Exploring Ancient World Cultures
The Complete Chronology
4500-4000 BCE: The Near East
Krater with Ibexes (image).
4000-3500 BCE: The Near East
Painted Bowl (image).
3600-3200 BCE: Egypt
Reconstructed Predynastic Burial (image).
3500 BCE: Egypt
Cosmetic Palette in the Form of a Fish (image).
3500-3000 BCE: Egypt
Lug-Handled Jar (image). Double Bird-Headed Palette (image).
3450 BCE: The Near East
The world's first cities appear along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers just north of what is now the Persian Gulf. Collectively, these cities make up the Uruk culture, named after the principal city, Uruk, which is the Biblical Erech. This culture invents writing and the lunar calendar, uses metals extensively, develops a practice of medicine, and builds monumental architecture. Even so, no unified government links these cities, and they remain independent for almost one thousand years.
3300-1550 BCE: The Near East
Bowls and Jars from Jericho (image).
3300-1000 BCE: Greece
The earliest known prehistoric civilizations occupy the Aegean world. This period marks the rise and fall of the MINOAN and MYCENAEAN civilization.
3200 BCE: The Near East
Archeological evidence indicates that the SUMERIANS are making use of wheeled transportation.
3200-1600 BCE: India
The INDUS VALLEY civilization grows up along the banks of the Indus River in what is now Pakistan. The two most important sites uncovered so far by archeologists are Harappa and Mohenjo-Dara; both cities show considerable development including multi-level houses and city-wide plumbing. The Indus Valley civilization appears to have collapsed because natural disaster altered the course of the Indus River.
3100 BCE: The Near East
CUNEIFORM WRITING emerges in MESOPOTAMIA. This form of writing, involving wedge-shaped characters, is used to record the first epics in world history, including Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta and the first stories about Gilgamesh.
3100-2907 BCE: Egypt
3100-2900 BCE: The Near East
Four-Lugged Vessel (image). Bronze Statuettes (image).
3100-2770 BCE: Egypt
During this period in ancient Egypt, the Archaic period, Narmer unites Egypt. Hieroglyphic writing develops.
3100-2750 BCE: The Near East
Cup Supported by Hero and Animals (image). Gazelle-Head Stamp Seal or Amulet (image).
3000 BCE: Egypt
Bull Palette (image). Bull Palette (image).
3000-2000 BCE: The Near East
2900-2750 BCE: The Near East
"Brocade Style" Cylinder Seal with Geometric Decoration (image).
2900-2600 BCE: The Near East
Sumerian Statuette (image).
2900-2500 BCE: The Near East
Krater of Khirbet Kerak Ware (image).
2772 BCE: Egypt
The 365 day calendar is introduced.
2700 BCE: The Near East
The Sumerian King, Gilgamesh, rules the city of Uruk, which has now grown to a population of more than 50,000. Gilgamesh is the subject of many epics, including the Sumerian "Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the Nether World" and the Babylonian "Epic of Gilgamesh."
2700 BCE: Egypt
King Djoser founds the third dynasty in Egypt thereby issuing the period of the Old Kingdom, which lasts until 2200. He also builds the Step Pyramid of Djoser, the first known pyramid in Egypt. During the Old Kingdom, the power of the pharoah is absolute.
2700-2600 BCE: The Near East
Banquet Plaque (image).
2600-1900 BCE: India
Mohenjo-Daro, Sindh (image). Great Bath, Mohenjo-Daro 1 (image). Great Bath, Mohenjo-Daro 2 (image). Street, Mohenjo-Daro (image). Well, Mohenjo-Daro (image). Bath Area, Mohenjo-Daro (image). Public Well, Harappa (image). Granary, Harappa (image). Working Platforms, Harappa (image). Corbelled Drain, Harappa (image). Weights, Harappa (image). Toy Boat, Harappa (image). Moulded Tablet (image). Unicorn Seal, Mohenjo-Daro (image). Unicorn Seal (back), Mohenjo-Daro (image). Bull Seal, Harappa (image). Bison Seal, Mohenjo-Daro (image). Inscribed Objects, Harappa (image). Seals and Tablets, Harappa (image). Seals and Sealing, Mohenjo-Daro (image). Seal, Mohenjo-Daro 1 (image). Seal, Mohenjo-Daro 2 (image). Seal, Mohenjo-Daro 3 (image). Seal, Mohenjo-Daro 4 (image). Silver Seal, Mohenjo-Daro (image). Seals, Mohenjo-Daro (image). Tokens or Tablets, Harappa (image). Male Head, Mohenjo-Daro (image). Male Head (back), Mohenjo-Daro (image). Priest King (image). Priest King (back) (image). Priest King (side) (image). Sculpture (image). Seated Male (back) (image). Seated Male (image). Figurines (image). Figurine Heads (image). Male Figurines (image). Female Figurine 1 (image). Female Figurine 2 (image). Bull Figurine and Mold (image). Bull Figurine (image). Ram Figurine (image). Dog Figurine (image). Tiger? Figurine (image). Turtle Figurine (image). Elephant Head (image). Monkey Figurine (image). Whistles (image). Terra Cotta Discs (image). Terra Cotta Cones (image). Terra Cotta Nodules (image). Painted Burial Pottery (image). Burial of an Adult Man, Harappa (image). Burial of a Woman and Infant, Harappa (image). Pointed Base Goblets (image). Cooking Vessel (image). Plate (image). Terra Cotta Bangles (image). Bangles (image). Ornaments (image). Necklace or Belt (image). Necklace (image). Faience Ornaments (image). Steatite Beads (image). Libation Vessels (image). Shell Ladle (image). Mask (image). Three Objects (image). Molded Tablet 1 (image). Molded Tablet 2 (image).
2575-2323 BCE: Egypt
Headrest with Fluted Pedestal (image).
2560 BCE: Egypt
Pharoah Khufu builds the Great Pyramid of Cheops.
2544-2260 BCE: Egypt
2500 BCE: Egypt
Gizeh - Sphinx et pyramide de Chéops (image).
2500-2350 BCE: Egypt
Statuette of Nedjemu 1 (image). Statuette of Nedjemu 2 (image). Statuette of Nedjemu 3 (image).
2465-2420 BCE: Egypt
Ka aper with Funerary Offerings (image).
2465-2323 BCE: Egypt
Seated Man (image). Peasants Driving Cattle and Fishing (image).
2340-2315 BCE: The Near East
Sargon I founds and rules the city-state of AKKAD, after leaving the city of Kish, where he was an important official. Sargon is the first ruler in history to maintain a standing army. Even so, his empire lasts less than two hundred years.
2320 BCE: The Near East
Sargon conquers the independent city-states of SUMER and institutes a central government. But by 2130, Sumer regains its independence from Akkadian rule, though it does not revert back to independent city-states. At this time, Sumer is ruled from the important city of Ur.
2300 BCE: Egypt
Saqqarah - Mastaba de Kagemni 1 (image). Saqqarah - Mastaba de Kagemni 2 (image). Saqqarah - Mastaba de Kagemni 3 (image). Saqqarah - Mastaba de Kagemni 4 (image). Saqqarah - Mastaba de Kagemni 5 (image).
2300-2200 BCE: The Near East
Cylinder Seal with Watergod, Birdman, and Deities (image).
2300-2200 BCE: India
Toy Carts, Nausharo (image). Female Figurines (image). Cooking Pots, Nausharo (image).
2300-2000 BCE: The Near East
Pair of Bull Statuettes (image).
2300-2000 BCE: India
Cultural exchange between the INDUS VALLEY civilization and MESOPOTAMIA (present day Iraq) is especially prominent.
2254-2193 BCE: The Near East
Cylinder Seal (image).
2213-2035 BCE: Egypt
Coffin of Ipi-Ha-Ishutef (image).
2205-1766 BCE: China
The Hsia Dynasty unfolds during this period, however, no archeological evidence to date has confirmed this.
2200 BCE: Egypt
The first intermediate period begins with the collapse of the Old Kingdom, mostly because of crop failure combined with low revenue due to the pyramid building projects. It ends in 2050.
2200 BCE: Greece
Indo-European invaders, speaking the earliest forms of Greek, enter the mainland of Greece, and the MYCENAEAN CIVILIZATION (named after the leading Greek city on the peninsula from 1600-1200 BCE) emerges.
2141-2122 BCE: The Near East
Gudea of Lagash (image).
2111-2095 BCE: The Near East
Foundation Figurine of King Ur-Nammu (image).
2100 BCE: The Near East
The Sumerian King List is written, recording all the kings and dynasties ruling SUMER from the earliest times. According to this list, Eridu is named as the earliest settlement, a claim that seems to be confirmed by archeological evidence.
2100-1800 BCE: The Near East
Female Figurine (image).
2061-1991 BCE: Egypt
Coffin of Nebetit (image).
2052-1778 BCE: Egypt
Model Boat with Figures (image).
2050 BCE: Egypt
The period of the Middle Kingdom begins with its capital at Thebes. It ends in 1786. Around this time, an early political treatise, The Plea of the Eloquent Peasant, is written, calling for a benevolent ruler.
2008-1957 BCE: Egypt
Triangular Loaf of Bread (image).
2000 BCE: Egypt
The Egyptians domesticate the cat for the purpose of catching snakes. Around this time, advances in astronomy enable the Egyptians to predict the annual flooding of the Nile.
2000-1900 BCE: India
Burial Pottery (image).
2000-1700 BCE: The Near East
Handmade Clay Figurines (image).
2000-1600 BCE: The Near East
The Old Babylonian period begins in MESOPOTAMIA after the collapse of SUMER, probably due to an increase in the salt content of the soil thereby making farming difficult. Considerably weakened by poor crops, and therefore a lack of surplus goods, the Sumerians are conquered by the Amorites, who are situated in BABYLON. Consequenly, the center of civility shifts to the north. Though they preserve most of the Sumerian culture, the Amorites introduce their semetic language, an early ancestor to HEBREW, into the region. Cylinder Seal with Presentation to the Weathergod (image). Plaque Showing a Harpist (image).
2000-1500 BCE: The Near East
Duck Weights (image).
2000-1500 BCE: Greece
MINOAN CIVILIZATION (named after the Cretan ruler Minos) reaches its height with its central power in Knossos on the island of Crete. This culture is apparently more female-oriented and peaceful than others at the time.
2000-1000 BCE: Rome
Indo-European immigrants slowly inhabit Italy by way of the Alps. They bring the horse, the wheeled cart, and artistic knowledge of bronze work to the Italian peninsula. Two different groups, the Greeks and the Etruscans, occupy different regions of the peninsula during the eighth century.
1990 BCE: Egypt
The Twelfth Dynasty, Egypt's "golden" age, begins. It ends with the Middle Kingdom in 1786. During this period, power is somewhat distributed through the social classes. Religion shifts from a wealth-based system to one based on proper conduct. Queen Soreknofru is one of the rulers during this dynasty.
1938-1759 BCE: Egypt
Model Granary (image).
1900 BCE: The Near East
The Epic of Gilgamesh is redacted from Sumerian sources and written in the semetic language. Thus, though Gilgamesh was Sumerian, his Epic is Babylonian.
1900-1750 BCE: The Near East
Pitcher with Built-in Strainer (image).
1900-1500 BCE: The Near East
Sometime between these dates a semetic group of nomads migrate from SUMER to CANAAN and then on to EGYPT. They are led by a caravan trader, the Patriarch Abraham, who will become the father of the nation of ISRAEL.
1878-1859 BCE: Egypt
Seated Statue of Sesostris III (image).
1875-1782 BCE: Egypt
Bust of a Man (image).