History of the World in Objects and Art

20 000BC      
1200BC 800 1455 1820
700BC 1070 1500 1840
350BC 1205 1530 1868
200BC 1260 1600 1890
100BC 1290 1685 1910
30 1350 1755 1920
600 1400 1800 1950
History of the World in Objects and Art Timeline
1184 ВС
The Trojan War

Metalworking began with soft metals, such as gold or copper, used to make prestige objects. Later, people discovered that alloying copper with tin produced bronze, a metal strong enough for tools and weapons. As bronze-working spread across Europe, the need for tin (a rare metal) promoted international trade.
By the Early Bronze Age (from the late 3rd millennium все), weapons in burials reflect a society in which status depended on prowess in combat. Horse-drawn chariots with spoked wheels, introduced from the steppes on Europe's eastern fringes after 2000 все, were elite fighting vehicles. Increasing demand for metals, and for other prestige and practical materials, such as amber and salt, stimulated international trade, changing the direction of existing routes and promoting the rise of a continent-wide trading system.

Societies that were rich in metal ores benefited especially from the shift in trading patterns. Ships now plied long-distance trade routes around the Atlantic seaboard of Europe and along rivers. Warmer climatic conditions allowed farming to spread into previously uncultivable areas. Arable farming intensified, and livestock were particularly important.


By around 1300 все bronze was used for everyday tools. Cremation burials, often in vast urnfields and
usually with few grave goods, were now the norm over most of Europe. The onset of colder, wetter conditions around 1100 все brought harsher times, increasing conflict between neighbors and offerings to the gods. Fortified settlements now became common, providing a place of refuge for rural farmers and a high-status residence for local chiefs and their entourage. These settlements developed particularly at key places along trade routes, where chiefs could enhance their power and wealth by controlling the passage of goods.
Monumental achievement
Built of massive sandstone blocks and smaller Welsh bluestones, Stonehenge is the most impressive of a series of interconnected monuments on England's Salisbury Plain. It achieved its final form by 1900все.

Discoveries at Mycenae in the 1870s and at Knossos in the 1900s showed that the heroic world described by Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey was not mere legend but a record of Greece's first civilizations, the Mycenaeans and Minoans adventurous sea traders, skilled craftsmen, and painters of exquisite frescoes.
The 3rd millennium все saw changes that revolutionized life in the Aegean, including vine and olive cultivation and wooly sheep. Wine and olive oil could be stored as insurance against agriculturally poor years and accumulated as wealth by those with growing power; and wine played an important role in feasting. In the 2nd millennium все, sailing ships spurred participation in international trade. Exports included colorful woolen textiles, while metal ores were a major import, as bronze became increasingly part of life.

Around 2000rce, Minoan palaces appeared across the island of Crete. With large central courtyards and magazines of huge pottery storage jars, they originally hosted religious and public events, including processions and feasts. After an earthquake around 1750все, the palaces were quickly rebuilt, but political changes saw the rise of increasingly powerful new elites. Widespread destruction of unknown origin around 1500 все left Knossos as the only functioning palace. A change in the language of official
records reveals that it was now Mycenaeans from the southern Greek mainland who began to control Crete.

The Mycenaeans were already familiar with Minoan culture and craftsmanship, but theirs was a very different society, in which warfare between rival palace-states played a major role. Their palaces were built on citadels, surrounded by defensive walls of massive stone blocks. Artisans lived within or near the citadel, their products including bronze swords and boar's tusk helmets. Palace society collapsed around 1200все.
Palace ritual
Bull-leaping, often shown in Minoan art, probably actually took place, as a ritual. Bull iconography also permeates Minoan religion, and bulls may have been linked, as in later times, to the god held responsible for Crete's frequent earthquakes.

Canaan (the region between Egypt and Anatolia) was home to coastal city-states whose prosperity depended on trade and industry. Their inhabitants were known to the Classical Greeks as Phoenicians, after their fabulously expensive purple (phoinix) dye.
Exporting timber from their region's mountains to timber-poor neighbors enabled the city-states of Phoenicia (roughly, modern Lebanon) to obtain the grain, oil, and wool that their narrow coastal territories could not produce in sufficient quantity. Byblos, in the center, traded with Egypt by 1900 все. Others, especially Arwad in the north and Tyre and Sidon in the south, joined this trade later in the same millennium.

A ship wrecked off Anatolia around 1300 все gives a vivid picture of trade at this time. It was carrying copper ingots and fine pottery from Cyprus; tin, probably from Afghanistan; African ivory and ostrich eggs; and terebinth resin (for making perfume), glass ingots, and gold jewelry from Canaan. It had probably plied a circular route from Canaan via Cyprus and the Aegean to Egypt and home to Canaan.


The Phoenician city-states experienced a checkered history—the region was fought over and often controlled by the surrounding major powers, including the Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, and Persians. The Phoenicians' value as traders and skilled artisans, however, ensured that they retained a large degree of independence under foreign domination. The city-states were often bitter rivals, particularly Tyre and Sidon. To facilitate trade, obtain raw materials, particularly metals, and gain other economic benefits, some city-states established overseas colonies. Foremost was Tyre, which had colonies in the eastern Mediterranean, such as Kition on Cyprus, but also Carthage in Tunisia and Gadir (Cadiz) in Atlantic Spain. As seafarers, the Phoenicians were in demand by inland states such as Assyria and Persia to provide ships, ship-building and navigational know-how, and sailors and navies. King Solomon engaged Phoenicians from Tyre for his expedition to Ophir (probably the Horn of Africa).

Northern China's Shang dynasty is famously associated with oracle bone divination, bronze and jade craftsmanship, warfare and human sacrifice, and walled settlements. However, many of these cultural features began with their predecessors, the Xia culture, traditionally the first kings of northern China, or their 3rd-millennium все ancestors, the Longshan culture.
Around 1500все, the Shang succeeded the Xia culture. Work at Zhengzhou has revealed a city that was probably the first Shang capital. Its center, containing buildings that may have been palaces and elite burials, was surrounded by a massive wall of rammed earth. Outside lay a distillery, pottery, bone, and bronze workshops, and the artisans' houses.
Recent excavations have revealed the remains of another Shang city at modern Huanbei, which was probably a later capital, Xi'ang. After 50 years of occupation, however, its rulers appear to have deliberately destroyed it. The city was stripped of all its goods before being burned to the ground.

Around 1300 вен, the final Shang capital, Anyang, was built just across the Huan River at Yinxu. Excavations here have uncovered a palace and temple complex, with pits containing chariot burials, complete with horses and charioteers. Suburbs contained the homes of both the elite and ordinary people; industrial workshops, where artisans created prestige goods for the royal family and their entourage; and several cemeteries.

In one was the richly furnished grave of Fu Hao, consort of King Wu Ding, who died around 1200 все. Her burial chamber lay at the bottom of a huge pit, above which were many regal grave goods, including ivory vessels inlaid with turquoise, jade items, and the sacrificed remains of 16 people and six dogs.

Texts written on oracle bones reveal the numerous concerns of the Shang dynasty. These included many aspects of warfare, harvests, rainfall, hunting, settlement construction, and general good fortune. The Shang had conflicts with a number of their neighbors, such as the people inhabiting the area near the Yangtze (Changjiang) River to the south.


Another Shang enemy were the Zhou in the west, whose ruler overthrew the Shang king around 1027 все and established a new kingdom. Western Zhou kings were strong rulers, backed by a large, well-organized army. They pursued a policy of expansion, settling conquered areas under the rule of members of the royal clan.

Around 771 все, however, the Zhou kings were forced by invaders from the north to flee from their capital Zongzhou (near modern Xi'an) eastward to Luoyang, initiating the Eastern Zhou period. Centralized Zhou authority had declined and regional power had grown. The kingdom began slowly to disintegrate, with the rulers of the small states often fighting either the Zhou king or each other.
The situation declined throughout this "Spring and Autumn period," turning into all-out war for supremacy between the states after 481 все. By this time Zhou had shrunk to a small state itself.

The Zhou period saw the extension of many of the technological and social developments of the Shang period. These included bronze casting and other crafts, and trade and city life. It also included warfare, with more organized and larger armies, new weapons, and the growth of defensive architecture, including the rammed-earth border defenses that were eventually developed into the Great Wall.

Like many features of Shang culture, the use of special vessels for pouring and serving liquids began in earlier cultures. Vying for prestige with the splendor of their ritual feasts, Neolithic leaders would serve drinks in ritual vessels made of pottery. By Shang and Zhou times, such cult practices had become embedded in tradition, except the vessels were now made of bronze and the designs had become more elaborate.

Sets of ritual vessels were used in ceremonial banquets at which food and drink were offered to honor and placate the ancestors, who could influence the fate of their descendants, for good or ill. The make up of Shang ritual vessel sets reflects the elaborate formality of the ceremony, each vessel having its own specific purpose. The Zhou abandoned some Shang vessel types but introduced many new ones.

Social status was now reflected in the composition of an individual's ritual vessel set. Many bronze ritual vessels bear a dedication. These generally name the donor and the ancestor to whom the vessel is dedicated, and often express a hope that the vessel, placed in the clan ritual hall, would be treasured by future generations of descendants.

The Shang developed advanced casting technology to produce these elaborate bronze ritual vessels. A plain ceramic model of the vessel was prepared and a ceramic mold created around it. This was then cut off in sections and the fine detail added by incising the decoration into the mold pieces. When cast, these designs would appear on the vessel in relief. The mold and core were kept separate by inserting small metal spacers, which melted into the molten metal of the vessel during casting. Designs often included projecting flanges to disguise the casting seams at connections between pieces of the mold.

Unlike lost-wax casting, in which the mold has to be broken to remove the cast bronze object, the Chinese piece-mold casting allowed repeated mold use. It facilitated mass production, undertaken in large-scale official workshops rather than by individual craftsmen.

The first great civilization of South America was the Chavin, a culture named after their shrine at Chavin de Huantar, built high in the Peruvian Andes around 900все. The Chavin influenced many cultures in the Andean region, including the Paracas.
By 2600 все, Andean lowland communities were supported by rich marine resources and crops grown inland. Caral, in the Supe Valley in Peru, became a flourishing city, with elite residences, craft workshops, and shrines. After its decline around 1800 все, other lowland communities constructed vast temple complexes. After 900 все, these ceremonial centers were abandoned. The remains of small settlements, some of them fortified, suggest that conditions became harsher.
Chavin de Huantar in the highlands combined lowland architecture with iconography focused on Amazonian animals, perhaps a deliberate blending of regional religions. Controlling north-south and west-east trade routes, the shrine flourished as a pilgrimage center and oracle until 200 все. The adoption of Chavin iconography shows that the religion gained followers over most of Peru, including the Paracas culture to the south. Later, the Paracas developed new beliefs and practices.

The Olmec are often considered the "Mother Culture" of Mesoamerican civilization, displaying many features that were typical of later societies. These included ball courts, pyramid mounds, shamanism, and ritual blood-letting.
The land and rivers of the Olmec's tropical lowland home in the south of the Gulf of Mexico produced abundant food. By 1200 все, a major ceremonial center had developed at San Lorenzo, dominating a large region. Its layout demonstrates its rulers' power to command a huge labor force: terraces bearing houses and workshops, a vast plaza, and arrangements of massive stone monuments carved from basalt quarried 50 miles (80 km) away. Around 900 все, San Lorenzo's dominance passed to La Venta. Much of the region was abandoned around 400 все, although Olmec-related culture continued further north.

Distinctive Olmec objects, art, and architecture are known from many regions of Mesoamerica. They were probably introduced by Olmec traders seeking materials such as obsidian for tools and ritually significant goods such as magnetite mirrors from Oaxaca, stingray spines for bloodletting, greenstone from Guerrero and Guatemala, and exotic feathers.
701 ВС

Assyria and Judea at War