The Awakening: −800 - −400

This was the time when the first great thinkers appeared, whose individual names we still recognise. They set philosophy and science and art and religious thought going. They appeared all over the world, not just in one area. It was as if the time was suddenly right for these ideas to appear and spread. The second half from circa −600 onwards marks the first great age of Greece, from the law-making of Solon to the death of Socrates. For consistency I have relied mainly on the dates as given in Wikipedia. Note that the range −800 - −400 means from the beginning of −800 to the beginning of −400, events in the year −400 are not included.

Colour coding: red = mathematics, astronomy, physics orange = materials, chemistry, geology, engineering, architecture yellow = biology, medicine, exploration, anthropology, psychology green = visual art, printing blue = literature, poetry, music mauve = history, philosophy, metaphysics, theology grey = wars, politics, events (indented)


The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, reckoned one of the "seven wonders" of the ancient world, was one of a series of temples successively built on the same marshy site; −800, −600, −550, −333, finally destroyed in a Goth invasion of 262. Only fragments remain. There are also other later temples devoted to Artemis, such as in Corfu −580. W @

c.−800 to c.−730 Lycurgus lawgiver of Sparta. W @ @ @

−800: India caste system develops.

−753: Traditional date for the foundation of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita).

−747 Nabu-Nasir aka Nabonassar was king of Babylon −747 - −732 W His reign saw a reform of the calendar, and the keeping of more accurate records of celestial phenomena, possibly inspired by the lunar eclipse of February 6, −746 which was combined with a spectacular conjunction of the planets. The zodiac, the division of the ecliptic into 12 constellations mainly named after animals, may also date from this period.


fl.c.−750 (or 725) Hesiod Greek poet, Works and Days Theogony is a poetic compilation of the cosmological myths known to the Greeks, expressed in terms of personifications of nature such as Chronos (Time) and Uranus (Sky). W @ @ @, @ @

fl.c.−750 Homer Greek poet, Iliad Odyssey W @ @ @

−750 - −666: Kush conquest and rule in Egypt.

−705 - −681 Sennacherib, king of Assyria Annals of Sennacherib, Assyrian invasion of Judea −701. W @


The Tunnel of Hezekiah in Jerusalem was excavated around −700 to bring water into the city from a source that could not be cut off by besieging forces. @

fl.c.−700 [−740 - −681 JVL] Isaiah, Jewish prophet Book of Isaiah. @ @

−685 - −627 Ashurbanipal, aka Sardanapalos, king of Assyria −669, gathered cuneiform library at Nineveh, including a near-complete Epic of Gilgamesh survives. Assyrian conquest of Kush-ruled Egypt −666. W @


c.−640 - −559 Solon Athenian ruler and reformer, Laws. @ @ W @ @

−634 - −562 Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon 605, constructed the hanging gardens of Babylon, features in the Book of Daniel. W W

fl.c.−625 Jeremiah, Jewish prophet. In Jerusalem at time of seige by Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem destroyed −587. W

fl.c.−621 Draco, ruler of Athens known for his severe 'Draconian' laws.

c.−620 - c.−555 Thales of Miletos. He was one of the earliest of a group of philosophers based in Miletos (a Greek city in Asia Minor, now part of Turkey) who favoured natural explanations of phenomena (which came to be known as 'natural philosophy') rather than accepting traditional mythological stories, though their ideas were often very speculative. He considered that all matter must be formed of similar material and proposed water as this element. In geometry he is credited with the proof that the angle in a semicircle is a right angle, and used the concept of similar triangles to calculate height and distance of inaccessible objects ('triangulation'). He is said to have predicted an eclipse of the sun that occurred in −585. Modern astronomy confirms that a total eclipse did occur on 28 May that year though, as the account by Herodotus indicates, he did not predict the exact date. M @ @

c.−610 - c.−545 Anaximander of Miletos, a pupil of Thales, considered the unverse boundless, with Earth at the centre, the stars on a sphere around the Earth, and the Moon and Sun orbiting beyond the stars. The Earth flat and circular floating in an ocean. @ @


d.−528 Anaximenes of Miletos, a pupil of Anaximander. He favoured air as the basic element, other material being formed by its compaction, and fire by its rarefaction. @ @

c.−600 - −527 Peisistratus, Athenian ruler. W

c.−600 - −529 Cyrus 'the Great' −550: Cyrus unifies the Medes and Persians, to found the Persian Achaemenid Empire.

c.−600 "As early as the 6th century BC the Babylonian princess Ennigaldi-Nanna had a collection of antiquities in a room of her palace at Ur." [TAA]

−597 Ezekiel, Jewish prophet captive in Mesopotamia under Nebuchadnezzar.

−595 - −546 Croesus last king (c.−560) of Lydia, of proverbial wealth, defeated by Cyrus. @ @ W

c.−570 - c.−475 (fl.c.−530) Pythagoras taught that "all is number", he and his followers the Pythagoreans developed propositional geometry, investigated proportions in music of lyre strings, and promoted the concept of the celestial bodies moving in spheres in "harmony". @

The Samos Tunnel, 1036 metres long and still in existence, was the middle section of a huge aqueduct built by the engineer Eupalinus of Megara around −550 during the reign of Polycrates. It is located on the mountain slopes of Panagia Spilani and was excavated from both ends simultaneously. The water system was in use for a thousand years. @ W

c.−570 - Cleisthenes. Reformed Athenian constitution based on equality under the law. isonomy, c.−508. W @ @ @

c.−560 - −480 Siddhartha Gautama, aka Buddha ("enlightened one"), Buddhsi bark texts. @ @ @

−551 - −479 Confucius aka K'ung Ch'iu, Kong Qiu, or K'ung Fu-tzu, Analects. W G.


fl.−550 Lao-Tzu, aka Laozi Tao-te-Ching (The Way of Power). @ @, @

−548 - −486 Darius I king (−522) of Persia, made Zoroastrianism the state religion, −525: Persia conquers Egypt. defeated at Marathon −490.

c.−544 - −496 Sun Tzu Chinese General The Art of War. W, G

c.−540 - c.−475 Heracleitus Greek philosopher, known for the saying "All is Flux". @

−539; Carthaginians defeated by Greeks (??)

c.−525 - c.−456 Aeschylus, dramatist, with 7 extant plays out of 60: Persians −472, Seven against Thebes, Prometheus Bound, Suppliants, Oresteia trilogy −458. @ @ W @ @ @

c.−524 - c.−459 Themistocles Athenian leader who built fleet of 200 triremes for defence agains Persian invaders. W @ @

c.−522 - c.−440 Pindar, Greek triumphal poet of odes, Epinikia survive, but others only in fragments. @ W @ @

c.−520 - c.−460 Panini grammarian of Classical Sanskrit, Ashtadhyayi. W

−516. Jews return to Jerusalem after exile in Babylon.

c.−515 - c.−455 Parmenides of Elea, radical sceptic. @

−510: Tarquin "the Proud", last King of Rome deposed. Foundation of Roman Republic.


c.−500: Gallianazo and Salinar cultures in Peru.

c.−500 - −428 Anaxagoras philosopher, teacher of Pericles and Euripides. M

c.−496 - −405 Sophocles Greek dramatist, 7 plays extant out of over 100, Ichneutae, Ajax, Antigone c.−441, Electra, Oedipus Tyrannus, Trachiniae, Philoctetes −409, Oedipus Coloneus. @

c.−494 - c.−434 Empedocles @

c.−490 - −429 Pericles Athenian naval commander and ruler, under whom architecture, sculpture and drama flourished. @ W @ @ @

c.−490 - c.−430 Zeno of Elea originator of the paradoxes of infinity. @

c.−490 - c.−430 Phidias sculptor and superintendent of public works under Pericles, Parthenon, Athena, Zeus. W @

c.−490 - c.−420 Protagoras sophist philosopher, known for the saying "Man is the measure of all things". @ W @ @

ruled −486 - −465 Xerxes I king of Persia, halted at Thermopylae by army led by Leonidas king of Sparta, but destroyed Athens −480, defeated in naval battles at Salamis and on land at Plataea −479.

c.−485 - −425 Herodotus historian and storyteller.

fl.c.−480 - −444 Myron sculptor in bronze, Discobolus, Maryas. W

c.−480 - c.−420 Leucippus the first 'atomist' philosopher. M

c.−480 - −406 Euripides dramatist, 18 plays survive complete out of 80, Alcestis, Medea, Hippolytus, Hecuba, Andromache, Supplices, Heraclidae, Troades, Helena, Phoenissae, Orestes, Bacchae, Iphigenia in Aulis, Iphigenia in Tauris, Ion, Hercules Furens, Electra, Cyclops, Rhesus(?). @

c.−470 - c.−410 Hippocrates of Chios, made the first systematic compilation of geometrical knowledge. though the work as a whole does not survive, calculated the areas of certain 'lunes' bounded by circular arcs (where the convex parts are equal in area to the convex part cut away). Sometimes confused with the physician Hippocrates of Cos (c.−460.

−470 - −391 Mo Tzu chinese philosopher.

−469 - −399 Socrates, Greek philosopher, left no writings, but his thoughts are expressed in dialogues written by his pupil Plato. @ W @

c.−460 - c.−370 Democritus 'atomist' philosopher. M,

c.−460 - c.−400 Thucydides historian, History of the Peloponnesian War. W

c.−460 - −377 Hippocrates of Cos physician whose name is given to the 'Hippocratic Oath' of medical ethics.

Roman fresco −450 shows musicians performing.


c.−450 Ezra, lived in Babylon during the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus or Artaxerxes II. Led a band of Jews to Jerusalem (−458 or −397) and rebuilt their temple. Believed to have arranged the books of the Pentateuch as they are now. W W

c.−448 - c.−388 Aristophanes dramatist, 11 plays of 54 are extant, Acharnians, Knights, Clouds, Wasps, Peace, Birds, Lysistrata, Thesmophoriazusae, Frogs, Ecclesiazusae, Plutus, caricatured Socrates in The Clouds as a sophist. @

c.−435 - −354 Xenophon soldier and historian, presents Socrates as a practical common-sense thinker, Anabasis and other works. W F @ @

−432 Meton of Athens, incorporated the 19-year 'Metonic cycle' into the lunisolar Attic calendar, using the fact that 19 solar years are approximately equal to 235 lunar months or 6940 days. W.

−431: Peloponnesian War, Sparta v Athens

c.−428 - c.−350 Archytas mathematician interested in the problem of duplication of the cube. M

(−427 - −347) Plato describes the trial of Socrates and features him as a speaker in his Dialogues. M @ @ @ W @

c.−417 - c.−369 Thaetetus mathematician, discoverer of the icosahedron (completing the five 'Platonic' solids). M

−408 - −355 (?3) [? c.390 - c.337 in TMB]Eudoxus of Cnidus. He is believed to have originated the ideas in Euclid Book V for dealing with incommensurable magnitudes (like the side and diagonal of a square). He used the method of exhaustion to work out areas and volumes by successive approximation. Showed that the volume of a cone is one third of the volume of a cylinder of the same height and base. M