TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
Timeline of World History: Year by Year from Prehistory to Present Day

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  Illustrated History of the World

The Ancient World - ca. 2500 B.C. - 900 A.D.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The Ancient World

ca. 2500 B.C. - 900 A.D.
 

 
 


Judea and Arabia before the Romans

CA.1100 B.C.-136 A.D.
 

 


1 The "Shelter of the Pharaoh" of Petra,
capital of the Nabataea

As the Babylonian exile ended in 539 B.C., the returning Jews installed a priestly principality in Palestine, later taken over by the Maccabees. Herod the Great first established a secular kingdom. The ancient Arabian kingdoms benefited from the 2 Incense Road trade route connecting India and the Persian Gulf with the Mediterranean. These states, and the Nabataea of 1 Petra, acquired great wealth and made significant cultural developments. While Petra fell to Rome, southern Arabia was occupied by the Sassanids.



2 Perfume flacon from Jerusalem,
first century a.d.

 

Palestine from the Persians to the Maccabees
 

After their return from Babylon, the Jews were able to maintain their cultural and religious autonomy under changing regimes. The Maccabees finally established the first king/high priest monarchy.
 
   
 
David Roberts
Jerusalem
   
   
  see also:

David Roberts "A Journey in the Holy Land"

 

 

 
 
When the Persian king Cyrus II conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., he ended the "Babylonian captivity" of Jews captured by Nebucbadressar II in 588 B.C. Most of the Jews returned to the vicinity of Jerusalem, where they erected a shrine to Yahweh. They came into conflict with the Samarians and the Ancient Judeans who had settled there in the meantime.

It wasn't until 520-515 в.c. that the Jews were able to reestablish a central Yahweh cult in Jerusalem under a 3 high priest, who was simultaneously political leader of the Jews.



3 High priest and minor priest


Palestine remained a province of the Persian Empire until 332 B.C, when Alexander the Great incorporated it into his growing empire. After Alexander's death, it ultimately came under the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemies in 301, who allowed the Jews complete religious freedom. Around 200 B.C. a strong Hellenization of the Jewish culture began. In 198, Palestine and Phoenicia came under the domination of the Seleucid Antiochus III of Syria, who confirmed their religious freedom and constitution.

His son 4 Antiochus IV Epiphanes, however, deviated from this policy when he intervened in the conflicts between Jewish priestly families, attempted to introduce the Seleucid cult, and plundered the temple in 168 B.C.



4 Antiochus IV Epiphanes' portrait on a coin
 
 
 
 

Nebuchadrezzar II

Nebuchadrezzar II, (born c. 630—died c. 561 bc), the second and greatest king of the Chaldean dynasty of Babylonia (reigned c. 605–c. 561 bc). He was known for his military might, the splendour of his capital, Babylon, and his important part in Jewish history.

Nebuchadrezzar II was the oldest son and successor of Nabopolassar, founder of the Chaldean empire. He is known from cuneiform inscriptions, the Bible and later Jewish sources, and classical authors. His name, from the Akkadian Nabu-kudurri-uṣur, means “O Nabu, watch over my heir.”

While his father disclaimed royal descent, Nebuchadrezzar claimed the third-millennium Akkadian ruler Naram-Sin as ancestor. The year of his birth is uncertain, but it is not likely to have been before 630 bc, for according to tradition Nebuchadrezzar began his military career as a young man, appearing as a military administrator by 610. He is first mentioned by his father as working as a labourer in the restoration of the temple of Marduk, the chief god of the city of Babylon and the national god of Babylonia.

In 607/606, as crown prince, Nebuchadrezzar commanded an army with his father in the mountains north of Assyria, subsequently leading independent operations after Nabopolassar’s return to Babylon. After a Babylonian reverse at the hands of Egypt in 606/605, he served as commander in chief in his father’s place and by brilliant generalship shattered the Egyptian army at Carchemish and Hamath, thereby securing control of all Syria. After his father’s death on Aug. 16, 605, Nebuchadrezzar returned to Babylon and ascended the throne within three weeks. This rapid consolidation of his accession and the fact that he could return to Syria shortly afterward reflected his strong grip on the empire.

On expeditions in Syria and Palestine from June to December of 604, Nebuchadrezzar received the submission of local states, including Judah, and captured the city of Ashkelon. With Greek mercenaries in his armies, further campaigns to extend Babylonian control in Palestine followed in the three succeeding years. On the last occasion (601/600), Nebuchadrezzar clashed with an Egyptian army, with heavy losses; this reverse was followed by the defection of certain vassal states, Judah among them. This brought an intermission in the series of annual campaigns in 600/599, while Nebuchadrezzar remained in Babylonia repairing his losses of chariots. Measures to regain control were resumed at the end of 599/598 (December to March). Nebuchadrezzar’s strategic planning appeared in his attack on the Arab tribes of northwestern Arabia, in preparation for the occupation of Judah. He attacked Judah a year later and captured Jerusalem on March 16, 597, deporting King Jehoiachin to Babylon. After a further brief Syrian campaign in 596/595, Nebuchadrezzar had to act in eastern Babylonia to repel a threatened invasion, probably from Elam (modern southwestern Iran). Tensions in Babylonia were revealed by a rebellion late in 595/594 involving elements of the army, but he was able to put this down decisively enough to undertake two further campaigns in Syria during 594.

Nebuchadrezzar’s further military activities are known not from extant chronicles but from other sources, particularly the Bible, which records another attack on Jerusalem and a siege of Tyre (lasting 13 years, according to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus) and hints at an invasion of Egypt. The siege of Jerusalem ended in its capture in 587/586 and in the deportation of prominent citizens, with a further deportation in 582. In this respect he followed the methods of his Assyrian predecessors.

Much influenced by the Assyrian imperial tradition, Nebuchadrezzar consciously pursued a policy of expansion, claiming the grant of universal kingship by Marduk and praying to have “no opponent from horizon to sky.” From cuneiform fragments he is known to have attempted the invasion of Egypt, the culmination of his expansionist policy, in 568/567.

In addition to being a brilliant tactician and strategist, Nebuchadrezzar was also prominent in international diplomacy, as shown in his sending an ambassador (probably Nabonidus, a successor) to mediate between the Medes and Lydians in Asia Minor. He died about 561 and was succeeded by his son Awil-Marduk (Evil-Merodach of 2 Kings).

Nebuchadrezzar’s main activity, other than as military commander, was the rebuilding of Babylon. He completed and extended fortifications begun by his father, built a great moat and a new outer defense wall, paved the ceremonial Processional Way with limestone, rebuilt and embellished the principal temples, and cut canals. This he did not only for his own glorification but also in honour of the gods. He claimed to be “the one who set in the mouth of the people reverence for the great gods” and disparaged predecessors who had built palaces elsewhere than at Babylon and had only journeyed there for the New Year Feast.

Little is known of his family life beyond the tradition that he married a Median princess, whose yearning for her native terrain he sought to ease by creating gardens simulating hills. A structure representing these hanging gardens cannot be positively identified in either the cuneiform texts or the archaeological remains.

Despite the fateful part he played in Judah’s history, Nebuchadrezzar is seen in Jewish tradition in a predominantly favourable light. It was claimed that he gave orders for the protection of Jeremiah, who regarded him as God’s appointed instrument whom it was impiety to disobey, and the prophet Ezekiel expressed a similar view at the attack on Tyre. A corresponding attitude to Nebuchadrezzar, as God’s instrument against wrongdoers, occurs in the Apocrypha in 1 Esdras and, as protector to be prayed for, in Baruch. In Daniel (Old Testament) and in Bel and the Dragon (Apocrypha), Nebuchadrezzar appears as a man, initially deceived by bad advisers, who welcomes the situation in which truth is triumphant and God is vindicated.

There is no independent support for the tradition in Daniel of Nebuchadrezzar’s seven years’ madness, and the story probably arose from a fanciful later interpretation of texts concerned with events under Nabonidus, who showed apparent eccentricity in deserting Babylon for a decade to live in Arabia.

In modern times Nebuchadrezzar has been treated as the type of godless conqueror; Napoleon was compared to him. The story of Nebuchadrezzar is the basis of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Nabucco, while his supposed madness is the theme of William Blake’s picture “Nebuchadnezzar.”

Henry W.F. Saggs

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 
 
 

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IV Epiphanes, ( Greek: “God Manifest”) also called Antiochus Epimanes (the Mad) (born c. 215 bc—died 164, Tabae, Iran), Seleucid king of the Hellenistic Syrian kingdom who reigned from 175 to 164 bc. As a ruler he was best known for his encouragement of Greek culture and institutions. His attempts to suppress Judaism brought on the Wars of the Maccabees.


Early career
Antiochus was the third son of Antiochus III the Great. After his father’s defeat by the Romans in 190–189, he served as hostage for his father in Rome from 189 to 175, where he learned to admire Roman institutions and policies. His brother, King Seleucus IV, exchanged him for Demetrius, the son of Seleucus; and after Seleucus was murdered by Heliodorus, a usurper, Antiochus in turn ousted him. During this period of uncertainty in Syria, the guardians of Ptolemy VI, the Egyptian ruler, laid claim to Coele Syria, Palestine, and Phoenicia, which Antiochus III had conquered. Both the Syrian and Egyptian parties appealed to Rome for help, but the Senate refused to take sides. In 173 Antiochus paid the remainder of the war indemnity that had been imposed by the Romans on Antiochus III at the Treaty of Apamea (188).

Antiochus forestalled an Egyptian expedition to Palestine by invading Egypt. He defeated the Egyptians between Pelusium and Mount Kasion, conquered Pelusium, and in 169 occupied Egypt with the exception of Alexandria, the capital. Ptolemy VI was Antiochus’ nephew—Antiochus’ sister, Cleopatra I, had married Ptolemy V—and Antiochus contented himself with ruling Egypt as Ptolemy’s guardian, giving Rome no excuse for intervention. The citizens of Alexandria, however, appealed to Ptolemy VIII, the brother of Ptolemy VI, and to his sister Cleopatra II to form a rival government. Disturbances in Palestine forced Antiochus to return to Syria, but he safeguarded his access to Egypt with a strong garrison in Pelusium.

In the winter of 169/168 Perseus of Macedonia in vain begged Antiochus to join forces with him against the danger that Rome presented to all of the Hellenistic monarchs. In Egypt, Ptolemy VI made common cause with his brother and sister and sent a renewed request to Rome for aid, and Antiochus prepared for battle. The fleet of Antiochus won a victory at Cyprus, whose governor surrendered the island to him. Antiochus invaded Egypt again in 168, demanded that Cyprus and Pelusium be ceded to him, occupied Lower Egypt, and camped outside Alexandria. The cause of the Ptolemaeans seemed lost. But on June 22, 168, the Romans defeated Perseus and his Macedonians at Pydna, and there deprived Antiochus of the benefits of his victory. In Eleusis, a suburb of Alexandria, the Roman ambassador, Gaius Popillius Laenas, presented Antiochus with the ultimatum that he evacuate Egypt and Cyprus immediately. Antiochus, taken by surprise, asked for time to consider. Popillius, however, drew a circle in the earth around the king with his walking stick and demanded an unequivocal answer before Antiochus left the circle. Dismayed by this public humiliation, the king quickly agreed to comply. Roman intervention had reestablished the status quo. By being allowed to retain southern Syria, to which Egypt had laid claim, Antiochus was able to preserve the territorial integrity of his realm.


Efforts to hellenize the kingdom
Both economically and socially he made efforts to strengthen his kingdom—inhabited in the main by Orientals (non-Greeks of Asia Minor and Persia)—by founding and fostering Greek cities. Even before he had begun his reign he had contributed to the building of the temple of Zeus in Athens and to the adornment of the theatre. He enlarged Antioch on the Orontes by adding a section to the city (named Epiphania after him). There he built an aqueduct, a council hall, a marketplace, and a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus. Babylon, which revered him as Soter (Liberator, or Saviour) of Asia, was given a Greek colony that was granted freedom of the city. Another Epiphania was founded in Armenia. Ecbatana (in Persia) was also named Epiphania and became a Greek city. Many of these cities were granted the right to coin their own municipal currency. The mint of Antioch on the Persian Gulf served the trade along the sea route between India and the district at the mouth of the great Mesopotamian rivers.

Antiochus’ hellenizing policies brought him into conflict with the prosperous Oriental temple organizations, and particularly with the Jews. Since Antiochus III’s reign the Jews had enjoyed extensive autonomy under their high priest. They were divided into two parties, the orthodox Hasideans (Pious Ones) and a reform party that favoured Hellenism. For financial reasons Antiochus supported the reform party and, in return for a considerable sum, permitted the high priest, Jason, to build a gymnasium in Jerusalem and to introduce the Greek mode of educating young people. In 172, for an even bigger tribute, he appointed Menelaus in place of Jason. In 169, however, while Antiochus was campaigning in Egypt, Jason conquered Jerusalem—with the exception of the citadel—and murdered many adherents of his rival Menelaus. When Antiochus returned from Egypt in 167 he took Jerusalem by storm and enforced its Hellenization. The city forfeited its privileges and was permanently garrisoned by Syrian soldiers.


The revolt of Judas Maccabeus
The Greeks and those friendly toward them were united into the community of Antiochians; the worship of Yahweh and all of the Jewish rites were forbidden on pain of death. In the Temple an altar to Zeus Olympios was erected, and sacrifices were to be made at the feet of an idol in the image of the King. Against that desecration Judas Maccabeus, leader of the anti-Greek Jews, led the aroused Hasideans in a guerrilla war and several times defeated the generals Antiochus had commissioned to deal with the uprising. Judas refused a partial amnesty, conquered Judaea with the exception of the Acra in Jerusalem, and in December 164 was able to tear down the altar of Zeus and reconsecrate the Temple. Antiochus apparently had underestimated the strength of the Hasidean movement, which was behind the success in maintaining an independent Judaean state for about a century. The fighting spirit of the Jews was all the more impressive because at the beginning of their rebellion in 166 Antiochus had just demonstrated his might to the world at Daphne, near Antioch, with a grand review of his army: 46,000 foot soldiers were on parade, among them a Macedonian phalanx of 20,000 men and 500 mercenaries equipped with Roman arms, followed by 8,500 horsemen and 306 armoured elephants.

Antiochus then mounted a campaign against the Parthians who were threatening the empire in the east, recovered the income from that area, forced Artaxias of Armenia—who had defected—to recognize his suzerainty, founded the city of Antioch on the Persian Gulf, set out on an expedition to the Arabian coast, and, at the end of 164, died of an illness at Tabae (or Gabae, probably present Isfahan) in Persis. Many believers saw his death as a punishment for his attempt to loot the shrine of Nanaia in Elam (in modern Iran).

Hans Volkmann

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 
 

A Jewish revolt in Jerusalem was crushed and an altar to Zeus was installed in the temple. The Maccabee family overthrew the high priests in charge and led an uprising of the people.

5 Judas Maccabee ("the Hammer") drove the Seleucids from Jerusalem and restored the Yahweh cult in 164.

His successors extended their rule over Judea, made the high priest office hereditary, and Judaized the regions of Samaria, Idumaea, and Galilee.

Power struggles in the first century B.C. allowed the Romans to intervene in Judea, installing Hyrcanus II (76-40 B.C.) but granting him only limited powers.

When the Maccabean king 6 Antigonus Mattathias allied with the Parthians, he was captured and executed in 37 B.C.

 
 

Mattathias

Mattathias, (died c. 166 bc), Jewish priest and landowner of Modein, near Jerusalem, who in 167 defied the decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Syria to Hellenize the Jews; he fled to the Judaean hills with his five sons and waged a guerrilla war against the Syrians, being succeeded by his son Judas Maccabeus. Because, according to Josephus, Mattathias’ great-great-grandfather was called Hasmoneus, the family is often designated Hasmonean rather than Maccabee.


 

Judas Maccabeus

Judas Maccabeus, also called Judah Maccabee, Maccabeus also spelled Maccabaeus (died 161/160 bce), Jewish guerrilla leader who defended his country from invasion by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, preventing the imposition of Hellenism upon Judaea, and preserving the Jewish religion.

The son of Mattathias, an aged priest who took to the mountains in rebellion when Antiochus attempted to impose the Greek religion on the Jews, Judas took over the rebel leadership on his father’s death and proved to be a military genius, overthrowing four Seleucid armies in quick succession and restoring the Temple of Jerusalem. This deed is celebrated in the Jewish festival of lights, Hanukka. On Antiochus’ death in 164 bce, the Seleucids offered the Jews freedom of worship, but Judas continued the war, hoping to free his nation politically as well as religiously. Although he himself was killed two years later, his younger brothers took over the fight, finally securing the independence of Judaea.
 

 


5 Judas Maccabeus Pursuing Timotheus, by Dore

 

 


6 Mattathias Appealing to the Jewish Refugees, by Dore

 

 

The Punishment of Antiochus, by Dore

 

 

Judas Maccabeus Before the Army of Nicanor,  by Dore

 

 
 
 
 
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