Timeline: 1000 to 501 BCE
Phoenician commerce network,
Shang rule is overthrown by rugged nomadic warriors. A new dynasty of
Zhou kings rule. They claim that in heaven their gods have ousted the
rule of the Zhang gods. A shortage of rainfall sends Aryan tribes from
the Indus Valley to the plains of the Ganges Valley. Aryan tribal kings
have been changing from elected leaders to autocratic rulers, allying
themselves with the priesthood and associating themselves and their
power with their gods. People in western Africa are clearing portions
of tropical forest with stone axes. They plant yams, harvest fruits and
palm nuts and keep goats. In eastern Africa, south of the Sahara,
cattle raising is spreading alongside people who farm.
Findings of Lapita pottery will tell athropologists that by now people
originally from the Bismarck Archipelago have passed through Melanesia
and have reached Tonga.
970 King David is succeeded by his son Solomon. Hebrews are
writing a Phoenician language that includes words of Sumerian origin
and have learned stories carried by that language. Religious toleration
prevails as it had under David. Solomon has temples built for his
wives, who worship gods other than the Hebrew god, Yahweh. Solomon has
a temple constructed for Yahweh.
928 Around this year, King Solomon dies.
900 A writer, to be known as J, because he or she describes
God as Jahweh, has or will soon write stories about the creation of
Israel from 250 to 100 years before. (See Authors of the Bible, Fred
900 The Maya are migrating into the lowlands of the Yucatan
Peninsula, where they will grow beans, maize, chili peppers and squash.
900 Findings of Lapita pottery will tell anthropologists that
people originally from the Bismarck Archipelago passed through
Melanesia , and the earliest Lapita archeological site in Polynesia ,
in the Tonga Islands, begins. Lapita culture exists also in the Samoan
900 In India, traditional stories have been put into writing
called the Vedas - Veda meaning wisdom. Those opposed to this form of
communicating their religion are ignored. The Vedas are considered an
infallible source of timeless and revealed truth. In the coming century
the writings called Upanishads begin, by persons interested in the
relations between self and universe, an addition to Hinduism often
associated with the Vedas and beyond Hinduism's routines of ritual
sacrifices - a collection of as many as two hundred books to be written
across two centuries. One writer will speculate as to how many gods
really exist and he will conclude that there is really only one god.
Kingdoms in the Middle East
including Edom, around 830 BCE
Middle East, Egypt, Judah
and Assyrian Empire, 800 to 671 BCE
Canaanites called Phoenicians are the leading seafaring traders in the
Mediterranean Area. They are influenced linguistically by the
Egyptians. The Phoenician alphabet, called by some a Proto-Canaanite
alphabet, is spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean
world. See a modern replica of a Phoenician trading ship at
853 King Ahab of Israel, allied with the
Phoenicians and with Damascus, defeats the empire-building Assyrians at
QarQar in Syria.
815 The city of Carthage , on the coast of North
Africa, is founded by Phoenicians from the city of Tyre.
In the coming century, Edom comes into existence as a social and
on mainland Greece are trading again with peoples east of them, and the
writing that disappeared with the invasions of previous centuries
reappears. A sense of religious community has developed among Greece's
aristocrats, and, beginning in 776, aristocrats from various
city-states hold mid-summer religious festivals at Olympia . Greeks
believe Olympia to be the center of the world and the home of the gods.
In this century, the poet Homer reworks oral history on the Trojan War
into writing. Called the Iliad, Homer's work is about an age of heroes.
He praises warrior society and describes all as the doing of the gods.
tribesmen overrun Zhou civilization. Zhou kings rule in name only as
the Zhou empire fragments into various power centers.
The year Roman legend claims Romulus and Remus founded Rome.
Nubians again invade Egypt. The Nubian king, Piankhi, moves his capital
to Memphis and starts Egypt's 25th dynasty. An Egyptianization of
Nubian culture is beginning, including the use of Egyptian writing.
Egyptian is to be the official language of Nubian government, and gods
among the Nubians acquire Egyptian names.
Assyria overruns Israel, disperses the Israelites and takes thousands
as slaves. Israel as a nation vanishes. The Assyrians see their god,
Assur, as having given them victory over the god of the Hebrews.
Assyria's army moves through Judea, conquers Egypt in 676 and
establishes the greatest of empires to date. The great Assyrian god,
Assur, is seen as having defeated the Hebrew god, Yahweh. As with some
other peoples, Hebrews see suffering as punishment for sin.
Aryan migrations into the Ganges Valley are over or coming to an end.
Cities are rising in the Ganges Valley. Traders, merchants, landlords
and money lending appear. In the coming century, Indians trade with the
Assyrian Empire, Arabia and with the Chinese. In the West the Lydians
are the first to make coins.
In the coming decades, rebellions against kings occur in various Greek
city-states. Kings are replaced by cliques of wealthy men -
oligarchies. During the political turmoil people will find relief in a
new religious cult that promotes everlasting life, community and
emotional abandon. Its god is Dionysus, a god of fertility and
vegetation. Men of wealth and power fear that worship of Dionysus might
disrupt the order upon which they depend, but most Greeks hold onto the
gods with whom they grew up, and many believed more in reason than in
letting their emotions lead them to an acceptance of promises of
Legendary founding of Japan by Emperor Jimmu.
Egypt breaks away from Assyrian rule. Soon cities in Canaan also break
away, and Phoenicia begins ignoring Assyrian directives.
With the end of Assyrian rule comes a resurgence of worship of the god
Yahweh. King Josiah and Yahwist priests move against worshippers of
other gods. The priests claim that a scroll has been found in a secret
archive within Solomon's temple, a scroll signed by Moses. The scroll
is used as a weapon against rival worship. An official intolerance
rises that had not been the policy of kings David, Solomon, Jeroboam,
Ahab and others. The practices of rival worship are forbidden:
witchcraft, sorcery, using omens, worshiping images of gods in wood or
stone, orgiastic fertility festivals, human sacrifices and temple
rituals involving prostitution and homosexuality. Homosexuality is
labeled an abomination.
A Chaldean army drives north from around Sumer and expels the Assyrians
The Medes and Chaldeans overrun Assyria's capital, Nineveh. Its walls
are broken by siege engines that Assyria introduced centuries before.
Assyrian communities, more than two thousand years old, are obliterated.
The Chaldeans overrun Jerusalem and Judah, while driving the Egyptians
back to Egypt.
An Egyptian army sacks the Nubian city of Napata , along the upper
Nile. Nubians push into Meroe .
Jerusalem rebels against Chaldean rule. The Chaldeans burn the city and
tear down its walls and Solomon's temple. They round up about forty
thousand from Judah as captives, including political leaders and high
priests, and take them to their capital, Babylon.
A solar eclipse occurs that was predicted by a wealthy Greek man of
leisure, an engineer and thinker, Thales, 39. Thales believes in the
gods but is interested in the nature of things apart from magic. He
theorizes that the world is in essence water. He mentors Anaximander,
who rejects his ideas and develops a more complex theory about nature
In Persia, the Zoroastrian religion explicity forbids slavery.
The Greek Pythagoras studies the movements of celestial bodies and
mathematics. He blends his observations with Greek religion into what
he believes is a theological coherence.
A Persian, Cyrus II, is expanding his empire and overthrows King
Croesus of Lydia, in Asia Minor.
Cyrus conquers Babylon. There the captive high priests of Yahweh
worship are liberated and see Cyrus as an agent of Yahweh. They expect
Cyrus to inflict Yahweh's vengeance upon the wicked Babylonians. But
Cyrus fails to punish Babylon. He honors Babylon's gods and disappoints
The Greek Xenophanes rejects mysticism, divine revelations and
Pythagoras. He describes the gods of Homer as morally bankrupt. All
they have taught men, he says, is theft, adultery and mutual deceit. He
ridicules seeing gods as human-like and says that if oxen, horses or
lions had hands to make images of their gods they would fashion them in
their own image. He speculates that the earth stretches infinitely in
all directions, that the earth is infinitely deep and that air extends
infinitely upwards. He imagines a god as a central force in the
universe but not human-like in shape, thought or emotions: a god that
is everywhere and everything, a god that is the whole universe. And his
belief that god is nature and nature is god leaves him open to the
charge that he believes in no god at all.
Darius extends Persian rule through the Khyber Pass to the Indus River.
The Persians still rule in Egypt, Asia Minor and everywhere in between,
Confucius is around forty. The use of iron has brought a higher
productivity in agriculture in China, followed by a greater rise in
population, urban growth and new wealth, and this has loosened social
stratification. Confucius attributes the ills of his time to people
neglecting the rituals or performing incorrectly the rituals of the
early Zhou kings. Unlike other scholars of his time who become
reclusive, Confucius tries to teach proper respect.
Roman nobles fed up with their Etruscan king drive him from power. The
city of Rome becomes independent of the Etruscans and a republic.
In Athens, Greece, progressive members of the upper class unite with
commoners in a popular rising against an oligarchy supported by Sparta.
A democracy of sorts is created. Slavery in Athens lives on. Women in
Athens are subject to custody of their fathers, their husbands, and,
when they are widowed, their sons.
The Greek philosopher from the city of Ephesus, Heraclitus , is around
forty. Rather than dwell on harmony, he sees conflict as a part of
nature. He sees conflict producing change, and, recognizing conflicting
interests, he introduces objectivity and compromise into deciding
questions of justice.
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