History Timeline 1-400 AD - World History Timeline
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History Timeline: 1-400 AD

El Jem
Roman amphitheater (El Jem, Tunisia)

The great empires formed during the last years before Christ continued peacefully through much of this period. In India, the Mauryan Empire collapsed, and there was a period of smaller kingdoms, but by 319 AD northern India was reunited under the Guptan Empire. In China, the Han Dynasty lasted until 220 AD, but then fell apart into three kingdoms. The world's first smallpox epidemics may have weakened China. The novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms is about this time period.

The Maya and the Zapotec continued to rule Central America, joined by the Moche in South America. In North America, the Hopewell culture along the Mississippi River also lasted all through this period.

Across the Atlantic, the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire kept the peace throughout Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, though like China they were devastated by smallpox epidemics. In northern Europe, even the Ostrogoths and Visigoths began to organize into leagues. In Africa, the kingdoms of Kush and Aksum, south of Egypt, traded with Rome, India and the Parthian Empire. The Bantu continued to expand across East and South Africa, bringing iron with them.

The long peace made travel and trade easy, and many new inventions and ideas spread across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Paved roads helped people travel. Paper, invented in China, was soon in common use across East Asia. Blown glass, invented in Roman West Asia, spread both east and west. Building in concrete and bricks, mastered by the Romans, soon spread across Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. Dispersed by the Romans, the Jews spread all over Europe, North Africa and West Asia. Christianity spread from one end of the Roman Empire to the other, and to the Goths in northern Europe. Many people became Christians in East Africa, West Asia and Central Asia too, though most people stayed Zoroastrians. Nor was the religious flow all in one direction: many Romans also became interested in Mithra, a Zoroastrian god.

Bibliography and further reading for a world history timeline:

400-800 AD
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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For May Day, read about the history of working people all over the world, starting with ancient Egyptian farmers and wetnurses. How did farming push people into debt and slavery? Move on to ancient West Asian miners, Chinese silk-workers, and the Indian caste system. Read about African-American slavery, sugar plantations, and the Industrial Revolution. Then go march for May Day!