2nd Century, 101 to 200
The Japanese send an ambassador to China.
At the town of Arbela (now Irbil in northern Iraq), in Adiabene (soon
to be conquered and called Assyria by the Romans) - the Parthian king
Xosroes murders a Christian bishop.
Having become more aware of the world beyond China, the Chinese are
hearing rumors about places of godliness and paradise where the climate
is mild, where people are without sickness or disease and where people
govern themselves. One such paradise is thought to be in the mountains
of Tibet. There, it is said, waters give one immortality, one
can climb a mountain peak and become a spirit with the power to control
the wind and rain, or one can climb another nearby peak and ascend to
The Roman Emperor Hadrian visits Jerusalem and orders it rebuilt as a
Roman city, to be called Aelia Capitolina.
In China a seismograph has been invented.
132 - 135
A rebellion begins in Jerusalem, led by Simeon ben Kosiba, known by his
admirers as Bar Kokhba (Son of a Star). The foremost rabbi and Judaic
scholar, Akiva, has hailed Simeon as another King David the conqueror,
sent by God - in other words, the Messiah. Perhaps as many as 580,000
Jews die fighting, including Simeon ben Kosiba. Emperor Hadrian bans
Jews from Jerusalem for ten years. The Romans glut the slave
markets with Jewish captives. The prohibition against circumcision is
renewed and celebration of the Jewish festivals, observance of the
Sabbath, study of the Torah and possession of a scroll of Jewish Law
become punishable by death.
Zhangling has founded a Taoist church called "The Way of the Great
Masters," moving what was originally a prescribed way of life to an
organized religion. He earns the respect of local people by getting
done what the emperor's authorities have failed to do: repair roads and
bridges, store grain and distribute bread to the starving. Zhangling
has created a government that rivals the authority of the emperor.
161 Marcus Aurelius becomes Rome's emperor. He is a Stoic -
another philosopher king - and wants to do his best for Rome.
Iraeneus succeeds Bishop Pothinus (178) in Lyons. Iraeneus counts
twenty different varieties of Christianity and combats what he
considers heresies. He seeks conformity of views among Christians.
Before he dies in 202, the collections of books of the New Testament
will be formed. Other gospels are destroyed. There are only four
gospels he claims, just as there are only four winds, four corners of
the universe and four pillars holding up the sky. Some gospels are
buried, to be discovered centuries later on papyrus fragments preserved
by the dry climate in southern Egypt.
Marcus Aurelius has been fighting against Parthian military offensives
and invasions by Germans. Rome has also suffered from a smallpox
epidemic to be known as the Great Pestilence. He is disheartened by not
having been able to make the world a better place and blames humanity.
He has continued monarchy and authoritarianism by passing rule to his
son, Commodus, and he dies.
China, corruption has prevailed at the royal palace. Local gentry,
despite their Confucianism, are oppressing peasants. Reforms are
neglected. A Taoist named Zhang Jue, who calls himself "The Good Doctor
of Great Wisdom," has been moving about in the countryside, spreading
word of the emperor having lost the mandate of heaven, and he is
offering magical healing. His movement has grown to hundreds of
thousands, and the year to rise against the capital has arrived. This
is the Yellow Turban rebellion. Another civil war in China begins, to
last for years.
Rome's emperor, Commodus, is a disappointment. Commodus is assassinated.
Rule in the Roman Empire has passed to another soldier: to Lucius
Septimius Severus - the first emperor who is not distinctly of Roman
origin. He is Syrian. He believes in terror rather than conciliation.
He has sixty senators arrested and thirty executed for having sided
with his rival. He will expel Roman aristocrats from positions of
authority in and outside the army. power. During the rule of his
family, the Syrian sun god, Sol Invictus, will become an official god
of the empire. Rome is being swallowed by its empire.
Power in China has passed to warlords, and respect for Confucianism
fades with the collapse of the Han dynasty. Kingdoms have arisen in
southern Cambodia, and there Hinduism and Buddhism coexist peacefully.
The importation of camels to the Sahara has increased trading there.
The Soninke of Ghana is growing as a commercial power. Indonesians are
settling in Madagascar.
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