Timeline of the Ancient Eras

Cross-Cultural Timeline of Major Events in the Ancient Eras

Illustration of Bronz Era Foundry Workers.
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

This is a very basic 4-millennium timeline to show which civilizations existed at the same time in the Greco-Roman world, the Ancient Near East (includes Egypt and areas now thought of as the Middle East), the Indian subcontinent, and China. This corresponds with the Mediterranean-centered area called the Known World, as opposed to the New World, which includes the modern U.S.

When an item is listed twice, like the Parthians, only the first instance appears in the linking column on the right.

The format is the era or dates in the far left column (column #1), followed by a summary of the period called the Overview which may be further divided by region horizontally (column #2), followed by the main geographic area ( the Mediterranean, what we call the Middle East today, but in the context of ancient history is usually called the Ancient Near East (A.N.E.), and more eastern Asia) or the main developments (column #3), followed in the furthest right column by links to relevant articles (column #4).

The Bronze Age to A.D. 500

Dates/EraOverviewMain Events/PlacesMore Info
BRONZE AGE: 3500 B.C. - A.D. 1500With the beginning of writing came the first period considered historical. This was still a very ancient period, part of the Bronze Age, and before the time when the Trojan War, if it happened, would have taken place.Writing BeginsMesopotamia
Indus Valley (Harappa)
Shang Dynasty in China
Pyramid Building in Egypt 
1500-1000 B.C.This was the period when, if the Trojan War is real, it probably happened.Greco-RomanMycenaean civilization
It probably corresponds to the time of the Biblical Book of Exodus.Ancient Near East
New Kingdom Egypt
Vedic period in the Indus Valley.Central/Eastern Asia 
IRON AGE STARTS: 1000-500 B.C.Homer is thought to have written his epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey. It is the time when Rome was founded. The Persians were expanding their empire in the eastern Mediterranean. It is thought this was the period of the famous Biblical kings, or at least Samuel, and later, the time of the Babylonian Captivity.Greco-RomanLegendary Rome
Archaic Greece
Ancient Near East
Egyptian New Kingdom
Intermediate Period
Central/Eastern AsiaBuddha
Chou Dynasty
CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY STARTS: 500 B.C. - A.D. 1It was during this period that Greece flourished, fought the Persians, was conquered by the Macedonians, and later the Romans; the Romans got rid of their kings, established the Republican form of government and then started the rule by emperors. In the later years of this period, in Biblical History, the Seleucids were the monarchs under whom the Hasmonean and then the Herodian kings arose. The Maccabees were Hasmoneans.Greco-RomanRoman Republic
Classical Greece
Hellenistic Greece
Ancient Near EastPersian Empire
Central/Eastern AsiaMauryan Empire
Eastern Chou, Warring States, Ch'in, and Han Periods
1 - A.D. 500This was the first period in which Christianity became important when the Romans suffered barbarian incursions and declined. In Jewish history, this was the period of the Bar Kokhba revolt from Roman rule and the time of the writing of the Mishnah and Septuagint. It is the end of the ancient period and the beginning of the Medieval era.Greco-RomanRoman Empire
Byzantine Empire
Ancient Near EastParthians
Central/Eastern AsiaGupta
Han Dynasty