INDEX: Dating methods.;   Humans spread from Africa.;   Comparison of civilizations.;   Details & links;


Comparing by geographical region

This article provides a comparative timeline of ancient civilizations to enable history students to see the corelation of ancient cultures all around the world. The literature contains hundreds of detailed studies of each culture. But an overall view, showing that many of them coexisted in time, is lacking. This article fills that void. It also provides links to detailed articles about each of the civilizations.

Accurate dating

Before the 19th century, knowledge of ancient civilizations was based entirely on surviving Greek and Roman literature and the Bible. First excavations of ancient Egyptian monuments were undertaken about 1800 during Napoleon's campaign. In 1871 a methodical excavation of the ancient city of Troy [Turkey] and subsequently of Knossos [Crete], and of Babylon revealed unknown ancient history. From then on archeological excavations of burial sites and old ruins uncovered huge amounts of ancient history around the world.

Dating methods for the discoveries were initially crude, based on location within the layers. In 1949 RadioCarbon dating was developed allowing the age of bones or organic artifacts to be determined accurately. The accuracy varies from 1.4% for samples 3000 years old, to 10% for samples 40000 years of age.
Towards the end of the 20th century, extraction of deep ice cores in Greenland and Antartica, as well as studies of tree rings, have given us a good picture of climate changes, including the ice ages, as they have affected human history. For example, at the end of the last ice age (25.000 to 15,000 years ago) sea levels were up to 120m (400ft) below present, allowing early man to go from Asia to Australia and present Indonesian islands, and from Asia to America.

The use of DNA to determine history of humans

In 2002 The International HapMap Project was started to develop a haplotype map of the human genome (the HapMap) to describe the common patterns of human genetic variation. DNA was obtained from thousands of people throughout the world, and also from bones at ancient burial sites. This (together with linguistic studies) has established a definite pattern to the migration of modern mankind, replacing numerous earlier theories and conjectures. For a very informative presentation with interactive map, see , The chart below just gives a brief overall summary of this information.
500,000 to 160,000 breaks in ice-age Earlier hominid species (Heidelbergensis and Neanderthal man) spread from Africa through Europe and Asia
160,000 to 90,000 Modern man (homo sapiensis) developed in Ethiopian area, spread through Africa
90,000 to 65,000 increased glaciation decimates Neanderthal man. Modern man moves along coasts of Asia, to Australia
74,000 100 yr ice age Eruptian of Mt.Toba covers India, S.E.Asia in ash
65,000 to 45,000 Ice cap gradually receding Modern man moves to Europe, replaces remaining Neanderthal
45,000 to 25,000 Ice -age continues to recede Modern hunters spread further north, to far N.E. Asia, then America.
25,000 to 17,000 Last ice age Hunters huddle down or retreat southward. In America expand southward
17,000 onward Warming climate Humans spread northward, settle and agriculture develops, then civilizations emerge.
Early humans were hunters and nomads. The pre-requisite of civilization is settling, domestication of animals, growing crops, developing pottery, art and finally writing. The earliest recorded written scripts. are the clay tablets of the Sumerian culture [present day Iraq], about 3400BCE - 5500 years ago.
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Eras of climate change over the millenia.

Interactive map depicting spread of modern humans

History of time measurements and calendars

Sailing voyages of of exploration.

Biega families around the world.


NOTE: All dates in first 6 columns are BCE (Before Common Era). in last two CE (Common Era, or AD) unless otherwise noted.
Geographic area 15,000-7,000BCE 7,000-4,000BCE 4,000-2,000BCE 2,000-1,000BCE 1,000-500BCE 500-1BCE 1CE-500CE 500CE-1,000CE
ERA Stone age-Paleolithic Mesolithic - Bronze age Iron age Hellenistic Roman
CLIMATE End of last ice-age N.Africa, middle-east
mild, moist
increasingly arid, middle east, Africa
Levant, Jordan valley , 11,000 Natufian settlements 7000 Jericho 1800 Hittites
1450 Moses leads Jews from Egypt
1200-500 Phoenicia - modern alphabet
970 king Solomon, Israel
632-750 Muslim conquests
Mesopotamia 9000 Göbekli Tepe temple Samarra, agriculture & pottery 3200 Sumerian cuneiform script, 2400 Assyria 1900-539 Babylon
1772 Hammurabi's Code
539 Persian occupation
330 Alexander
762CE Baghdad Muslim capital
Persia 2000-1500 Scythians, Medes come from Central Asia 549 Cyrus the Great 330 Alexander conquers Persia
246 Parthian empire
224 Sassanian dynasty 640 Muslim rule starts
Nile valley 5200 Early settlements - Fayum 3000 Early Hieroglyph writing
2600-2500 Pyramids
1640 Hyksos invasion
1500-1200 temples Luxor, Karnak
Cleopatra, Roman conquest 30BCE
Mediteranean 3000-1100 Minoa [Crete]
, 1628 There eruption-tsunamis
Mycenae 1600-1100 753 Rome founded
600-333 Athens
500-146 Carthage
150 Roman empire
330CE Byzantium founded
Central, Western Europe Cave paintings, France 3000-2000 Stonehenge 1600 Kurgan culture 1000 Celtic culture 100 Roman conquest 481 Clovis starts Frankish empire 843 Charlemagne emperor
Black Sea - Caspian plains 6000-3000 Kurgan settlements,
copper tools, gold ornaments
2000 two wheeled chariots 700 Scythia Dacians fight Roman expansion Byzantine expansion northward
Indus, Ganges valleys 2500 Indus valley culture, scripts 1500 Aryan invasion Vedic age 530 Persian invasion
321-150 Mauryan empire
320CE-550CE Gupta empire 720CE Muslim invasion
China 7000 Jiahu agriculture- musical instrument 6000 Yellow River settlements
first wine/beer
2100-1600 X'ia dynasty 1600-1100 Shang dynasty
writing, wheels
1100-206 Zhou dynasty
770-500 Cultural rise
Great Wall built.
500 Confucius
206BCE-220CE Han Dynasty
Three kingdoms Tang empire
S.E. Asia 1500 Dong Sun culture 500 Sa Huynh culture [Viet Nam]
Pyu states [Myanmar]
America 3000-1000
Mounds culture
1200 Pueblos
1200 Olmec
600 Olmec writing 200 Mayan script building of Mayan pyramids 600CE peak of Mayan empire
Africa 2000 Kingdom of Kerma [Sudan] 200 Numidia [Algeria] 100CE Kingdom of Aksum [Ethiopia] 700CE Islam conquers all N.Africa

Details and Links

NOTE:Names in [square brackets] are modern place names for reference. All dates are approximate and BCE, except where noted.
Levant, Jordan river valley - 15,000 years ago, towards the end of the last ice age, the climate in this region was mild with enough rain to make it fertile. Natufian culture agricultural settlements, with domesticated animals, have been dated as early as 11,000.
The oldest continously inhabited city-state is Jericho built about 7000, close to an earlier settlement.
Hittites 1900-1200 used chariots [Turkey]
approx 1450 Moses leads Jews to Israel
1200-500 Phoenicians on coast [Lebanon] were great sea-farers, sailed into Atlantic to Britain, also circumnavigated Africa. Phoenician alphabet is ancestor of all European writing.
970 Solomon king of Samaria (Israel) and Judah.
622CE Muhammed goes from Mecca to Medina - 632-750CE Muslim conquests.

Tigris and Euphrates river valleys (Mesopotamia) - The earliest temple, dated 9,000, was located on a hill at Göbekli Tepe [south Turkey]. Samarra, upper Tigris, 6000 early agriculture and pottery.
3500-1800 Sumer, group of city states in lower Tigris valley - First ever scripts. - first wheeled carts.
3300 Sumerian cuneiform script
2400 Assyria in upper valley; 600 Nineveh city of 12km circumference
2200 Babylon founded; 1772 first code of laws Hammurabi's Code, 539 Babylon destroyed by Persians
762CE Baghdad becomes capital of 3rd Muslim Caliphate and center of science.

Nile valley - Egypt - Earliest evidence of agriculture 6000 at Nabta Playa.
2600 3rd Dynasty -step pyramids at Saqqara, 2200 end of 6th Dynasty
2040 Egypt reunited (11th Dynasty)
1640 invasion of Hyksos; 1540 18th Dynasty territorial expansion
1250 Ramses II; 1200 split between Thebes [Luxor] and Memphis.
770 25th (Nubian) Dynasty; 525 Persian conquest
332 conquest by Alexander/
30 Roman conquest, Cleopatra.

Persia 2000-500 Persia various tribes from north ruled highlands of Persia, href="">Elamites from Tigris valley ruled south with capital Susa
553 Cyrus the Great establishes Persian empire with capital Persepolis.
224CE Ardeshir overthrows last Parthian ruler; establishes Sassanian dynasty.
651CE - Arab conquest of the Sasanid Empire

Indus valley/India   2500 Indus valley agricultural settlements. script writing
1500 Invasian of Aryan tribes from central Asia.
1000-500 later Vedic age, establish 16 states throughout sub-continent.
500 Persian invasion.
326 Alexander invades Indus valley.
321-185 Mauryan empire
320CE-500CE Gupta empire - golden age.
720CE northern India captured by Muslims.

3000-1400 Minoa [Crete], developed Linear A script,
1628-1600 several volcanic eruptions of There [Santorini] caused collapse of Minoan civilization, tsunamis, severe climatic disruptions. 1600-1100 Mycenae [Greece].
600-333 Athens, democratic rule. Age of philosophers. 493 Battle of Marathon, defeat of Persians.
356-323 Alexander the Great conquers Greece, Egypt, Persia,

550 Carthage [Tunisia], took over Phoenician colonies throughout Mediterranean coasts - destroyed by Rome 146.

753 Rome founded. 168 Greece conquered, 58 Gaul [France] conquered, 30 Egypt conquered, 20 Britain conquered
325CE- Emperor Constantine christened and convenes the Christian Council of Nicaea. 455CE - Rome is sacked by the Vandals; 475CE - The Western Empire falls, Byzantium becomes the capital of the New Empire.

Central and eastern Europe - 6000-3000 Kurgan settlements throughout steppes north and east of Black Sea - possibly original Indo-European proto culture, which later spreads to western Europe, central Asia, Persia.
5000 copper [Prokuplje, Serbia] and gold smelting [Varna, Bulgaria] .
2000 two wheeled chariots

Northern and western Europe12,000 - 6000 Cave paintings . 4000 -1500 Stone age monuments, Carnac, Stonehenge.
1600-1200 Kurgan culture in central Europe , iron tools (Unetice) [Czech])
1000 Celtic culture spreads,
100 Rome conquers all of western Europe up to the river Rhine.
481CE Clovis unites Frankish tribes
778CE - Charlemagne conquers Italy, southern France, central Europe.

China 7000 Jiahu pottery, grain, flutes 6000 Yellow river settlements- first beer/wine
3000-2000 Longshan culture - Yellow River
2100-1600 X'ia Dynasty
1600-1100 Shang Dynasty, [Henan province] -1400 first Chinese writing, 1200 2-wheel chariots
1100-206 Zhou Dynasty [Xi'an] - 220 Qin Shi Huang builds Great Wall
206BCE-220CE Han Dynasty
500 Confucious
580CE-618CE Sui Dynasty
618-906CE Tang Empire.

Americas Archeology of Americas. North America:3500-1000 Mounds cultures in central plains Watson Brake - 1200 Ancient Pueblo culture (SW USA).
Central America 1200 early Olmec cities and monuments. Mesoamerican cultures 600 Olmec writing.
300 rise ofMayan civilization, 200 Mayan script

North Africa2000 Kingdom of Kerma present [Sudan]
200 Numidia, Berber kingdom [Algeria]
100CE-900CE Kingdom of Aksum [Ethiopia]
South Africa Although there is evidence of modern human hunters, rock paintings and some settlement as far back as 5000BCE, so far no evidence of actual civilization earlier than about 500CE has been found

Climate changes Around 6000BCE a several hundred year long cooling (est. 3-5°) - drier climate in N..Africa and Middle East.
3800BCE abrupt cooling caused desertification of N.Africa and Arabian peninsula,

Flood All cultures around the world carry traditions of a great flood. Most likely these are memories of huge tsunamis caused by massive underwater earthquakes and violent volcanic eruptions (examples: 74,000 Mt.Toba, 1628 There [Santorini]).

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