6th century BC
|Millennium:||1st millennium BC|
|Decades:||590s BC 580s BC 570s BC 560s BC 550s BC
540s BC 530s BC 520s BC 510s BC 500s BC
|Categories:||Births – Deaths
Establishments – Disestablishments
This century represents the peak of a period in human history popularly known as Axial Age. This period saw the emergence of five major thought streams springing from five great thinkers in different parts of the world. Buddha and Mahavira in India, Zoroaster in Persia, Pythagoras in Greece and Confucius in China. Pāṇini, in India, composed a grammar for Sanskrit, in this century or slightly later. This is the oldest still known grammar of any language.
In the Near East, the first half of this century was dominated by the Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean empire, which had risen to power late in the previous century after successfully rebelling against Assyrian rule. The Kingdom of Judah came to an end in 586 BCE when Babylonian forces under Nebuchadnezzar II captured Jerusalem, and removed most of its population to their own lands. Babylonian rule was toppled however in the 540s, by Cyrus, who founded the Persian Empire in its place. The Persian Empire continued to expand and grew into the greatest empire the world had known at the time.
- Mediterranean: Beginning of Greek philosophy, flourishes during the 5th century BCE
- The late Hallstatt culture period in Eastern and Central Europe, the late Bronze Age in Northern Europe
- East Asia: The Spring and Autumn Period. Chinese philosophy become the orthodoxy of China. Confucianism, Legalism and Moism flourish. Laozi founds Taoism
- Middle East: During the Persian empire, Zoroaster, aka Zarathustra, founded Zoroastrianism, a dualistic philosophy. This was also the time of the Babylonian captivity of the ancient Jews
- Ancient India: The Buddha and Mahavira found Buddhism and Jainism
- The decline of the Olmec civilization in America
- Mid-6th century BCE: Foundation of Temple of Olympian Zeus (Athens) is made.
- 598 BCE: Jehoiachin succeeds Jehoiakim as King of Judah.
- 16 March 597 BCE: Babylonians capture Jerusalem, replace Jehoiachin with Zedekiah as King.
- 595 BCE: Psammetichus II succeeds Necho II as King of Egypt.
- 594 BCE: Solon appointed archon of Athens; institutes democratic reforms.
- 590 BCE: Egyptian army sacks Napata, compelling the Cushite court to move to a more secure location at Meroe near the sixth Cataract 
- 589 BCE: Apries succeeds Psammetichus II as King of Egypt.
- 588 BCE: Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon begins siege of Jerusalem; some sources set the date at 587 BC.
- 587 BCE/586 BCE: Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians, ending the Kingdom of Judah. The conquerors destroy the Temple of Jerusalem and exile the land's remaining inhabitants. Babylonian Captivity for the Jews began.
- 586 BCE: death of King Ding of Zhou, King of the Zhou Dynasty of China
- 28 May 585 BCE: A solar eclipse occurs as predicted by Thales, while Alyattes II is battling Cyaxares. This leads to a truce. This is one of the cardinal dates from which other dates can be calculated.
- 585 BCE/584 BCE: Astyages succeeds Cyaxares as King of the Medes.
- 585 BCE: King Jian of Zhou becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China.
- 583 BC: Babylonians begins siege against Tyre.
- 582 BCE: Pythian Games founded at Delphi (traditional date).
- 580 BCE: Cambyses I succeeds Cyrus I as King of Anshan and head of the Achaemenid dynasty (approximate date).
- 580 BCE: Isthmian Games founded at Corinth (traditional date)
- 579 BCE: Servius Tullius succeeds the assassinated Lucius Tarquinius Priscus as King of Rome (traditional date).
- 573 BCE: Nemean Games founded at Nemea (traditional date).
- 572 BCE: Death of King Jian of Zhou, King of the Zhou Dynasty of China.
- 571 BCE: King Ling of Zhou becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China.
- 570 BCE: Amasis II succeeds Apries as King of Egypt.
- 570 BCE: Pythagoras of Samos is born (approximate date).
- 570 BCE: The end of the Babylonian siege against the city of Tyre partial victory of the Babylonians, and This is the longest siege of the city in history, its time 13 years.
- 568 BCE: Amtalqa succeeds his brother Aspelta as King of Kush.
- 562 BCE: Amel-Marduk succeeds Nebuchadnezzar as King of Babylon.
- 560 BCE: Neriglissar succeeds Amel-Marduk as King of Babylon.
- 560 BCE/561 BCE: Croesus becomes King of Lydia.
- 560 BCE: Pisistratus seizes the Acropolis of Athens and declares himself tyrant. He is deposed in the same year.
- 550s BCE: Carthage conquers Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica.
- 559 BCE: King Cambyses I of Anshan dies and is succeeded by his son Cyrus II the Great.
- 558 BCE: Hegesias removed as Archon of Athens.
- 558 BCE: The Chinese state of Jin defeats its rival Qin in battle.
- 556 BCE: Pisistratus is exiled from Athens to Euboea.
- 556 BCE: Labashi-Marduk succeeds Neriglissar as King of Babylon.
- 556 BCE/555 BC: Nabonidus succeeds Labashi-Marduk as King of Babylon.
- 550 BCE: Abdera is destroyed by the Thracians.
- 550 BCE: Cyrus II the Great overthrows Astyages of the Medes, establishing the Persian Empire.
- 550 BCE: The Late Mumun Period begins in the Korean peninsula.
- 547 BCE: Croesus, Lydian King, is defeated by Cyrus of Persia near the River Halys.
- 546 BCE: Cyrus of Persia completes his conquest of Lydia, and makes Pasargadae his capital.
- 544 BCE: People of Teos migrate to Abdera, Thrace to escape the yoke of Persia.
- 544 BCE: King Jing of Zhou becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China.
- 543 BCE: North Indian Prince Vijaya invades Ceylon and establishes a Sinhalese dynasty.
- 543 BCE: Pisistratus, tyrant of Athens, purifies the island of Delos (approximate date).
- 540 BCE: Greek city of Elea of southern Italy founded (approximate date).
- 540 BCE: Persians conquer Lycian city of Xanthos, now in southern Turkey (approximate date).
- 539 BCE: Babylon is conquered by Cyrus the Great, defeating Nabonidus.
- 538 BCE: Return of some Jews from Babylonian exile who build the Second Temple about seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple, from 520 BCE–516 BCE.
- 537 BCE: Jews transported to Babylon are allowed to return to Jerusalem, bringing to a close the Babylonian captivity.
- 536 BCE: According to tradition, the Biblical prophet Daniel receives an angelic visitor.
- 534 BCE: Lucius Tarquinius Superbus becomes King of Rome.
- 534 BCE: Competitions for tragedy are instituted at the City Dionysia festival in Athens.
- 530 BCE: Cambyses II succeeds Cyrus as King of Persia.
- 528 BCE: Gautama Buddha attains Enlightenment, and begins his ministry. He founds Buddhism in India. It becomes a major world religion.
- 526 BCE: Psammetichus III succeeds Amasis II as King of Egypt.
- 525 BCE: Cambyses II, ruler of Persia, conquers Egypt, defeating Psammetichus III. This is considered the end of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, and the start of the Twenty-seventh Dynasty.
- 522 BCE: Smerdis succeeds Cambyses II as ruler of Persia.
- 522 BCE: Babylon rebels against Persian rule.
- 521 BCE: Darius I succeeds Smerdis as ruler of Persia.
- 521 BCE: The Babylonian rebellion against Persian rule is suppressed
- 520 BCE: King Dao of Zhou becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China but dies before the end of the year
- 520 BCE: Cleomenes I succeeds Anaxandridas II as King of Sparta (approximate date)
- 519 BCE: King Jing of Zhou becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China.
- 516 BCE: Indian subcontinent—Occupation of Punjab is completed by the Persian King Vistaspa.
- 12 March 515 BCE: Construction is completed on the Temple in Jerusalem.
- 514 BCE: King Helü of Wu establishes the "Great City of Helü", the ancient name for Suzhou, as his capital in China.
- 513 BCE: Darius the Great subdues the Getae and east Thrace in his war against the Scythians.
- 510 BCE: Hippias, son of Pisistratus and tyrant of Athens, is expelled by a popular revolt supported by Cleomenes I, King of Sparta and his forces.
- 510 BCE: End of reign of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, last King of the traditional seven Kings of Rome.
- 510 BCE: Establishment of the Roman Republic.
- 510 BCE: Demaratus succeeds Ariston as King of Sparta (approximate date).
- 13 September 509 BCE: The temple of Jupiter on Rome's Capitoline Hill is dedicated on the Ides of September.
- 508 BCE: Office of pontifex maximus created in Rome.
- 507 BCE: Cleisthenes, Greek reformer, takes power and increases democracy.
- 506 BCE: Battle of Bai ju: Forces of the Kingdom of Wu under Sun Tzu defeat the forces of Chu.
- 505 BCE: First pair of Roman consuls elected.
- 4 December 502 BCE: Solar eclipse darkens Egypt (computed, no clear historical record of observation).
- 502 BCE: The Latin League defeats the Etruscans under Lars Porsena at Aricia.
- 502 BCE: Naxos rebels against Persian domination sparking the Ionian Revolt.
- 501 BCE: Cleisthenes reforms democracy in Athens.
- 501 BCE: Naxos is attacked by the Persian Empire.
- 501 BCE: In response to threats by the Sabines, Rome creates the office of dictator.
- 501 BCE: Confucius is appointed governor of Chung tu.
- 501 BCE: Gadir (present-day Cádiz) is captured by Carthage (approximate date).
- 500 BCE: Bantu-speaking people migrate into south-west Uganda from the west (approximate date).
- 500 BCE: Refugees from Teos resettle Abdera.
- 500 BCE: Darius I of Persia proclaims that Aramaic be the official language of the western half of his empire.
- 500 BCE: Signifies the end of the Nordic Bronze Age civilization in Oscar Montelius periodization system and begins the Pre-Roman Iron Age.
- 500 BCE: Foundation of first republic in Vaishali Bihar India.
- Persians begin to seize power.
- Persians dominate eastern Mediterranean.
- The Persians under Darius I and later Cyrus invade Transoxiana.
- Carthage's merchant empire slowly dominates the western Mediterranean.
- Tao Te Ching written (traditional date).
- Confucius formulates his ethical system of Confucianism, which proves highly influential in China.
- The Sinhalese emigrate to Sri Lanka.
- Apparent writing of the Book of Psalms.
- Abkhazia is colonized by the Greeks.
- Emergence of the Proto-Germanic Jastorf culture.
- Temple B, Selinus, Sicily, is built.
- The Autariatae communities united and expanded towards the Triballi in the east and the Ardiaei in the south.
- Mahavira of Vaishali, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism, (599 BCE–527 BCE)
- 580s BCE—Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon
- Jeremiah Jewish prophet
- Ezekiel Jewish prophet
- Daniel Jewish prophet
- Anaximenes of Miletus, Greek philosopher (585 BCE–525 BCE)
- Pythagoras of Samos, Greek mathematician and discoverer of the Pythagorean theorem (c. 580 BCE– c. 500 BCE)
- 580 BCE—Death of Cyrus I of Anshan (approximate date)
- Cyrus the Great, King of Persia (576 BC–July 529 BCE, reigned 559 BCE–July 529 BCE)
- Ezra and Nehemiah, leaders of the Jews returning from the Babylonian Exile
- May 563 BCE—Birth of Siddhartha Gautama, later known as Gautama Buddha in Lumbini, Nepal (died May 483 BC
- 563 BCE—Queen Maya, mother of Siddhartha Gautama, dies seven days after giving birth
- c. 562 BCE—Death of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon
- Pisistratus, Tyrant of Athens in 561 BCE, 559 BCE–556 BCE and 546 BCE–528 BCE (died 527 BCE)
- Solon of Athens, one of the Seven Sages of Greece (638 BCE–558 BCE)
- c. 556 BCE—Birth of Simonides of Ceos
- 553 BCE—Emperor Itoku in Japan appeared
- Stesichorus of Sicily, lyric poet (c. 640 BCE–555 BCE)
- c. 551 BCE—Death of Zoroaster
- Confucius, founding figure of Confucianism (551 BCE–479 BCE)
- Thales, Greek mathematician (635 BC–543 BC), predicts solar eclipse in 585 BC
- Darius I, King of Persia (born 549 BCE; reigned 521–485 BCE)
- 547 BCE—Death of Croesus
- 546 BCE—Death of Anaximander, Greek philosopher (approximate date)
- 545 BCE—Death of King Ling of Zhou, King of the Zhou Dynasty of China
- Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War (c. 544 BCE–496 BCE)
- 543 BCE((To be verified))—Death of Gautama Buddha (traditionally in Thailand and elsewhere—basis of the Thai solar calendar)
- c. 540 BCE—Birth of Vardhaman Mahavir
- c. 540 BCE—Amyntas I becomes King of Macedonia
- 539 BCE/538 BCE—Death of Nabonidus, the last King of Babylon
- c. 535 BCE—Birth of Heraclitus of Ephesus, Greek philosopher
- c. 531 BCE—Death of Laozi, founder of Taoism
- Aeschylus, author of Greek tragedies, (525 BCE–456 BCE)
- 525 BCE—Death of Psammetichus III, the last Pharaoh of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt
- 522 BCE—Birth of Pindar, Greek poet
- March 521 BCE—Death of Cambyses II, ruler of ancient Persia (suicide)
- October 521 BCE—Death of Smerdis, ruler of ancient Persia
- c. 519 BCE—Birth of Xerxes I of Persia
- Epimenides of Knossos, a famous Cretian seer and philosopher-poet, associated with the Epimenides paradox
- Lehi, first prophet recorded in the Book of Mormon
- Thespis, founder of Greek theatre
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
- First archaeological surveys of the Arabian peninsula by Babylonian King Nabonidus
- Sunshu Ao (孫叔敖), China's first hydraulic engineer, creates an enormous artificial reservoir by damming a river for a massive irrigation project while employed in the service of King Zhuang of Chu (died 591 BCE)
- Lost-wax casting is spread to Ancient Greece
Decades and years