This time marks the beginning of the earliest known civilization on Earth, the “cradle of civilization.” The Sumerians settle in southern Mesopotamia and establish Ur, Lagash, Uruk, Kish, and Nippur (city-states).
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Ancient Wonders of the World, are built in Mesopotamia about 50 km south of what is now Baghdad, Iraq.
The Pyramid of Giza, the First Wonder of the Ancient World, is built in Egypt near the banks of the Nile River and what is today the city of Cairo.
King Menes unites Upper and Lower Egypt in the Old Kingdom. Cities became centres of religion and government.
3000 to 300 BCE
This period of the rise and fall of Ancient Egypt, “Gift of the Nile,” is one of the longest lasting civilizations in human history.
The Hebrew people leave Egypt and establish Israel and the religion of Judaism (first religion with only one god).
The kingdom of Israel is conquered by the Assyrians. (The Israelite Kingdom of Judah is conquered by Babylonia in 586 BCE.)
Civilization moves eastward to the Indus River valley of western India, in what is today Pakistan and India.
Pharoah Khufu builds the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt.
3500 to 3200 BCE
There is evidence from this time that there was early use of the wheel in Mesopotamia.
2500 to 2000 BCE
Ships and overland caravans connect India, Mesopotamia, and Egypt in a trading network.
The Indus Valley Civilization begins its decline to eventually be defeated by nomadic chariot warriors from central Asia.
Huang He River Valley, the 4th agricultural civilization, begins in China. Farming gradually moved south to the Yangtze River. The land between these rivers became the centre of Chinese civilization.
The Zhou (pron. JOH) dynasty takes control of China and rules for nearly 900 years.
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3500 to 1900 BCE
The agricultural civilization of Sumer develops, and features walled cities, irrigation, and ziggurats (religious temples). Cuneiform (earliest form of writing) and a number system based on 12 are developed.
The world’s oldest written story, the Epic of Gilgamesh, is recorded on clay tablets in Ancient Sumeria. The story includes an account of a great flood that covered the world.
2500 to 1500 BCE
Indus River Civilization develops a written language; large cities become centres of trade and have sophisticated water and plumbing systems; people begin to grow cotton.
Sargon I of Mesopotamia conquers neighbouring lands and establishes the world’s first empire (a collection of societies or city-states with one ruler).
1523 to 1027 BCE
The Shang Dynasty rules in China. The agricultural civilization has a writing system using shells and cattle bones, and develops elaborate bronze metalwork and containers.
2000 to 1500 BCE
Stonehenge and other rock circles are built in Britain.
Hammurabi of Babylon selects the best laws from each of the surrounding city-states and develops a written code of 282 laws.
2600 to 1900 BCE
Indus River cities (e.g., Harappa) develop as trading centres of gold, silver, copper, and turquoise;
astronomy is developed.
Hieroglyphic writing first appears, and papyrus is first used.
The 365-day calendar is developed in Egypt, a forerunner to our modern calendar.
The domestication of horses begins in China.
900 to 600 BCE
Mesopotamia comes under the control of the warlike Assyrian empire.
Note: The following undated markers describe general characteristics that emerged during this historical era. They may be placed at the beginning or ending of the chronological sorting, or used as the basis for illustrating various aspects of this era.