Ancient history

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The parthenon of Ancient Greece

Ancient history is all the events we know about between the invention of writing and the start of the Middle Ages.

Writing is one of the greatest inventions of the human species. It was invented after the Neolithic revolution in which people settled in small towns and started agriculture. Writing dates from about 3,300 BC, which is over 5000 years ago, in the Middle East. The first people to use writing were the Sumerians and the Ancient Egyptians.[1]

Before writing, the only things we have are the tools and monuments made by earlier people. This is studied by archaeology rather than history. The period of ancient history ends with the early Middle Ages.

Study of ancient history[change | change source]

Finding facts about ancient history is difficult because people wrote less in those times: only scribes could write. Most of what they did write has been lost. There were very few copies made because there was no printing. What people wrote they wrote by hand. More people could read and write in Ancient Rome than in other places but much of what they wrote is now lost.

Archaeology[change | change source]

Archaeology is looking at things that were made or used in the past to learn about that time. Things like clay pots, solid tools, and metal weapons often exist at the same time. Things like paper, wood, and cloth can be easily broken, burnt or damaged.

Some ancient things found using archaeology are:

Primary sources[change | change source]

Primary sources are written by people who lived in ancient times. They tell us most of what we know about ancient history. But people in ancient history may have believed different things from each other. They may also be wrong.

Some famous people who wrote ancient history are: Herodotus, Josephus, Livy, Polybius, Suetonius, Tacitus, Thucydides and Sima Qian.

Chronology[change | change source]

Prehistory[change | change source]

  • The human race evolved in Africa. Our species, Homo sapiens evolved about 200 to 250,000 years ago.
  • ~90,000 years ago – people go to the Middle East.
  • ~60,000 years ago – people from Africa go to Asia.
  • ~40,000 years ago – people go to Australia.
  • ~40,000 years ago – people go to Europe.
  • ~14th to 10th millennium BC – people go to America.
  • ~10th millennium BC – people start farming.
  • 4th millennium BC – cuneiform writing in the cities of Uruk and Susa; and hieroglyphs (picture writing) in Egypt.
  • 1000 years BC – earliest writing about history.
  • 450 BC - Herodotus writes what may be the first book based on non-fictional events. It is still available today.

Older Ancient history[change | change source]

1000 BC to 100 BC[change | change source]

  • 928 BC - Israel breaks and becomes The Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel
  • 800 BC - City states in Ancient Greece
  • 776 BC - People write about the Olympic Games. They were started before this time but people did not write about them.
  • c. 753 BC - Rome starts
  • 751 BC - LeChe grows
  • 745 BC - Tiglath-Pileser III becomes the new king of Assyria. He will become powerful and make Assyria into an empire
  • 728 BC - the Median Empire grows
  • 722 BC - Zhou Dynasty becomes weaker; the time of the Hundred Schools of Thought begins.
  • 653 BC - The first Persian state grows.
  • 600 BC - Sixteen Maha Janapadas ("Great Realms" or "Great Kingdoms") start.
  • c. 600 BC - Pandyan kingdom in South India
  • c. 563 BC - Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), is born as a prince of the Shakya tribe. The Shakya tribe ruled parts of Magadha.
  • 549 BC - Mahavira is born
  • 546 BC - Cyrus the Great makes The Persian Empire.
  • 546 BC - Cyrus the Great defeats the Lydian kingdom
  • 544 BC - Bimbisara makes Magadha powerful.
  • 539 BC - the Babylonian Empire ends and Cyrus the Great frees the Jews.
  • 525 BC - Cambyses II of Persia takes Egypt
  • c. 512 BC - Darius I (Darius the Great) of Persia takes Easter Thrace, Macedonia, and Libya. The Persian Empire is the most powerful.
  • 509 BC - The last King of Rome stops being king, The Roman Republic starts.
  • 500 BC - Pingala uses zero and binary numbers.
  • 490 BC - Greek city-states defeat the Persian attack at Battle of Marathon
  • 424 BC - Nanda dynasty becomes powerful.
  • 404 BC - End of Peloponnesian War.
  • 403 BC - Warring States Period starts in China.
  • 331 BC - Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in the Battle of Gaugamela
  • 326 BC - Alexander the Great defeats Indian king Porus (Purushottama) in the Battle of the Hydaspes River.
  • 321 BC - Chandragupta Maurya defeats the Nanda Dynasty of Magadha
  • 323 BC - Alexander the Great dies.
  • 273 BC - Ashoka the Great becomes the emperor of the Mauryan Empire
  • 250 BC - Parthia (Ashkâniân) becomes powerful.
  • 232 BC - Emperor Ashoka the Great dies; the Mauryan Empire becomes weak.
  • 230 BC - Satavahanas are in South India
  • 221 BC - Qin Shi Huang is in China, end of Warring States Period; start of Emperors in China (this will end in 1912 AD)
  • 202 BC - Han Dynasty starts in China,Qin Shi Huang dies; the Silk Road is made
  • 202 BC - Scipio Africanus defeats Hannibal at Battle of Zama
  • c. 200 BC - Chera dynasty in South India
  • 185 BC - Sunga Empire starts
  • 149 BC-146 BC - Third and last Punic War; Rome defeats Cathage.
  • 146 BC - Rome takes Greece.
  • 110 BC - First time the Chinese rule Vietnam: the Nanyue Kingdom.
  • c 100 BC - Chola Dynasty grows.

100 BC to end of Roman Empire, 476 AD[change | change source]

Some groups of people in ancient history[change | change source]

Europe[change | change source]

Middle East[change | change source]

Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa[change | change source]

South and East Asia[change | change source]

America[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Robinson. Andrew 1995. The story of writing. Thames & Hudson, London.