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Timeline of Ancient World Events

with a Partho-centric perspective

Natural events and related information are indicated in color

300-200 B.C.
 • Buddhism begins to spread north. Gandhara art type emerges and starts a new art style – Serindian
 • Paper first made in China
 • c. 295 B.C.  –  Library of Alexandria built by Athenian exile Demetrius of Phaleron under the patronage of King Ptolemy I, with an annex set up some 60 years later
 • 285 B.C. – Red Sea canal (originally dug by Persian king Darius I,  500 B.C.) re-excavated by Ptolomies, facilitates Mediterranean trade with Indian Ocean region [will be re-excavated in 2nd cent. A.D.]
 • c. 269 B.C. – Rome begins exerting power over other Mediterranean countries
 • 266 B.C. – Antiochus II Theos associated king by his father
 • 261 B.C. – Death of Antiochus I (1 or 2 June); Antiochus II becomes sole king (261-246)
 • 247 B.C. – Parthians free themselves from Seleucid domination and Arsaces I founds dynasty east of the Caspian Sea
 • 246 B.C. – Antiochus II dies at Ephesus (summer) and is succeeded by Seleucus II Calinicus (246-226/5), but in Asia Minor by Antiochus Hierax (246-226). Outbreak of the Third Syrian (or Laodicean) War (246-241) between Ptolemy III and Seleucus II
 • 241 B.C. – End of Third Syrian War leaves Ptolemy III in possession of much of the south coast of Asia as well as Syria
 • c. 240 B.C. – Diodotus creates Graeco-Bactrian kingdom of Bactria (lasting to 100 B.C.), around which gravitate Sogdiana (to the north), Margiana (to the north-west) and Aria (in the west)
 • 240 B.C. – Halley's comet appears in May
 • 226 B.C. – Death of Antiochus Hierax; Seleucus II recovers Asia Minor
 • 226/5 B.C. – Seleucus II succeeded by Seleucus III Soter (to 223)
 • 225 B.C. (227?) – Colossus of Rhodes toppled in earthquake
 • 223 B.C. – Seleucus III succeeded by Antiochus III the Great (to 187). Achaeus on the latter's behalf re-establishes Seleucid power in Asia Minor against Pergamum
 • 222 B.C. – Revolt of Molon, who assumes the royal title (to 221) in Mesopotamia. Ptolemy III is succeeded (Dec.) by Ptolemy IV Philopator (to 204)
 • 221 B.C. – Qin dynasty unites all of China for the first time
 • 221 B.C. – Outbreak of Fourth Syrian War (to 217), Antiochus III attacking and overrunning most of Coele-Syria
 • 220 B.C. – Achaeus assumes the royal title in Asia Minor (to 214)
 • 217 B.C. – Egyptian victory at Raphia (22 June) ends the Fourth Syrian War, and Egypt recovers Coele-Syria except for the port of Seleucia
 • 215 B.C. – Outbreak of the First Macedonian War (215-205) between Philip V and Rome. Antiochus re-establishes Seleucid power in Asia Minor and blockades Achaeus in Sardis
 • 214 B.C. – Construction of the 2,500 mile Great Wall of China begins in an attempt to keep out invading Mongols from the north
 • 210 B.C. – Antiochus II occupied in the East with his so-called Anabasis (to c. 204)
 • 206 B.C. – Han dynasty overthrows Qin and develops its vast empire
 • 205 B.C. – Roman authors write about showers of stones falling from the sky, terrifying local population; Senate orders a conical meteorite known as the Needle of Cybele, worshipped in Asia Minor, be brought to Rome
 • 202 B.C. – Outbreak of Fifth Syrian War (202-200)

200-100 B.C.
 • Domestication of the Bactrian and Arabian camel, vital for desert travel
 • Greek city-states come under Roman rule
 • The Xiongnu, later called Huns, rise to power in Central Asia and invade Chinese western border regions
 • c. 200 B.C. – Eratosthenes of Cyrene accurately calculated the circumference of the world
 • 200 B.C. – Seleucid victory at Panium ends the Fifth Syrian War; Egypt loses Coele-Syria for good, though retaining Cyprus
 • 196 B.C. – Rosetta stone records coronation of Ptolemy V in Egypt
 • 192-188 B.C. – Rome wars against Antiochus III, Seleucid king of Syria
 • 191 B.C. – Antiochus defeated by the Romans and their allies at Thermopylae (April) and driven out of Greece
 • 190 B.C. – Antiochus' fleet defeated at Myonnesus (September)
 • 189 B.C. – Antiochus, totally defeated by Scipios at the battle of Magnesia ad Sipylum, surrenders his holdings in Europe and Asia as far as the Taurus Mountains
 • 188 B.C. – Roman settlement of Asia by the Peace of Apamea (Phrygia). Antiochus pays a large indemnity, loses his fleet, and effectively surrenders Asia Minor to the profit of Pergamum, Rhodes – and Rome
 • 187 B.C. – Antiochus ignominiously killed (3 or 4 July) while pillaging a local sanctuary in Elymais
 • 185 B.C. – Parthians expand into eastern Iran
 • 167 B.C. – Jewish priest Maccabaeus (Mattathias of Modin) begins a revolt against Antiochus IV's anti-Judaic measures
 • 164 B.C. – Halley's comet appears in November
 • 155 B.C. – In the Indus valley, Menander founds a Indo-Greek kingdom (lasting to 50 B.C.)
 • 146 B.C. – Rome destroys Corinth, the last Greek city-state
 • 144 B.C. – Parthians take Babylonia
 • 144 B.C. – Mithradates I invades Bactria, dethrones Eucratides II
 • 143-141 B.C. – Heliocles, with princess Laodike, is installed as steward for semiautonomous Bactria under Parthian hegemony
 • 141 B.C. – Parthians take Media
 • 140 B.C. – Demetrius II attacks Parthia but is defeated and taken prisoner
 • 139 B.C. – Parthians take Persis
 • 139-138 B.C. – War between Parthians and Seleucids with Bactrian participation
 • before 130 B.C. – Parthian retribution against Heliocles I. Invasion of Yüeh-chih, allied to Phraates II. End of Bactrian kingdom
 • 129 B.C. – Antiochus VII attacks Parthia but is defeated and killed
 • 129-128 B.C. – Chinese ambassador Chang Ch'ien [Zhang Qien] visits the Oxus (modern Amu Dar'ya) river valley, finds Yüeh-chih already occupying northern bank (south bank occupation completed by 100 B.C.)
 • 129 B.C. – Rome creates the province of Asia
 • 126 B.C. – Parthians re-take Babylonia
 • 115 B.C. – Mithradates II receives an envoy from the emperor of China
 • 113 B.C. – Dura-Europos captured by Parthians, the Roman province of Asia is created
 • 106 B.C. – Chinese sent an embassy to Mithridates II in the Parthian capital of Hecatompylos where they were particularly intrigued by the Syrian jugglers and acrobats they saw. First trading caravans bring silk to Parthia, take horses to China
 • 103 B.C. – Judea under Alexander Jannaeus breaks away from Seleucid rule and establishes the Hasmonaean dynasty
 • 102 B.C. – When the people of Kokand repeatedly refused to part with their fine horses, Emperor Wu launched a 60,000-man army against the city, capturing it in 102 BC after a bitter siege. At a single stroke, China gained dominion over the entire Tarim Basin, the vital key to the Silk Roads.
 • 101 B.C. – Chinese ships guided by rudimentary compasses reach India

100 B.C. – A.D. 1

 • Isidore of Charax writes Parthian Stations, a geography of trade routes in Parthia
 • Romans conquer Gaul
 • Egypt under Roman rule. Gives Rome access to Red Sea and Spice Route trade
 • Rome officially becomes an empire
 • Mithradates of Parthia sends ambassadors to both Sulla and Wu-ti to provide an important link between Rome and China
 • 98 B.C. – Mithradates of Parthia sends ambassadors to both Sulla and Wu-ti to provide an important link between Rome and China
 • 95 B.C. – Parthians sign a treaty of friendship with Sylla, fixing their frontier on the Euphrates
 • 87 B.C. – Halley's comet appears in August
 • 85 B.C. – Sakas cross Chinese Turkestan and the Pamirs and, under Maues, occupy Taxila
 • 78 B.C. – Last Seleucid King Philip is defeated by Tigranes of Armenia
 • 74 B.C. – Licinius Lucullus at War with Mithradates
 • 70 B.C. – Last Indo-Greek king of Kapisa-Begram, Hermaeus, is defeated by nomadic tribes which had earlier taken Sistan and Arachosia
 • 66 B.C. – Pompey's Eastern Campaigns against Mithradates
 • 63 B.C. – End of the Seleucid monarchy. Pompey organizes the eastern territories of the Roman empire as far as the Euphrates
 • 62 B.C. – Roman conquest of Syria; province of Asia is created. Only Palmyra retains its independence and role as great caravan center; some of the earliest surviving Chinese silks have been found in its ruins
 • 60 B.C. – Triumvirate established over Rome: Caesar, Crassus and Pompey
 • 52 B.C. – Han empire subjugates Turkic-speaking nomads from the northern steppes. The southern half of the horde become tributary peoples of the Han emperor while northern half moves westward
 • 53 B.C. – Parthians defeat Romans at Battle of Carrhae (Harran), Triumvir Crassus killed; 34,000 legionnaires captured or killed, 10,000 led in captivity to Margiana
 • 48 B.C. – About 10 per cent of Library of Alexandria burned when Julius Caesar attacked Alexandria during Roman civil war
 • 44 B.C. – Second Triumvirate was formed in the aftermath of Julius Caesar's assassination. Antony took the wealthy East, Lepidus Spain and Africa, Octavian Italy and Gaul
 • 40 B.C. – Pacorus I, allied with Quintus Labienus, invades Judaea, captures Hyrcanus and places his nephew, Antigonus, on throne of Judaea. Labienus' combined Parthian and Roman legions capture all of Asia Minor
 • 36 B.C. – Marc Antony defeated by Parthians
 • 31 B.C. – Octavian's forces defeat armies under Marc Antony and Cleopatra at Battle of Actium
 • 26-20 B.C. – Embassies from southern India or Sri Lanka to Emperor Augustus
 • 20 B.C. – Parthia returns standards captured from the Romans at the defeat of Crassus in 53 B.C., from L. Decidius Saxa in Syria in 40 B.C., and from Antony in 36 B.C.
 • 12 B.C. – Halley's comet appears in October
 • 2 B.C. – Yüeh-chih ruler presents Buddhist texts and images to Han court in China

A.D. 1-100
 • Silk first seen in Rome
 • Buddhism begins to spread from India into Central Asia
 • Roman Syria develops the technique of blowing glass. The industry expands
 • Chinese General Pan Ch'ao defeats Xiongnu and keeps the peace in the Tarim Basin. The stability of the Silk Route popularizes the caravan trade into two routes – north and south
 • China sends the first ambassador to Rome from Pan Ch'ao's command, but he fails to reach Rome
 • Graeco-Egyptian geographer, Claudius Ptolemy, writes his Geography, attempts to map the Silk Route
 • Death of Jesus Christ. Spread of Christianity begins
 • c. A.D. 5-10 – Last Indo-Greek king, Strato II, lost the territory between Chenab and Sutlej rivers
 • A.D. 6 – Judaea becomes a Roman province
 • A.D. 17 – Major earthquake – many Asian cities destroyed
 • A.D. 39 – Herod Antipas exiled to Gaul on charges of secret alliance with the Parthians
 • A.D. 47 – Parthian (Parthava) ruler Gondophares displaces northern Sakas in Gandhara
 • A.D. 20-200? – Kushan empire reaches its peak in the reign of Kanishka (A.D. 78?-120?) who initiates Saka system of dating (still in use in India today) and builds Peshawar. Sogdians trading on Silk Route
 • c. A.D. 50 – Establishment of direct sea trade between Rome and India, bypassing overland route middlemen
 • A.D. 52 – Legendary date of arrival of St. Thomas in India
 • A.D. 58-63 – Roman campaigns against Armenia
 • A.D. 66 – The Arsacid dynasty of Armenia formally established when King Tiridates of Armenia, Parthian nominee to that throne, visits Nero in Rome
 • A.D. 66 – Judaea rises in revolt against the Romans
 • A.D. 66 – Halley's comet appears in January
 • c. A.D. 70 – Foundation of Hatra
 • A.D. 75/75 – Last known Cuneiform text
 • A.D. 79 – Eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 23-24
 • A.D. 79 – Coliseum opens in Rome, where the appetite for exotic animals eventually will make the Caspian leopard extinct

A.D. 100-200
 • Roman empire at its largest, becomes a major market for Eastern goods
 • Buddhism reaches China. For the next few centuries, Buddhism flourishes, becoming the most popular religion in Central Asia, replacing Zoroastrianism
 • The four great empires of the day – the Roman, Parthian, Kushan, and Chinese – bring stability to the Silk Route
 • Red Sea canal (originally completed by Ptolomies in 285 B.C.) is re-excavated, once again facilitates Mediterranean trade with Indian Ocean region
 • c. A.D. 100 – Indian embassy to Trajan
 • A.D. 105 – Petra is reduced by Trajan for assisting the Parthians against Rome. Palmyra moves to prominence as the great entrepôt of Oriental overland trade
 • A.D. 114 – Rome wars on Parthia and annexes Armenia
 • A.D. 116 – Trajan conquers Assyria and Mesopotamia and reaches the Persian Gulf
 • A.D. 117 – Hadrian withdraws from the eastern lands conquered by Trajan
 • A.D. 132 – Simon Bar-Kokhba and rabbi Eleazar lead Jews in revolt against Roman authority taking control of Judaea.
 • A.D. 135 – Roman forces crush Jewish revolt. Jewish Diaspora begins when Hadrian bars Jews from Jerusalem
 • A.D. 141 – Halley's comet appears in March
 • A.D. 160 – Kingdom of Hatra instituted
 • A.D. 161-166 – Verus leads war against Parthia with temporary great success (but little effort on his part, according to some historians). On his return to Rome he shares his triumph with Aurelius
 • A.D. 164 – Cassius, Legate of Syria, takes Nisibis and Ctesiphon
 • A.D. 165 – Dura-Europos captured by Romans, ending Parthian control
 • A.D. 166-c.180 – Rome experiences a severe plague in the latter part of the century, possibly carried by Verus' troops returning from Parthia
 • A.D. 166 – First Roman envoy is sent, ostensively by Marcus Aurelius but most likely from rich merchants in Rome's name, from the Persian Gulf and successfully arrives in October to court of Chinese monarch, Huan-ti
 • A.D. 185 – Supernova, believed to have a magnitude far brighter than Venus. It was visible from Rome where emperors and empresses issued coins with astronomical symbols for the next 50 years
 • A.D. 186 – Mt. Taupo, New Zealand, volcano erupted, believed worst in recorded history. Global cooling would have been devastating to the steppe peoples with bitter cold, little sunlight
 • A.D. 195 and 197 – Septimius Severus campaigns against Parthia, taking Ctesiphon in 197; his triumph is celebrated on his return to Rome in A.D. 202

A.D. 200-300
 • Parthian Empire's trade routes were extended in the maritime ports of Southeast Asia as far as the Malay Peninsula's international port of Tun-sun
 • Han dynasty ends. China splits into fragments
 • Chinese alchemists invent gunpowder
 • Barbarians attack the Roman Empire
 • A.D. 217 – Caracalla campaigns against Parthia with some success but is assassinated and replaced by Macrinus who meets severe military reverses
 • A.D. 218 – Halley's comet appears in May
 • A.D. 218-222 – Development of sun worship in Rome under Egalabus
 • A.D. 220 – Han dynasty falls and China disintegrates
 • A.D. 224-240 – Ardashir I defeats the last Parthian king; it is probably during his reign that eastern Iran (the former Kushan kingdom) is conquered. Strong cultural influence along the trade routes
 • A.D. 226 – Ardashir I takes Mesopotamia
 • A.D. 232 – Severus Alexander celebrates a (failed) triumph over the Parthians
 • A.D. 241 – Kingdom of Hatra ends with its destruction by Ardashir I
 • A.D. 247 – Phillip I issues coins apparently referring to the peace with Persia after the death of Gordian III
 • A.D. 257 – Dura-Europos captured by Sasanians
 • A.D. 257 – Valerian, who spent almost all his reign in the East, records an important victory, but is captured in A.D. 260 and spends the rest of his life in captivity
 • A.D. 272 – After Valerian II there seems to be near-constant warfare in the east, with Palmyra ruling the Eastern empire until it is recovered by Aurelian
 • A.D. 273 – Library of Alexandria partially destroyed by Aurelian. It suffered more damage a few years later when Diocletian sacked the city
 • A.D. 276 – Death of Mani in Persia, executed for preaching a heresy combining Zoroastrian dualism with Christian theology (angering adherents of both religions). Manichaeism spreads throughout Asia, not to die out until the 14th century
 • A.D. 276-293 – Sasanian incursions against the Kushan territories by Ardashir
 • A.D. 282/283 – After a long period of planning, another Roman war begins against Persia; Carus dies in A.D. 284 during the war, Numerian is murdered on the way back and Carinus assassinated, leaving Diocletian in power
 • A.D. 295 – Halley's comet appears in April
 • A.D. 297-298 – Another brief war with Romans follows Persian invasion of Syria. Narses is defeated; Tiridates, protégé of Rome, returns to his Armenian throne. The Tigris becomes the eastern border of the Roman empire; peace reigns between Persia and Rome until the reign of Constantine I

A.D. 300-400
 • Xiongnu invade China again. China further dissolves into fragments
 • Dun Huang grottos start to appear and become the world's largest Buddhist caves
 • Huns attack Europe
 • A.D. 301 – Kingdom of Armenia is first nation to make Christianity a state religion
 • A.D. 313 – Edict of Milan, Constantine legalizes Christianity
 • A.D. 324 – Constantine I routs Licinius at Adrianople and Chrysopolis, becomes sole emperor of East and West. After his victory, Constantine writes Shapur II to proclaim that, aided by the divine power of God, he comes to bring peace and prosperity to all lands
 • A.D. 330 – Constantinople dedicated as the new capital of the Roman Empire
 • A.D. 334-363 – A long period of fighting in Persia up to the death of Julian II in Persia
 • A.D. 363 – Massive earthquake buried at least half of the city of Petra under rubble, remnants of the Nabataean civilization disappeared
 • A.D. 374 – Halley's comet appears in February
 • A.D. 385 – Roman Empire is split into east and west with the death of Theodosius, who made Christianity the Roman empire's official religion
 • A.D. 391 – Remaining annex of Library of Alexandria is destroyed by fire under orders from the emperor Theodosius

A.D. 400-500
 • A.D. 428 – Armenia's Arsacid (Arshakuni) monarchy ends

This page last updated 23 Feb 2021

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