1st Millennium BC
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1st Millennium BC
Overview map of the world in the mid 1st millennium BC, color-coded by cultural stage:
  Palaeolithic or Mesolithic hunter-gatherers
  nomadic pastoralists
  simple farming societies
  complex farming societies/chiefdoms
  state societies

The 1st millennium BC was the period of time between from the year 1000 BC to 1 BC (10th to 1st centuries BC; in astronomy: JD[1]). It encompasses the Iron Age in the Old World and sees the transition from the Ancient Near East to classical antiquity.

World population roughly doubled over the course of the millennium, from about 100 million to about 200–250 million.[2]


The Neo-Assyrian Empire dominates the Near East in the early centuries of the millennium, supplanted by the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century. Ancient Egypt is in decline, and falls to the Achaemenids in 525 BC.

In Greece, Classical Antiquity begins with the colonization of Magna Graecia and peaks with the conquest of the Achaemenids and the subsequent flourishing of Hellenistic civilization (4th to 2nd centuries).

The Roman Republic supplants the Etruscans and then the Carthaginians (5th to 3rd centuries). The close of the millennium sees the rise of the Roman Empire. The early Celts dominate Central Europe while Northern Europe is in the Pre-Roman Iron Age. In East Africa, the Nubian Empire and Aksum arise.

In South Asia, the Vedic civilization blends into the Maurya Empire. The Scythians dominate Central Asia. In China, the Spring and Autumn period sees the rise of Confucianism. Towards the close of the millennium, the Han Dynasty extends Chinese power towards Central Asia, where it borders on Indo-Greek and Iranian states. Japan is in the Yayoi period. The Maya civilization rises in Mesoamerica.

The first millennium BC is the formative period of the classical world religions, with the development of early Judaism and Zoroastrianism in the Near East, and Vedic religion and Vedanta, Jainism and Buddhism in India. Early literature develops in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Sanskrit , Tamil and Chinese. The term Axial Age, coined by Karl Jaspers, is intended to express the crucial importance of the period of c. the 8th to 2nd centuries BC in world history.

World population more than doubled over the course of the millennium, from about an estimated 50–100 million to an estimated 170–300 million. Close to 90% of world population at the end of the first millennium BC lived in the Iron Age civilizations of the Old World (Roman Empire, Parthian Empire, Graeco-Indo-Scythian and Hindu kingdoms, Han China). The population of the Americas was below 20 million, concentrated in Mesoamerica (Epi-Olmec culture); that of Sub-Saharan Africa was likely below 10 million. The population of Oceania was likely less than one million people.[2]

Ancient history


Significant people

Some of the central figures of the Axial Age are legendary or semi-legendary, with no contemporary written records available (e.g. Solomon, Zoroaster, Gautama Buddha etc.)

Religion, philosophy, scholarship

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

Scythian gold plaque with panther (late 7th century BC)
The Parthenon, Athens (5th century BC)
The Victorious Youth (c. 310 BC), a preserved bronze statue of a Greek athlete in Contrapposto pose
"The Wrestler", an Olmec era statuette, dated roughly 1400-400 BC
Lamassu facing forward. Bas-relief from the king Sargon II's palace at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (now Khorsabad in Iraq), c. 713-716 BC. From Paul-Émile Botta's excavations in 1843-1844.


Greco-Roman literature

Archaic period

Classical period

Hellenistic to Roman period

Chinese literature
Sanskrit literature
Other (2nd to 1st century BC)


Culture Region Period Notes
Urnfield culture Europe, Central 1300–750 BC Bronze Age Europe
Atlantic Bronze Age Europe, Western 1300–700 BC Bronze Age Europe
Painted Grey Ware culture South Asia 1200–600 BC Bronze Age India, Indo-Aryan migration
Late Nordic Bronze Age Europe, North 1100–550 BC Bronze Age Europe
Villanovan culture Europe, Italy 1100–700 BC Iron Age Europe
Greek Dark Ages Greece 1100–800 BC Dorian invasion
Iron Age II Near East 1000–586 BC Ancient Near East, List of archaeological periods (Levant)
Sa Hu?nh culture Southeast Asia, Vietnam 1000 BC–AD 200
Woodland period North America 1000 BC – AD 1000 List of archaeological periods (North America)
Bantu expansion Sub-Saharan Africa 1000 BC–AD 500
Middle Nok Period Sub-Saharan Africa, West 900–300 BC Iron metallurgy in Africa
Novocherkassk culture Europe, Eastern 900–650 BC
Chavín de Huántar South America, Peru[9] 1200–500 BC
Poverty Point earthworks North America, Louisiana 1650–700 BC[9]
Olmecs Mesoamerica 1500–400 BC
Adena culture North America, Ohio 1000–200 BC[9]
Liaoning bronze dagger culture East Asia 800–600 BC
Middle Mumun East Asia, Korea 800–300 BC
Etruscan civilization Europe, Italy 800–264 BC
Paracas culture South America, Peru 800–100 BC[9]
Hallstatt culture Europe, Central 800 BC–500 BC Iron Age Europe, Thraco-Cimmerian, Celts
British Iron Age Europe, Britain 700–50 BC Insular Celts
Zapotec civilization Mesoamerica 700 BC – AD 700
Pazyryk culture Central Asia 600–300 BC Scythians, Saka, Pazyryk burials
Aldy-Bel culture Central Asia 600–300 BC Scythians, Saka
La Tène culture Europe, Central/Western 500–50 BC Gauls
Pre-Roman Iron Age Europe, North 500–50 BC Proto-Germanic
Northern Black Polished Ware South Asia 500–300 BC Vedic period
Late Mumun East Asia, Korea 550–300 BC
Urewe Sub-Saharan Africa 400 BC–AD 500 Iron metallurgy in Africa
Late Nok Period Sub-Saharan Africa, West 300–1 BC Iron metallurgy in Africa
Nasca culture South America, Peru 100 BC–800 AD[9]
Calima culture South America, Colombia 200 BC–400 AD
Hopewell tradition North America 100 BC–AD 400[10]
Teotihuacan Mesoamerica 100 BC –AD 550[10]
Ipiutak Site North America, Alaska 100 BC –AD 800[10]


Historical solar eclipses


Date Eclipse






Gamma Ecliptic







(Min & Sec)

899 21 Apr Annular 53 0.9591 0.8964 22:32:15 22:21:56 00:03:04 China's 'Double-Dawn' Eclipse [4] [5]
763 15 Jun Total 44 1.0596 0.2715 08:11:13 08:14:01 00:05:00 Assyrian Eclipse [6] [7]
648 6 Apr Total 38 1.0689 0.6898 08:24:05 08:31:03 00:05:02 Archilochus' Eclipse [8] [9]
585 28 May Total 57 1.0798 0.3201 14:25:41 14:22:26 00:06:04 Thales Eclipse (Medes vs. Lydians), firstly recorded in Herodotus History. [10] [11] [12]
557 19 May Total 48 1.0258 0.3145 12:49:02 12:52:26 00:02:22 The Siege of Larisa, firstly recorded by Xenophon. [13]
480 2 Oct Annular 65 0.9324 0.4951 11:56:54 11:51:01 00:07:57 Xerxes' Eclipse. recorded by Herodotus History. [14]
431 3 Aug Annular 48 0.9843 0.8388 14:45:34 14:54:52 00:01:05 Peloponnesian War. [15] [16]
424 21 Mar Annular 42 0.9430 0.9433 07:43:30 07:54:29 00:04:39 8th Year of Peloponnesian War. [17]

Centuries and decades


  1. ^ Julian Day Number from Date Calculator (casio.com)
  2. ^ a b Klein Goldewijk, K. , A. Beusen, M. de Vos and G. van Drecht (2011). The HYDE 3.1 spatially explicit database of human induced land use change over the past 12,000 years, Global Ecology and Biogeography20(1): 73-86. doi:10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00587.x (pbl.nl). Goldewijk et al. (2011) estimate 188 million as of AD 1, citing a literature range of 170 million (low) to 300 million (high). Out of the estimated 188M, 116M are estimated for Asia (East, South/Southeast and Central Asia, excluding Western Asia), 44M for Europe and the Near East, 15M for Africa (including Egypt and Roman North Africa), 12M for Mesoamerica and South America. North America and Oceania were at or below one million.[1][2]. Jean-Noël Biraben, "Essai sur l'évolution du nombre des hommes", Population 34-1 (1979), 13-25 (p. 22) estimats c. 100 million at 1200 BC and c. 250 million at AD 1.[3]
  3. ^ Zimmer 1952, pp. 182-183.
  4. ^ mostly placed in the 7th or 6th century BC if historical, but sometimes also claimed to have lived in the 2nd millennium BC, see Zoroaster#Date.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Who Built it First". Ancient Discoveries. A&E Television Networks. 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-04-29. Retrieved .
  6. ^ Although disputed, some scholars see the emergence of monotheism proper in the context of the Babylonian exile, during which the Israelites adopted aspects of Babylonian religion, resulting in Second Temple Judaism by 515 BC. No Other Gods: Emergent Monotheism in Israel Also credited with early monotheism is Zoroastrianism, founded at roughly the same time. Zoroastrianism
  7. ^ Temple 1986
  8. ^ Temple 1986, pp. 15
  9. ^ a b c d e "World Timeline of the Americas 1000 BC - AD 200". The British Museum. 2005. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved .
  10. ^ a b c "World Timeline of the Americas 200 BC - AD 600". The British Museum. 2005. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved .

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