Chapter One: World Events: Selected Occurrences Outside Mesopotamia
3300-331: Chapter One: World Events: Selected Occurrences Outside Mesopotamia
by RONALD WALLENFELS
- Syria, Anatolia (modern Turkey), and western Iran become the sites of urban colonies established by Uruk, a city-state on the lower Euphrates River. The well-constructed monumental buildings, regular networks of roads, and enormous settlement walls of these colonies are the results of tremendous efforts in organization and labor.
- Competing southern Egyptian regional leaders (“Dynasty Zero”) vie for territorial, social, and ideological control. The emerging national state adapts aspects of Late Uruk styles and material culture—most notably niched brickwork, a hallmark of Mesopotamian temple and civic architecture—to Egyptian royal and funerary contexts.
- Upper and Lower Egypt are unified under a king (known in a Hellenistic tradition as Menes), who establishes the First Dynasty.
- The city of Troy (modern Hissarlik) is founded in northwestern Anatolia.
- The architect Imhotep builds the Step Pyramid at Saqqara for king Djoser of the Egyptian Third Dynasty.
- Cities emerge on the alluvial plain of the Indus River and its tributaries. At sites such as Harappa and Mohenjo-daro (both in the modern nation of Pakistan), well-planned cities are erected on massive mud-brick platforms. Among the characteristic artifacts of this culture are square stamp seals, carnelian beads with bleached ("etched") geometric designs, an ideographic writing system (as yet undeciphered), and standardized cubical weights.
- The Great Pyramid and the Great Sphinx are built at Giza for king Cheops (Khufu) of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt.
- In the Honan and Kansu Provinces of central China the peoples of the Yang-shao culture begin to establish many large and populous villages. The Yang-shao survive by farming, raising stock, and hunting. Among them are skilled carpenters, weavers, and potters.
- Seafaring contacts between Anatolia and Greece via the islands of the northeast Aegean and the Cyclades yield exchanges of cultural and artistic influences. In Greece, village farming settlements develop into more-centralized social structures.
- Permanent settlements, some with as many as several thousand occupants, are established along the Pacific Chinchaysuyu coast of South America. Impressive public architecture is evidence of the growth of local elites able to mobilize and coordinate a substantial workforce.
- As a result of an attack by Akkadian king Naram-Sin, a fire destroys the palace in Ebla, Syria, and also damages the lid to an alabaster jar for perfumed ointment, which has been imported from Egypt. The lid bears the name of the Egyptian Sixth Dynasty king Pepi I (circa 2289 - circa 2255 B.C.E.).
- According to tradition, the Hsia, the first Chinese dynasty, is established. (It is mentioned in legends but is of undetermined historicity.) Its founder is said to be Yu, who is credited with draining the waters of a great flood; later he is deified as lord of the harvest.
- Royal tombs are built at Alaca Höyük in central Anatolia. Each of these Anatolian Early Bronze Age shallow rectangular earthen tombs, perhaps originally roofed over with logs, contains a single elite burial accompanied by vessels made of gold and silver, copper-alloy standards, and jewelry of lapis lazuli and other stones.
- With the collapse of central power at the end of the Sixth Dynasty, Egypt enters the dark age of the First Intermediate Period.
- More than a dozen extremely large, heavily walled sites enclosing monumental buildings are established at oases scattered across western Central Asia. The material culture of this Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex includes evidence of interactions with western China, the Indus Valley, and the Iranian plateau.
- King Mentuhoptep II (Eleventh Dynasty) re-unifies Egypt and establishes his capital at Thebes.
- Cultural contacts between western Asia and the Yang-shao and Lung-shan cultures of China result in similarities in the shapes, decorations, and techniques of their respective pottery.
- On Crete, in the eastern Mediterranean, an elaborate civilization (termed “Minoan” by modern excavators) is centered at Knossos, Phaistos, and Mallia, where palaces are built around open rectangular courts and without defensive walls. The Minoans develop a fast potter’s wheel and a hieroglyphic writing system (which modern scholars have not yet deciphered).
- At emporia (trading centers) in Anatolia, merchants from the city of Ashur on the Tigris exchange finished textiles and tin, which they import via donkey caravans, for gold and silver.
- Indus civilization fragments into smaller regional cultures, a result, in part, of disruptions to the agricultural and economic systems following major natural diversions within the Indus River system.
- During the Initial Period of cultural development in Peru, village agriculture is established in the inland valleys leading from the coast. Villagers practice weaving, pottery making, and stone carving.
- According to Chinese tradition, the Shang Dynasty begins with T’ang’s overthrow of the emperor Chieh, the last king of the Hsia Dynasty. An urban culture of competing city-states is located in northern China around the eastern parts of the Huang (Yellow) River; it is best known for its bronze working and its large numbers of written records on “oracle bones,” used to divine the future.
- On Crete, the palaces are rebuilt on a grander scale following a disastrous earthquake. Cretan influences begin to spread to the islands of the Aegean. A cursive linear-writing system, which modern scholars call “Linear A,” is developed. (It remains undeciphered by modern scholars.) The script is adapted for writing Greek (“Linear B”).
- Hattusili I, the founder of the Hittite Old Kingdom, establishes his capital at Hattusa (modern Boghazküy) and fights to gain control of territory in north Syria.
- After successfully overthrowing the powerful kingdom of Aleppo in north Syria, the Hittite king Mursili I attacks Babylonia, bringing the Old Babylonian period to an end. On his return to Hattusa, the king is murdered by his brother-in-law.
- Two circles of “Shaft Graves” at Mycenae on the Greek mainland show strong Cretan influences. These royal burials for local rulers, their families, and their retainers contain gold and silver vessels.
- Amose, the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, completes the expulsion of the Hyksos, western Asiatics who conquered Egypt and have ruled it for about a century. Amose pursues the Hyksos deep into the Levant and, later, extends Egyptian control south into Nubia. His emphasis on militarism establishes a pattern for his successors that brings Egypt up to the level of an international power.
- Hittite king Telipinu promulgates a strict law of succession. He inaugurates a policy of peaceful co-existence with his neighbors, concluding a treaty with the kingdom of Kizzuwadna in Cilicia.
- Tuthmosis I, king of Egypt, moves his capital from Thebes north to Memphis, from where he launches his wars into the Levant, eventually reaching the Euphrates. Rather than building a pyramid, Tuthmosis is the first Egyptian king to be buried in a rock-cut tomb in what later becomes known as the “Valley of the Kings.”
- The volcanic island of Thera (Santorini) in the Aegean Sea explodes catastrophically. The local civilization, a hybrid of Cycladic and Cretan origins, is destroyed. Earthquakes cause severe damage at Knossos on Crete.
- In Meso-America, more-or-less-permanent village farming is supported by a domesticated mutant corn (maize) with husks and supplemented by beans, squashes, chili peppers, and cotton.
- Aryan-speaking peoples migrate into India.
- Peoples of the Wessex culture complete the final stage of construction at Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain in England.
- Hatshepsut, widow of the Egyptian king Tuthmosis II, assumes the titles and regalia of kingship while acting as regent for her stepson, the young Tuthmosis III. She does not seem to be particularly active militarily, and—judging by the impressive buildings and monuments constructed—her reign is one of great prosperity.
- Egyptian king Tuthmosis III re-establishes Egyptian militarism, mounting seventeen campaigns into the Levant and Syria. He erects a stele next to that of his grandfather, Tuthmosis I, on the bank of the Euphrates River.
- In China, a Shang ruler named Pan-keng moves his capital to Yin by the Huan River, where he and his successors remain for the next two and a half centuries.
- Egyptian king Amenophis IV (Akhenaten) establishes his new capital, Akhetaten, at Amarna, where he and his wife, Nefertiti, devote themselves to the exclusive worship of the god of the sun disk, the Aten. At Akhetaten, there accumulates a voluminous cuneiform archive containing the correspondence of several late Eighteenth Dynasty kings with the rulers of city-states in the Levant, Syria, and Cyprus, and the Great Kings of Hatti, Mitanni, Assyria, and Babylonia.
- Suppiluliuma I establishes lasting Hittite control over much of Anatolia. During his expeditions into Syria, he sacks the Mitannian capital of Washukanni. He installs two of his sons as governors, one at Aleppo, the other at Charchemish. A third son, sent to Egypt at the request of the widow of a king, perhaps Tutankhamun, is murdered on his journey.
- While making regular calls at ports throughout the eastern Mediterranean, a Levantine cargo ship sinks off the coast of Anatolia, near Uluburun. The ship is laden with raw materials and manufactured goods originating in Cyprus, the southern Levant, Syria, Anatolia, Egypt, Greece, and the Aegean.
- In the fifth year of his reign, Egyptian king Ramesses II fights to a draw with the Hittite king Muwatalli at the Battle of Qadesh on the Orontes River in Syria. Ramesses concludes a formal peace treaty with Muwatalli’s eventual successor, Hattusili III; copies are written in both Egyptian hieroglyphics and Hittite in cuneiform.
- The Elamite king Untash-napirisha erects his new capital city, Al-Untash-napirisha, at the site of Choga Zanbil in southwestern Iran. The city is dominated by a walled religious compound with a ziggurat at its center.
- The eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age draws to a close as dozens of royal cities and palaces in southern Greece, Cyprus, western and central Anatolia, western Syria, and the southern Levant are burned; many smaller communities in these regions are abandoned. (The cause or causes of these disasters are much debated by modern scholars.)
- The Elamite king Shutruk-Nahhunte invades Babylonia. Included among the booty he brings back to his capital at Susa are such ancient Mesopotamian monuments as the victory stele of Naram-Sin and the polished diorite statue of Manishtushu from Akkad, as well as Hammurabi’s law stele from Sippar.
- According to later calculations by Eratosthenes of Cyrene (circa 275–194 B.C.E.), this year is the traditional date for the fall of Troy to the Achaean Greeks, as related in Homer’s Iliad. (Modern archaeologists tend to equate the event with the burning of level Vlla at Troy, datable to the latter half of the thirteenth century B.C.E.)
- In the eighth year of his reign, Egyptian king Ramesses III repulses an attempted land and sea invasion of his country by an alliance of so-called Sea Peoples.
- In Meso-America, the oldest known Olmec center flourishes at San Lorenzo on the Gulf coast of Mexico. This religious ceremonial center has the earliest ball court, stone drains, and colossal sculptured stone heads, some nearly three meters in height.
- The Elamite king Shilhak-Inshushinak expands Elamite control over the regions east of the Tigris River, north into the Zagros Mountains and Assyria, and eastward onto the Iranian plateau.
- The Zhou (Chou), a people living to the west in the region of modern Sian in the Wei Valley of China, overthrow the Shang Dynasty and establish the early or Western Zhou period. The power of the provincial lords, in concert with incursions by the Shanrong nomads, eventually weakens the state to the point of collapse.
- Libyan warrior nobility, long resident in the Egyptian delta, establishes the Twenty-second Dynasty.
- According to biblical tradition, the nations of Judah and Israel are established following the death of king Solomon and the division of his kingdom.
- The Middle Formative period in Meso-America is one of increased cultural regionalism. The La Venta urban complex rises and flourishes.
- The Chavín culture, unified by a common ideology or religion, flourishes in the northeastern highlands of Peru. At the site of Chavín de Huántar, a massive temple complex is constructed of dressed rectangular stone blocks and decorated with elaborately carved stone-relief sculptures. At Chongoyape perhaps the earliest gold products in America are created.
- The kingdom of Kush rises in the region of Napata, to the south of Egypt.
- Hazael seizes the throne in Damascus. His ability to resist the Assyrians and his attacks to the south—where he reduces Israel and Philistia to perhaps vassal states—make the state of Aram-Damascus the leading political power in Syria.
- At the instigation of the prophet Elisha, Jehu stages a bloody coup d’etat, overthrowing the Omride dynasty in Israel as well as the ruling dynasty in neighboring Judah.
- The Urartian capital city of Tushpa (Van) is established by Sarduri I on the eastern shore of Lake Van.
- The kingdom of Urartu is the dominant power in mountainous eastern Anatolia, from Lake Urmia in the south to Lake Sevan in the north and Lake Van in the west. The kingdom is the regular focus of Assyrian aggression.
- According to later tradition, colonists from Tyre found the city of Carthage (Phoenician, Kart-hadasht) on the Tunisian coast. Later legends ascribe the founding of the city to Dido, the daughter of a Tyrian king.
- Under a succession of militaristic kings, the kingdom of Urartu expands to become the most powerful state in western Asia. Its armies are active from central Anatolia in the west, across north Syria, to Trans-Caucasia in the northeast. In 714 B.C.E. the Assyrian king Sargon II marches north into Urartu, defeats its king, Rusa I, and proceeds to plunder the country.
- According to Greek tradition, the Olympian Games are founded in this year and subsequently held every four years. A list of winners is drawn up and continued to 217 C.E., providing a basis for the dating of historical events in Greece.
- Greek colonists establish Pithekoussa on the island of Ischia in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Italy. This event marks the beginning of the entry of Greek colonists on the italian peninsula and the island of Sicily.
- Phoenician colonists settle at Cadiz on the Atlantic coast of Spain.
- Following the fall of the Zhou capital and the death of the king at the hands of invading nomads from the steppes, the Zhou Dynasty of China moves its capital eastward to Luoyang (modern Honan Province), initiating the period of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. Construction of the Great Wall begins in the seventh century B.C.E. as the vassal states in the northern parts of the country build individual walls for defensive purposes. Luoyang remains the capital of the Eastern Zhou kings until the state is annexed in 256 B.C.E. by Qin Shihuangdi, the First Emperor of Qin (Ch’in).
- According to later tradition, the mythical twins Romulus and Remus found the city of Rome. Virgil’s Aeneid, written in the first century B.C.E., says that the two boys have been raised by a she-wolf following their abandonment by their mother, a Vestal Virgin and descendent of Aeneas, a member of the Trojan royal family who took to wandering the Mediterranean after the Greeks sacked Troy at the end of the Trojan War.
- Phoenician colonies, consisting of well-planned towns with imposing buildings and wide roads, are erected at several sites along the Mediterranean coast of Spain.
- At Tartessus, in the Guadalquivir Valley in southern Spain, the indigenous culture is influenced by its contacts with Phoenician settlers in Cadiz.
- The Upanishads, the chief mystical and philosophical scriptures of Hinduism, are written.
- Phoenician king Hiram II of Tyre is defeated by Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III, who captures the city of Tyre and forces it to pay tribute.
- According to later legend, Deioces founds the Median kingdom in western Iran, establishing his capital at Ecbatana (modern Hamadan).
- Samaria, the capital of the kingdom of Israel, is captured following a three-year-long siege by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V; the population of the city is deported and replaced with deportees from elsewhere within the Assyrian Empire.
- The Cimmerians, a nomadic people, flee south across the Caucasus Mountains to avoid the pursuing nomadic Scythians. Assyrian spies near Urartu in northeast Anatolia are the first to recognize the Cimmerians, horse-borne warriors who inflict defeats on the Urartians, Assyrians, Phrygians, and Lydians. According to Herodotus, Lydian king Alyattes finally drives the Cimmerians out of Anatolia.
- According to later traditions, Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, organizes priestly colleges and reforms the calendar by fixing the dates of festivals and adding two months to an earlier ten-month calendar.
- Nubian king Shabako marches north from his capital at Napata and, following his re-unification of Egypt, declares himself its king.
- Gyges establishes the Mermnad dynasty in Lydia in western Anatolia, following his murder of his predecessor, Kandaules, whose wife Gyges takes in marriage.
- Huan Kung, ruler of the state of Ch’i on the Shantung Peninsula, achieves leadership over many other Chinese states and successfully resists pressure from non-Chinese states to the north and south.
- The Athenians begin the practice of listing the name of the annually appointed archon eponymos. This chief magistrate gives his name to the year in which he holds office. Lists of eponyms provide the means by which intervals between given years are calculated.
- The Egyptian capital at Thebes is sacked by the Assyrians, bringing to an end Kushite rule in Egypt. The Egyptian Twenty-sixth (Saite) Dynasty is installed with Assyrian support.
- The first coined metal is minted in Lydia as a means of providing standardized payments to mercenary soldiers.
- The Elamite capital of Susa is devastated by Assyrians under the command of Ashurbanipal.
- Under Josiah, the kingdom of Judah regains its independence from Assyria. Josiah institutes sweeping religious reforms, abolishing all foreign and local cult practices and replacing them with a newly centralized cult at the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Leadership in China passes to Wen Kung of Chin.
- During his reign (according to later traditions), Cyaxares drives the Scythian nomads out of Media and reestablishes Median royal power.
- According to later Athenian tradition, Draco promulgates the first written laws in Athens. The penalties are severe, with death being specified for most offenses.
- Egyptian king Necho II of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty marches his army north toward Syria in support of Ashur-uballit II and the last remnants of the Assyrian army under his command at Harran. In an unsuccessful effort to forestall Necho’s advance, Josiah, the king of Judah, engages the Egyptians in battle at Megiddo, where he is slain. Necho begins a canal linking the Nile to the Red Sea, which is apparently not completed until the reign of the Persian king Darius I. Herodotus reports that a Phoenician fleet commissioned by Necho has circumnavigated Africa.
- According to later Chinese tradition, the founder of Daoism is one Lao-Zi (“The Old Master”). His exact identity is disputed by modern scholars. He may be a contemporary of Confucius, possibly his teacher. Lao-Zi is best known for his Daoist work, the Daodejing (“The Way and its Power”).
- According to the Jain tradition of the Ganges basin in eastern India, Vardhamana, or Mahavira (“Great Hero”), is the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankara (one who leads the way across the stream of rebirths to salvation), a teacher of “right” knowledge, faith, and practice. Two of his disciples, Indrabhuti Gautama and Sudharman, found the historical Jain monastic community.
- As chief archon, Solon, an Athenian statesman and poet, institutes social and political reforms in an effort to alleviate the increasing discontent of the underprivileged classes. He later promulgates a new law code abolishing all the earlier ordinances of Draco, except those concerning homicide.
- Following a long siege, the Phoenician city of Tyre is captured by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II.
- Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, falls to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II; the Temple is destroyed, and a significant portion of the population of the city is deported to Babylon.
- A solar eclipse on 28 May is taken as a bad omen and brings to an end six years of war between Alyattes of Lydia and Astyages the Mede, who have been in conflict over control of Cappadocia in south central Anatolia.
- Siddhartha Gautama, called the Buddha, “The Enlightened One,” is born to a ruler of the B.C.E. small republic of Sakka in southern Nepal. In an effort to open a path to enlightenment, he joins the spiritual teachers of his time, masters their disciplines, and relentlessly practices asceticism. Only after renouncing his family life and ascetic practices and gaining insight through meditation does he believe that he has discovered why people suffer and has found a way of escaping it.
- Confucius, born in the feudal state of Lu (the modern province of Shan-dong, China), is the founder of Confucianism, a complex system of moral, social, political, and religious teaching built on ancient Chinese traditions and perpetuated as the state religion.
- Persian king Cyrus II overthrows his overlord Astyages, king of the Medes, seizing the capital at Ecbatana and taking over the vast Median kingdom.
- In the absence of a Median presence in central Anatolia, Croesus, king of Lydia, crosses the Halys River in an attempt to expand his kingdom eastward. The Lydians are confronted by Cyrus II of Persia, who drives them back to the capital at Sardis. Abandoned by his allies, Croesus surrenders.
- Under Bimbisara and his successors, Maghada emerges pre-eminent from among the monarchical Vedic kingdoms of the Gangetic plains in India.
- Cyrus II captures Babylon. The deportees from Jerusalem are released and are given permission to return home and rebuild their Temple.
- In alliance with Etruscan forces, naval forces from the city of Carthage in north Africa defeat the Greek Phocaeans in a naval battle off the coast of Corsica.
- The Persian king Cambyses II defeats the Egyptian army and their Carian and Greek auxiliaries, placing himself on the throne of Egypt and initiating the Twenty-seventh Dynasty. In Egypt, Cambyses plans expeditions against the Carthaginians in the west and against the kingdom of Meroé to the south.
- Cambyses is recalled to Persia to quell a rebellion led by his brother Bardiya and dies en route in Syria. Darius, a Persian noble with designs on the throne, accuses the usurper of being a Magus with an uncanny resemblance to Bardiya, whom Cambyses has already secretly killed.
- On taking the Persian throne, Darius I moves to quell revolts in virtually every quarter of the empire. He records his victory in a monumental trilingual cuneiform inscription on a cliff face at Behistun overlooking the highway from Babylon to Ecbatana. In an effort to determine whether the extremities of the empire can be linked together with the center, Darius launches a thirty-month-long expedition from the Indus to the Nile. In the west, Darius moves into Thrace in Europe to prevent Scythian nomads from crossing the Danube. A revolt of the Ionian city-states in western Anatolia, instigated by the Athenians, is met with Darius’s full-scale invasion of Greece, which is finally halted at Marathon.
- According to later tradition, the Roman Republic is founded by Lucius Iunius Brutus, following the expulsion of Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome.
- The Zapotec people found Monte Albàn on a commanding hilltop site in the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico. They produce the first local hieroglyphic writing and written calendar, probably borrowed from the Olmecs.
- Greece is invaded by Persian king Xerxes, who defeats the Spartans at Thermopylae and pillages Athens before suffering a major naval defeat at Salamis.
- The Warring States period in China is a time of almost constant strife as powerful feudal states struggle for supremacy, leading to the rise of Qin Shihuangdi, the first emperor of China.
- In Rome, the Plebeians win official recognition of their assembly, the concilium plebis.
- Cimon of Athens achieves a major naval victory at the Battle of the Eurymedon River, effectively ending the Persian threat in Greece.
- During the First Peloponnesian War, Athens is victorious over the Peloponnesian League, led by Sparta in alliance with Corinth.
- During the Second Peloponnesian War, Athens is defeated by Sparta, which has Persian monetary support.
- Plato founds the Academy, a philosophical school, at Athens.
- After several unsuccessful attempts by the Egyptians, with the aid of Greek mercenaries, to free themselves from Persian rule, the Libyan king Amyratos achieves success and establishes the Twenty-eighth Dynasty. His reign is followed by the native Egyptian Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Dynasties that rule until the Persians retake the Delta in 342 B.C.E.
- Athenian philosopher Socrates, charged with introducing strange gods and corrupting the youth, is brought to trial, found guilty, and sentenced to death.
- In the Corinthian War, Sparta battles a coalition of Greeks and at the same time engages in conflict with Persia in Asia Minor. The war ends with the “King’s Peace,” which acknowledges the Persian claim to Asia Minor and recognizes the autonomy of the Greek city-states.
- The Gauls sack Rome.
- Through war and diplomacy, king Philip II of Macedon unifies Macedonia and then brings to an end Greek independence by forcing a federal constitution on the Greek city-states.
- In a treaty with Rome, Carthage re-asserts its trade interests in Sardinia and the northeast coast of Africa (Libya).
- King Philip II of Macedon invites the philosopher Aristotle to Pella, the capital of Macedon, to act as tutor to the king’s son, Alexander.
- Philip II is murdered as he is about to lead the combined forces of Macedon and Greece against the Persians; he is succeeded by his son, Alexander III.
- Alexander III of Macedon crosses the Hellespont with 40,000 men and launches his assault against the Persian Empire. By 331 B.C.E. he is in control of all of western Anatolia, the Phoenician city-states, Egypt, and Babylonia, whereupon he assumes the title of “Great King.” From 330 through 325 B.C.E., Alexander expands his empire eastward through Central Asia to the Hyphasis and lower Indus Rivers in northwestern India. He spends the remainder of his years in Babylon, where he attempts to integrate the Persian and Graeco-Macedonian noble classes.
*Denotes Circa Date
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