes I
  • 464-423 Artaxerxes I
  • 358-337 Artaxerxes III
  • 337-335 Arses
  • 335-330 Darius III

535 | Construction on Isle of Samos of oldest known tunnel still in use, originally for water, now used by pedestrians between Greece and Turkey

521 | China develops the first cast-iron production in the world (first written reference to it in China)

515 | Second (Zerubbabel's) Temple on Mount Moriah completed at Jerusalem, of which only the "Western Wall" remains today

499-479 | The Persian War (map)

  • 499 | The revolt of Ionian Greek cities against Persia. The beginning of the Persian War.
  • 490 | The Athenians defeat the Persians at Marathon
  • 480 | The Persians win at Thermopylae
  • 479 | The Persians are defeated at Plataea and Mycale. The end of the Persian War.

479 | Beginning of the classical period in architecture.

460-430 | The Golden Age of Pericles in Athens (map). Pericles builds up Athens and strengthens democracy. Athens becomes increasingly antagonistic to Sparta.

431-404 | Peloponnesian War: a war fought between Athens and Sparta (map). Essentially all the Greek states were involved on one side or the other. It ended with defeat for Athens.

  • 431 | The first year of the war ends with Pericles's funeral oration.
  • 430 | The plague at Athens.
  • 429 | The death of Pericles from the plague.
  • 416 | The Athenian attack on the island of Melos. The Melian Dialogue of Thucydides.
  • 413 | The Athenian expedition to Sicily. Athens defeated.
  • 411 | The oligarchic revolution at Athens: despotic committee of four hundred.
  • 410 | Athens restores democracy.
  • 404 | Athens surrenders to Sparta; oligarchy returns to Athens.

404-371 | Period of Spartan dominance.

403 | Democracy restored to Athens.

399 | The death of Socrates at Athens.

387 | Plato (427-347) founds the Academy in Athens, an institution devoted to research and instruction in philosophy and the sciences. He presides over the Academy from 387 BC to his death in 347. His reasons for setting up the Academy were connected with his earlier ventures into politics. He had been bitterly disappointed with the standards displayed by those in public office and he hoped to train, in his Academy, young men who would become statesmen. However, having given them the values that Plato believed in, Plato thought that these men would be able to improve the political leadership of the cities of Greece.

359-336 | The reign of Philip II of Macedon.

347 | The completion of Plato's Republic

336-323 | Greek Empire arises (map). Conquests of Alexander of Macedonia (Alexander the Great) ;

  • 333 conquers Persia at Battle of Issus (333?)
  • 333-323 Alexander rules, dies young (age 33?)
    • 331 Alexander founds Alexandria with central library: the great Library of Alexandria contained, among other things, AristotleâÂâ¢s own collection of books.
    • 332 Alexander marches through Palestine
    • 323 Alexander dies in Babylon; his empire is divided

335 | Aristotle (384-322) founds his own school, the Lyceum in Athens

323-146 | The Hellenistic Age.

300 | Bantu Expansion reaches East African coast | Oldest known copies of Homeric poems

221 | China's political unification under the Qin Dynasty; China has remained politically unified for most of the centuries since then

200 | Greek Seleucid kings rule Palestine from Antioch

197 BC - AD 476 | Roman Empire arises and conquers the 'known world' (map) (i.e., Eurasia/Africa?), except for China

  • 167 Rome ousts Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), king of Seleucid Empire during 175-163
  • 63 Roman general Pompey conquers Jerusalem, and the region becomes a Roman province

167-164 | Construction of Acra at Jerusalem; the Temple is defiled by pagans

166 | Revolt of Judas Maccabeus

  • 160 Death of Judas, who is succeeded by his brother Jonathan
  • 152 Jonathan is named high priest by the Seleucids; soon thereafterm formation of the Essene community near the Dead Sea

160 | First mention of resurrection to eternal life

159 | The first water clock (clepsydra) in Rome

148 | Macedonia becomes a Roman province.

146 | Achaea becomes a part of Macedonia.

140 | Hipparchos of Nicaea (190-125 BC), makes important astronomical discoveries and invents trigonometry. He creates the first catalog of the stars, showing their brightness and position. He also discovers the precession of the equinoxes by comparing star observations of different years and noticing that the stars had shifted eastward. He explains these facts by a slow forward motion of the equinoxes. Crates of Mallus forms his globe of the world.

105 | The mathematician Heron founds the first College of Technology at Alexandria (????)

70 Lucretius (99-55 BC) in his book On the Nature of Things (Latin: De Rerum Natura) develops the atomic theory and uses it to explain reality.

63 | Roman general Pompey takes Jerusalem

48 | Julius Caesar defeats Pompey, who is killed in Egpyt

47 | Julius Caesar has half of Library of Alexandria burned?

45 | On the advice of an Alexandrian astronomer, Julius Caesar decides to correct the problem of the non-integer number of days in the year by adding a day to the calendar every fourth year. It had always been difficult for humans to devise a calendar that works precisely because the solar year is not exactly 365 days long and the lunar month is not exactly 29 days. This made up for the 365.25 days of the regular year.

37-34 | Herod the Great king of Roman Judea

31 | Octavian defeats Antony and Cleopatra at the naval battle of Actium

30 | Suicides of Antony and Cleopatra

29 | Roman Senate gives Octavian the office of Imperator (Emperor); Herod builds the Antonia fortress, probable site of Jesus's trial before Pilate (in AD 30)

27 | Senate gives Octavian the title of (Caesar) Augustus

23-20 | Herod constructs enormous palace in Jerusalem's upper city; he begins the reconstruction of the Second Temple

6 | Birth of Jesus of Nazareth (?), in Bethlehem, Judaea province under Roman rule ; recent evidence suggests the Star of Bethlehem may have been a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in the constellation Leo on August 12, 3 BC.

4 | Death of Herod

====> All dates AD (equivalently CE) from here on | c for "circa" when date approximate <=====

With AD 1, so begins the Christian era, with the spreading of a sect derived from a Israelite sect among free men but also among slaves. This movement had a decisive impact in the history of the West, including development of science, by its role in transmitting and interpreting Greek knowledge into its own categories. Perhaps the most important contribution of the Christian movement to science is its emphasis about the universality of knowledge, and the need to spread it throughout the world (still active today).

c5 | Birth of Saul-Paul at Tarsus in Cilicia

6 | Quirinius, Rome taxes Judaea for 1st time

10 | City of Rome boasts a population of one million. Not until London in AD 1850 will another city have a population of one million

14 | Death of Augustus

14-37 | Tiberius emperor

26-36 | Pontius Pilate prefect of Judea

c27 | Herod Antipas marries his brother's wife, drawing condemnation from John the Baptist. The ministry of Jesus begins.

30 | Jesus of Nazareth crucified by Roman Empire under Pontius Pilate at the urging of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leadership; On Friday, the eve of Passover, "Christ condemned to death by Pontius Pilate under the Emperor Tiberius" (Tacitus, Annals)

c30 | Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Cordoba 4 BC - Roma AD 65), preceptor of the mad dictator Nero, develops the philosophy of Stoicism. He is obliged to commit suicide by Nero.

37 | Death of Tiberius

37-41 | Caligula emperor, assassinated before he can see fulfilled his order to erect his statue in the Temple of Jerusalem

41-54 | Claudius emperor; expels the Jews from Rome

44 | Herod Agrippa imprisons Peter in Jerusalem

45-49 | Paul's first missions

c48 | "Council" of Jerusalem declares gentile Christians exempt from the Law of Moses

49-52 | Paul's missions to Galatia, Macedonia, Athens, Corinth

c50 | First letters of Paul, the first Christian theologian

54-68 | Nero emperor

57-58 | Paul writes letters to Corinthians, Galatians, Romans

c60 | Mathematician Heron of Alexandria (Alexandria AD c10 - c75) founds the first College of Technology at Alexandria (????). From Heron's writings it is reasonable to deduce that he taught at the Museum in Alexandria.

61-63 | Paul in Rome, under military guard, writes letters to Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians

64 | Great Fire of Rome; allows rebuilding and improvement of the City

64-67 | Martyrdoms of Peter and Paul at Rome. Gospel of Mark is thought to have been written

66-73 | Jewish Revolt, first of two unsuccessful revolts against Roman rule

  • 70 Fall of Jerusalem, Herod's temple destroyed by Roman army
  • Jewish Diaspora: Jews scattered throughout the Roman empire

68-69 | Galba emperor

75 | Josephus, Jewish historian living in Roman Empire, writes history

c80 | Gospels of Matthew and Luke and Acts of the Apostles are written < p>81-96 | Domitian emperor

c85 | Gospel of John written by the only apostle not to be martyred

c95 | Final text of the Revelation; soon thereafter, final text of John's Gospel and the three letters of John the Elder

105 | Invention by Cai Lun (China 66-125) of paper as we know it today. This helps transmitting and spreading knowledge (mostly in poetry and treatises about ethical behaviour, very rarely about scientific matters) throughout China.

150 | Claudius Ptolemy synthesizes astronomy knowledge in Mathematike Syntaxis (The Mathematical Compilation), also known as the Almagest

c160 | Galen (129-189), Marcus Aurelius' personal physician, accumulates all known medical knowledge of his time in a treatise. He extracts plant juices for medicinal purposes. Galen and subsequent writers worked out and added to an elaborate system, based on previous Hippocratic theories, that included the four organs from which the four humors came, the four seasons, the four stages in human life, and several other things that came in fours. This leads him to advocate the practice of bloodletting. In this philosophy, the human body is understood to exist in a balance of the four hippocratic humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. Disruption of the humoral balance leads to disease; good health could be restored only by correcting the humoral imbalance, usually by removing some of the patient's blood. He was a philosopher, physician, anatomist, and is famous for his descriptions of human anatomy which were considered authoritative for the next 1000 years. Under Galen's system, if someone was ill, (s)he had too much of a particular humor ("he's in a bad humor today"), and needed to be treated with an herb with the opposite properties. This formed the foundation of western medicine up through the Middle Ages, and beyond. To this day, our culture still contains vestiges of this system, even though we no longer accept it as true: for example, referring to old age as the winter of one's life is still a common poetic analogy. In a similar way a culture of five (quite illogical in terms of physics) elements (fire, wood, water, metal, earth) still organises much of the Chinese traditional medicine.

170 | Ptolemy draws 26 maps of various countries

c200 | Porphyrus (233-304) writes book, whree he structures each of the ten categories. This leads to "Porphyrus' tree", which predates much later classifications of biological organisms.

c250 | Diophantus of Alexandria (200-284) writes the first book on what is now conceived as algebra.

271 | The first form of a compass may have been used in China for orientation purposes

300 | Austronesian Expansion reaches Madagascar (? at least by AD 800) ; Indonesians join East Africans to colonize Madagascar?

313 | Rome adopts Christianity as official religion

c320 | Pappus of Alexandria (290-350) gathers an eclectic assembly of older works by Euclid, Archimedes, and Apollonius. In this compendium, he adds a considerable number his own explanations and amplifications. Some of the topics with which Pappus dealt were conics, plane geometry, mechanics, and, of special interest to students of calculus, straight lines tangent to certain curves. In the book dealing with mechanics, he describes five machines in use: cogwheel, lever, pulley, screw, wedge.

325 | Council of Nicea; oldest known Bibles (as in the collection of books which form the Christian Bible to this day)

330 | Byzantium becomes the capital of the Roman world; named New Rome or Constantinople.

350 | First celebration of December 25 as Christmas

391 | Library of Alexandria burned down (?) on the orders of the Archbishop of Alexandria, backed by the Emperor Theodosius, who wanted all pagan temples destroyed ; loss of old books lamented to the present day ; exact fate of library is still mysterious

395 | Sparta sacked by the Goths

410 | Beginnings of Alchemy with the search for Philosopher's Stone and Elixir of Life as chief objects

410 | Visigoths sack Rome; Attalus placed on the throne as Emperor

425 | Founding of Constantinople University

c450 | Imperial Seat moved to Byzantium in retreat before provincial rebellions and barbarians

c470 | Zu Chongzi, (China 429-500) following a tradition of Chinese mathematicians without much local recognition, calculates pi with several digits: pi = 3.141592203

c500 | Mouldboard plow, horse, crop rotation, shapes feudal societies.

514 | Mayan city of Chichen Itza founded in central Yucatan, Mexico

517 | Aryabhata (b. 476), Hindu astronomer and mathematician and writer on powers and roots of numbers, compiles his manual of astronomy

535 | Catastrophic volcano eruption?

540 | Catastrophic impact of comet kills millions? Is this the same catastrophic event, being reinterpreted?

570 | Mohammad was born

595 | First authenticated record of decimal reckoning in India, concept and use of the numeral "Zero" comes into use(?)

c600 | Book printing in China

c600 | In Baghdad the name of the change of position in making additions, coming from India, shifts to the Arabic "sifr" which means 'empty space'. In Medieval Latin it becomes "ciphra". The Latin will later enter French as "chiffre" then Middle English as "siphre" which eventually becomes "cypher" in English. The Arab thinkers begin to relay Greek thought, commenting on it, in particular the writings of Aristoteles

622 | The "Hegira", the flight of Muhammad from Mecca. The traditional date on which the Islamic calendar is based, (abbreviation "A.H." Anno Hegirae)

622 | Originum sive etymologiarum libri XX - an encyclopedia on arts and sciences by Isidore of Seville

625 | Brahmagupta, the Indian mathematician, teaches at Ujjain

627 | Upon capturing the Persian castle of Dastagerd, the armies of Heraclius find Indian sugar

639 | Arabian Empire arises. Muslim armies take control of Syria, Egypt, Jordan and the Holy Land

c650 | Prime of the first surgical developments in India with bladder, peristalsis, and plastic operations

720 | Abu Masa Dshaffar, famous Arab chemist who supposedly invented sulfuric acid, nitric acid, aqua regia, and nitrate of silver


  • Prime of medicine, astronomy, mathematics, optics, and chemistry in Arab Spain
  • Pharmacology and medicine become two separate sciences
  • Founding of Hanlin Academy for the encouragement of Chinese arts and sciences (till 20th century)

760 | Arabic numerals of Indian origin known in Baghdad

765 | Pictorial book printing known in Japan

765 | Arabs discover surviving Greek texts near Baghdad; Arabs with Bukhtu Yishu found hospital in Baghdad

774 | Euclid's Elements translated into Arabic

782 | The great Arab scientist Jabir (b. 722) begins his chemical studies, as distinct from alchemy


  • Norse Expansion begins (800-1000) ; Norse colonize Faeroes islands, between Norway and Iceland
  • Mayan civilization in Central America reaches its zenith
  • Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru founded? (rediscovered, 1911)

810 | Persian scientist and mathematician Muhammed ibn Musa al Chwarazmi writes a book on equations and coins the term "algebra"

813 | School of Astronomy at Baghdad

814 | Arabs take over Indian numerals, including zero, to multiply by ten

828 | The Astronomical System of Ptolemy (d. c178) translated into Arabic as Almagest


  • Founding of Salerno University
  • Astrolabe perfected by the Arabs
  • The Arabian goatherder Kaldi credited with the discovery of coffee

861 | Iceland discovered by the Northmen (Norse)

870 | Johannes Scotus Erigena compiles his encyclopedia on nature

874 | Norse colonize Iceland

878 | The Arab astronomer al-Battani begins his observations

c900 | The Arab physician Rhases mentions as infectious diseases: plague, consumption, smallpox, rabies-and describes them ; Founding of the medical school of Salerno ; Vikings have developed the art of shipbuilding ; Vikings discover Greenland ; Paper manufacturing at Cairo

965 | Alhazen, Arab physicist, born (d. 1038)

970 | Abu'l Wefa, astronomer and mathematician at Baghdad

975 | The present arithmetical notation brought into Europe by the Arabs

982 | Norse Chieftian, Eric the Red discovers Greenland and in c.986 establishes colony of 500 there

985 | Gerbert (later Pope) learns astronomy, astrolabe from Arabs

986 | Norse colonize Greenland ; colony will disappear by c. 1450

987 | Toltec Empire founded in Yucatan, formally Mayan territory


  • Austronesian Expansion's last phase comes to end; every Polynesian and Micronesian island capable of supporting humans is colonized
  • All of Earth's landmasses settled by humans (except Antarctica) ; God's command fulfilled?
  • Leif Ericson, son of Eric the Red, is the first from the Old World to "discover" America (Nova Scotia)
  • Indian mathematician Sridhara recognizes the importance of the zero
  • Mention of several abortive attempts to fly or to float in air
  • Arabs and Jews become court physicians in Germany

Human population at AD 1000: 200 million

  • India Kingdoms = 50 million
  • Holy Roman Empire = 35 million
  • Byzantine Empire = 20 million
  • Viking Kingdoms = 2 million
  • Constantinople (Turkey) = 900,000
  • Cordova (Spain) = 450,000
  • Kaifeng (China) = 400,000
  • Angkor (Cambodia) = 200,000
  • Kyoto (Japan) = 175,000
  • Cairo (Egypt) = 125,000
  • Baghdad (Iraq) = 125,000

1000-1350 | Norse repeatedly visit northeastern North America

1016 | Supernova, unnamed, in Chinese records; second closest at about 4000 light-years away

1044 | Chinese recipe for gunpowder

c1050 | Geographer Adam of Bremen believes the Baltic Sea to be an ocean open to the east ; Important astronomic instruments (astrolabes) arrive in Europe from Eastern countries

1054 | Crab supernova, 6500 light-years away ; recorded by Chinese astronomers and Anasazi Amerindians

1054 | Eastern Schism: sepatation of Christendom into two halves, the western Roman Catholic Church and the eastern Orthodox Church

1066 | Battle of Hastings. Stirrup enables William the Conqueror to lead the House of Normandy to conquer the Saxons. William rules 1066 to 1087 as the first of the three Norman Kings

1071 | Constantine the African (c1020-1087) brings Greek medicine to Western World

1080 | Toledan table of positions of stars

1090 | The first water-driven mechanical clock constructed in Peking

1091 | Walcher of Malvern notes eclipse of the moon in Italy

1095 | First Crusade organized to gain control of the Holy Land from the Muslims

1096 | Teaching begins at Oxford University

1098 | Nicholas Prevost of Tours: Antidotarum, a collection of 2650 medical prescriptions from Salerno

c1100 | Decline of Islamic science begins ; Horizontal loom brought into Europe by the Arabs ; Mayan civilization in Central America in decline toward collapse ;

1105 | Europeans capture Toledo and its library; First table fork introduced into use in Italy

1119 | Bologna University founded

1125 | Alexander Neckam: De utensilibus (earliest account of a mariner's compass)

c1150 | Chinese seaman and caravan leaders use crude magnetic compasses for navigation ; Medical faculty at Bologna University

1151 | Civitas Hippocratica founded by 20 Salerno physicians

1154 | Mohammed al-Idrisi: Geography published at Palermo

1194 | Chichen Itza, the great Mayan City in Mexico is abandoned

1202 | Knowledge of Arabic Numerals and "Zero" reach Europe

1215 | Magna Carta signed by King John and rebelling nobles of England at Runnymede

1217 | Cambridge University founded

c1217 | Ghengis Khan conquers Persia

c1250 | Baltic traders improve ship designs

1251 | Crusaders introduce the decimal number system into Europe; but it is not widely adopted

1266 | Marco Polo's first visit to Court of Kublia Khan in China

1298 | Scottish forces of William Wallace (Braveheart) defeated by English with long bows at Battle of Falkirk

c1300| In Europe, armored knights recognized as nobility; 1st cannon smash castles

1300-1500 | Little Ice Age cools North Atlantic; Norse colony in Greenland disappears mysteriously

1327 | Aztec Empire arises in Central America; builds capital, Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City), an architectural marvel of brick houses, palaces, canals, aqueducts and pyramids.

c1332 | Starvation in China leads to outbreak of Bubonic Plague which spreads westward

1334 | Bubonic "Black" Plague, transmitted by fleas from rats, breaks out in Constantinople and spreads into Europe. In 20 years it will have killed up to three quarters of the populations in Europe and Asia. Crusaders and those returning from China assisted in carrying the decease back to Europe.

1348 | Black plague reaches its zenith in Europe, halves population in 100 years

1350 | Human population: 300 million

1362 | English is language of the English Courts, while French is used in legal documents

1364 | Gunpowder introduced into Europe and heavy firearms (cannons) come into use. Gunpowder will be the only explosive in wide use until the mid-1800s, when it was replaced by nitroglycerine based explosives.

1368 | Fall of Kahn Dynasty in China; Ming Dynasty begins in China - Mongol rule ends

c1370 | Great "Ming" Wall of China comes into being with new construction and rebuilding of the "Ch'in" and "Han" Walls, extending 4500 miles from the Korean border into the western Gobi Desert

1377 | First reference to use of Playing Cards

1378-1417 | The Great Schism or Schism of the West - a division and disagreement within the Roman Catholic Church as to which Pope was valid and where the "Seat" of the Church was located, Rome or Avignon, France

1386 | Heidelburg University founded; plays a leading part in the coming era of humanism and reformation and the conflict between Lutheranism and Calvinism in the 15th and 16th centuries. A few months after the proclamation of the 95 theses, in April 1518, Martin Luther was received in Heidelberg, with high honours where he defended the theses.

1389 | Ottoman Turks under Murad I bring an end to Serb Empire at Battle of Kosovo on June 15

c1395 | Knitting

c1400 | Little Ice Age freezes Europe in the 1400s and kills off Viking settlements in Greenland.

1415 | Longbow allows English Henry V to defeat French at Battle of Agincourt, Hundred Years War

c1420 | Numeral "Zero" comes into use in Europe

1430 | Prince Henry of Portugal (1394-1460) active in supporting development of navigational skills and reconnaissance of West African coast

1441 | Portuguese navigators find Africans near Cape Blanc, western Africa, and start slave trade again

1447 | Founding of Palermo University

1453 | The "Hundred Years War" (1337-1453) between England and France comes to an end

1457 | Printing press in western Europe: Gutenburg prints Psalter with moveable type in Germany.

1477 | Ptolemy's Geographica published in Italian; among first printed books after Bible; contained maps with NS/EW coordinates

1482 | Europe has 110+ printers; Aldus of Venice creates pocket classics.

1483 | Leonardo di Vinci makes first known design for a heliocopter, along with other designs for various flying machines. Lack of a sufficient source of power made them impractical.

1492 | European explorers encounter Native Americans - first American settlement established, in the West Indies

1498 | European explorers encounter South Africans - Portuguese arrive in the Moluccas and truncate Indonesia's separate train of developments

1499 | Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda leave Spain on voyage of discovery to S. America

c1500 | Hieronymus Brunschwig: "Liber de arti distillandi," the first herbal medicine | Pedro Alvarez Cabral (1468-1526) discovers Brazil, claiming it for Portuga | Juan de la Cosa's map of the New World (part of his Mappa Mundi | De Ojeda and Vespucci return from their voyage during which they discovered the mouth of the Amazon River | Portuguese navigator Bartolomeo Diaz drowns near Cape of Good Hope (b. 1450) | Vicente Yaez Pinzan lands on Brazilian coast at Cape Santo Agostinho | First commercial colleges founded in Venice

c1500 | Western Europeans come into direct contact with peoples of the Americas for the first time. Native Americans killed mostly (up to 99%) by epidemics for which they have no immunity. Decreased immunity due to lack of domestication of large mammals, since their ancestors drove them to extinction 13,000 years ago.

1502 | Columbus made 4th and last voyage to Caribbean; still persuaded he had reached Asia (later, Columbus arrested, put in irons, brought to Spain, and rehabilitated?)

1502 | Spanish begin importing African slaves into New Spain

1507 | Martin Waldseemuller map published with new world identified as "America," after Amerigo Vespucci

1508 | European settlers arrive on American mainland, at the Isthmus of Panama

1511 | European explorers encounter Austronesians - Portuguese arrive in the Moluccas and truncate Indonesia's separate train of developments

1513 | Vasco Balboa sighted Pacific Ocean around Panama

1516 | Spanish Peter Martyr published De Orbe Novo (Of the New World), on discoveries of Spanish, Portuguese and English in western Atlantic

1517 | Protestant Reformation begins when monk Martin Luther begins protests against Catholic Church; nails his 95 thesis list on the door of Wittenburg Cathedral; protest quickly spread throughout Northern/Central Europe, will flower into a schism that fractures the Christain World

1519-23 | Spaniard Ferdinand Magellan sailed from Spain around S. America's Cape Horn into Pacific; killed in Philippines; Vittoria completed first circumnavigation and returned to Spain

1519-1521 | Conquest of Aztec empire by Spain

  • 1521 Spanish conquistidor Hernando Cortez besieges Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) with the last recorded use of a "trebuchet" siege engine and subjugates Aztec Empire in Central Mexico, which is soon ravaged by European intrusion and disease

1532-1533 | Conquest of Inca empire by Spain

  • 1533 Pizarro Kills Inca Chief - Spanish governor, Francisco Pizarro, killed the Inca Indian Chief Atahualpa. Atahualpa was executed, despite the fact that his people had paid Pizarro a $15 million ransom for his freedom.

1534 | England Breaks With Church in Rome - After the Church of Rome canceled his annulment to Catherine, and had Henry VIII excommunicated for marrying Anne Boylen, Henry breaks with Rome. He has the parliament pass the Act of Supremacy which states that the King is the supreme head of the English church, and he is the one to appoint all clergy. Henry goes on to break up England monstaries. This results in unforseen economic consequences with more land is enclosed and less common land for peasants to graze their animals.

1543 | Nikolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) defies church doctrine by publishing his theory of a sun centered universe in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, On the revolutions of heavenly bodies (1543) -- diagram of Copernicus's solar system

c1550 | The work of Copernicus ushers in the modern scientific revolution(?) in Europe: the systematic, collaborative study of nature.

1572 | Supernova observed by Tycho Brahe

c1578 | Population of China reaches 60 million

1582 | Russia, a small Slavic state centered on Moscow, begins its expansion beyond the Ural Mountains, swallowing up dozens of non-Slavic peoples

1588 | British Empire arises. Battle of the English Channel. Spanish Armada defeated. Seat of Empire moved from Madrid to London

c1592 | Compound microscope developed by Zacherias Jansson of Denmark which lead to study of microorganisms

c1594 | Principles of Algebra developed by mathematician Francios Viete of France

c1600 | Tobacco and coffee consumption skyrockets in Europe.

1604 | Supernova recorded by Johannes Kepler, the last such event observed in our galaxy. He wrote about the New Star of 1604, now usually called 'Kepler's supernova', rejecting numerous explanations, and remarking at one point that of course this star could just be a special creation 'but before we come to (that) I think we should try everything else' (On the New Star, De stella nova, Prague, 1606).

1608 | Lippershey invents telescope; Galileo Galilei makes astronomical observations.

1609 | Johannes Kepler shows that a planet moves round the Sun in an elliptical orbit which has the Sun in one of its two foci. He also showed that a line joining the planet to the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times as the planet describes its orbit. Both these laws were first formulated for the planet Mars, and published in Astronomia Nova (1609) (Kepler's elliptical orbit for Mars) Kepler's third law, that the squares of the periods of planets are proportional to the cubes of the mean radii of their orbits, appeared in Harmonice mundi (1619) and, perhaps surprisingly in view of the above comments, was widely accepted right from the time of its publication.

1611 | Authorized King James Version of the Bible produced under reign of King James of England

1630 | The first Slide Rule calculators are developed independently by William Aughtred and Edmund Wingate, based on the principle of Logarithm's created by Edmund Gunter in 1620

c1635 | Pope Clement VIII approves the drinking of coffee, previously considered a heathen's drink

1648 | Peace of Westphalia established, ending the Thirty Years war, involving many European countries, including Germany, the Hapsburg Empire, France, Sweden, Bohemia, and Denmark; First time that a European community of sovereign states was established. And it was only possible because all of its members recognized each other as having equal legal standing, and guaranteed each other their independence. They had to recognize their international legal treaties as binding, if they wanted to be an international community of law.

1652 | European settlers arrive at Cape of Good Hope, south Africa

1653 | Taj Mahal completed after 22 years of construction, at a cost of $700 million in today's money

1660 | Frederick de Whit's world atlas

1666 | First English language newspaper is published in London

c1668 | Coffee introduced into North America, where it becomes popular after the Boston Tea Party, when the drinking of tea became unfashionable.

1690 | First newspaper in the United States is published in Boston

1700-2000 | Golden Age of Invention. Development of the locomotive, car, radio, television, atomics, rocketry, genetics, the computer, and telecommunication.

1752 | Ben Franklin suggests lightning rod

1780 | First establishment of liberal democracy, in North America (western European settlers) and western Europe

1788 | European settlers arrive at Sydney, Australia; Aboriginal population will decline in Australia from 300,000 to a minimum 60,000 in 1921, mostly due to European diseases

c1800 | Industrial revolution begins in western Europe.

  • energy production moved from wood (potentially renewable) to coal
  • development of steam engine, manufacturing plants, factories, assembly lines
  • rapid population increase
  • isolation of people from nature
  • pollution

1816 | Chemist Joseph N. Niepce develops the first photographic negative in France.

1850 | Human population: 1 billion

c1870 | First environmental problems develop; modern nature conservation movement begins

1876 | Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone

1878 | Thomas Edison patents the phonograph

1879 | Edison patents the electric lightbulb

c1900 | Humans begin to generate potientally unstable climate. Temperatures, nudged up by emissions of greenhouse gases, rise sharply in the beginning of the 1900s, but wind patterns are largely unchanged, creating an unnatural combination of conditions. The two together create a potentially greater instability in climate. It could turn out it is more important that humans have changed the stability of climate than just the temperature.

1901-1909 | Golden Age of Nature Conservation, in US; US President Theodore Roosevelt creates US Forest Service, establishes natural parks.

1920 | Western civilization (America/Britain/France) reaches its peak

1920-1945 | Global-scale wars.

1945 | American Empire arises. [Truman on WMD|First atomics demonstrated to end Second World War]. Seat of Empire moved to Washington.

1945-1991 | Cold War between the American and Soviet Empires.

1948 | Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations

1950-2000 | Air transportation leads to global travel on unprecedented scale.

1957 | Civil Rights movement

c1960 | Field of ecology established; many severe environmental problems

1961 | First humans in space; Soviet Empire reaches low earth orbit.

1969 | First humans on celestial body other than Earth; American Empire reaches the moon.

1975 | Human population: 4 billion

1981 | IBM introduces its first personal computer

1991 | Soviet Empire collapses

1995 | Internet electronically connects the globe.

2000 | Human population: 6 billion. Widespread interbreeding between formerly isolated peoples. Human genetic diversity begins to decrease. Human evolution declared over (?).

2001 | Bush, President of the American Empire, declares "War On Terror"

2002 | Discovery of Rapid Climate Change: Only within the past decade have researchers warmed to the possibility of abrupt shifts in Earth's climate. Sometimes, it takes a while to see what one is not prepared to look for.

2003 | Chinese Empire sends man to low earth orbit

2005-???? | Multiple choice:

  • (a) Nietzschean Endgame: self-enhancement and "immense wars of the spirit."
  • (b) Clash of Civilizations: the pattern of conflict in a post-Cold War world.
  • (c) End of History: liberal democracy as the "end point of mankind's ideological evolution"
  • (d) None of the above
  • (e) Insufficient information

2030 | Abrupt climate change? Catastrophic shutdown of the oceans deepwater currents due to decreased circulation in the N. Atlantic leads to a N. Atlantic "little ice age" and dramatic climate variations

2050 | Human population: 10 billion.

2100-2600 | The Little Diaspora: The solar system is colonized, and the population of Earth is eventually outnumbered by 20 to 1.

2700 | The Big Diaspora

10Myr | Eta Carinae goes supernova?

Some Sources


  • Cahill, T. (1999) Desire of the everlasting hills : the world before and after Jesus, (New York: Doubleday)
  • Cahill, T. (2003) Sailing the wine-dark sea : why the Greeks matter, (New York: Doubleday)
  • Delson, E. et al., eds. (2000) Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory, 2d ed. (New York: Garland Publishing)
  • Jones, S. et al., eds. (1994) Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution
  • Diamond, J. (1999) Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies
  • Klein, R.G. (1992) Evolutionary Anthropology 1, 5-14.
  • Simon, C. (1981) "Stone-Age Sanctuary, Oldest Known Shrine, Discovered in Spain," Science News 120, 357.
  • Bower, B. (1986) "When the Human Spirit Soared," Science News 130, 378.
  • Balter, M. (1999) "Restorers Reveal 28,000-Year-Old Artworks," Science 283, 1835.
  • Matthews, V.H., & D.C. Benjamin (1997) Old Testament Parallels : Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East (New York: Paulist Press)
  • May, H.G., ed. (1996) Oxford Bible Atlas, 3d ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press)


keywords: timeline of inventions and innovations, timeline of ancient history, universal history of mankind, major events in world history, major historical events in the history of the world, history of humankind

© Shane Ross

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