Humanities 110 Conference 20
         
         

Timelines
Introduction
  Why Use Timelines?
  How to Use Timelines
  Case Studies
  Creating Your Own Timeline
Links to Other People's Timelines
  Timeline of Art History, Balkan Peninsula 1000 BCE-1 CE. (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
  Timeline of Jewish Biblical History (Gail Sherman, Reed College)
  A Selective Timeline for the Mediterranean World 1600 BCE to 410 CE (Nigel Nicholson, Reed College; adapted from Oxford History of the Classical World, ed. J. Boardman, J. Griffin, O. Murray; P. Brown, The World of Late Antiquity; and with help from Michael Foat)
  Exploring Ancient World Cultures
The Complete Chronology
(Anthony F. Beavers, University of Evansville. This is an awesome timeline with links to art and texts, be patient as it is slow to load). Also see the timeline specific to Greece and Rome.
   

Introduction

Why Use Timelines?

Timelines are a valuable way to visually depict your understanding of a period in history. Timelines can also help you understand turning points in history. When does one era end and another begin? What is characteristic about that era? It is also a powerful mnemonic device for remembering what happened when and in what order.

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How to Use Timelines

In History of the Jewish People: The Second Temple Era, Rabbi Hersh Goldwurn points out why timelines often provide conflicting and imprecise information:

"It is essential--but difficult--for modern people to understand that the everyday historical tools we take for granted simply did not exist in ancient times. We, who know that World War II broke out in 1939 (5699) or that the Six Day War took place in 1967 (5727) find it hard to understand how there could be such gaping discrepancies regarding the years of such major epochs as the Second Temple an Persian Empire eras. However, in ancient times, events were dated from the year a king assumed the throne. When a new man became king, it was as if the world had been created anew, and all documents were dated from the year 1 again. Furthermore, people did not think of their own countries as part of a large world; to a Persian, his country was the only one that mattered, whether Persia was a province or the globe's mightiest empire. As country after country assumed center stage as the most powerful, each tended to impose its own version of events upon its victims. The result has been a scarcity of historical material and the dilemma of choosing between conflicting versions. If modern scholars disagree sharply on lavishly documented events that occurred within memory, how much more so must we realize that events of two thousand years ago and more are far from clear" (212).

Thus, it is important to remember that a timeline is not a record of "facts," but an interpretation of events. It is the short hand for a historical argument. However, this does not mean that the information is useless; rather, it may be a more sophisticated tool for historical inquiry than you perhaps first suspected. As with any argument or interpretation we have the right (and should) ask:

  1. Who is the original author(s)/source(s) of this information?
  2. What is their nationality? When did they write? What are their biases? What are they trying to prove?
  3. What other primary sources are available? What version do they provide of the same events?
  4. Who is the compiler/collector of the information who put it into the timeline format?
  5. What is his/her nationality? When did she write the timeline? What are her biases? For example, what dating conventions does she use and what does this tell us about her worldview?
  6. Why has (s)he chosen to include these dates and events? Try drawing a visual diagram of the events recorded. Do they add up to a "story" about the people or era being covered? What is the compiler trying to prove?
  7. Do I have any other timelines for this era to which this information can be compared? What do I make of the discrepancies? Do the different versions form a "debate" about what the events mean or when they occurred?

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Case Studies

To give you an example of how the purpose of a timeline and the creator of a timeline can change the nature of both the information included and the dates given, here are three timelines that you can practice comparing to get at the issue of what do we know about when the Persian kings reigned and what they did?

 

Sample Timeline 1: OU (Union of Orthodox Rabbis) Timeline of the Second Temple Period

Sample Timeline 2: Appendix 57 From The Companion Bible: The Genealogy of the Persian Kings

Sample Timeline3: Iran Timeline Up to Islamic Revolution (Excerpt)

 

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Sample Timeline 1: Table of Important Dates During the Second Temple Era

Source: <http://www.ou.org/chagim/chanukah/timeline.htm>

 

Table of Important Dates
During Second Temple Era*

Timeline below based on ArtScroll Mesorah Series "Chanukah - Its History, Observance, and Significance"

OU Editors Note:

There is a conflict among Jewish historians as to the date of the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians.  The timeline presented below shows 423 B.C.E. as the date.  The other well-known date is 163 years earlier, in 586 B.C.E.

Thus, there exists a 163-year gap in the timeline of Jewish History, with that period of time lying in the period of the First Temple.   What happened in those missing years, or whether there are, in fact, missing years, is an unresolved mystery.


3338/423 B.C.E. Destruction of First Temple and beginning of Babylonian Exile
3389/372 B.C.E. Babylon falls to Medes and Persians under Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Great of Persia
3391/370 B.C.E. Cyrus reigns; permits Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael
3408/353 B.C.E. Darius the Persian permits Jews to rebuild Temple
3442/319 B.C.E. Beginning of Greek era
3448/313 B.C.E. Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty rules Eretz Yisrael
3562/199 B.C.E. Antiochus III the Great, scion of the Seleucid dynasty and ruler of Syria, wrests Eretz Yisrael from Egypt
3571/190 B.C.E. Rome defeats Antiochus III at Magnesia
3586/175 B.C.E. Antiochus IV reigns
3594/168 B.C.E. Desecration of Temple by Antiochus
3597/165 B.C.E. Conquest of Temple by Hasmoneans, the miracle of Chanukah 
3598/163 B.C.E. Antiochus IV dies
3599/162 B.C.E. His son, Antiochus V besieges Jerusalem
3600/161 B.C.E. Demetrius I (son of Seleucus IV) rules; Alcimus appointed Kohen Gadol, defeat and death of Syrian general Nikanor (13 Adar)
3601 /160 B.C.E. Yehudah killed in battle; Yonasan elected leader of the Jewish rebellion
3602/159 B.C.E. Alcimus dies
3609/152 B.C.E. Alexander (Balas) I, alleged son of Antiochus IV, contests rule of Demetrius I; both recognize Yonasan as Kohen Gadol
3610/151 B.C.E. Alexander I rules
3614/147 B.C.E Alexander I deposed (by Ptolemy IV king of Egypt); Demetrius II (son of Demetrius I) rules
3617/144 B.C.E. Tryphon deposes Demetrius II (who escapes), and rules on (approx.) behalf of the infant Antiochus VI (son of Alexander I)
3619/142 B.C.E. Tryphon tricks Yonasan and kills him; Shimon takes over Kehunah Gedolah; proclaims himself 'Prince of the Jews'
3619/142 B.C.E. Tryphon kills Antiochus VI and proclaims himself king
3621/140 B.C.E. Sanhedrin and the People proclaim Shimon 'Prince of the Jews' 18 Elul).
3621-3725/ Rule of the Hasmonean dynasty (Shimon, Yochanan Hyrkanos,
140-36 B.C.E. Yehudah Aristobulus, Alexander Yannai, Queen Alexandra Hyrkanos and Aristobulus)
3630/131 B.C.E. Yochanan Hyrkanos forms an alliance with Antiochus VII
3632/129 B.C.E. Antiochus VII dies
3698/63 B.C.E. Roman consul Pompei conquers Jerusalem
3725-3828/    Rule of Herodian dynasty and Roman governors (Herod, 36 B.C.E.-68 C.E. Archelaus, Roman governors, Agrippa I, Roman governors)
3828/68 C.E.   Destruction of Second Temple by Romans (according to some, the year was 3829)

*The dates in this table pertaining to the events of Chanukah (3585-3621) have been taken from I Maccabees and converted into Creation and Common Era dates

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Sample Timeline 2
Source: Appendix 57 From The Companion Bible. <http://www.therain.org/appendixes/app57.html>

The Genealogy of the Persian Kings

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Sample Timeline #3: Iran Timeline Up to Islamic Revolution (Excerpt)

Source: The Kerman Khajeh-Nasir Higher Education Center (Kerman, Iran)

<http://www.kkhec.ac.ir/Iran%20information/iran%20timeline%20up%20to%20revolution.htm>

 

Achaemenian Dynasty

559-530 BC -- Cyrus the Great established the Persian Empire in 550 BC, the first world empire. His respect for local traditions, laws, languages, and religions set the foundation of a relatively benevolent empire.

539 BC -- Babylonia surrendered peacefully to Cyrus the Great. Welcomed as a liberator because of his compassionate policies, Cyrus freed the Jews from captivity and assisted them to migrate to their homeland and to reconstruct their temple in Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, in the Book of Isaiah, Cyrus is hailed as the Shepherd of the Lord. I am Cyrus, King of the World. When I entered Babylon I did not allow anyone to terrorize the land. I kept in view the needs of its people and all its sanctuaries to promote their well being. I put an end to their misfortune. The great God has delivered all lands into my hand, the lands that I have made to dwell in peaceful habitation.

522-486 BC -- The reign of Darius the Great marked the zenith of the Persian Empire. Upholding the tradition established by Cyrus, Darius valued the rights of all people under his rule. The following inscription appears on his tomb: By the favor of the great God I believe in justice and abhor inequity. It is not my desire that the weak man should have wrong done to him by the mighty....Darius' goal was to be a great law-giver and organizer. He structured the empire under the satrapy system (similar to national and local governments). He built many roads, ports, banking houses (the word "check" comes from Old Persian), elaborate underground irrigation systems and a canal to link the Nile to the Red Sea (an early precursor of the Suez Canal). In the 19th century, archeologists in Egypt discovered an inscription by Darius commemorating the completion of the canal: I am a Persian. I commanded to dig this canal from a river by name of Nile which flows in Egypt....After this canal was dug, ships went from Egypt through this canal to Persia, thus as was my desire.

Darius revolutionized mankind's economic activities by introducing one of the earliest (certainly the first on such a massive scale) forms of common coinage in history, the darik. This initiative, along with the standardization of weights and measures and the codification of commercial laws, stimulated world trade and elevated the Persian Empire's economy to new levels of prosperity.

Reflecting the wealth and the multi-cultural dimension of the Persian Empire, Darius initiated the building of the Persepolis palace. For its construction, artisans and materials were gathered from different corners of the empire. Another project undertaken by Darius was the royal road, the world's longest, extending 1,500 miles (see map). Due to an extensive network of relays, postmen could travel the road in six to nine days, whereas normal travel time was three months. The motto of the Persian postal service became memorable: stopped by neither snow, rain, heat or gloom of night. The US postal service also adopted this motto and the famous Pony Express mail delivery resembled the original Persian design. The origins of polo date back to this time. Persian nobility played an early form of polo for both sport and combat training.

490-479 BC -- In their wars with Persia, the Greek city-states were never a threat to the Persian heartland. What Persia did not achieve through war, it obtained through diplomacy. After the Persian-Greek wars ended, Persian kings successfully played the Athenians and Spartans against each other for 150 years. Persia's financial and naval assistance was instrumental in Sparta's victory over Athens in the Great Peloponnesian War. Afterwards, Persia began supporting the Athenians. The Persian influence over the two Greek city-states was such that the Persian King Artaxerxes II was asked to mediate between them, leading to the King's Peace of 387 BC.

550-334 BC -- The Persian Empire became the dominant world power for over two centuries. It made possible the first significant and continuous contact between East and West. It was the world's first religiously tolerant empire and consisted of a multitude of different languages, races, religions and cultures. Prior to the rise of the Roman Empire, it set a precedent for the importance of the rule of law, a powerful centralized army and an efficient and systematic state administration. However, the greatest legacy of the Persian Empire was that it demonstrated for the first time how diverse peoples can culturally flourish and economically prosper under one central government.


Alexander to Parthian Dynasty

334 BC -- Alexander Invaded Persia. After his victory over the Persian army, he ordered the execution of many Persians, allowed his troops to indulge themselves in plunder and rape and, in a drunken rage, set torch to Persepolis. However, he also considered himself a successor to Achaemenian Kings and paid tribute to Cyrus the Great at his tomb. He emulated Persian court customs and attempted to create a new culture, a mixture of both Persian and Hellenistic. He married a Persian woman (Roxana) and ordered all his generals and 10,000 of his soldiers to follow suit in a mass wedding.

323 BC -- Alexander died. Although a masterful general, he lacked administrative skills. Shortly after his death, his empire was divided among his contesting generals. An important legacy of his conquest of Persia was the introduction of the Persian imperial practices into the West. Many of these practices ­ particularly those relating to state administration and the rule of law ­ were later adopted by the Roman Empire.

323-141 BC -- The Seleucid Dynasty was established by one of Alexander's generals.

247 BC-224 AD -- The Parthians, a tribal kingdom from northeastern Iran, gradually defeated the Greek Seleucids and consolidated their control over all of Persia. The name of the founder of the dynasty, Arsaces, became the title of all Parthian kings in much the same way that the name of Caesar was later to become the title of all Roman emperors. They fought numerous times with the Romans. Their victory over the Romans in 53 BC elevated the Parthians into a superpower of their era. The Romans were especially in awe of the expert mobile Parthian archers (hence the term: the Parthian Shot) who inflicted enormous casualties upon successive Roman armies. Although the Parthians ruled for almost five centuries, very little of their civilization has survived, except for some small art objects.


Sasanian Dynasty

224 -- Ardeshir I founded the Sasanian dynasty. The Sasanians revived Persian culture and Zoroastrianism and made a conscious effort to return to the Achaemenian norms. They sponsored trade both with their arch-enemy, the Romans/Byzantines, and the Chinese. Excavations in China have unearthed gold and silver Sasanian coins covering a span of many centuries.

260 -- Shahpur I invaded the Roman Empire and took Emperor Valerian prisoner. He also established Jondi Shahpur, a major center of higher learning.

274 -- Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, tried to introduce a new universal world religion, combining elements of Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Buddhism.

528 -- Mazdak advocated abolition of private property, the division of wealth, as well as nonviolence and vegetarianism. His ideas brought about a major class struggle between the peasants and the nobility. He could be considered the world's first "communist/socialist."

531-579 -- The reign of Khosrow I (Anushiravan) marked the height of the Sasanian dynasty. He promoted scholarship and sponsored the translation of Indian and Greek scientific and medical texts into Middle Persian or Pahlavi, Persia's native language. By the time of Khosrow I, Jondi Shahpur's library had amassed one of the largest collections of books in the world. He also gave refuge and financial assistance to philosophers fleeing oppression in the Byzantine Empire. Khosrow I was also a populist king, possibly a reflection of Mazdak's ideology and the civil conflicts that subsequently ensued. He made himself available to all his subjects; anyone could rattle his chain of justice and have an audience with the king. His famous prime minister, Bozorgmehr, reportedly invented the game of backgammon.

570 -- The Prophet Mohammad was born.

 

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Create Your Own Timeline

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help you remember basic dates and to construct your own version /interpretation of Ancient History is to create your own timeline. Download or print the following tables to get started, or construct your own version. [print this table pdf]

Western Humanities: Greece

Mythical Mycenean Past

Dates & Key Events  
Form of Government  
Main Philosophical & Religious Ideas  
Aesthetic Principles  
Role of Women  
Style of Literature  
Values  

 

Archaic Period

Dates & Key Events  
Form of Government  
Main Philosophical & Religious Ideas  
Aesthetic Principles  
Role of Women  
Style of Literature  
Values  


Classical

Dates & Key Events  
Form of Government  
Main Philosophical & Religious Ideas  
Aesthetic Principles  
Role of Women  
Style of Literature  
Values  


Hellenistic

Dates & Key Events  
Form of Government  
Main Philosophical & Religious Ideas  
Aesthetic Principles  
Role of Women  
Style of Literature  
Values  


Dates & Key Events: Greece
Archaic Period ( - BCE)

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Classical ( - BCE)

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Hellenistic ( - BCE)
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Conference 21 Meets Th, 1:10 -2:30 in Library 387.

Conference Leader: Prof. Laura Leibman, Dept. of English

Conference 21 Page| Paper Topics| |Timelines| Writing Help|

| Hum 110 Page

2003 Laura Leibman, Reed College