Interesting Happenings
From Around the World
1-999 AD

Linda Haas Davenport
Dividing Line

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Dividing Line

8 BC-4 AD: Scholars estimate Jesus was born between these years.

04: Death of Herod.

06: Judea becomes a Roman province. Candidates for political office in China must take civil service exams.

14: Augustus Caesar, first Emperor of the Roman Empire, dies,

15: Livy (Titus Livius) the Roman historian, publishes the story of Romulus and Remus traditional founders of Rome.

23: Greek geographer Strabo publishes Geography, a work covering the world known to the Romans and Greeks at the time of Emperor Augustus. (It is the only such book to survive from the ancient world.)

27: Probable year Jesus Christ is crucified. (The exact year of the crucifixion is disputed; often quoted as 33AD.)

34: Apostle Paul begins missionary journeys.

43: Rome invades Britain. A temporary pontoon bridge, built by the Romans, is the first London bridge.

50: Hero (or Heron) of Alexandria invents the aeolipile (known as Hero's Engine) a rocket-like reaction engine and the first recorded steam engine. He builds a small working model, but doesn't go forward with a larger engine. St Paul begins missionary work in Europe. Pedanius Dioscorides writes the first pharmacology text, De Materia Medica (it became the primary source on pharmacology for the next sixteen centuries). Front and rear grid sights in use on Chinese crossbows - greatly improving accuracy.

54: Nero becomes last Caesar (of Caesar family) of Rome.

54-68: Nero levies a new tax, but rather than money the tax is payable in urine (The Urine Tax). The lower classes of Roman society are required to urinate into pots and to empty them into cesspools. The liquid is then collected and serves as the raw material for a number of chemical processes: it is used in tanning, and also by launderers as a source of ammonia to clean and whiten woolen togas.

64: Great fire in Rome. As many Romans live in wooden houses without masonry, the fire spread quickly. The fire was almost contained after five days before regaining strength. Suetonius reports the fire burned for six days and seven nights in total. The fire completely destroyed four of fourteen Roman districts and severely damaged seven. Also destroyed were Nero's palace, the Temple of Jupiter Stator and the hearth in the Temple of Vesta.

65: First persecution of Christians in Rome. The Gospel According to St. Mark, the earliest of the four Gospels, is written. Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist Pedanius Dioscorides writes a five volume book De Materia Medica (The precursor to all modern pharmacopeias, and is one of the most influential herbal books in history. It will stay in publication until about 1600.) Dioscorides recommends the use of orchid tubers as an aphrodisiac.

200 BC-68 AD: Dead Sea Scrolls written during these years.

68: Nero commits suicide.

71: Construction of the Colosseum in Rome begins (finished in 79). Is considered on of the Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages. Spartacus and other slaves crucified on the Appian road to Rome.

77: Around this year, the last book of the Old Testament, the Book of Esther, is translated into Greek.

79: Emperor Titus dedicates the Roman Colosseum. Mount Vesuvius erupts, killing thousands in Herculaneum and Pompeii.

117: Hadrian rules Rome (till 138), establishes a postal system and codifies Roman law.

127: Alexandrian astronomer, cartographer, and mathematician Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus) publishes Almagest, in which he catalogued 1,022 stars - the previous known number of stars being 850. His work will influence astronomy studies for 14 centuries.

132: First seismoscope developed in China; it detected an earthquake 400 miles away.

142: First reference to gunpowder although it was not yet named that: during the Han Dynasty, Chinese Taoist alchemist Wei Boyang is the first to write anything about gunpowder. He writes about a mixture of three powders that would "fly and dance" violently.

158: Greek physician and most accomplished medical researcher of the Roman period, Claudius Galen writes that arteries carry blood, and explains the action of muscles and nerves.

175: The Heraea Games, held in Olympic Stadium, is the first sanctioned competition for women. It consists of foot races only, as did the men's competition. Not only are the games for women only, the "Sixteen Women" are administrators of the games. The Heraea champions win olive crowns, cow or ox meat from the animal sacrificed to Hera and the right to dedicate statues inscribed with their names or hang painted portraits of themselves on the columns of Hera's temple.

178: Chinese use "tear gas" (lime smoke) to suppress peasant revolt.

180: Greek physician Galen publishes Methodus Medendo, a system of medicine that will influence medical thinking for over a thousand years.

200: Palestinian scholar Judah ha-Nasi compiles tracts of the Mishnah, beginning the creation of Jewish Talmudic law. Rome boasts 1.5 million inhabitants, most living in 3 to 8-story-high insulae, apartment blocks made of brick, wood or rubble. The first iron skates are used in Scandinavia.

212: Imperial edict (the Constitutio Antoniniana) of Emperor Caracalla grants Roman citizenship to all freemen of the Empire.

213: Completion of the Baths of Caracalla, which contain reading rooms, running tracks, and public gardens covering 20 acres. Gunpowder invented by Chinese alchemists mixing saltpeter with sulfur at the right temperature.

219: Founding of the Sura Academy in Babylon.

250: Greek mathematician from Alexandria, Diophantus, publishes Arithmetica, the first known algebra text, a treatise in 13 parts of which 6 survive.

271: First form of compass used in China.

313: Constantine the Great, first Christian Roman Emperor, reverses the rulings of his predecessor, Diocleziano, and issues (with his co-emperor Licinius) the Edict of Milan ending the persecution of Christians.

326: Constantine the Great and his mother Helena start building churches in Palestine to mark the places considered holy to Christianity, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

335: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is consecrated on the site of what is believed to be Christ's tomb.

390: Domenico Ghirlandaio (St Jerome) publishes his Latin Vulgate manuscripts, containing all 80 books of the Scriptures (39 Old Testament, 27 New Testament, 14 Apocrypha).

325-400: Ulfias writes his translation of the New Testament, the only surviving work of written Gothic.

407: Roman legions withdraw from Britain; Picts, Scots and Saxons invade. The Saxons become the new rulers of the British Isles.

408: 3,000 pounds of pepper demanded as ransom by Visigoth during the siege of Rome.

410: Goths attack Rome. Alaric leads the Asiatic Huns to attack the Roman Empire, sacking Rome in August. They introduce pants (trousers) to the Roman Empire replacing the traditional togas.

440: December 25th was not celebrated as the birth date of Jesus until this year.

441: Anglo-Saxons, fleeing Huns advancing on northern Europe, invade Britain.

446: Vortigern leads Anglo-Saxon mercenaries and Britons against the Picts (from Scotland) and Scots (from Wales).

449: Angles and Saxons conquer Britain.

455: Vandals sack Rome with such ferocity that the word "vandal" will come to mean "wanton destroyer".

476: The Western Roman Empire ends. (The eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, centered in Constantinople, will continue until 1453.)

476 to 1000: Period called "The Dark Ages", also called the Middle Ages, of European history is marked by the lack of Latin literature, contemporary written history, general demographic decline, limited building activity and material cultural achievements in general. Later historians have expanded the term to refer to the transitional period between Classical Roman Antiquity and the High Middle Ages,

500: The Scriptures of the Bible have now been translated into more than 500 languages.

521: Roman Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius introduces Greek musical letter notation to the West.

ca 525: The standard Western Way of counting years (BC, AD) was dreamed up early in the 6th century by a monk named Dopmusois Exogiis (Dennis the Short). Dennis determined that the Christian era had started with Jesus' circumcision, a week after this birth. He dated the event as January 1 of the year he called anno Domini (the year of our Lord) 1 A.D. He did not include a Zero year.

529: Codification of Roman Law,Justin's Code in a series of books called Corpus Juris Civilis, by the Justin I Emperor of Byzantine, resulting in a revival of Roman law in the Middle Ages. Many legal maxims will be based on this code,

532; The Hagia Sophia is begun on the order of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Is considered on of the Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages.

542: Great Plague of Justinian (a bubonic plague) ravages the Byzantine Empire, including its capital Constantinople, It will last until 593, killing half the population of Europe.

552: Emperor Justinian initiates Europe's silk industry by sending missionaries to smuggle silkworms out of China and Ceylon.

556: Some historians believe Life of St. Columba by Adamnan, contains the first written account of the Loch Ness monster. This is disputed by others.

587: First Japanese Buddhist monastery established.

590: Pope Gregory I (the Great) begins the papacy which will reform Europe. He sends monk Augustine to the British Isles.

597: St. Augustine leads the conversion of England and founds a monastery in Kent town (later known as Canterbury), one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon settlements, dating from the mid-400's.

600: Indian mathematician Brahmagupta is the first to describe the modern place-value numeral system (Hindu-Arabic numeral system) around this time.

601: The earliest dated English words are 'Town' and 'Priest', both recorded in the Laws of Ethelbert.

609 or 613 ?: The prophet Mohammed begins to preach the religion of Islam openly in Mecca (a holy city before the existence of Islam). (Some sources claim year to be 613AD)

628: Byzantine soldiers bring sugar from India to Constantinople. The rules governing the use of zero appear for the first time in Brahmagupta's book Brahmasputha Siddhanta (The Opening of the Universe),

632 Muhammad the Prophet dies.

650: Khazars, mid-eastern people of mixed race, expand westward and capture and sell people, mainly Slavs (believed by some scholars to be the origin of the word slave).

695: First Arab coins minted.

700: Porcelain introduced in China. Fingerprinting in use in China where merchants apply their fingerprints to documents authenticating a record of debt. Celts arrive in Ireland from parts of Gaul and Britain. Tang Dynasty emperors using gunpowder to put on great fireworks displays. Greek replaces Latin in Eastern Roman Empire.

713: The Kai Yuan Za Bao of the Chinese Tang Dynasty is publishing government news; it is handwritten on silk and read by government officials, some scholars call this the first "newspaper".

724: Chinese inventor Liang Ling-Can builds the world's first fully mechanical clock.

732: The word "Europe" first mentioned in existing records.

735: Small pox epidemic in Japan. Will continue for two years wiping out a third of the population.

750: Arabian mathematicians begin using numbers that originated in India. The world's earliest known printed document is a sutra printed on a single sheet of paper in Korea.

768: The empress of devoutly Buddhist Nara commissions a huge edition of a lucky charm or prayer. It is said that the project takes six years to complete and that the number of copies printed, for distribution to pilgrims, is a million. Many have survived.

795: Vikings invade Ireland.

820: Persian mathematician, Muhammad ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi, described the rudiments of modern algebra whose name is derived from his book Al-Kitāb al-muḫtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa-l-muqābala.

829: Nile freezes over (happens again in 1010).

850: Toilet paper thought to be used first in China. The Taoist book of alchemy, the Classified Essentials of the Mysterious Tao of the True Origin of Things describes gunpowder. Arab scientists perfect the astrolabe, an instrument used to observe celestial bodies. About this time, Arab mathematician, Al-Kindi (Alkindus) gives the first known explanation of cryptanalysis in A Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages

861: Iceland discovered by Scandinavian sailor Naddoddr.

868: The world's first printed book The Diamond Sutra is produced in China.

890: First record of an automatic instrument (hydropowered organ which played interchangeable cylinders automatically) in the treatise called Banu Musa (Ingenious Devices) by the Ban Ms brothers of Baghdad.

900: Vikings discover Greenland. Paper money used by merchants in Szechuan, China

900-1300: Europe dominated by feudalism.

904: Gunpowder first used with weapons: Chinese inventors use gunpowder in the form of rockets. They put small stone cannonballs inside bamboo tubes and shoot the cannonballs out by lighting gunpowder at one end.

950: Cordoba, Spain is Europe's intellectual center, boosting medical schools, modern libraries and a paper trade. Card playing invented by Chinese harem women.

975: Arabs introduce modern arithmetical notation to Europeans, making calculations easier than Roman numerals.

Dividing Line

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