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

The Persian Empire, the world's first superpower, spanned three continents, stretching from Egypt to Afghanistan at its height. It respected foreign customs allowing different peoples to preserve their laws, languages, and religions.
The Persian Empire is also known as the Achaemenid dynasty, after Achaemenes, the earliest known Persian king, who ruled in what is now southern Iran around 700все. But the real founder of the empire was King Cyrus the Great, who conquered the rest of Iran, Anatolia, and the Babylonian Empire in the early 6th century все.
Persian power peaked in the late 6th and early 5th centuries under the fourth ruler, Darius I. He divided the
empire into 20 provinces, or satrapies, each with a satrap, or governor. His subjects paid taxes and tribute to the king, but they were free to manage their own affairs.

In 330 век, Alexander the Great of Macedon conquered the Persian Empire. But the Achaemenid lineage was not forgotten, the rulers of two later Persian empires, the Parthians (247bce-224ce) and the Sasanian Persians (224-65Ice), both claimed to be heirs of the Achaemenids.
539 ВС

The Founding of the Persian Empire
The royal guards
King Darius's palace at Susa had a huge apadana, or audience hall, decorated with a glazed brick frieze showing the king's guards, armed with spears and bows, on parade.
539 ВС

The Founding of the Persian Empire
The civilization of ancient Greece, at its peak between the sixth and fourth centuries все, was one of the most influential the world has ever seen. The Greeks introduced the alphabet to Europe and changed politics, science, philosophy theater, and the study of history, among many other achievements. The influence of Greek art and architecture, passed on by the Romans, is still visible all around us.
After the fall of the Bronze Age civilizations, there was a long "Dark Age." Not much is known about Greek history during this period, but we know more about the later Archaic ("old") Age, from 800 to 500 все. Overseas trade flourished and the Greeks founded many settlements around the Mediterranean. A new alphabet was introduced, and Homer composed his epic poems about the Trojan War.


In the Classical Age, between the 6th and 4th centuries все, Greek civilization was at its height. Architects built stone temples with tall columns, which were decorated with magnificent sculptures, as well as theaters.
This was the age of many great thinkers, such as Herodotus, the first historian; Pythagoras, the founder of mathematics; and Hippocrates, who pioneered a new scientific approach to medicine. The philosophers Thales and Heraclitus questioned the basic substance of the universe, and Socrates raised the all-important philosophical question, "What is the right way to live?"


The Greeks did not belong to a single state, living instead in hundreds of rival poleis, or city-states, which were often at war with each other. Each polis, which included the city and surrounding countryside, had its own calendar, laws, public assemblies, and coins. There was also an area, called an acropolis, where the chief temples of the polis were located. The most powerful poleis were Athens and Sparta.

Although divided and competitive, the Greeks felt they had a shared identity. They were united by their worship of the same gods and shared religious festivals, such as the Olympic Games. The Greeks looked down on foreigners, calling them barbarians—because to Greeks, foreign languages sounded like meaningless "bar-bar" noises.

In the 5th century все, the Persians made two attempts to conquer Greece, but the Spartans and Athenians, leading an alliance of Greek poleis, defeated both invasions. Athens then led a league of seafaring poleis to free those Greeks who were under Persian control. Gradually, the Athenians turned the league into their own empire. The rise of Athenian power alarmed the Spartans, and in 431 все a war broke out between the two poleis. It was difficult for either side to win, for Sparta was stronger on land and Athens at sea. The war lasted a long 27 years, ending in a Spartan victory.


In the late 4th century все, the Greeks were finally united under the rule of King Alexander the Great of Macedon. He also conquered the Persian Empire, spreading the Greek way of life from Egypt to Afghanistan. His successors founded large kingdoms, such as the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. This period, until about 146 все, is known as the Hellenistic (Greek) Age. At the end of this time, the Romans conquered all the Greek kingdoms. But Greek remained the common language of the eastern Mediterranean.
Home of the divine
The Greeks believed that at holy places, such as Delphi, the gods would give them advice through oracles. So before making any important decision, such as whether to go to war, a polls would send messengers to Delphi to ask the god Apollo's priestess for advice.

Rome was one of the biggest and best-organized empires in history. At its height in 117ce, the empire stretched 2,300 miles (3,700km) from north to south and 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from east to west, it included all the lands around the Mediterranean Sea, which the Romans called Mare Nostrum, or "Our Sea." Many aspects of this formidable empire have remained in the modern world.
The Romans became so powerful that they even created a myth to describe the founding of their city. They claimed that Romulus, the son of the war god Mars, established Rome in 753 все. Archaeology shows that Rome actually began as a small farming settlement in western central Italy in the 9th century все, growing into a town by the late 7th century вен. Rome was ruled by kings until 509 все, when the last king, Tarquin the Proud, was driven out in a coup mounted by the aristocrats. The Romans then set up a Republic ("affair of the people"). Instead of a king, Rome was governed by annually elected magistrates, with two consuls who were the heads of state and commanders of the army. They ruled with the advice of the Senate, an assembly of serving and former magistrates. The Senate became the ultimate decision-making authority of the Republic. Roman republican society was divided into the free and the nonfree (slaves).


The Republic made allies with, or conquered, first the plain of Latium, and then the whole of Italy. This gave
Rome great wealth and vast reserves of manpower for further wars of conquest. Rome's rise to power in Italy led to conflict with the rival Empire of Carthage, which controlled western Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and southern Spain. Between 246 and 146все, Rome fought and won three wars against Carthage, becoming a formidable naval power in the process. Victory in the second war (218-201 все) turned Rome into a Mediterranean superpower. The Romans then began to intervene in wars between the Hellenistic Greek kingdoms of the east. By 146 все, they had conquered Greece. As a result of these conquests, a vast number of slaves were brought to Italy. Slave labor was used on an extensive scale for building projects.


Warfare gave ambitious Roman generals the opportunities to win great wealth, power, and glory. Eventually, leading generals wanted more power in Rome: in the 1st century все, the rivalry between the generals led to a series of civil wars that destroyed the republican system. The final victor of these conflicts, Octavian, became Rome's first emperor, Augustus, in 27 все. The Roman Empire left a far-reaching legacy. One of the reasons behind the success of the Romans was that, unlike other ancient empires, they welcomed foreigners, offering them citizenship. At first, this was only given as a reward for loyalty, or for serving as auxiliaries in the Roman army. But under Emperor Caracalla (211-217 ce), citizenship was given to every free male inhabitant of the empire. Apart from slaves, all men could now call themselves Romans. Slaves could also earn their freedom, and their children could go on to become citizens.


Although the Roman Empire finally fell in 476, its influence is still felt today. The Roman calendar, alphabet, and hundreds of words derived from Latin are still in use. Our coins are modeled on Roman coins, and Roman law is the basis of many modern legal systems. The US political system is based on that of the Roman Republic. Christianity, a late Roman religion, is followed by 2.1 billion people worldwide. The Pope is called the Pontifex Maximus, the title of Rome's chief priest.
514 ВС

The Killing of the Tyrant Hipparchus in Athens
499 ВС

The Graeco-Persian Wars

The most important Greek festival was the Olympic Games, a great sports event held every four years at Olympia in southern Greece. It was staged in honor of Zeus, king of the gods, and attended by men from all over the Greek world. It was so important that warfare was suspended while the games took place, to allow Greeks to travel safely to Olympia. The games, established in 776 все, gave the Greeks a common dating system and a shared sense of identity.


The Greeks created hundreds of myths, or traditional stories, to explain the relationship between gods and humans, how cities were founded, and why religious rituals were performed. The Cawdor vase seen here features a myth invented by the Greeks to explain the origin of the Olympic Games.


Oenomaus, son of the war god Ares, was the ruler of Elis in southern Greece. A great charioteer and lover of horses, he named his daughter Hippodamia (horse tamer). Fearful of a prophecy that he would be killed by his son-in-law, he found a way to prevent Hippodamia from marrying.

Every time a suitor arrived, King Oenomaus would challenge the young man to a chariot race across southern Greece. The suitor was given a head start, while Oenomaus sacrificed a ram to Zeus, the ruler of the Olympian gods, at Elis. The king would go on to win the race, thanks to a pair of divine horses given to him by Ares, the god of war. Oenomaus would kill the defeated suitor with a magical spear, another gift from Ares, and cut off his victim's head, nailing it above the palace gates.


Oenomaus was eventually defeated by Pelops, with the help of divine horses given to him by Poseidon, the sea god. Pelops also bribed Oenomaus's charioteer, Myrtilus, to replace the bronze axle pins on Oenomaus's chariot with wax ones. Just as Oenomaus was catching up with his rival in the race, his chariot wheels flew off, and he was dragged to his death. Pelops became the king of Elis, married Hippodamia, and established the Olympic Games to celebrate his victory.
399 ВС
The Death of Socrates

From the 6th century все, a great Iron Age civilization stretched across Europe, from Spain to the Balkans. Its warlike people, the Celts, shared common religious beliefs and spoke related languages that survive today as Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Irish, and Breton. Skilled metalworkers, they made distinctive art with rich, swirling patterns.
The Celts lived as hundreds of different tribes and did not think of themselves as a single people. Yet they were seen as distinctive by their southern neighbors, the Greeks and Romans. The term Celt comes from Keltoi— the name that the Greeks used for these people. The Greeks and Romans were shocked by many Celtic practices, such as headhunting and human sacrifice.


Celtic tribes were often at war with each other, and evidence for conflict survives in the form of their many defensive structures, including hill forts and Scottish brochs (towers).
Celtic armies also threatened the lands of the Mediterranean, sacking Rome in 391 все and invading Greece in 279 все. Some of the invaders of Greece then crossed into Anatolia (modern Turkey), settling in an area called Galatia. Celtic was spoken in Galatia until the 5th century ce.


Contact with the Mediterranean world brought changes to Celtic society. From the 3rd century все, the Celts built fortified towns, which the Romans called oppida— a term derived from the Latin word ob-pedum, which means "enclosed space." The largest of these towns was built at Manching (modern Germany). The town covered 940 acres (380 hectares) and had a population of 5,000 to 10,000 people. Oppida were great centers for manufacturing and trade, where the Celts minted their own coins, modeled on Greek examples.


Most of the Celtic lands were eventually absorbed into the Roman Empire, and the Celtic way of life disappeared. Many Celtic languages survived, however, and in Ireland and Scotland, which were never conquered, Celtic traditions continued until recent times.