Basic Ancient Eras Timeline


Figures at top of stele “fingernail” above Hammurabi’s code of laws. Public Domain Courtesy of Wikipedia
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BRONZE AGE: 3500 B.C. – A.D. 1500

Writing preserves records and 
so is essential to history. 
So essential is it that the 
period before is often labeled 
pre-history. This was an 
exciting, if long, period in 
mankind's history, with great 
nations. In the area around 
the Red Sea and eastern 
Mediterranean were developing, 
powerful, central governments, 
like the familiar pharaoh-led 
Egypt, trading with one another 
and the smaller powers of the 
Writing Begins Mesopotamia
Indus Valley (Harappa)
Shang Dynasty in China
Pyramid Building in Egypt
Egypt.KV62.01. Photo taken by Hajor, Dec.2002. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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1500-1000 B.C.

Trojan War, possibly.
Greco-Roman Mycenaean civilization

The Book of Exodus, probably.
Ancient Near East
New Kingdom Egypt

Period of the religious 
writings of the Indian 
subcontinent, the Vedas.
Central/ Eastern Asia


Phoenician glass necklace of 45 beads with two blue glass ornaments, religious gold pendants, a central pendant with a vase on altar flanked by two uraei. British Museum. © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.5
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IRON AGE STARTS: 1000-500 B.C.

The great epic poet Homer or 
the works attributed to him 
come from the Archaic Age in 
Greece. Further west in the 
Mediterranean region, Rome was 
founded. In the other 
direction, the Persian Empire 
In Biblical history, this was 
probably the time of kings and 
the Babylonian Captivity.
Greco-Roman Legendary Rome
Archaic Greece
Ancient Near East
Egyptian New Kingdom
Intermediate Period
Central/ Eastern Asia Buddha
Chou Dynasty
Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Marie-Lan Nguyen (2009) Bust of Sophocles of the Farnese type. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek original of the 4th century BC. Marie-Lan Nguyen (2009) This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
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By this time, records are 
plentiful, although there 
are still serious limits. 
Fires destroyed records and 
the process of copying was 
slow, but this period 
included the heyday of the 
great Classical poets and 
playwrights. This literature 
appeared around the same time 
the Greeks were fighting the 
still-expanding Persians. 
Well... still expanding and 
putting satraps in charge of 
Greek city-states until the 
Macedonian Alexander the 
Great used Greek and Macedonian 
forces to put an end to the 
Achaemenid Persian Empire by 
conquering them. This was the 
start of the Hellenistic era, 
which in Jewish history includes 
the famous Maccabees. The Indian 
subcontinent became part of the 
well-known, but still 
Mediterranean-centered world.
Greco-Roman Roman Republic
Classical Greece
Hellenistic Greece
Ancient Near East Persian Empire
Central/ Eastern Asia Mauryan Empire
Eastern Chou, Warring States,

Ch’in, and Han Periods

In this part of Titus’ triumphal procession (from the Arch of Titus in Rome), the treasures of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem are being displayed to the Roman people. Hence the Menorah. PD Courtesy Gunnar Bach Pedersen and Wikimedia.
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1 – A.D. 500

Christianity emerged as a 
power. Note that Islam was 
still a few centuries away. 
Adherents of the other religion 
of the Book, Judaism, attempted 
to throw off the Romans in the 
Bar Kochba revolt. The Mishnah 
and Septuagint date from this 
era. Rome didn't just suffer 
the revolt of the Jews. It 
faced aggressive threats from 
the tribes they thought of as 
barbarians, at first, but which 
gradually became part of the 
Empire. This is also the time 
that forces important in the 
Middle Ages started.
Greco-Roman Roman Empire
Byzantine Empire
Ancient Near East Parthians
Central/Eastern Asia Gupta
Han Dynasty

Based on my article at

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