- 2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late
Its first half is dominated by the
Middle Kingdom of Egyptand Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateauand onto the Indian subcontinentpropagates the use of the chariot. Chariot warfare and population movements lead to violent changes at the center of the millennium, and a new order emerges with Greek dominance of the Aegean and the rise of the Hittite Empire. The end of the millennium sees the transition to the Iron Age. World populationbegins to rise steadily, reaching some 50 million towards the 1000 BC.
Middle Bronze Age
Spending much of their energies in trying to recuperate from the anarchic situation that was at the turn of the millennium, the most powerful civilizations of the time, Egypt and
Mesopotamia, turned their attention to more modest goals. The Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom of Egyptand their contemporary Kings of Babylon, of Amoriteorigin, brought good governance without much tyranny, and favoured elegant art and architecture. Farther east, the Indus Valley civilizationwas in a period of decline, possibly as a result of intense, ruinous flooding.
Egypt and Babylonia's military tactics were still based on foot soldiers transporting their equipment on donkeys. Combined with a weak economy and difficulty in maintaining order, this was a fragile situation that crumbled under the pressure of external forces they could not oppose.
Unrest of the 16th century
About a century before the middle of the millennium, bands of Indo-European invaders came from the
Central Asiaplains and swept through the Near East. They were riding fast two-wheeled chariots powered by horses, a system of weaponry developed earlier within the context of plains warfare. This tool of war was unknown among the classical oriental civilizations. Egypt and Babylonia's foot soldiers were unable to defend against the invaders: In 1630 BC, the Hyksosswept into the Nile Delta, and in 1595 BC, the Hittitesswept into Mesopotamia.
Late Bronze Age
The peoples in place were quick to adapt to the new tactics, and a new international situation resulted from the change. Though during most of the second half of the 2nd millennium BC several regional powers competed relentlessly for hegemony, many developments occurred: there was new emphasis on grandiose architecture, new clothing fashions, vivid diplomatic correspondence on clay tablets, renewed economic exchanges, and the
New Kingdomof Egypt played the role of the main superpower. Among the great states of the time, only Babylonrefrained from taking part in battles, mainly due to its new position as the world's religious and intellectual capital.
Bronze Agecivilization at its final period of time, displayed all its characteristic social traits: low level of urbanization, small cities centered around temples or royal palaces, strict separation of classes between an illiterate mass of peasants and craftsmen, and a powerful military elite, knowledge of writing and education reserved to a tiny minority of scribes, and pronounced aristocratic life.
Near the end of the 2nd millennium BC, new waves of
barbarians, this time riding on horseback, wholly destroyed the Bronze Age world, and were to be followed by waves of social changes that marked the beginning of different times. Also contributing to the changes were the Sea Peoples, ship-faring raiders of the Mediterranean Sea.
*Second dynasty of
*First Bantu migrations from
Cushitesdrive the original inhabitants from Ethiopia, and establish trade relations with Egypt.
*Middle Kingdom in Egypt (2052–1570 BC).
2000 BC— Menhirstatue of a woman, from Montagnac, France, was made. It is now at Musee d'Histoire Naturelle et de Prehistoire, Nimes.
*c. 2000 BC–
1900 BC— Kamares Ware jug, from Phaistos, Crete, is made. Old Palace period. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
HittitesOld Kingdom in Anatolia(1900 BC)
Civilizationin Canaan(1800 BC).
1800 BC– 1600 BC— Horse and sun chariot, from Trundholm Sun Chariot, Zealand, Denmark, was made. It is now at National Museum, Copenhagen.
1700 BC— An earthquake damages palaces at Knossosand Phaistos.
1700 BC— 1550 BC— Woman or Goddess with snakes, from the palace complex, Second Palace period, Knossos, Crete, is made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
*c. 1700 BC–1550 BC — Pendant of gold bees or wasps, from
Chryssolakkosnear Mallia, Crete, is made. Old Palace period. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
*c. 1700 BC–1550 BC — Bull Jumper (?), from the palace complex,
Knossos, Crete, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
*c. 1700 BC–
1300 BC— Palace complex in Knossos, Crete, was built.
1650 BC– 1450 BC— Harvester Vase, from Hagia Triada, Crete, is made. Second Palace period. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
*c. 1650 BC–1450 BC — Vapheio cup, found near
Sparta, Greece, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
1620s BCor 1520s BCthe Minoan eruptionof Thera (now known as Santorini), destroys Minoan Akrotiri.
Shang Dynastywas founded in Chinain 1600 BC.
*Egyptian domination over
Canaanand Syria(1600 BC–1360 BC).
1550 BC– 1450 BC— Bull's-head rhyton, from the palace complex, Second Palace period, Knossos, Crete, is made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
*c. 1550 BC–1450 BC — Bull leaping, wall painting with areas of modern reconstruction, from the palace complex,
Knossos, Crete, is made. Late Minoan period. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
1500 BC–1450 BC — Octopus Flask, from Palaikastro, Crete, is made. Second Palace period. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
1274 BC— The Battle of Kadeshin Syriabetween the Egyptiansand Hittites.
1269 BC— Ramses II, pharaoh of ancient Egypt, and Hattusilis III, king of the Hittites, sign the earliest known peace treaty.
Athensfounded (1235 BC).
Canaanby the Israelites. The United Monarchyemerges in the last decades of the millennium.
Troy(traditional date 1184 BC. c.f. Troy VII).
Austronesian peopleshave migrated from Philippines to Celebes, the Moluccas, northern Borneo and eastern Java. From Moluccas a group heads west to Malagasy and another heads east into Oceania reaching Melanesia by 1,200 BC
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
2000 BC— Wheeled chariots and wagons appeared
*Development of the alphabet
Hindus developed castesystem
*Chinese record the earliest known sighting of a
*Earliest known use of Chinese
*Beginning of the
Iron Age: discovery of iron smelting and smithing techniques in Anatoliaor the Caucasusin the late 2nd millennium BC
*Introduction of the
Peachfrom Chinato Persiaand Europe
*Emergence of the
historical Vedic religion( Rigveda)
*Emergence of early
Olmeccivilization in Mesoamerica.
Andronovo culture, Central Asia.
Wucheng culture, China.
Beaker culture(ca. 2200 BCto 1800 BC).
Unetice culture(ca 1800 BC to 1600 BC).
1600 BC— Cycladic cultureends in Ancient Greece.
*c. 1600 BC —
Minoan civilizationreaches its peak.
*Mycenaean civilization (c. 1500 BC–1100 BC).
*c. 1600 BC —
Mycenae, Greece, becomes inhabited.
Tumulus culture(c. 1600 BC to 1200 BC).
*c. 1500 BC —
Mycenaean civilizationstarts in Ancient Greece.
*c. 1500 BC —
Terramare culturestarts in Italyand Dalmatia.
1450 BC— Minoan civilizationloses its power.
1375 BC— Minoan cultureends on Crete.
Urnfield culture(c. 1300 BCto 750 BC).
1200 BC— Mycenae, Greece, is abandoned.
1100 BC— Mycenaean civilizationends in Ancient Greece.
*c. 1100 BC —
Terramare cultureends in Italyand Dalmatia.
1000 BC— Helladic periodends.
Hammurabi, Babylonian king and law maker (1792–1745 BC)
Pharaoh Kamoseof the Seventeenth dynasty of Egypt(reigned 1573 BC–1570 BC)
Ahmose Iof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt(reigned 1550 BC–1526 BC)
Amenhotep Iof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1526 BC–1506 BC)
Thutmose Iof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1506 BC–1493 BC)
Thutmose IIof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1493 BC–1479 BC)
Thutmose IIIof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1479 BC–1425 BC)
Hatshepsutof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1479 BC–1458 BC)
Amenhotep IIof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1427 BC–1401 BC
Thutmose IVof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1401 BC–1391 BC)
Amenhotep IIIof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1391 BC–1353 BC)
Akhenatenof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1351 BC–1334 BC)
Smenkhkareof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1336 BC–1334 BC)
Tutankhamunof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1333 BC–1324 BC)
Ayof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1324 BC–1320 BC)
Horemhebof the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1320 BC–1292 BC)
Ramesses Iof the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt(reigned 1292 BC–1290 BC)
Seti Iof the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1290 BC–1279 BC)
Ramesses IIof the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1279 BC–1213 BC)
Merneptahof the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1213 BC–1203 BC)
Shalmaneser I, King of Assyria (reigned 1274–1245 BC)
Theseus, Legendary King of Athens, credited with the political unification of Atticaunder Athens(reign estimated to 1234 BC–1204 BC or 1213 BC)
* The biblical
patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, in the Genesis narrative are set in the early to mid 2nd millennium.
The Exodusand Mosesare set in the late 2nd millennium (possibly the Amarna period, see also Osarseph, " Moses and Monotheism").
* The Canadian-American
speculative fictionauthor S.M. Stirlinghas written a trilogy(the Nantucket series) set in Bronze Ageera, circa the 1250s BC. The trilogy describes the conflict between the different factions of the population of the island of Nantucketafter an unknown phenomenon ("The Event") transports them into the past — some trying to dominate the world for their own benefit, others trying to better it — and the different Bronze Age civilizations.
Centuries and Decades
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