Ancient History & Civilisation

Timeline

All dates are BCE unless otherwise stated; many are approximate, especially those pre-500.

700

Homer; settlement of New Troy (Ilium)

570

Birth of Cleisthenes of Athens

550

Cyrus II the Great founds Achaemenid Persian Empire

546

Cyrus conquers Croesus King of Lydia

540

Cyrus through Mazares and Harpagus incorporates Greeks of Asia into Empire

530(–522)

Reign of Cambyses

529

Death of Cyrus

525

Persian conquest of Egypt; death of Polycrates of Samos

522

Interregnum, usurpation(?) in Persia

522(–486)

Reign of Darius I of Persia

513

Scythian expedition of Darius

508

Democracy instituted at Athens

?505

Death of Cleisthenes

499(–494)

Ionian Revolt

?493

Birth of Pericles

490

Battle of Marathon; accession of Leonidas

486(–465)

Death of Darius I; accession of Xerxes of Persia, son of Darius I and Atossa (daughter of Cyrus the Great)

?484

Birth of Herodotus

481

‘Hellenic League’ alliance formed; oaths sworn at Isthmus of Corinth

480

Invasion of Xerxes

 

May – Persian troops cross Hellespont

 

June – Persians advance from Hellespont towards central Greece

 

August, third week – Greeks take up positions at Thermopylae and Artemisium

 

18 August – Full moon: Olympic Games celebrated; Spartans celebrate Carneia

 

end August – Battles of Thermopylae (death of Leonidas) and Artemisium

 

early September – Persians occupy central Greece (Phocis, Boeotia); Spartans and other Peloponnesians build Isthmus wall

 

end September – Persians sack Athenian Acropolis; Battle of Salamis (c. 25 Sept.); Xerxes withdraws to Asia

479

Battles of Plataea and Mycale

478/7

winter – Delian League formed by Athens (minus Sparta and her allies)

477

Debate in Sparta whether to continue active anti-Persian aggression: Sparta decides to withdraw officially from anti-Persian activity but Pausanias does not return from Black Sea approaches

472

Performance at Athens of Aeschylus’s Persians

?470

Regent Pausanias, victor of Plataea, recalled from Byzantium, dies at Sparta through enforced suicide

469

Birth of Socrates

465

Murder of Xerxes, succession of Artaxerxes I

?464

Earthquake at Sparta prompts massive Helot (esp. Messenian) Revolt

462/1

Sparta appeals to Athens for aid versus Helot Revolt under terms of Hellenic League alliance (481); pro-Spartan Cimon, father of Lacedaemonius (the ‘Spartan’), responds positively but Athenians dismissed by suspicious Spartans; followed at Athens by ostracism of Cimon, and democratic reforms of Ephialtes and Pericles

460(–445)

First Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta and their allies; Sparta wins Battle of Tanagra 458 or 457

?460

Birth of Thucydides

447(–432)

Building of the Parthenon

c. 440

Remains identified as those of Leonidas returned from Thermopylae to Sparta for reburial

440–439

Revolt of Samos from Athens; promised Spartan help does not materialize

431(–404)

Atheno-Peloponnesian War (uneasy peace 421–414)

431

Both Sparta and Athens appeal to Persia for financial aid

?425

Publication of Herodotus’s Histories

424/3

Death of Artaxerxes I; accession of Darius II

421

Peace of Nicias

413

Sparta invades Attica, garrisons Decelea

412/11

Sparta makes formal treaty with Persia via satrap Tissaphernes, ceding sovereignty of Greeks of Asia to Persian paymaster

407

Cyrus the Younger, 16-year-old son of Darius II Great King of Persia, sent as generalissimo to western provinces of the Empire; establishes cordial relationship with Spartan commander Lysander

405

Lysander returns for second tour of duty in the Hellespont region; with massive Persian aid wins Battle of Aegospotami

405/4

Death of Darius II, succession of Artaxerxes II

404

spring – Unconditional surrender of Athens to Sparta; end of Athens’s Aegean naval empire, beginning of Sparta’s

404–403

Thirty Tyrants junta installed at Athens with support of Spartan military garrison

403

King Pausanias of Sparta oversees restoration of democracy at Athens; imposition of general amnesty (for all except the Thirty and their closest henchmen)

402

Sparta covertly supports Cyrus the Younger’s failed bid to overthrow and succeed older brother Artaxerxes II

400

Sparta declares war on Persia in name of ‘liberation of the Greeks’ of Asia

396(–394)

King Agesilaus II of Sparta (r. c. 400–360) takes over anti-Persian comand, by both land and sea

395

Outbreak of Corinthian War (revolt against Spartan imperialism led by Athens, Argos, Boeotia and Corinth, financed by Persia)

394

Agesilaus recalled from Asia to Greece

388

Sparta persuades Persia to abandon Athens and finance another Spartan fleet

387

Sparta gains control of Hellespont

386

Persia and Sparta together enforce the King’s Peace, also known as Peace of Antalcidas (after the chief Spartan negotiator, admiral as well as diplomat): Greeks of Asia once more – as before 480, and during 412–400 – formally tribute-paying subjects of Persian Empire

371

Sparta and allies utterly defeated at Leuctra by Thebes and its allies under Epaminondas

369

Epaminondas oversees liberation of Messenian Helots and refoundation of liberated Messene

368

Epaminondas oversees new foundation of Arcadian Megalopolis

?366

Sparta’s Peloponnesian League ceases to function

359

Death of Artaxerxes II, succeeded by Artaxerxes III, then of Agesilaus II, succeeded by son Archidamus III; Philip II becomes de facto King of Macedon

352

Archidamus briefly occupies Thermopylae in vain attempt to keep Philip out of central Greece

346

Philip wins Third Sacred War, destroys Phocis, celebrates Pythian Games at Delphi

344

Artaxerxes III recovers Egypt (in revolt since 404)

338

Philip II of Macedon (r. 360–336) wins Battle of Chaeronea and gains control of most of mainland Greek world; declares at Corinth a ‘crusade’ against Persian Empire with ‘panhellenic’ forces and himself as supreme commander

336

Philip assassinated, succeeded by son (by Greek wife Olympias) Alexander, Alexander III, later ‘the Great’

335

Alexander destroys Thebes after revolt, exploiting Thebes’s ‘medism’ in Graeco-Persian Wars

334–323

Conquest of Achaemenid Persian Empire by Alexander in name of ‘liberation of the Greeks’ of Asia and revenge for Persian sacrilege under Xerxes, 480–479

331

Decisive defeat of Persian Great King Darius III at Gaugamela (northern Iraq); Alexander becomes ‘King of Asia’

331 or 330

Decisive defeat at Megalopolis of rebellion against Macedon led by Spartan King Agis III – last gasp of Sparta as would-be independent military power

323

Death of Alexander at Babylon; contest opens for control of Alexander’s empire by ‘Successors’, not finally settled till 281; most of old Persian Empire falls to Macedonian self-proclaimed ‘King’ Seleucus I Nicator (‘Victor’), most of old Greece to the Antigonid house based in Macedon

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