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This site is based a great deal in the objects and information from the Metropolitan Museum of Art History
Africa Egypt  
Europe Southern Europe Romans  
Mesoamerica Mexico
Central America    
Asia West Asia Mesopotamia
Eastern Mediterranean Israel
Iran Persia
  c. 4500 BC 4000 BC 3500 BC 3000 BC 2500 BC 2000 BC 1800 BC 1600 BC 1400 BC 1200  BC 1000 BC 800 BC 600 BC 400 BC 200 BC 100 BC 50 BC 0
Africa Egypt Evidence of organized, permanent settlements along the Nile focused around agriculture.

ca. 4500–3800 B.C. (Badarian Period) Although most sites of this period are cemeteries located in the low desert of the Nile valley proper, the Delta site of Merimde Beni Salama is the largest known in Egypt from this time. The Nile valley sites located in Middle Egypt in the vicinity of the modern town of Badari give the period its name. The numerous Badarian cemeteries reveal a formal burial program that includes constructing a tomb, positioning the body, and supplying the deceased with equipment for an afterlife.

  Egypt divided into two kingdoms; one in the Nile valley, the other in the Delta.

3800–3650 BC (Naqada I) Occupation increases throughout the Nile valley and cemeteries and settlements appear in a number of places in the Delta as well. None of the known sites is very large, although Hierakonpolis far to the south is the largest population center known. Settlement size and distribution are primarily understood from the well-known cemeteries of the period, including those near the modern town of Naqada in Upper Egypt, for which the period is named.

ca. 3650–3300 BC (Naqada II) Substantial change in the social organization of Predynastic society occurs during this period, identified by the size and arrangement of settlement and cemetery sites as well as the contents of tombs.

Some members of Naqada II society seem to have access to greater wealth, allowing them to construct more elaborate tombs with richer contents. Items signifying high status in later periods begin to appear, again indicating social differentiation among the population.

c. 3300 BC Egyptian traders come in contact with Mesopotamia

c.3150 reign of King Scopion

c. 3150 first signs of writing  

"Early Dynastic Period"
c. 3050-2650

c. 3050 BC King Narmer aka Menes


c. 2800-2200 BC Egypt dominates Nubia.  Egypt's purpose is to control trade in raw materials and to exploit the rich deposits of stone and gold.

Age of the Pyramids

c. 2650 the first pyramid; The "Step Pyramid"

c. 2649–2150 BC (Old Kingdom, Dynasties 3–6) The Old Kingdom, best known for the pyramids of Giza and Saqqara, is one of the most dynamic and innovative periods for Egyptian culture. Not only do the Egyptians master the art of building in stone, but over a period of 500 years they define the essence of their art, establishing artistic canons that will last for more than 3,000 years.



ca. 2150–2030 BC (First Intermediate Period, Dynasty 8–mid-Dynasty 11) By the end of the Old Kingdom, centralized power has weakened. During the First Intermediate Period,

Breakdown of social order; Egypt is ruled by two competing dynasties, one based at Heracleopolis in the north, the other based at Thebes in the south

ca. 2030–1640 BC (Middle Kingdom, mid-Dynasty 11–Dynasty 13) The Theban king Mentuhotep II reunites Upper and Lower Egypt, establishing the capital at Thebes and ushering in the Middle Kingdom.

ca. 1981–1802 B.C. (Dynasty 12)

 Amenemhat I, founder of Dynasty 12, moves the capital from Thebes to Itj-tawy in the north.  Egyptians trade extensively with cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and control Lower Nubia, building a series of forts on either side of the second cataract of the Nile.


ca. 1640–1550 BC (Second Intermediate Period, Dynasties 15–16 in Lower Egypt, Dynasty 17 in Upper Egypt)

During the Second Intermediate Period, Egypt is ruled once again by competing dynasties. The north is controlled by the Hyksos, descendants of people from western Asia who had settled in the eastern Nile Delta. The Hyksos form an alliance with the rulers of Kerma in Nubia against the Egyptian dynasty based in Thebes.



c. 1540-1492 Reign of Thutmose I. First King to be buried in the Valley of the Kings.

c. 1473-1458 Reign of 1st Queen Hatshepsut- sometimes shown as a man

c. 1450 BC when the Egyptian kings of Dynasty 18 begin a series of campaigns against Upper Nubia. By about 1450 BC, Egypt controls Nubia as far south as the fourth cataract. Upper and Lower Nubia become a virtual colony of Egypt, ruled by a viceroy called the "King's Son of Kush."


c. 1323 Death   of King Tutankhamun

c. 1352-1336 Reign of Akhenaten

c. 1300 BC Ramses rules-- upon his death the crown went to his son Sety I. And then to his son Ramses II (possibly the King of Egypt in the Hebrew Exodus.)

c. 1279-1213 Reign of king Ramses II The last of the great Egyptian Kings.

c. 1275 BC "Battle of Kadesh" (Oadesh) between Egypt and the Hittites.

c. 1200 Egypt invaded by the "Sea Peoples"



ca. 1070–712 BC (Third Intermediate Period, Dynasties 21–24) This period is a time of competing dynasties and of gradual fragmentation into yet smaller political units.

ca. 1060  BC Breakdown of the administration leads to the first recorded strike in the village of Deir el-Medina.


ca. 743–664 B.C. (Dynasty 25)

The Kushite king Piye (also called Piankhi) invades Upper Egypt and claims to be king of Upper and Lower Nubia. It is actually his successor, Shabaqo, who becomes the first true pharaoh of

Dynasty 25 (ca. 712–664 BC)

and the ruler of all of Egypt and Nubia, the largest unified state in existence at this time. Kushite rule over Egypt is brought to an end when the Assyrians conquer Egypt and the last of the great Kushite pharaohs, Taharqo, is driven from Egypt back to Napata. Although Taharqo's successor, Tanutamani, reconquers Egypt for a brief time, Egypt's Kushite dynasty essentially ends with Taharqo's death. 


c. 727 The Kushite king Piankhi achieves a temporary reunification of Egypt.

c. 671 Assyrians invade Memphis the ancient Egyptian capital

c. 664/3 Assyrians reach Thebes and assume hegemony over Egypt.



c. 525 BC Persian armies invade Egypt, defeating King Psamtek III, besieging the capital at Memphis. 332 BC Invasion by Alexander the Great and the collapse of Persian rule.

270 BC a priest, Manetho lists the Egyptian dynasties.

196 BC The Rosetta Stone is inscribed, providing a key to deciphering the hieroglyphs.

ca. 332–30 B.C. (Macedonian and Ptolemaic Periods) Egypt, under Persian rule since 343 BC, is conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BC, ushering in the Macedonian Period. Alexander builds a new capital city, Alexandria, turned outward toward the Mediterranean and Hellenistic world.

Upon his death in 323 BC, Egyptian rule passes informally and then formally to one of his generals, Ptolemy, and to Ptolemy’s descendants. In their wake, settlement of Greek and eastern Mediterranean peoples in Egypt increases greatly. The Ptolemaic court itself is emphatically Greek in atmosphere and practice and adopts the god Sarapis, a Greek version of the Egyptian Osiris-Apris, as a religious focus. The Ptolemies represent themselves as pharaohs performing traditional rites and are prolific builders in fully traditional pharaonic style at many temples.                       

ca. 1550–1295 B.C.(Dynasty 18) Although Memphis is the chief administrative center, Thebes, cult center of the god Amun-Re and home of the dynasty, remains important as a religious and cultural center. Influenced by the temple of Mentuhotep II, Hatshepsut, the most powerful female ruler of pharaonic history, builds her unique funerary temple in western Thebes. Akhenaten, ruling near the end of the dynasty, breaks with tradition by establishing the first monotheistic religion. The new religion ends with his death.

ca. 1550–1070 B.C. (New Kingdom, Dynasties 18–20) The Theban king Ahmose I reunites Egypt, founding Dynasty 18. A series of great warrior kings, in particular Thutmose III, extend Egyptian influence in western Asia throughout the Levant to the borders of the Hittite empire. Egypt also gains control of Nubia as far south as the fourth cataract. Through military campaigns, trade, diplomatic gifts, and tribute, Egypt attains a level of wealth previously unknown. This wealth is a catalyst for the third great flowering of Egyptian culture, marked by royal building campaigns unequaled since the time of the pyramids

ca. 712–332 BC (Late Period, Dynasties 25–30) This period is marked by the repeated threat of foreign conquest and actual subjugation, and by greater involvement in an increasingly interrelated world. The Nubians and briefly the Assyrians invade and rule Egypt between 743 and 664 BC, followed by the Achaemenid Persians from 525 to 404 BC and again from 343 to 332 BC Somewhat surprisingly, then, the Late Period is an extremely fruitful time both conceptually and artistically. A good deal of consolidation and formalization of religious thought lays the foundation for the highly rationalized system that emerges in the ensuing Ptolemaic Period. One architectural manifestation is the development of the mammisi, or birth house, a subordinate temple where the birth of a juvenile god identified with the sun god and the king is celebrated. Repeatedly, the rich artistic heritage of two millennia is explored to create new formulations of royal and religious ideals in statuary and relief. Other distinctive phenomena include an ongoing interest in realistic modeling of the features of nonroyal persons and an enormous growth in the creation of bronze statuary of divinities and divine animals in connection with new votive practices.      
  4500 BC 4000 BC 3500 BC 3000 BC 2500 BC 2000 BC 1400 BC 800 BC 100 BC
Sudan     c. 3700–2800 BC A distinct culture, designated A-Group, develops in Lower Nubia  Trade with Egypt is an important aspect of the economy. Beginning as a politically fragmented population governed by local rulers, the A-Group people eventually seem to be ruled by a series of powerful and very prosperous kings.   c. 2800–2200 BC The A-Group culture is driven out of Lower Nubia by the Egyptians.

c. 2500 BC As early as 2500 BC, a united kingdom seems to have developed in Upper Nubia with its capital at the city of Kerma.


c. 2200–1500 BC (C-Group) As Egyptian power weakens, people known as the C-Group culture (descendants of the A-Group) begin to resettle Lower Nubia. They farm the narrow fertile areas beside the Nile, raise cattle, and trade with the Egyptians during Dynasties 8–11 (ca. 2150–1981 B.C.). In Dynasty 12 (ca. 1981–1802 B.C.), Egypt reestablishes control of Lower Nubia by building a series of forts on either side of the second cataract. These forts are intended primarily to protect Egyptian interests against the powerful Kerma kingdom to the south, but also serve to subjugate the C-Group people, who seem to have alternately lived peacefully with and waged war against their Egyptian overlords. Although much of their material culture is Egyptianized, the C-Group people in Lower Nubia continue to produce distinctive forms of fine decorated pottery. ca. 1550–1070 B.C. Kerma loses control of Lower Nubia at the beginning of Egypt's New Kingdom, when the Egyptian kings of Dynasty 18 begin a series of campaigns against Upper Nubia. By about 1450 B.C., Egypt controls Nubia as far south as the fourth cataract. Upper and Lower Nubia become a virtual colony of Egypt, ruled by a viceroy called the "King's Son of Kush." Egyptian settlements are established, and temples are built to Egyptian gods. The most important center is Napata, near the sacred mountain of Jebel Barkal, just downstream from the fourth cataract, where a temple is built to honor the great Theban god Amun. During this period, the majority Nubian population probably participates in the administration of the Egyptian province of Nubia. In about 785 BC, the Napatan king Alara unites Upper Nubia. For more than 500 years, the Kushite rulers are buried beneath steep-sided pyramids in cemeteries near Napata, which gives its name to this period of the kingdom of Kush.

By about 760 BC, King Kashta has united all of Nubia, from the first to the sixth cataract. Due to nearly five centuries of Egyptian domination of Upper and Lower Nubia, many aspects of Kushite culture show distinct Egyptian influence. For example, the Egyptian god Amun becomes the principal deity of the Kushite kings. However, although they continually borrow from contemporary Egyptian art, Kushite architects and artists adapt Egyptian forms and iconography to their own purposes and infuse their works with a powerful style distinctly their own.

ca. 743–664 B.C. (Dynasty 25) The Kushite king Piye (also called Piankhi) invades Upper Egypt and claims to be king of Upper and Lower Nubia. It is actually his successor, Shabaqo, who becomes the first true pharaoh of Dynasty 25 (ca. 712–664 B.C.) and the ruler of all of Egypt and Nubia, the largest unified state in existence at this time. Kushite rule over Egypt is brought to an end when the Assyrians conquer Egypt and the last of the great Kushite pharaohs, Taharqo, is driven from Egypt back to Napata. Although Taharqo's successor, Tanutamani, reconquers Egypt for a brief time, Egypt's Kushite dynasty essentially ends with Taharqo's death.


  4500  BC 4000 BC 3500 BC 3000 BC 2500 BC 2000 BC 1400 BC 800 BC 100 BC
Europe Southern Europe Romans Before the days of ancient Rome's greatness, Italy was the home of a nation called Etruria, whose people were known as the Etruscans.               c.1200 BC First signs of more intensive cultivation of Etruria   c. 900 BC The Villanovan Period

c. 900 BC scattered villiages along the tufa plateaux

c. 616 BC Etruscan Tarquin I becomes king of Rome.

c. 760 BC use of iron suggest contact with east

(Rome remains under Etruscan influence for over a hundred years and adopts many elements of Etruscan culture.)

c. 550 BC The Etruscans are threatened from Greek extension, especially that of the Phocaeans.

c. 540 BC The Phocaeans are defeated by a fleet of Etruscans and Phoenicians

474 BC Samnite raiders eliminate Etruscan presence in Campania


396 BC Etruscan major city of Veii captured by the Romans

295 BC The defeat of the Etruscans by the Roman at the Battle of Sentinum leads to Roman rule.  The Etruscan trading cities of the north are slowly eliminated through pressures from both Romans and Celts.


Minoans         C. 2000 Palaces appear on Crete - the city known as Minoan.

c. 2000-1600 end of the "Old Palace Period" of Minoan civilization



1628 BC Volcanic eruption on the island of Thera. Preserving the town of Acrotiri under the ash.

1600-1400 Consolidation of power by Mycenaean war leader in Greece is sustained by raids overseas.

c. 1550 BC Evidence of Minoan traders at Avaris on the Nile Delta


c. 1600-1425 BC   New Palace Period

c. 1425 BC New wave of destruction of Cretan palaces, result of Mycenaean conquest (?)


  1200-1100 BC Collapse of Mycenaean civilization, invasion of Dorians from the north possible cause              
Greeks         c. 2200-2000 (?) Arrival of Greek speakers in Greece Crete trades with Egypt c. 1650 Use of "shaft graves" they are used and reused till


c. 1500 BC Crete invaded by "Mycenaeans", the first known civilization of mainland Greece.  Mycenaean influence from Italy to coast of Asia and Egypt. The "Sea People" began to invade all over the Mediterranean, ultimately destroying the Mycenaean civilization.


c. 1100-800 BC The "Dark Age"   Geometric Period

Civilization on the rise again.

Homer writes down the epics Iliad & Odyssey

800 BC  Poet Hesiod's Theogony & Works and Days

The appearance of the Polis - "sense of community"


c. 776 Traditional date of the first Olympics

c. 750 BC Settlement established at Pithekoussai, the eastern coast of Italy  The beginning of a mass migration westward.

First penetration of the Black Sea.

c. 660 Traders penetrate Egypt, Temples & Sculptures appear in Greece.

The Archaic Age

c. 600 The first coinage appears



c. 585 BC birth of Western Philosophy-Thales.

c. 509 Foundation of Roman Republic

c. 490 BC Persian War & the Battle at Marathon  where the "Marathon" was born (as recorded by Herodotus in the Histories)

c. 477 The Delian League is founded

470 Socrates is born in Athens.

c. 458 Athens builds the Long Wall to separate from Sparta

The Classic Age  c. 480-404 BC

c. 438 Rebuilding of the Parthenon complete

c. 428 BC Birth of Plato


399 BC Death of Socrates

c. 395 BC the last Olympic Game was held in Olympia

c. 384 BC Birth of Aristotle in Northern Greece.

359 BC  Phillip II becomes king of Macedon.

c. 356 BC Birth of Alexander the Great

c. 350 BC Athens, Sparta & Thebes all unable to maintain an imperial role in Greece.

347 BC Death of Plato 

338 BC Philip of Macedon defeats the Greeks becoming "Commander of Greeks".  End of Greek history and beginning of the

336 BC Philip of Macedon assassinated

336-331 The Hellenistic Age

323 BC Death of Alexander the Great in Babylon

322 BC Death of Aristotle in Euboea

c. 287 Birth of Archimedes, the greatest mathematician of antiquity

c. 279 Sacking of Delphi by the Celts.

c. 229-219 Roman campaign against the pirates of the Illyrian coast, first Roman intrusion of the Hellenistic world 



By 1000 BC Mesoamerica will divid into Mexico and the Mayan cultures.
  Hunters roam the landscape, subsisting on large mammals and gathering plants and other natural resources. Incipient agriculture begins in about 5000 B.C.      (August 13, 3114)
Mythic base date of the Maya Long Count Calendar
C 2800 BC Ceramics of the Monagrillo complex are present in small settlements around Parita Bay in central Panama, an area of rich coastal resources.

 Monagrillo ceramics are made for many hundreds of years.
2000 B.C., corn is one of the staple crops of Mesoamerican society and remains so for thousands of years Sedentary village life is widespread and pottery is abundant. Villages along the Coatzacoalcos River drainage on the Gulf of Mexico flourish based on abundant river resources and fertile soils.   The first public building in the Valley of Oaxaca is constructed at the major regional center of San José Mogote. It is a stuccoed wattle-and-daub structure built on a platformlike foundation

C. 1250 BC At San Lorenzo, ceramics of distinctive white, gray, and black surfaces are produced, often the result of specialized firing techniques. These colors come to be identified with Olmec ceramics, as do certain design motifs, wherever they are found.

The beginning of the period known archaeologically as the Middle Formative.

The Olmec Civilization established large settlement known as San Lorenzo, on a fertile plain overlooking the Chiquito River.



Gulf Coast and central Mexican sites carry on the Olmec tradition.

c. 900 BC The layout of the ceremonial heart of La Venta, a specially oriented pattern of juxtaposed mounds and open plazas, is established. Such layouts will be used—with regional and temporal variations—in building sacred Mesoamerican centers for more than 2,000 years.

c. 800 BC A large earthen pyramid is constructed at La Venta, possibly conceived of as a sacred mountain. Burials at La Venta contain significant grave goods. Small carefully fashioned figures, personal ornaments, and celts of green jadeite and other greenstones are among the mortuary offerings.

  c. 400 BC Two calendars, a 365-day solar calendar and a 260-day ritual calendar, appear to be in use.

Many of the large carved stone sculptures and monuments at La Venta are damaged; the city loses political power and population, and is gradually deserted.


c. 350 BC Cuicuilco, now the largest center on the high plateau of the Basin of Mexico, has substantial public architecture, including a circular, stone-faced pyramid.

In western Mexico, deeply buried tombs at the bottom of shafts are in use.


c. 150 BC The Xitle volcano erupts in the southern Basin of Mexico, overwhelming Cuicuilco and instigating resettlement of peoples further north in the basin.   C.1 Teotihuacan in the Basin of Mexico grows rapidly as rural populations move in, possibly coerced into doing so.

The beginning of the era known archaeologically as the Middle Preclassic period in the Maya area.

c 800 BC Numerous villages exist in the tropical lowlands of the Petén region of Guatemala, among them, Nak'be, El Mirador, and Tikal. c. 600 BC The community of Nak'be prospers. Public architectural projects are undertaken.

Ballcourts of an open-ended type are present at three centers on the Grijalva River in Chiapas


c. 400 BC A great building effort is undertaken at Nak'be with the construction of large stone-faced platforms and pyramids. A limestone slab, or stela, with a low-relief sculpture of two dignitaries is apparently placed in association with a stone altar, an early example of an important Maya practice. c. 200 BC Monumentally scaled public buildings are raised at El Mirador. These include a three-temple complex on a common platform, a much used architectural arrangement in subsequent times.

C 200 BC Tikal grows larger and construction begins on a great masonry platform located on its highest hill. Base to a number of pyramid temples, the platform and temples will be enlarged many times. Known today as the North Acropolis, it will be the sacred heart of Tikal for centuries

    c. 1 BC In the Petén lowlands, a member of Tikal's royal family is buried in a well-provisioned vaulted tomb dug into the sacred north-south axis of the North Acropolis, the location of numerous subsequent kingly burials. A greenstone mask with inlaid eyes and teeth, possibly forming a head for the burial wrappings, is among the tomb's contents.
Central America                       The village of La Mula-Sarigua on Parita Bay in central Panama becomes a regional center. The greater presence of metates (grinding tables) and manos (grinding stones) indicates the increased availability of corn as a food crop.     Small villages are present in Greater Chiriquí, a region including southern Costa Rica and northern Panama. Semiprecious green-colored stones, frequently jadeite, are worked into personal ornaments in northern and central Costa Rica. Primarily pendants to be worn suspended about the neck, the jades are much revered and many are used as funerary offerings.   c. 1 BC Well-made sculptural ceramics with incised details, known as Zoned Bichrome, are present throughout much of Greater Nicoya (southwestern Nicaragua/northwestern Costa Rica).
Asia West Asia Mesopotamia

c. 4500-3500 BC First Urban Settlement in Mesopotamia, including Eridu & Uruk, marking the beginning of the civilization of Sumer.
  c. 3500 BC 1st Civilization at Sumer. Southern end of Mesopotamia c. 3300 BC 1st form of writing, "cuneiform" appears.

c. 3000 BC Earliest known wheeled cart found in Mesopotamia

c. 3000 BC Discovery of bronze.


Slavery appears c. 2330 BC 1st "Emperor" Sargon of Akkade rules all for 70 years.

c. 2350 BC The earliest surviving law code, of Urukagina, ruler of the Sumerian city of Lagesh.

c. 2212-2004 the first recorded epic appears; "Epic of Gilgamesh"

c. 2000 BC Collapse of Sumerian civilization due to rival cities fighting and invading tribes.

c. 1800 Appearance of the two wheeled chariot.

c. 1760 The city of Babylon becomes the political centre. of Mesopotamia.

excelled in astronomy & math

calendar based on the Moon's cycles

musical scale


      Hittites invade introducing horses              
Eastern Mediterranean Israel                 1200 BC First mention of Israelites in an Egyptian document.  Israelites settle in Canaan after the disruption caused by the "Sea People" c. 1000 Possible date of King David c. 924 Israelites split into two kingdoms, Israel & Judah c. 747-722 Israel is crushed by the Assyrians.  Judah comes under Assyrian domination but survives as a state. c. 605-562 the forcible transfer to Babylon.  Religious writings, Hebrew scriptures, later the Old testament are consolidated

539 BC Destruction of the Babylonian state by Cyrus I of Persia.  Jews can return home.


c. 332 BC Alexander the Great destroys the Achaemenid empire and Palestine eventually becomes part of the Ptolemies' Kingdom c. 198 Palestine passes from Ptolemaic to Seleucid rule c. 50 BC Pompey enters Jerusalem and Palestine is now under Roman hegemony. Jesus Christ is born

30 AD Crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem


  Iran Persia                         c. 560 BC Cyrus II founded the Persian empire, reducing the prosperous Greek cities, overthrowing Babylon thus freeing the Jews, journeying as far south as Egypt.

c. 525 BC Persian armies invade Egypt, defeating King Psamtek III, besieging the capital at Memphis

c. 490 BC Persian War, Persia  invades Greece

Oceania     ca. 4000–2500 B.C. Austronesian peoples spread throughout island Southeast Asia. Austronesian languages, art, and other cultural practices are also ancestral to the present-day cultures of Polynesia and Micronesia.     By 2000 B.C., Melanesian peoples had lived in the southwest Pacific for over 35,000 years, but the remote islands of Oceania remained uninhabited     Beginning in roughly 1500 B.C., the Lapita culture, descendants of a second migration of peoples from Southeast Asia and the Melanesians with whom they interacted, began to expand eastward from Melanesia into the more remote islands of the western Pacific. Characterized by their intricately decorated pottery, the Lapita people are believed to be ancestral to the contemporary peoples of Polynesia, Micronesia, and some regions of Melanesia.