Athens and Sparta would soon have to become allies in the face of the largest external threat ancient Greece would see until the Roman conquest. After suppressing the Ionian Revolt, a rebellion of the Greek cities of Ionia, Darius I of Persia, King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, decided to subjugate Greece. His invasion in 490 BC was ended by the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon under Miltiades the Younger. A runner Pheidippides, ran from Marathon to Athens to bring the good news to Athenians, dying after he had delivered the message. Xerxes I of Persia, son and successor of Darius I, attempted his own invasion 10 years later, but despite his larger army he suffered heavy casualties after the famous rearguard action at Thermopylae (300 Spartans held up a Persian army of 100,000) and victories for the allied Greeks at the Battles of Salamis and Plataea. The Greco-Persian Wars continued until 449 BC, led by the Athenians and their Delian League, during which time the Macedon, Thrace, the Aegean Islands and Ionia were all liberated from Persian influence. Greece
The dominant position of the maritime Athenian 'Empire' threatened Sparta and the Peloponnesian League of mainland Greek cities. Inevitably, this led to conflict, resulting in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). Though effectively a stalemate for much of the war, Athens suffered a number of setbacks. The Plague of Athens in 430 BC followed by a disastrous military campaign known as the Sicilian Expedition severely weakened Athens. An estimated one-third of Athenians died, including Pericles, their leader. Sparta was able to form rebellion amongst Athens's allies, further reducing the Athenian ability to wage war. The decisive moment came in 405 BC when Sparta cut off the grain supply to Athens from the Hellespont. Forced to attack, the crippled Athenian fleet was decisively defeated by the Spartans under the command of Lysander at Aegospotami (near Troy). In 404 BC Athens sued for peace, and Sparta dictated a predictably stern settlement: Athens lost her city walls (including the Long Walls), her fleet, and all of her overseas possessions. Greece
Greece thus entered the 4th century under a Spartan hegemony, but it was clear from the start that this was weak. A demographic crisis meant Sparta was overstretched, and by 395 BC Athens, Argos, Thebes, and Corinth felt able to challenge Spartan dominance, resulting in the Corinthian War (395-387 BC). Another war of stalemates, it ended with the status quo restored, after the threat of Persian intervention on behalf of the Spartans. The Spartan hegemony lasted another 16 years, until, when attempting to impose their will on the Thebans, the Spartans suffered a decisive defeat at Leuctra in 371 BC. The Theban general Epaminondas then led Theban troops into the Peloponnese, whereupon other city-states defected from the Spartan cause. The Thebans were thus able to march into Messenia and free the population. Deprived of land and its serfs, Sparta declined to a second-rank power. The Theban hegemony thus established was short-lived; at the battle of Mantinea in 362 BC against Sparta, Thebes lost her key leader, Epaminondas, and much of her manpower, even though they were victorious in battle. In fact such were the losses to all the great city-states at Mantinea that none could establish dominance in the aftermath. Greece
The weakened state of the heartland of Greece coincided with the Rise of Macedon, led by Philip II. In twenty years, Philip had unified his kingdom, expanded it north and west at the expense of Illyrian tribes, and then conquered Thessaly and Thrace. His success stemmed from his innovative reforms to the Macedon army. Phillip intervened repeatedly in the affairs of the southern city-states, culminating in his invasion of 338 BC. Decisively defeating an allied army of Thebes and Athens at the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), he became de facto hegemon of all of Greece. He compelled the majority of the city-states to join the League of Corinth, allying them to him, and preventing them from warring with each other. Philip then entered into war against the Persian Empire but was assassinated by Pausanias of Orestis early on in the conflict. Alexander, son and successor of Philip, continued the war. Alexander defeated Darius III of Persia and completely destroyed the Persian Empire, annexing it to Macedon and earning himself the epithet 'the Great'. When Alexander died in 323 BC, Greek power and influence was at its zenith. However, there had been a fundamental shift away from the fierce independence and classical culture of the poleis—and instead towards the developing Hellenistic culture. Greece
After the death of Alexander his empire was, after quite some conflict, divided amongst his generals, resulting in the Ptolemaic Kingdom (based upon Egypt), the Seleucid Empire (based on the Levant, Mesopotamia and Persia), the kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor and the Antigonid dynasty based in Macedon. In the intervening period, the poleis of Greece were able to wrest back some of their freedom, although still nominally subject to the Macedonian Kingdom. Hellenistic Greece During the Hellenistic period, the importance of "Greece proper" within the Greek-speaking world declined sharply. The great centers of Hellenistic culture were Alexandria and Antioch, capitals of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria respectively.
The city states formed themselves into two leagues; the Achaean League (including Thebes, Corinth and Argos) and the Aetolian League (including Sparta and Athens). For much of the period until the Roman conquest, these leagues were usually at war with each other, and/or allied to different sides in the conflicts between the Diadochi (the successor states to Alexander's empire). The Antigonid Kingdom became involved in a war with the Roman Republic in the late 3rd century. Although the First Macedonian War was inconclusive, the Romans, in typical fashion, continued to make war on Macedon until it was completely absorbed into the Roman Republic (by 149 BC). In the east the unwieldy Seleucid Empire gradually disintegrated, although a rump survived until 64 BC, whilst the Ptolemaic Kingdom continued in Egypt until 30 BC, when it too was conquered by the Romans. The Aetolian league grew wary of Roman involvement in Greece, and sided with the Seleucids in the Roman-Syrian War; when the Romans were victorious, the league was effectively absorbed into the Republic. Although the Achaean league outlasted both the Aetolian league and Macedon, it was also soon defeated and absorbed by the Romans in 146 BC, bringing an end to the independence of all of Greece. Hellenistic Greece
By the 5th century BCE the kings of Persia ruled over territories roughly encompassing today's Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Macedonia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Kuwait, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Persian Empire Israel, Lebanon, Caucasia, many parts of Greece, parts of Central Asia, Egypt, Libya and northern parts of Arabia. Eventually by 480 BC the Persians went on to hold the greatest percentage of world population for an empire, and became the largest empire in ancient history.
Xerxes I (485–465 BC), son of Darius I, organized a massive invasion aiming to conquer Greece. Following his victory at the Battle of Thermopylae, Xerxes sacked the evacuated city of Athens and prepared to meet the Greeks at the strategic Isthmus of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf. In 480 BCE the Greeks won a decisive victory at the Battle of Salamis and forced Xerxes to retire to Sardis. The army which he left in Greece under Mardonius retook Athens but was eventually destroyed in 479 BCE at the Battle of Plataea. The final defeat of the Persians at Mycale encouraged the Greek cities of Asia to revolt, and marked the end of Persian expansion into Europe. After Xerxes, the Persian Empire continued to look formidable on the map. It crashed revolts in Egypt, and it interfered skillfully in the Peloponnesian War, in such a way as to enfeeble Greece and reduce its danger to her. Nevertheless, inner turmoil continued and there was the dynastic quarreling that destroys so many monarchies where no fixed system of succession is worked out. Finally the Persians were defeated by Alexander three times and were wiped out. The Seleucid Empire took their place. Persian Empire
Roman Republic was established around 509 BC, when the last of the seven kings of Rome, Tarquin the Proud, was deposed, and a system based on annually elected magistrates and various representative assemblies was established. A constitution set a series of checks and balances, and a separation of powers. The most important magistrates were the two consuls, who together exercised executive authority as imperium, or military command. The consuls had to work with the senate, which was initially an advisory council of the ranking nobility, or patricians, but grew in size and power. The Romans gradually subdued the other peoples on the Italian peninsula, including the Etruscans. The last threat to Roman hegemony in Italy came when Tarentum, a major Greek colony, enlisted the aid of Pyrrhus of Epirus in 281 BC, but this effort failed as well. The Romans secured their conquests by founding Roman colonies in strategic areas, establishing stable control over the region. In the second half of the 3rd century BC, Rome clashed with Carthage in the first of three Punic Wars. These wars resulted in Rome's first overseas conquests, of Sicily and Hispania, and the rise of Rome as a significant imperial power. After defeating the Macedonian and Seleucid Empires in the 2nd century BC, the Romans became the dominant people of the Mediterranean Sea. Rome
The study of the history of Carthage is often problematic. Due to the subjugation of the civilization by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War, very few Carthaginian historical primary sources survive. There are a few ancient translations of Punic texts into Greek and Latin, as well as inscriptions on monuments and buildings discovered in North Africa. However, the majority of available primary source material about Carthaginian civilization was written by Greek and Roman historians. These authors came from cultures which were nearly always in competition, and often in conflict, with Carthage. The Greeks contested with Carthage for Sicily, for instance, and the Romans fought the Punic Wars against Carthage. Inevitably the accounts of Carthage written by outsiders include significant bias. Recent excavation of ancient Carthaginian sites has brought much more primary material to light. Some of these finds contradict or confirm aspects of the traditional picture of Carthage, but much of the material is still ambiguous. Carthage
Carthage was one of a number of Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean that was created to facilitate trade from the cities of Sidon, Tyre and others from Phoenicia, which was situated in the coast of what is now Syria, Lebanon and Israel. In the 10th century BC, the eastern Mediterranean shore was inhabited by various Semitic-speaking populations, who had built up flourishing civilizations. The people inhabiting what is now Lebanon called their language Canaanite, but were referred to as Phoenicians by the Greeks. The Phoenician language was very close to ancient Hebrew, to such a degree that the latter is often used as an aid in translation of Phoenician inscriptions. Carthage was founded by Phoenician settlers from the city of Tyre, who brought with them the city-god Melqart. Philistos of Syracuse dates the founding of Carthage to c. 1215 BC, while the Roman historian Appian dates the founding 50 years prior to the Trojan War. The date from which Carthage can be counted as an independent power cannot exactly be determined, and probably nothing distinguished Carthage from the other Phoenician colonies in Africa during 800 - 700 BC. Carthage
The culture of Phoenician colonies had gained a distinct "Punic" characteristic by the end of the 7th century BC, indicating the emergence of a distinct culture in Western Mediterranean. In 650 BC, Carthage planted her own colony, and in 600 BC, she was warring with Greeks on her own away from the African mainland. Around 500 BC, it became a large and rich city and thus a major power in the Mediterranean. The resulting rivalry with Syracuse and Rome was accompanied by several wars with respective invasions of each other's homeland. Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War culminated in the Carthaginian victory at Cannae and led to a serious threat to the continuation of Roman rule over Italy; however, Carthage emerged from the conflict at its historical weakest after Hannibal's defeat at the Battle of Zama in 202 BCE. After the Third Punic War, the city was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BCE. However, the Romans refounded Carthage, which became the Empire's third most important city and the capital of the short-lived Vandal kingdom. It remained one of the most important Roman cities until the Muslim conquest when it was destroyed a second time in CE 698. Carthage
Syracuse has been inhabited since ancient times and had a relationship with Mycenaean Greece. Syracuse was founded in 734 or 733 BC by Greek settlers from Corinth and Tenea. The settlers found the land fertile and the native tribes to be reasonably well-disposed to their presence. The city grew and prospered, and for some time stood as the most powerful Greek city anywhere in the Mediterranean. The enlarged power of Syracuse made unavoidable the clash against the Carthaginians, who ruled western Sicily. In the Battle of Himera, Gelo, who had allied with Theron of Agrigento, decisively defeated the African force led by Hamilcar. In the late 5th century BC, Syracuse found itself at war with Athens, which sought more resources to fight the Peloponnesian War. The Syracusans enlisted the aid of a general from Sparta, Athens' foe in the war, to defeat the Athenians, destroy their ships, and leave them to starve on the island. In the early 4th century BC, the tyrant Dionysius the Elder was again at war against Carthage and kept that power from capturing the whole of Sicily. Apart from his battle deeds, Dionysius was famous as a patron of art, and Plato himself visited Syracuse several times. Syracuse
A democratic government was installed by Timoleon in 345 BC. But the struggle among the city's parties restarted after his death and ended with the rise of another tyrant, Agathocles, who seized power with a coup in 317 BC. He resumed the war against Carthage, with alternate fortunes. The Carthaginians interferred in the politics of Syracuse after the death of Agathocles (289 BC). Hiero II seized power in 275 BC. Hiero inaugurated a period of 50 years of peace and prosperity, in which Syracause became one of the most renowned capitals of Antiquity. Under his rule lived the most famous Syracusan, the mathematician and natural philosopher Archimedes. Among his many inventions were various military engines, later used to resist the Roman siege of 214 BC–212 BC. Hiero's successor, the young Hieronymus (ruled from 215 BC), broke the alliance with the Romans after their defeat at the Battle of Cannae and accepted Carthage's support. The Romans, led by consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus, besieged the city in 214 BC. The city held out for three years, but fell in 212 BC. It is believed to have fallen due to a peace party opening a small door in the wall to negotiate a peace, but the Romans charged through the door and took the city, killing Archimedes in the process. Syracuse
When Alexander the Great fought battles on the banks of Indus, that was India's first major contact with Europeans. In 321 BC, after Alexander's death, an Indian chieftain, Chandragupta, began the process of unifying India. Under him, a union of considerable portions of the peninsula took place for the first time. In 305 BC, he successfully held off an invading army sent into India by Seleucus I, the successor of Alexander in Asia. India The Mauryan dynasty, founded by Chandragupta reached its peak under Asoka, who came to the throne in 265 BC. He controlled all of India except for the extreme southern part. In 250 BC, India, under Asoka was at peace and prosperous. India under Asoka may have had a population of 30 million, considerably higher than that of any Hellenistic kingdom. In 236 BC, however, Asoka died and the Mauryan Empire disintegrated.
The Warring States Period covers the period from about 475 BC to the unification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. During these periods, the Chinese sovereign (king of the Zhou Dynasty) was merely a figurehead. The Seven Warring States were: Qin in the west, in the lower Wei River valley "within the passes"; Chu, on the southern frontier around the middle Yangzi River; Qi to the east in Shandong; Yan, in the far northeast near Beijing; and in the center, from south to north, Han, Wei, and Zhao. Some add an eighth state: Yue in the far southeast, near Shanghai. China In 221 BC, China was finally unified under the Qin dynasty. The first emperor was Shih Huang Ti. He wiped out all the traces of the long feudal past. He began to build the Great Wall of China. In 202 BC, Han dynasty replaced Qin dynasty but China remained unified.
… around 500 BC Pythagoreans teach that Earth is a sphere and not in the shape of a disk... … around 490 BC the Greek physician Alcmaeon of Croton is the first person known to have dissected human cadavers for scientific purposes... … around 490 BC in India Susrata performs the first cataract operation... … around 480 BC Greek philosopher Oenopides is believed to be the first to calculate the angle that Earth is tipped wrt the plane of its orbit, his value was 24 degrees … … around 480 BC Protagoras believes that sense perceptions are all that exists, so reality may be different from one person to another … … around 480 BC Heraclitus of Ephesus teaches that change is the essense of all being and that fire is the primary substance … … around 470 BC Anaxagoras claims that heavenly bodies are made of the same materials as Earth and that the sun is a large, hot, glowing rock ... … around 470 BC Socrates is born in Athens … … around 460 BC physician Hippocrates is born in Cos … … around 450 BC Pythagorean philosopher Philolaus suggests that there is a central fire around which the Earth, sun, moon and planets revolve, he also believes that Earth rotates … … to 440BC...
… around 440 BC Greek philosopher Empedocles of Akragas recognizes that the heart is the center of the system of blood vessels. He also introduces a system in which fire, air, earth and water are the elemental substances, they can undergo changes through the actions of two opposing forces, love and strife... … around 440 BC Greek philosopher Leucippus of Miletus introduces the first idea of the atom, and indivisible unit of matter... … around 440 BC Zeno of Elea expresses paradoxes contrasting continuity with discreteness... … around 430 BC Meton of Athens develops the Metonic cycle, the approximately 19-year period in which the motions of the sun and moon seem to come together from our vantage point; this period can be used to predict eclipses and forms the basis of the Greek and Jewish calendars... … around 430 BC Plato is born is Athens... … to 400 BC ...
… around 400 BC catapults operating on the principle of torsion are introduced by the forces of Philip of Macedon... … around 400 BC Hippocrates founds the profession of physicians, develops Hippocratic oath and encourages the seraration of medicine from religion... … around 390 BC Plato founds a school in a grove on the outskirts of Athens; since the groove once belonged to the hero Academos, the school is named the Academy... … around 390 BC Greek astronomer Heracleides suggests that Venus and Mercury may orbit the sun... … around 380 BC Democritus recognizes that the Milky Way consists of numerous stars, that the moon is similar to Earth, and that matter is composed of atoms... … around 370 BC Aristotle discovers that free fall is an accelerated form of motion, but believes that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter bodies... … in 352 BC Chinese observers report a supernova, the earliest known record of such a sighting... … around 350 BC Aristotle classifies animals; 500 known species are divided into eight classes... … to 350 BC ...
… around 350 BC Aristotle's De caelo (On the Heavens) def'nes chemical elements as constituents of bodies that cannot be decomposed into other constituents... … in 343 BC Aristotle bcomes the tutor of Alexander... … around 330 BC Kiddinu of Babylon works out an early version of the precession of the equinoxes... … in 334 BC Aristotle founds the Lyceum in Athens... … in 318 BC Prince Xuan establishes in the capital of the Qi state in China an academy of scholars... … around 300 BC Chinese astronomers compile star maps that will be used for the next several hundred years... … around 300 BC the Chinese concepts of yin and yang, paired opposites, are incorporated into the Chinese model of how the universe is organized... … around 300 BC Euclid's Elements summarizes and organizes the mathematical knowledge developed in Greece; it includes information on plane and solid geometry and the theory of numbers; it will be the basic textbook in mathematics for the next 2000 years... … around 300 BC convex lenses are introduced in Carthage... … to 300 BC ...
… in 283 BC the Pharos lighthouse is built in Alexandria... … around 280 BC Greek physician Erasistratus comes very close to recognizing the circulation of the blood, especially by noting the relationship of the lungs to the circulatory system... … around 270 BC Aristarchus of Samos challenges Aristotle's teachings by asserting that the sun is the center of the solar system and that the planets revolve around the sun; he estimates the distance of the sun from Earth by observing the angle between the sun and the moon when it is exactly half full... … around 250 BC the Maya develop their system of numeration, a place-value system based on 20 that is complete with zero... … around 250 BC the Mo Ching, a collection of writings by followers of Mo-tzu, contains a clear statement of the first law of motion later formulated by Newton... … around 250 BC Archimedes works out the principle of the lever and other simple machines; he demonstrates this by pulling a large ship onto land by himself... … to 250 BC ...
… in 240 BC Chinese astronomers observe Halley's comet in its first known recorded visit... … around 240 BC Eratosthenes of Cyrene (Libya) calculates the circumference of Earth from the difference in latitude between Alexandria and Aswan and finds a figure 46,000 km close to the present value... … around 230 BC Apollonius of Perge summarizes and extends the theory of the class of curves called conic sections... … around 200 BC Alexandrian engineer Ctesibius improves the water clock making it the most accurate timekeeping device available for nearly 2000 years... … around 190 BC Seleucus is born; he is the last astronomer to champion the heliocentric theory until Copernicus... … in 165 BC Chinese astronomers record sunspots, probably the first accurately dated record... … around 150 BC Hipparchus of Nicea draws up a listing of fixed stars and discovers the precession of the equinoxes... … around 140 BC the Chinese make paper; it is used as a packing material, for clothing and for personal hygiene, but not for writing...