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Timeline: 1000 to 501 BCE

Phoenician trading

Phoenician commerce network, click to enlarge

1000  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.

1000  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 Glynn, p.52.)

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 Islands.

900  In India, traditional stories have been put into writing called the VedasVeda 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.

The Middle East, including Edom, around 830 BCE

Kingdoms in the Middle East,
including Edom, around 830 BCE
click to enlarge

Middle East and Assyrian Empire, 800 to 671 BCE

Middle East, Egypt, Judah
and Assyrian Empire, 800 to 671 BCE click to enlarge

900  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 http://looklex.com/e.o/slides/phoenician_boat01.jpg

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.

800  In the coming century, Edom comes into existence as a social and political entity.

776  People 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.

771  Chuanrong tribesmen overrun Zhou civilization. Zhou kings rule in name only as the Zhou empire fragments into various power centers.

753  The year Roman legend claims Romulus and Remus founded Rome.

730  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.

721  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.

700  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.

675  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 eternal bliss.

660  Legendary founding of Japan by Emperor Jimmu.

655  Egypt breaks away from Assyrian rule. Soon cities in Canaan also break away, and Phoenicia begins ignoring Assyrian directives.

640  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.

623  A Chaldean army drives north from around Sumer and expels the Assyrians from Babylon.

612  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.

598  The Chaldeans overrun Jerusalem and Judah, while driving the Egyptians back to Egypt.

593  An Egyptian army sacks the Nubian city of Napata, along the upper Nile. Nubians push into Meroe.

587  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.

585  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 and change.

550  In Persia, the Zoroastrian religion explicity forbids slavery.

550  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.

547  A Persian, Cyrus II, is expanding his empire and overthrows King Croesus of Lydia, in Asia Minor.

539  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 priests.

530  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.

517  Darius extends Persian rule through the Khyber Pass to the Indus River. The Persians still rule in Egypt, Asia Minor and everywhere in between, including Jerusalem.

510  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.

509  Roman nobles fed up with their Etruscan king drive him from power. The city of Rome becomes independent of the Etruscans and a republic.

508  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.

501  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.

timeline 2000-1001 | 5th Century, 500 to 401 BCE

Copyright © 2003-2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.