3rd millennium BC
The 3rd millennium BC spans the Early to Middle Bronze Age.
It represents a period of time in which imperialism, or the desire to conquer, grew to prominence, in the city states of the Middle East, but also throughout Eurasia, with Indo-European expansion to Anatolia, Europe and Central Asia. The civilization of Ancient Egypt rose to a peak with the Old Kingdom. World population is estimated to have doubled in the course of the millennium, to some 30 million people.
Near East (c. 3300–1200 BC)
South Asia (c. 3000–1200 BC)
Europe (c. 2300–600 BC)
China (c. 2000–700 BC)
The Bronze Age occurred roughly between 3000 BC and 2500 BC. The previous millennium had seen the emergence of advanced, urbanized civilizations, new bronze metallurgy extending the productivity of agricultural work, and highly developed ways of communication in the form of writing. In the 3rd millennium BC, the growth of these riches, both intellectually and physically, became a source of contention on a political stage, and rulers sought the accumulation of more wealth and more power. Along with this came the first appearances of mega architecture, imperialism, organized absolutism and internal revolution.
The civilizations of Sumer and Akkad in Mesopotamia became a collection of volatile city-states in which warfare was common. Uninterrupted conflicts drained all available resources, energies and populations. In this millennium, larger empires succeeded the last, and conquerors grew in stature until the great Sargon of Akkad pushed his empire to the whole of Mesopotamia and beyond. It would not be surpassed in size until Assyrian times 1500 years later.
In the Old Kingdom of Egypt, the Egyptian pyramids were constructed and would remain the tallest and largest human constructions for thousands of years. Also in Egypt, pharaohs began to posture themselves as living gods made of an essence different from that of other human beings. Even in Europe, which was still largely neolithic during the same period of time, the builders of megaliths were constructing giant monuments of their own. In the Near East and the Occident during the 3rd millennium BC, limits were being pushed by architects and rulers.
Towards the close of the millennium, Egypt became the stage of the first popular revolution recorded in history. After lengthy wars, the Sumerians recognized the benefits of unification into a stable form of national government and became a relatively peaceful, well-organized, complex technocratic state called the 3rd dynasty of Ur. This dynasty was later to become involved with a wave of nomadic invaders known as the Amorites, who were to play a major role in the region during the following centuries.
- c. 3000 BC First evidence of gold being used (in the Middle East) was from this time period.
- c. 3000 BC Nubian A-Group, Ta-Seeti "kingdom" came to an end, possibly due to raids by Egypt
- c. 3000 BC – 2000 BC—Vessels from Denmark are made. They are now at National Museum, Copenhagen.
- c. 2890 BC Second Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Hotepsekhemwy
- Syria: Foundation of the city of Mari (29th century BC).
- Semitic tribes occupy Assyria in northern part of the plain of Shinar and Akkad
- Phoenicians settle on Syrian coast, with centers at Tyre and Sidon
- Beginning of the period of the Sage Kings in China, also known as the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors
- c. 2879 BC Rise of the Văn Lang Kingdom and the Hồng Bàng Dynasty in northern Viet Nam.
- c. 2800 BC–2700 BC—Harp Player, from Keros, Cyclades, was made. It is now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
- Iran: Creation of the Kingdom of Elam.
- Germination of the Bristlecone pine tree "Methuselah" about 2700 BC, the oldest known tree still living now.
- c. 2686 BC Third Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Sanakhte
- c. 2613 BC Fourth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Sneferu
- c. 2600 BC—Founding of the Chalcolithic Iberian civilizations of Los Millares and Zambujal.
- c. 2500 BC—Excavation and development of the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni at Paola, Malta, a subterranean templex complex subsequently used as a necropolis.
- c. 2498 BC Fifth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Userkaf
- c. 2492 BC The Armenian patriarch Hayk defeats the Babylonian king Bel (legendary account).
- c. 2345 BC- Sixth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Teti
- c. 2030–1556 BC—Xia Dynasty, first Chinese dynasty and government system established 
- c. 2500 BC–2200 BC—Incised panel "Frying pan", from Syros, Cyclades is made. It is now at National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
- c. 2500 BC–2200 BC—Two figures of women, from the Cyclades, are made. They are now at Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens.
- Dynasty of Lagash in Sumer.
- Golden age of Ur in Mesopotamia. (2474 BC–2398 BC)
- Unified Indus Valley Civilisation (2600 BC).
- 2334 BC: Sargon of Akkad conquers Mesopotamia, establishing the Akkadian Empire
- c. 2300 BC C-Group pastoralist arrive in Nubia
- Indo-Europeans first invade Greece (23rd century BC).
- c. 2181 BC Seventh and Eighth Dynasty of Egypt(2181-2160)
- c. 2160 BC Ninth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Akhtoy Meryibtowe
- c. 2130 BC Tenth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Meryhathor
- c. 2134 BC Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Mentuhotep I
- Megalithic, Corded Ware culture and the Beaker flourish in Europe.
- Sumerian poetry, lamenting the death of Tammuz, the shepherd god
- Sumerian cuneiform writing reduces pictographs still in use to about 550
- Major religious festival in Sumeria celebrates victory of god of spring over goddess of chaos
- Earliest Trojan culture
- Glass beads in Egypt
- Beginning of the Pengtoushan culture in China.
- Major migration of Central Saharans into West Africa possibly due to climate change starting in 4th millennium BC.
- The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors of China
- Djoser, king of Egypt, commissions the Step Pyramid at Saqqara
- Gilgamesh, fifth king of the First Dynasty of Uruk, immortalized in the world's first literary work the Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 26th century BC)
- Khufu, king of Egypt, builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza
- Urukagina, king of Lagash, creates the first known judicial code (24th century BC)
- Lugalsaggizi, king of Uruk and Umma conquers Lagash (2371–2347 BC)
- Sargon the Great, founder of the empire of Akkad and Sumer (2371–2316 BC middle chronology)
- Ur-Nammu founder of the 3rd dynasty of Ur (2112–2095 BC middle chronology)
- c. 3000 BC Nubian A-Group Culture comes to an end
- c. 3000 BC—Cycladic culture started in Ancient Greece.
- c. 3000 BC—Minoan culture appeared on Crete.
- c. 3000 BC—Helladic period started in mainland Ancient Greece.
- Old Elamite period (ca. 2700 BC – 1600 BC).
- Indus Valley Civilisation (3250 BC to 1750 BC)
- c. 2300 BC Nubian C-Group culture
- Corded Ware culture (also Battle-axe culture, or Single Grave culture).
- Norte Chico civilization.
- Late Maikop culture.
- Late Vinca culture.
- Butmir culture.
- Late Funnelbeaker culture.
- Baden culture.
- Globular Amphora culture.
- Early Beaker culture.
- Yamna culture, Catacomb culture, likely loci of Indo-European Satemization.
- The Sintashta-Petrovka-Arkaim culture emerges from the Catacomb culture from about 2200 BC, likely locus of Proto-Indo-Iranian.
- c 2500 BC Austronesian peoples from Formosa have colonised Luzon in northern Philippines
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
- Pottery develops in Americas (30th century BC).
- c. 3000 BC—Potter's wheel appears in Mesopotamia.
- 2900 BC—2400 BC; Sumerians invent phonogram (linguistics).
- c. 2300 BC—Metals are used in Northern Europe.
- Chinese record a comet.
- Building of the Great Pyramid of Giza (26th century BC).
- Sails used on ships (20th century BC).
- First ziggurats built in Sumer.
- Near East civilizations enter Bronze Age around 3000 BC.
- Oldest known medicine wheel constructed in the Americas.
- Bronze and metallurgy introduced to Ireland.
- Domestication of the horse with the coming of Indo-Europeans in central Eurasia.
- The chariot emerges in Central Asia Indo-Europeans just before 2000 BC.
- The camel (dromedary) domesticated (though widespread use took until mid-to-late 2nd millennium BC).
- Indoor plumbing and sewage in the Indus Valley Civilization.
- Sumerian medicine discovers the healing qualities of mineral springs
- Weaving loom known in Europe
- Sumerian numerical system based on multiples of 6 and 12
- Egyptians discover use of papyrus
- Bow and arrow used in warfare
- Austronesian peoples have developed lanteen sail, and the out-rigger as well as extensive development of celestial navigation systems
- Oldest known evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke, as indicated by charred cannabis seeds found in a ritual brazier at a burial site in present-day Romania.
- c. 3000 BC—2500 BC—Tomb, Newgrange, Ireland, was built.
- c. 2750 BC—1500 BC—Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England, is built.
- Completion of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
- Completion of first phase of Stonehenge monument in England.
- Era of Buena Vista pyramid/observatory in Peru.
- 30th century BC
- 29th century BC
- 28th century BC
- 27th century BC
- 26th century BC
- 25th century BC
- 24th century BC
- 23rd century BC
- 22nd century BC
- 21st century BC
- Scarre, Chris (1993-09-15). Smithsonian Timelines of the Ancient World. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-56458-305-5. "Both the dromedary (the one-humped camel of Arabia) and the Bactrian camel (the two-humped camel of Central Asia) had been domesticated since before 2000 BC."
- Bulliet, Richard (1990-05-20) . The Camel and the Wheel. Morningside Book Series. Columbia University Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-231-07235-9. "As has already been mentioned, this type of utilization [camels pulling wagons] goes back to the earliest known period of two-humped camel domestication in the third millennium BC"
- Rudgley, Richard (1998). Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-684-85580-6.