Timeline of World History: Year by Year from Prehistory to Present Day







The Ancient World

ca. 2500 B.C. - 900 A.D.


Armenia and Asia Minor from the

Diadochoi to the Romans

550 B.C.-CA 200 A.D.


Armenia and the kingdoms of Asia Minor were the point of intersection between the Orient and the Greco-Hellenic - and later Roman - world. Stubbornly protective of their independence, these slates were constantly under threat from the great powers, particularly Rome in the first century B.C. Under Mithradates VI, however, Pontus proved to be an opponent the Roman rulers could not easily dismiss.

Armenia and Bithynia

Armenia first gained independence from the Selcucid Empire in the second century B.C. It became the first Christian nation around 300 A.D. Bithynia maintained its independence at first, but later came under Roman control.

Armenia was heir to the ancient Kingdom of Urartu. Initially used only by the Scythians and Cimmerians as a passage to other regions, it became a province of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia about 550 B.C. After the conquest by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C., it was awarded to the Seleucids but then occupied by the Parthians. The defeat of Antiochus III of Syria led to a division of the country in 189 B.C.

King Titranes I was able to unite the region ayain about 90 B.C. In addition, he enlarged the kingdom in the west, conquering Cappadocia and the remains of the Seleucid kingdom with Phoenicia and Cilicia. In 69 B.C., however, he was defeated by the Romans and lost the conquered territories. Armenia became a contested buffer state between the Romans and Parthians, and later the Sassanids.

Around 300 A.D., Bishop 3 Gregory the illuminator converted Armenia to Christianity, creating the first Christian state even before the conversion of Rome.

3 The baptism of King Tiridates III.

The head of the 1, 2 Armenian Church - also known as the Armenian Apostolic or Gregorian Church - is the supreme catholicos.

The Armenian Church adheres to Monophysitic doctrine and has, up to the present day, maintained its independence from other Christian churches.
The Kingdom of Bithynia in the north-west of Asia Minor was ruled since the end of the fourth century B.C. by a local dynasty able to repel even Alexander the Great and the Diadochoi. In 264 B.C. its most significant ruler, Nicomedes I, founded the capital of Nicomedia, becoming a center of Hellenistic culture. The last Bithynian king, Nicomedes IV (95—75 B.C.), was expelled by Mithradates of Pontus, but returned to the throne in 84 with the help of Sulla. In return, he bequeathed his kingdom to Rome, who took possession in 74 B.C.

2 The Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on the island Ahtamar


1 Relief on the Armenian Church of
the Holy Cross on the island Ahtamar,
with a depiction of Goorgo the Dragonslayer

A detail of David and Goliath from the cathedral



Cyril of Alexandria, icon painting


Monophysitism, a religious doctrine founded by Alexandrian theology, states that Jesus Christ, as the son of God, had only one nature (mono physis), the divine.

He is seen as the incarnate word of God. In contrast, Catholicism and Orthodoxy teach that Jesus has two natures—divine and human.

That "Christ is truly God and truly human" was confirmed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, whereupon the Monophysite churches—those in Egypt (Coptic), Armenia, and Ethiopia— split away from the Catholic and Orthodox churches.




From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monophysitism (from the Greek monos meaning 'one, alone' and physis meaning 'nature'), or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Christ has only one nature (divine), as opposed to the Chalcedonian position which holds that Christ has two natures, one divine and one human. Monophysitism and its antithesis, Nestorianism, were both hotly disputed and divisive competing tenets in the maturing Christian traditions during the first half of the fifth century; a tumultuous period being the last decades of the Western Empire, and marked by the political shift in all things to a center of gravity then located in the Eastern Roman empire, and particularly in Syria, the Levant, and Anatolia, where Monophysitism was popular among the people.

There are two major doctrines that can indisputably be called Monophysite (IPA: /məˈnɒfəsɪt/):

Eutychianism holds that the human and divine natures of Christ were fused into one new single (mono) nature: his human nature was "dissolved like a drop of honey in the sea".
Apollinarism or Apollinarianism holds that Christ had a human body and human "living principle" but that the Divine Logos had taken the place of the nous, or "thinking principle", analogous but not identical to what might be called a mind in the present day.
After Nestorianism, taught by Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople, was rejected at the First Council of Ephesus, Eutyches, an archimandrite at Constantinople, emerged with diametrically opposite views. Eutyches' energy and imprudence with which he asserted his opinions brought him the accusation of heresy in 448, leading to his excommunication. In 449, at the controversial Second Council of Ephesus Eutyches was reinstated and his chief opponents Eusebius, Domnus and Flavian, deposed. Monophysitism and Eutyches were again rejected at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

Monophysitism is also rejected by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, but was widely accepted in Syria and the Levant leading to many tensions in the early days of the Byzantine Empire.

Later, Monothelitism was developed as an attempt to bridge the gap between the Monophysite and the Chalcedonian position, but it too was rejected by the members of the Chalcedonian synod, despite at times having the support of the Byzantine emperors and one of the Popes of Rome, Honorius I. Some are of the opinion that Monothelitism was at one time held by the Maronites, but the Maronite community, for the most part, dispute this, stating that they have never been out of communion with the Catholic Church.

Miaphysitism, the christology of the Oriental Orthodox churches, is sometimes erroneously considered as a variant of Monophysitism, but these churches view their theology as distinct from Monophysitism and anathematize Eutyches.




Cappadocia and Pontus

Cappadocia allied itself with Rome, as did early Pontus. However, under Mithradates VI, Pontus became a dangerous enemy of the Roman Empire. After Mithradates was defeated, Rome controlled all of Asia Minor.

Cappadocia, in the east of Asia Minor, was originally a Persian province, but gained independence after the death of Alexander the Great. It managed to assert itself against the Diadochoi but eagerly assimilated Hellenistic culture. After 190-189 B.C. Cappadocia was allied with Rome. From 114-113 B.C. it was threatened by Mithradates of Pontus, who styled himself the defender of the kings. About 100 B.C.

Mithradates murdered King Ariarathes VII and installed his own son as Ariarathes IX.

8 Mithadates of Pontus stables his son Ariarathes

After Rome's victory over Mithradates, Cappadocia came under direct Roman control. In 36 B.C., Mark Antony appointed the loyal Archelaus as king, and after Archelaus' death, Tiberius made Cappadocia a Roman province.

The Kingdom of Pontus on the north coast of Asia Minor was the last significant opponent of Rome. With its capital at Amaseia, the kingdom was politically separated into eparchies, each of which had its own administrative center. Starting in the third century B.C., Pontus brought the Greek cities of Asia Minor under its control.

While Pontus had earlier been an ally of Rome, conflict between the two developed under Pontus's son 7 Mithradates VI Eupator.

7 Mithradates VI Eupator

In 112 B.C., when the Greek cities called for aid against Rome, Mithradates used it as an opportunity to occupy the Bosporus and the Chersonese, as well as to subjugate the Crimea and southern Russia up to Armenia Minor. Attempts to incorporate these territories into his kingdom ultimately led to war with Rome.

In the First Mithradatic War (89-84 B.C.), Pontus occupied all of Asia Minor and Greece, but was forced to a settlement after its defeat by Sulla in 84. In 74-73 B.C. Mithradates occupied Bithynia and thereby ignited the Second Mithradatic War. After initial successes, the "Hellenized barbarian" was defeated by Pompey in 63. His successor allied with Rome, which now controlled the whole region of Asia Minor. In 40 B.C., Rome appointed Darius, Mithradates' grandson, king. The kingdom was then dissolved in 64 a.d. and integrated into the Roman Empire as administrative provinces.

It was probably during wars with Mithradates that the ancient Indo-Iranian 4, 5, 6, 9 cult of Mithras spread through the Roman army.

Mithras worship was prominent even in Rome, primarily through its mixing with the state cult Sol Invictus. Numerous Mithras shrines were built. Only with the expansion of Christianity did its influence fade.

4 Mithras shrine in the minor church of San Clemente in Rome


6 Mosaic depicting the seven grades
of consecration, Ostia Antica,
second half of third century a.d.

9 Ritual meal in a Mithras shrine


Mithradates VI Eupator

Mithradates VI Eupator, in full Mithradates VI Eupator Dionysus, byname Mithradates the Great, Mithradates also spelled Mithridates (died 63 bc, Panticapaeum [now in Ukraine]), king of Pontus in northern Anatolia (120–63 bc). Under his energetic leadership, Pontus expanded to absorb several of its small neighbours and, briefly, contested Rome’s hegemony in Asia Minor.

Mithradates the Great was the sixth—and last—Pontic ruler by that name. Mithradates (meaning “gift of [the god] Mithra”) was a common name among Anatolian rulers of the age. When Mithradates VI succeeded his father, Mithradates Euergetes, in 120 bc, he was then only a boy, and for a few years his mother ruled in his place. About 115 bc, she was deposed and thrown into prison by her son, who thereafter ruled alone. Mithradates began his long career of conquest by dispatching successful expeditions to the Crimea and to Colchis (on the eastern shore of the Black Sea). Both districts were added to the Pontic kingdom. To the Greeks of the Tauric Chersonese and the Cimmerian Bosporus (Crimea and Straits of Kerch), Mithradates was a deliverer from their Scythian enemies, and they gladly surrendered their independence in return for the protection given to them by his armies. In Anatolia, however, the royal dominions had been considerably diminished after the death of Mithradates V: Paphlagonia had freed itself, and Phrygia (c. 116 bc) had been linked to the Roman province of Asia. Mithradates’ first move there was to partition Paphlagonia and Galatia between himself and Nicomedes III of Bithynia, but next he quarreled with Nicomedes over Cappadocia. On two occasions he was successful at first but then deprived of his advantage by Roman intervention (c. 95 and 92). While appearing to acquiesce, he resolved to expel the Romans from Asia. A first attempt to depose Nicomedes IV of Bithynia, who was completely subservient to the Romans, was frustrated (c. 90). Then Nicomedes, instigated by Rome, attacked Pontic territory, and Mithradates, after protesting in vain to the Romans, finally declared war (88).

Nicomedes and the Roman armies were defeated and flung back to the coasts of the Propontis and the Aegean. The Roman province of Asia was occupied, and most of the Greek cities in western Asia Minor allied themselves with Mithradates, though a few held out against him, such as Rhodes, which he besieged unsuccessfully. He also sent large armies into Greece, where Athens and other cities took his side. But the Roman generals, Sulla in Greece and Fimbria in Asia, defeated his forces in several battles during 86 and 85. In 88 he had arranged a general massacre of the Roman and Italian residents in Asia (80,000 are said to have perished), in order that the Greek cities, as his accessories in the crime, should feel irrevocably committed to the struggle against Rome. As the war turned against him, his former leniency toward the Greeks changed to severity; every kind of intimidation was resorted to—deportations, murders, freeing of slaves. But this reign of terror could not prevent the cities from deserting to the victorious side. In 85, when the war was clearly lost, he made peace with Sulla in the Treaty of Dardanus, abandoning his conquests, surrendering his fleet, and paying a large fine.

In what is called the Second Mithradatic War, the Roman general Lucius Licinius Murena invaded Pontus without provocation in 83 but was defeated in 82. Hostilities were suspended, but disputes constantly occurred, and in 74 a general war broke out. Mithradates defeated Marius Aurelius Cotta, the Roman consul, at Chalcedon, but Lucullus worsted him outside Cyzicus (73) and drove him, in 72, to take refuge in Armenia with his son-in-law Tigranes. After scoring two great victories at Tigranocerta (69) and Artaxata (68), Lucullus was disconcerted by the defeat of his lieutenants and by mutiny among his troops. In 66 Lucullus was superseded by Pompey, who completely defeated both Mithradates and Tigranes.

Mithradates then established himself in 64 at Panticapaeum (Kerch) on the Cimmerian Bosporus and was planning an invasion of Italy by way of the Danube when his own troops, led by his son Pharnaces II, revolted against him. After failing in an attempt to poison himself, Mithradates ordered a Gallic mercenary to kill him. His body was sent to Pompey, who buried it in the royal sepulchre at Sinope, the Pontic capital.

Mithradates was a man of great stature and physical strength, a brave fighter, and a keen hunter. He was also ruthless and cruel. But it cannot be denied that Mithradates was a ruler of astonishing energy and determination, or that he possessed political skill of a high order. That he was one of the few men to offer a serious challenge to the Roman Republic is sufficient testimony to his ability. He organized the forces at his disposal very effectively, and he had a good grasp of strategy. He was unlucky in having to face three exceptionally brilliant Roman generals; unlucky, too, in coming to power at a time when the Hellenistic world was in the final stage of its collapse. It is quite conceivable that had he been born a century earlier he could have constructed an enduring Greco-Asiatic empire. A cunning, brutal tyrant, he concerned himself solely with maintaining and strengthening his own power. He posed as the champion of Hellenism, but this was mainly to further his political ambitions; it is no proof that he was deeply imbued with Greek culture or that he felt a mission to promote its extension within his domains. Hellenism made advances in Pontus during his reign, as it had under his predecessors, but this was a natural process. He treated all alike; Greek, Roman, and Asian were welcome at his court provided that they could be of use to him (his military subordinates were mostly Greeks, though in later years he employed several Roman renegades), but he trusted no one. Just as it is impossible to speak of his favouring one religion or culture above another, so it is impossible to believe that he had any notion of bringing Greeks and Asians closer together in a new kind of political and social system. His posing as a liberator of the Greeks from Roman oppression and, later, his encouragement of social revolution in the Greek cities of the province of Asia can only be interpreted, in both cases, as the actions of an opportunist seeking immediate political advantages.

Roger Henry Simpson

Encyclopædia Britannica


5 Mithras kills the bull, marble sculpture, second с


Double-faced Mithraic relief. Rome, second to third century CE. Louvre Museum.
Top: Mithras killing the bull, being looked over by the Sun god and the Moon goddess.
Bottom: Mithras banqueting with the Sun god.


Tauroctony of Mithras at the Brukenthal National Museum


A mithraeum found in the ruins of Ostia Antica, Italy.