With every passing second, new events are taking place all around the world. Each one of them brings about some change that is seen to have a direct effect on the upcoming time. This text covers the ancient history and period ranges from 3500 B.C.E. to 500 C.E. Additionally, some of the basic pre-historic events are also included here.
This list compiles a few of the greatest events that happened in ancient history. We are also not generalizing on events. Most significant events that took place include the following categories:
- Natural Events
- Birth of Religions
- Advancement in Technology
- Artists and Creators
- Religious Propagation and much more.
Timeline: Events that changed our world
We start our journey from ancient history with a few events and move to modern history. Not everything on this list will interest you. Take a look at the index below and skip to the topic that you find relevant. Ancient history is a wide subject. We handpicked the best of events that make the list complete. Suggestions are welcomed.
- Big Bang: The Universe Gets into Creation
- Formation of Earth
- Extinction of Dinosaurs
- The Great Pyramid Constructed
- Hammurabi’s Code: First Legal System
- First Olympic Games
- Siddhartha Gautama Attains Enlightenment
- Leonidas and the Brave 300 Spartans
- Socrates Made to Drink Poison
- Plato’s Academy
- Alexander Battles for Issus
- Ashoka Commits to Peace
- China: 4,00,000 Buried Alive
- Eureka: Archimedes Discovers Way to Measure Density
- Julian Calendar: Modern Calendar Founded
- The Birth of Jesus Christ
1. Big Bang: The Universe gets into Creation
- Event Name: Big Bang
- Event Time: 13.7 billion years ago
Yes. You heard the above line right. To those who have had the fascinating experience of getting in touch with Physics, you may know that. Everything in this world came into creation at the time of Big Bang. This included Matter, Energy, Space and Time.
Temperatures in the range of billions of Kelvins were prevalent at the event. The density of matter is thousands of times greater than that of steel. Even atoms and other subatomic particles cannot stay in stable form. Everything came out of “singularity”. Big Bang was perhaps one of the greatest events in world history.
The Hubble space telescope pointed to a location that seemed to be empty space. The area was of size equal to 1/10th of that of the moon in its nearby region. Light collected for four months in a row generated an image. The area that seemed empty and dark in reality hosted dozens of galaxies far bigger than our Milky Way. Our point of interest is many of them were as far as 13 billion light years. We could see how our universe looked at the time of its creation, i.e. in its early stage.
Big Bang is a theory published in the late 1950’s. It still remains unchallenged with a positive opinion from most of the researchers.
2. Formation of Earth
- Event Name: Formation of Earth
- Event Time: 4.5 billion years ago
As one can roughly state, our planet is about one-third of the age of the universe. One can see from the graphic that historical situation of our planet was not meant to support any life forms. There was a total absence of atmosphere. This resulted in frequent collisions from asteroids and comets. The landscape was laden with molten lava and hot rocks. Temperatures were high for any life forms to survive. Water was absent on the surface of the earth. Due to this, it took at least another billion years until the first life forms came into being.
It is also believed that there occurred a collision of our planet with a large heavenly body. This made its axis of rotation tilted. Debris thrown out was enough in quantity to form our ‘Moon’. The formation of the earth took place with the formation of our solar system. Everything of a ‘Dust-Cloud’ composed of Hydrogen and Helium.
3. Extinction of Dinosaurs from the Planet
- Event Name: Dinosaurs Extinction
- Event Time: 65 million years ago
Scientists have long debated on what was the reason behind their extinction. Not only did the Dinosaurs got wiped from the planet but also several species of other animals, plants, marine animals, birds, and reptiles. Most theories suggest that a large asteroid hit the earth scattering the debris over large areas and resulting in Tsunamis, Volcanic eruptions and subsequent Blackout due to atmospheric pollution.
The extinction of dinosaurs was not the biggest extinction event in world history. There have been many other where more than 95% of living species went extinct after the event. Despite this fact, dinosaurs have been researched and fancied upon the most by paleontologists making it to our list.
4. The Great Pyramid Constructed
- Event Name: Construction of the Great Pyramid
- Event Time: 2575 B.C.E.
Looking at the Great Pyramid, one of the largest monuments to date and an architectural wonder, it makes one wonder about the technological and architectural advancement that human civilization achieved 4000 years ago.
Each of the stones, from the 2.3 million blocks of stone used in the construction of the Pyramid weighted more than a ton. Construction of such a massive object, about 130 meters high in such a short period was astounding. It is structured in a perfect square tetrahedral form with an inclination of the sides matching exact alignment. The Great Pyramid was aligned with the star Orion to let the soul of the king reach the stars. The tomb for King Khufu is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and undoubtedly its construction was one of the greatest events that happened.
5. Hammurabi’s Code: First Legal System
- Event Name: Existence of Hammurabi’s Code
- Event Time: 1760 B.C.E
Hammurabi, the king of Babylon from 1782 B.C.E laid down a judicial structure based on 282 laws creating the first ever noteworthy legal system. This has also been one of the earliest scripts to be deciphered entirely. The laws defined in detail what kind of punishments are to be enforced upon specific sets of crime.
A system of professional judges was also set up to give rulings on various cases. Each convict was tried in a proper system of law. Property rights, Marriage rights, and host of other laws were enforced. Even the king was meant to abide by the laws. Some punishments were harsh but despite that, the ambiguity in the punishment enforced upon criminal was removed with the endurance of legal principles, including the collection of evidence, the presumption of innocence and avoiding random justice which was the case in most civilizations at that time.
Hammurabi’s code marks a milestone in history due to its completeness and the time period when it was enacted. One may find communities in the current modern period that are playing upon laws more orthodox than those at the times of Hammurabi.
6. First Olympic Games Held
- Event Name: First Olympic Games
- Event Time: 776 B.C.E.
From this year, the Olympic games were held every year for 400 years until they were temporarily discontinued. Historians suggest and popularly believe that the games held at 776 B.C.E. were not the first ones, but first to be recorded. The games were held in a stadium with the capacity of about 40000 at Olympia.
King Iphitus, 9th-century B.C.E was believed to be the one who arranged the games at Olympia. The games were held every four years since then. Such was their importance that the games were used as a reference to make the count of passing years. Olympiad refers to a period of 4 years historically used as a unit. Olympic games were originally religious in intent in honor of Zeus. A Greek myth suggests that it was Zeus himself who after his victory over his father Cronos, initiated the Olympic games.
7. Siddhartha Gautama Attains Enlightenment
- Event Name: Prince Siddhartha Attains Enlightenment
- Event Time: 527 B.C.E.
The religious literature describes the life of Gautama Buddha. He sat below a bodhi tree in meditation at Bodh Gaya. Siddhartha Gautama determined not to move until he reached full enlightenment.
After seven weeks of meditation, he attained enlightenment on the night of full moon. Buddha translates to ‘The Enlightened One’.
He traveled for 45 years and preached all over Asia. He laid the foundation of Buddhism, considered one of the most peaceful religions. Buddhism as a religion is now followed by over 300 million people. It goes beyond being just a religion. Buddhism preaches the way of life, being aware of our actions and develop sound understanding.
8. 300 Spartans: Courage and Determination
- Event Name: War Between Persians and Spartans
- Event Time: 480 B.C.E.
Xerxes achieved both victory and defeat when its massive army invaded Sparta. The battle was one of the most significant in the history. Sparta was remembered as the one who “didn’t lose and didn’t give up“.
The Persian army with the strength of perhaps 2,50,000 was led by Xerxes. He was determined to avenge the defeat of his father Darius. The Persian army aimed at defeating Athenians and conquering Greece. Spartans decided to fight at land while the Athenians fought at sea.
The Spartan army was numbered no more than 7000, including 300 heavily armed Spartans. The defenders worked collectively for 2 days and fought wave after wave of attacks. The fight was termed “Battle of Thermopylae”. Eventually, a farmer named Ephialtes betrayed the Spartans by showing a way around the mountain, and the Spartan army was surrounded. The final stand by Spartans was ended by Persian arrows.
The incredible fight put up by Spartans initiated a new wave of determination among the Athenians. Their resolve to fight was strengthened and the cities united.
9. Socrates Made to Drink Poison
- Event Name: Philosopher Socrates dies after drinking poison hemlock
- Event Time: 399 B.C.E.
Socrates had a reputation of being a sociopath. He had a band of devoted followers and liked to debate on various ideas. He asked difficult and irritating questions relative to those times and mocked those in power. He was also associated with some of the discredited leaders if Athens.
Socrates was the founding personality of the western philosophy. Plato and Aristotle were one of his pupils, credited for significant efforts on research and thinking. No writings of Socrates by himself are known, and this event was taken from the Dialogues of Plato.
He was put on trial for disrespecting the gods and corrupting the men of the state. He has the option of paying a fine for removal of charges but he instead chose not to, claiming he had done nothing wrong. Socrates was given the death penalty by drinking poison hemlock, a herb that paralyzes the nervous system.
In his last movements, he debated on the immortality of soul and life after death with the friends that had gathered around him. He drank the poison in one swallow and death followed quickly.
10. Plato’s Academy: Philosophy and Science
- Event Name: Plato’s Academy Set Up
- Event Time: 387 B.C.E.
Plato was one of the pupils of Socrates and was the founder of Academia. Academia was one of the first institutes of higher studies in the western world.
It was set in a park of olive groves and was also used for religious festivals and sports events. The area was used for teaching for some decades before Plato. It is not known if there was an official setup, but Plato is thought to have taught there until his death for 40 years. Aristotle was a regular attendee of Plato’s Academy for about 20 years.
Academy survived for several hundred years and became well knows as the school of philosophers.
11. Alexander Battles for Issus
- Event Name: Alexander Defeats Darius in Battle at Gulf of Issus
- Event Time: 333 B.C.E.
The Persian army was outnumbering Macedonian forces by more than three-fold. The armies, divided by small stream met for battle at the Gulf of Issus and witnessed one of the most significant battles of history.
Alexander was the leading commander of his troops which numbered no more than 50,000 men. On the other hand, the Persian army led by Darius is said to have been 6,00,000 in number. The figures may have ambiguity but it was certain that the Persians were most likely to defeat Alexander.
Alexander himself attacked Darius’s position with joint attacks by his cavalries. Darius fled the battle and his troops retreated, resulting in total collapse of Persians. The defeat made Alexander unstoppable in his further journey, where he conquered most of Asia. At the time of his death, he was just 32 years old and is often called out as one who conquered the world.
12. Emperor Ashoka Commits to Peace
- Event Name: Ashoka Adopts Buddhism
- Event Time: 260 B.C.E.
Emperor Ashoka invaded his neighboring kingdom Kalinga and emerged victoriously. 1,00,000 men were accounted to be killed and another large number of men injured. Filled with remorse and regrets after witnessing the landscape of horror he had painted, he embraced Buddhism and determined never to conquer by violence.
The afterlife of Ashoka, after the Kalinga war, is said to be spent in constructive reforms. He ordered to build treatment centers, wells, and rest houses. His authoritative texts were written over stone columns and 33 of them were erected at various locations in his kingdom. Largest of them being the Sarnath column, which is 50 feet high.
Despite all his efforts, the empire he established broke down within a few decades of his death.
13. China: 4,00,000 Buried Alive
- Event Name: Zhao Army of 4,00,000 Buried Alive
- Event Time: 260 B.C.E.
First of its kind unified Chinese empire was created after the western kingdom of Qin defeated its six major rivals including Zhao. This key battle between Qin and Zhao was known as Gaoping. It has also been illustrated in major media and feature films.
The Qin army numbered more than half a million men. In a turn of events, the Qin army manages to surround Zhao’s army blocking it around a hilltop. Zhao army surrendered after the commander Zhao Kuo was killed. The Qin commander had an entire army of more than 4,00,000 men buried in a course of a single night in an attempt to prevent mass revolt. Archaeologists unearthed remains with a large number of bones in mid-1990’s, supposedly belonging to this event.
14. Eureka: Archimedes Discovers Way to Measure Density
- Event Name: Archimedes Discovers Buoyancy
- Event Time: 250 B.C.E.
Archimedes was given the task of finding out whether a crown was made of pure gold by the king of Hieron. This was to be done without damaging the crown.
Once while taking bath he noticed that the water level rose when he got in. He realized that he could measure the density by weighing the crown in water. The density is mathematically weight/volume, where weight was already known and volume can be calculated based on the mass of displaced water. This discovery made him so excited that he is said to have run naked in the street calling out “Eureka“, meaning I’ve found it.
Archimedes was both practical and theoretical scientist having works on mechanics, hydrostatics, refraction, and mathematics. He is also credited for the invention of the Archimedes screw and Mechanical Lever. During the siege of Syracuse, he set Roman ships on fire by using mirrors and sunlight.
15. Julian Calendar: Modern Calendar Founded
- Event Name: Modern Solar Calendar Founded
- Event Time: 45 B.C.E.
Early dates were based on the lunar calendar, making a year of 355 days. The extra days were supposed to be added later and were announced by the authority to keep up with the solar year.
On the advice of Astronomer Sosigenes, Julius Caesar introduced a newly revised calendar known as Julian Calendar. It was accurate to minutes and was based on a solar year of 365 days and a quarter day. An extra day was added every 4 years. Astronomer Sosigenes had over-calculated the length of the solar year by 11 minutes, 14 seconds and due to this, by the 1500’s, seasonal dates were shifted by as much as 10 days. Pope Gregory XIII revised this error and published his calendar which is still in use today.
16. The Birth of Jesus Christ
- Event Name: Jesus Christ Born
- Event Time: January 6, 4 – 1 B.C.E
Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity is born who becomes a powerful personality, teacher and spiritual healer later on. The tales from the bible are more likely to be mythological. The date of birth, month, or even the year is not mentioned in the bible. According to analysis, it is likely to be in the period between 4 – 1 B.C.E. soon after the reign of King Herod. Early Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus on January 6. The fourth century onward it was celebrated on the 25th of December.
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History is full of adventures. This text contains a few parts of pre-historic history as well to be compatible with the timeline. Due to the limitations of a blog post, it is not possible to include all possible events.
The data mentioned here may contain ambiguity. Exact time and date when an event happened or its location can be commented on. We welcome suggestions in comments.