World History Timelines - Mapping Two Million Years of Humanity

Timelines of World History

Most of the history of the ancient world has been collected by archaeologists, built in part by the use of fragmentary records, but also through myriad dating techniques. Each of the world history timelines on this list are part of larger resources addressing the culture, artifacts, customs and people of the many many cultures who have lived on our planet for the past 2 million years.
Sculptor's Rendering of the Hominid Australopithecus afarensis
Sculptor's Rendering of the Hominid Australopithecus afarensis. Dave Einsel / Getty Images
The Stone Age (known to scholars as the Paleolithic era) in human prehistory is the name given to the period between about 2.5 million and 20,000 years ago. It begins with the earliest human-like behaviors of crude stone tool manufacture, and ends with fully modern human hunting and gathering societies. More »
Applique Pot, Middle Jomon, Sannai Maruyama Site
Applique Pot, Middle Jomon, Sannai Maruyama Site. Perezoso

The Jomon is the name of the early Holocene period hunter-gatherers of Japan, beginning about 14,000 BC and ending about 1000 BC in southwestern Japan and AD 500 in northeastern Japan. More »

Artifact from Lepenski Vir, Serbia
Artifact from Lepenski Vir, Serbia. Mazbln

The European Mesolithic period is traditionally that time period in the Old World between the last glaciation (ca. 10,000 years BP) and beginning of the Neolithic (ca. 5000 years BP), when farming communities began to be established. More »

Catalhoyuk Figurine at the Ankara Museum, Turkey
Catalhoyuk Figurine at the Ankara Museum, Turkey. Roweromaniak
The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (abbreviated PPN) is the name given to the people who domesticated the earliest plants and lived in farming communities in the Levant and Near East. The PPN culture contained most of the attributes we think of Neolithic--except pottery, which was not used in the region until ca. 5500 BC. More »
Female Figurine from Predynastic Egypt
From the Brooklyn Museum's Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, this female figurine dates to the Naqada II period of the Predynastic period, 3500-3400 BC. ego.technique
The Predynastic period in Egypt is the name archaeologists have given to the three millennia before the emergence of the first unified Egyptian state society. More »
Gold Bull Amulet from Ur in Mesopotamia
Gold Bull Amulet from Ur in Mesopotamia. Iraq's Ancient Past: Rediscovering Ur's Royal Cemetery, Penn Museum
Mesopotamia is an ancient civilization that took up pretty much everything that today is modern Iraq and Syria, a triangular patch wedged between the Tigris River, the Zagros Mountains, and the Lesser Zab River More »
Dancing Girl of Mohenjo Daro
Image Courtesy of Gregory Possehl, used by permission, all rights reserved. Gregory Possehl (c) 2002
The Indus civilization (also known as the Harappan Civilization, the Indus-Sarasvati or Hakra Civilization and sometimes the Indus Valley Civilization) is one of the oldest societies we know of, including over 2600 known archaeological sites located along the Indus and Sarasvati rivers in Pakistan and India, an area of some 1.6 million square kilometers. More »
Minoan Dolphin Fresco at Heraklion
Minoan Dolphin Fresco at Heraklion. phileole

The Minoans lived in the Greek islands during what archaeologists have called the early part of the prehistoric Bronze Age of Greece. More »

Dynastic Egypt Timeline

The Sphinx, Old Kingdom, Egypt
The Sphinx, Old Kingdom, Egypt. Daniel Aniszewski

Ancient Egypt is considered to have begun about 3050 BC, when the first pharaoh Menes united Lower Egypt (referring to the river delta region of the Nile River), and Upper Egypt (everything south of the delta).

White Pottery Gui, Longshan Culture, Rizhao, Shandong Province
White Pottery Gui, Longshan Culture, Rizhao, Shandong Province. Editor at Large

The Longshan culture is a Neolithic and Chalcolithic culture (ca 3000-1900 BC) of the Yellow River Valley of Shandong, Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Inner Mongolia provinces of China. More »

Shang Dynasty bronze, Polymuseum, Beijing
Shang Dynasty bronze, Polymuseum, Beijing. Guy Taylor

The Bronze Age Shang Dynasty in China is roughly dated between 1700-1050 BC, and, according to the Shi Ji, it began when the first Shang emperor, T'ang, overthrew the last of the Xia (also called Erlitou) dynasty emperors. More »

Western Deffufa in ancient city of Kerma, Nubia, Sudan
Western Deffufa in ancient city of Kerma, Nubia, Sudan. Lassi

The Kingdom of Kush is one of several names used for the region of Africa directly south of ancient Dynastic Egypt, approximately between the modern cities of Aswan, Egypt, and Khartoum, Sudan. More »

Hittite Relief Carving from the Museum of Anatolian Civilization
Hittite Relief Carving from the Museum of Anatolian Civilization. Verity Cridland

Two different types of "Hittites" are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament): the Canaanites, who were enslaved by Solomon; and the Neo-Hittites, Hittite kings of northern Syria who traded with Solomon. The events related in the Old Testament occurred in the 6th century BC, well after the glory days of the Hittite Empire. More »

Jadeite Olmec Mask from the Gulf Coast Region
Jadeite Olmec Mask from the Gulf Coast Region. ellenm1

The Olmec civilization is the name given to a sophisticated central American culture with its heyday between 1200 and 400 BC. The Olmec heartland lies in the Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco, at the narrow part of Mexico west of the Yucatan peninsula and east of Oaxaca. More »

Bronze Vessel, Zhou Dynasty Tomb
Bronze Vessel, Zhou Dynasty Tomb. Andrew Wong / Getty Images

The Zhou Dynasty (also spelled Chou) is the name given to a historical period roughly consisting of the last two-fifths of the Chinese Bronze Age, traditionally marked between 1046 and 221 BC (although scholars are divided on the starting date) More »

Etruscan Sculpture 4th-3rd c BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Etruscan Sculpture 4th-3rd c BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art. AlkaliSoaps

The Etruscan civilization was a cultural group in the Etruria region of Italy, from the 11th through the first century BC (Iron Age into Roman times). More »

Nok Sculpture, 6th century BC–6th century AD, Nigeria, Louvre Museum
Nok Sculpture, 6th century BC–6th century AD, Nigeria, Louvre Museum. Jastrow

The African Iron Age is roughly between the 2nd century AD-1000 AD. In Africa, unlike the Europe and Asia, the Iron Age is not prefaced by a Bronze or Copper Age, but rather all the metals were brought together. More »

Elamite Guard, North Side of Apadana, Persepolis (Iran)
Elamite Guard, North Side of Apadana, Persepolis (Iran). Shirley Schermer (c) 2004

The Persian Empire included all of what is now Iran, and in fact Persia was the official name of Iran until 1935; the traditional dates for the classic Persian Empire are about 550 BC-500 AD. More »

Portrait of a Ptolemaic Ruler, perhaps Ptolemy Apion, king of Cyrene (d. 94 BC)
Portrait of a Ptolemaic Ruler, perhaps Ptolemy Apion, king of Cyrene (d. 94 BC). Jastrow

The Ptolemies were the final dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs, and their progenitor was a Greek by birth: one of Alexander the Great's generals, Ptolemy I. The Ptolemies ruled Egypt between 305-30 BC, when the last of the Ptolemies, Cleopatra, famously committed suicide. More »

Obelisk at Axum, Ethiopia
Obelisk at Axum, Ethiopia. Niall Crotty

Aksum (also spelled Axum) is the name of a powerful, urban Iron Age Kingdom in Ethiopia, that flourished in the centuries before and after the time of Christ; ca 700 BC-700 AD. More »

Moche Owl Warrior
Moche Owl Warrior. John Weinstein © The Field Museum

The Moche culture was a South American society, whose sites were located along the arid coast of what is now Peru between 100 and 800 AD, and wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains. More »

Face Carved on 12th Century Bayon Temple
One of the over two hundred faces carved in the towers of Bayon, a 12th century Angkorian temple. The faces may be representations of Buddha, the bodhisattva Lokesvara, Angkorian King Jayavarman VII, who built the temple, or a combination. Mary Beth Day
The Angkor Civilization or Khmer Empire (ca 900-1500 AD) ran most of Cambodia, and parts of Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam during the middle ages. They were terrific engineers, building roads, waterways and temples with great skill--but they were done in by the occurrence of a great drought, which combined with war and changes in the trade network resulted in the end of the powerful polity. More »
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Hirst, K. Kris. "World History Timelines - Mapping Two Million Years of Humanity." ThoughtCo, Aug. 11, 2016, thoughtco.com/world-history-timelines-of-humanity-172901. Hirst, K. Kris. (2016, August 11). World History Timelines - Mapping Two Million Years of Humanity. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/world-history-timelines-of-humanity-172901 Hirst, K. Kris. "World History Timelines - Mapping Two Million Years of Humanity." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/world-history-timelines-of-humanity-172901 (accessed December 18, 2017).