200s BC (decade)
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|Millennium:||1st millennium BC|
This article concerns the period 209 BC – 200 BC.
- The Romans under Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus capture Tarentum (modern Taranto), which the Carthaginian general Hannibal has held for three years.
- The Battle of Canusium is fought between Hannibal's Carthaginian army and a Roman force led by Marcus Claudius Marcellus. The battle is indecisive.
- From his headquarters at Tarraco (Tarragona), Publius Cornelius Scipio, the Roman commander in Spain, launches a combined military and naval assault on the Carthaginian headquarters at Carthago Nova (modern-day Cartagena). He successfully besieges and captures the city. In capturing this city, Scipio gains access to copious stores and supplies, Spanish hostages, the local silver mines, a splendid harbour and a base for an advance farther south.
- The King of the Parthians, Arsaces II, is attacked by the Seleucid king Antiochus III, who takes Hecatompylos (southeast of the Caspian Sea), the Arsacid capital and Syrinx in Hyrcania. Antiochus III defeats Arsaces II at the Battle of Mount Labus and then forces Arsaces II to enter into an alliance with the Seleucids.
- As strategos of the Achaeans, the Greek general Philopoemen is responsible for turning the Achaean League into an aggressive military power. He builds up the League's military capability. The Achaean League's army and cavalry under Philopoemen then defeat the Aetolians on the Elean frontier.
- Modun khaan inherits Teoman's Hunnu confederations and founds the Xiongnu Empire. Modu's forces push into Northern China, threatening the Qin Empire and forcing them to further fortify the Great Wall.
- The Romans under Publius Cornelius Scipio defeat the Carthaginians under their commander Hasdrubal Barca at Baecula (Bailen) in Baetica. As a result, Hasdrubal Barca decides to cross the Pyrenees with his remaining troops into Transalpine Gaul, with the intention of joining his brother Hannibal in Italy.
- The Roman general Marcus Claudius Marcellus is killed in battle while fighting Hannibal inconclusively near Venusia, Apulia.
- Hannibal destroys a Roman force at the Battle of Petelia.
- Antiochus III advances into Bactria, which is ruled by the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus I, and defeats Euthydemus at the Battle of the Arius. After resisting a siege of his capital Bactra (Balkh) by the Seleucids, Euthydemus obtains an honourable peace by which Antiochus promises Euthydemus' son Demetrius the hand of one of his daughters.
- The Chinese general Zhang Han of the Qin Dynasty pacifies a peasant rebellion led by Chen Sheng and Wu Guang, and then lays siege to the rebel city of Julu.
- The Roman general Gaius Claudius Nero fights an indecisive battle with the Carthaginian general Hannibal at Grumentum. Nero is unable to stop Hannibal's advance into Canusium. Nevertheless, he rapidly marches the elite parts of his army some one hundred kilometres north to reinforce the army of Marcus Livius Salinator.
- The Battle of the Metaurus, fought near the Metaurus River in Umbria, is a pivotal battle during the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage. The Carthaginians are led by Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal Barca, and the Roman armies are led by the consuls Marcus Livius Salinator and Gaius Claudius Nero. The Carthaginian army is defeated by the Romans and Hasdrubal is killed in the battle. This major loss by the Carthaginians ends Hannibal's hopes of success in Italy.
- The general leading the Achaean League, Philopoemen, introduces heavier Macedonian armour and phalanx tactics. His army then crushes the Spartans under the Spartan regent and general, Machanidas, in the battle of Mantinea. Machanidas is killed by Philopoemen during the battle.
- Nabis, a Syrian sold into slavery, rises to power in Sparta and becomes regent of the young Spartan king, Pelops, following the death of Machanidas. Nabis soon overthrows Pelops, claiming to be a descendant of the Eurypontid Spartan king Demaratus. Nabis then starts a social revolution which will lead to the freeing of all the helots, the destruction of the ruling oligarchy, the redistribution of land and the cancelling of debts.
- When king An Dương Vương dies, so does his dynasty and the Triệu Dynasty and the kingdom of Nam Việt are established.
- Emperor Qin Er Shi of the Qin Dynasty is assassinated by his chief eunuch Zhao Gao. He is replaced by his nephew Ziying, who in turn assassinates Zhao Gao.
- In the Battle of Ilipa (Alcalá del Río, near Seville) in Spain, the Carthaginian generals, Mago Barca and Hasdrubal Gisco, are defeated by the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio. Mago retreats to Gades (modern Cádiz) and then sails for the Balearic Islands.
- The Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio secures Gades, thus making Roman control of Spain complete. With the effective withdrawal of the Carthaginians from Spain, Hispania becomes a Roman province.
- The city of Italica (north west of modern Seville, Spain) is founded by Scipio as a place to settle for the Roman soldiers wounded in the Battle of Ilipa.
- After having successfully driven the Carthaginians out of Spain, Scipio returns in triumph to Rome and is elected consul. He then prepares to carry the war into Carthage's territory in North Africa.
- Hasdrubal Gisco retreats to the coast and then crosses to North Africa, where he gives his daughter in marriage to Syphax, king of the Numidian Masaesyli tribe, to formalize their military alliance.
- After being an ally of Carthage and fighting with them, Numidian chieftain, Masinissa switches sides when the Carthaginians are driven from Spain and offers to assist Rome. Syphax expels his rival Masinissa and claims himself to be King of Numidia. The Romans support Masinissa's claim to the Numidian throne against Syphax, the pro-Carthaginian ruler of the Masaesyli tribe.
- Arsaces II, king of the Parthians, loses territory in battles with Euthydemus I, ruler of Bactria.
- Antiochus III marches across the Hindu Kush into the Kabul valley and renews his friendship with the Indian king Sophagasenus.
- The war between Macedonia and Rome drags on with no decisive advantage on either side. Rome's interest lies not in conquest, but in keeping Macedon, the Greek city-states and Greek political leagues continually divided and non-threatening.
- Philip V of Macedon is able to take advantage of Roman inactivity. After sacking Thermum, the religious and political centre of Aetolia, Philip is able to force the Aetolians to accept a peace treaty based on his terms.
- Ziying, ruler of the Qin Dynasty, surrenders to Liu Bang, leader of a popular revolt. This marks the end of the Qin Dynasty and the principality that will later become the Han Dynasty established by Liu. However, in order to secure his position throughout China, Liu Bang becomes engaged in a civil war with the warlord, General Xiang Yu, until 202 BC, known as the Chu-Han contention.
- The Jian and Dao swords are created during this time (approximate date).
- Returning via the Persian provinces of Arachosia, Drangiana, and Carmania, Antiochus III arrives in Persis. He then leads a short expedition down the Persian Gulf and receives tribute of 500 talents of silver from the citizens of Gerrha, a mercantile state on the east coast of the Persian Gulf.
- Antiochus III returns from his eastern campaigns, after having defeated the Bactrians and subjugated the Parthians and thus being able to partly restore Seleucid power in these provinces by crushing the revolting governors of Media, Persia and Anatolia. Having established a system of vassal states in the East, Antiochus now adopts the ancient Achaemenid title of "great king", and the Greeks, comparing him to Alexander the Great, surname him "the Great", that is to say Antiochus III Megas.
- Philip V of Macedon makes a temporary peace (the Peace of Phoenice) with Rome on favourable terms for Macedonia ending the First Macedonian War. The treaty formally acknowledges the favourable position of Macedonia, including their capture of Illyria, but in return Philip effectively repudiates his alliance with Hannibal.
- After the peace, the Spartan king, Nabis, goes to war with the Achaean League. The Achaean general Philopoemen expels Nabis of Sparta from Messene.
- The Peace of Phoenice prohibits Philip from expanding westward into Illyria or the Adriatic Sea, so the king turns his attentions eastwards to the Aegean Sea, where he starts to build a large fleet. After concluding the First Macedonian War, Philip of Macedon, seeing his chance to defeat Rhodes, forms an alliance with Aetolian and Spartan pirates who begin raiding Rhodian ships. The Cretan War begins between Philips' Macedonians, the Aetolian League, several Cretan cities (of which Olous and Hierapytna are the most important) and Spartan pirates against the forces of Rhodes and later Attalus I of Pergamum, Byzantium, Cyzicus, Athens and Knossos.
- With the Rhodian fleet and economy suffering from the depredations of the pirates, Philip begins attacking the lands of Rhodes' allies in Thrace and around the Sea of Marmara.
- Publius Cornelius Scipio boldly determines to disregard Hannibal in Italy and political opposition in the Roman Senate and rather decides to strike at the Carthaginian holdings in North Africa. Scipio crosses to Sicily with an army consisting partly of volunteers as the Roman Senate would not provide him with an army.
- The Roman propraetor Quintus Pleminius captures the town of Locri Epizephyrii from the Carthaginians. Hannibal's attempt to recapture the town is foiled by the appearance of Scipio's army.
- Scipio sends the Roman general Gaius Laelius to North Africa to prepare the way for his later invasion.
- A Carthaginian army under Mago Barca lands in Liguria, capturing Genoa and Savona.
- Hannibal erects a bilingual Punic/Greek inscription describing his accomplishments in the temple of Juno Lacinia near Crotone.
- The native Egyptian population rises in rebellion against their Greek rulers. The revolt spreads to Upper Egypt.
- Ptolemy IV dies and is succeeded by his five-year-old son Ptolemy V. However, no public announcement is made about the king's death.
- Having lost his alliance with the Numidian chief Masinissa, the Carthaginian general, Hasdrubal Gisco, finds a new ally in the Numidian king Syphax, who marries Sophonisba, Hasdrubal's daughter, who, until his defection to Rome, has been betrothed to Masinissa.
- Roman forces under Publius Cornelius Scipio besiege Utica in Carthaginia. Scipio is unable to stop the combined forces of the Carthaginians under Hasdrubal Gisco and the Numidians under their chief, Syphax, and he is forced to lift his siege of Utica.
- The late Egyptian King Ptolemy IV's clique of favourites, led by Sosibius, Ptolemy's chief minister, keeps Ptolemy's death a secret, fearing retribution from the new king Ptolemy V's mother, Queen Arsinoe III. They arrange for the murder of Arsinoe, and then the five-year-old king is officially elevated to the throne with Sosibius as his guardian. Arsinoe has been popular with the Egyptian population so rioting follows the news of her assassination.
- The Battle of Crotona is fought between Hannibal's Carthaginian army, and a Roman force led by Publius Sempronius Tuditanus, with no decisive outcome for either side.
- Philip V of Macedon and Antiochus III of the Syrian-based Seleucid kingdom realize Egypt's weakness and agree to partition Egypt's Anatolian and Aegean possessions. Antiochus' share is to be southern Syria, Lycia, Cilicia and Cyprus, while Philip is to gain western Anatolia and the Cyclades.
- The Roman general, Publius Cornelius Scipio, while undertaking peace negotiations with the Carthaginians at Utica, makes a surprise attack on the Carthaginian camp and destroys it. Then, sweeping down on the forces that the Carthaginians and their allies, the Numidians, are trying to muster on the Great Plains near the upper Bagradas River (in modern Tunisia), he smashes that army in the Battle of the Great Plains. The Numidian king, Syphax, and the Carthaginian leader, Hasdrubal Gisco, manage to escape separately.
- The Roman general, Gaius Laelius, and Rome's Numidian ally, Masinissa, follow Syphax towards Cirta, the Numidian capital. In the pursuit, Syphax is captured after his badly wounded horse throws him off. He is delivered to Scipio and is made a prisoner of the Romans, dying in the Italian town of Alba Fucens later in the year.
- Masinissa becomes king of both the Massyli and the Massaesyli tribes in Numidia and remains a loyal ally to the Romans.
- Hasdrubal Gisco persuades the Carthaginians to raise a new army and to send for Hannibal to return home from Italy. Hannibal finally leaves Italy and returns to Carthage.
- The Carthaginian general, Mago Barca, is defeated and wounded by the Romans in a battle in Cisalpine Gaul. He dies of his wounds on the return voyage to Carthage.
- A preliminary armistice between Carthage and Rome is declared and the Carthaginian armies accept Scipio's severe terms. However, on his return to Carthage, Hannibal concentrates the remnants of the Carthaginian forces at Hadrumetum (modern Sousse, Tunisia) and prepares them for battle.
- Accused of treason by the Carthaginians after being defeated by the Romans at the Battle of the Great Plains, Hasdrubal Gisco commits suicide to avoid being lynched by a Carthaginian mob.
- October 19 – The Battle of Zama (130 kilometers south-west of Carthage) ends the Second Punic War and largely destroys the power of Carthage. Roman and Numidian forces under the leadership of the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio and his Numidian ally, Masinissa, defeat a combined army of Carthaginians and their Numidian allies under the command of Hannibal and force Carthage to capitulate. Hannibal loses 20,000 men in the defeat, but he is able to escape Masinissa's pursuit.
- Following the Battle of Zama, the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio gains the surname "Africanus" in honour of his feats in North Africa against Carthage.
- The Egyptian regent and chief minister, Sosibius, retires and Agathocles, another member of the ruling clique, becomes Ptolemy V's guardian.
- Agathocles rule provokes Tlepolemus, the governor of Pelusium (Egypt's eastern frontier city), into action. Tlepolemus marches on Alexandria, where his supporters rouse a mob, compelling Agathocles to resign.
- The Egyptian boy king, Ptolemy V, is encouraged by a mob clamouring for revenge against the murderers of his mother Arsinoe III to agree to Agathocles being killed. As a result, the mob searches out and butchers Agathocles and his family. Tlepolemus takes Agathocles' place as regent. However, he soon proves to be incompetent and is removed.
- During this period of confusion and change amongst Egypt’s leadership, armies under the Seleucid king, Antiochus III, make serious inroads into the Egyptian territories in Coele-Syria.
- 28 February: Liu Bang, King of Han, declares himself Supreme Emperor of China.
- Liu Bang defeats Xiang Yu of Western Chu in the Battle of Gaixia, ending the Chu–Han Contention. Liu Bang declares himself the Emperor of China, officially beginning the Han dynasty.
- The construction of the new Chinese capital Chang'an begins.
- Liu Bang gives the area of today's Fujian province to Wuzhu as his kingdom. Wuzhu starts the construction of his own capital Ye (Fuzhou).
- The construction of Changsha begins.
- On Hannibal's advice, Carthage sues for peace with the Romans, ending the Second Punic War. Carthage is reduced to a client state of Rome. In the peace treaty between Carthage and Rome, Carthage surrenders all her Mediterranean possessions to Rome, including her Iberian territories. The Carthaginians agree to pay Rome 200 talents per year for 50 years, allow Masinissa to rule Numidia as an independent kingdom, make no war without Rome's permission, and destroy all but 10 of the Carthaginian warships.
- Following the conclusion of the peace with Rome, Hannibal is elected as suffet, or chief magistrate, of Carthage. The office has over the years become insignificant in Carthaginian politics, but Hannibal restores its power and authority. He sets out to reform the administration and finances of Carthage and reduce the power of the oligarchy which has ruled Carthage before and during the Second Punic War.
- The Spanish language evolves from Vulgar Latin, which was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans during the Second Punic War.
- The Romans oust the Carthaginians from Malta.
- In Rome, according to the Roman historian Livy, land is distributed to veterans of the Second Punic War. This is the first documented instance of a practice that later becomes commonplace.
- Philip V of Macedon captures Samos and the Egyptian fleet stationed there. He then besieges Chios to the north.
- Rhodes and its allies Pergamum, Cyzicus, and Byzantium combine their fleets and defeat Philip V in the Battle of Chios. His flagship is trapped and rammed by two enemy ships.
- The Spartan king, Nabis, once more invades and captures Messene. However, the Spartans are forced to retreat when the Achaean League army of Philopoemen intervenes. Nabis' forces are decisively defeated at Tegea by Philopoemen and Nabis is forced to check his expansionist ambitions for the time being.
- The construction of Nanchang begins.
- Philip V of Macedon's fleet defeat the Rhodians at Lade. His forces then advance into Pergamum, plundering Pergamese territory and attacking cities in Caria.
- The Acarnanians, with Macedonian support, invade Attica, causing Athens, which has previously maintained its neutrality, to seek help from the enemies of Philip. Attalus I of Pergamum, who is with his fleet at Aegina, receives an embassy from Athens asking him to come to the city for consultations. After he is told that Roman ambassadors are also in Athens, Attalus goes there in haste.
- The Roman ambassador to Greece, Syria, and Egypt, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus delivers an ultimatum to Philip V warning Macedonia not to make war on any Greek state. Philip decides to reject the Roman ultimatum and the Romans declare war on Macedon, thus starting the Second Macedonian War.
- The Roman consul, Publius Sulpicius Galba Maximus, asks Attalus I and his fleet to meet up with the Roman fleet off the Greek Aegean coast and they conduct a naval campaign against Philip V, harassing Macedonian possessions in and along the Aegean.
- Roman forces defeat the Gauls of Cisalpine Gaul in the Battle of Cremona.
- The bacchanalia, which are wild and mystic festivals of the Roman god Bacchus, are introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (approximate date).
- Euthydemus I of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom dies and is succeeded by his son Demetrius I of Bactria (approximate date).
- The city of Tiwanaku is founded as a village near Lake Titicaca in modern Bolivia (approximate date).
- The Early Horizon period in the Andes comes to an end as the Chavin culture vanishes and is succeeded by the Nazca culture (approximate date).
- The construction of the Wei-Yang Palace in the Han Dynasty capital (Chang'an) begins.
- The Hsiung-nu appear on the western borders of China.
- The Han emperor Gaozu is defeated by the Xiongnu in the Battle of Baideng.
- The Great Wall of China is started.
- Alexander the Great, head from a Hellenistic copy of a statue, possibly after a 4th century BC original by Lysippos is made. It is now kept at the Archeological Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.
- Lost-wax casting is known in China and Mesopotamia (approximate date).
- Roman artists begin attempting to produce the illusion of thin slabs of colored marble covering the walls, which are set off by actual architectural moldings and columns, in private houses. These attempts last for 120 years.
- The first good measurement of the distance between Earth and the Sun is made by Eratosthenes (approximate date). By studying lunar eclipses, his result is roughly 150 000 000 km. The currently accepted value is 149 597 870 691 ± 30 metres.
- Liu Ruyi, Chinese prince and only son of the first Han emperor Liu Bang (d. 194 BC)
- Polybius, Greek historian, famous for his book called "The Histories" or "The Rise of the Roman Empire", covering in detail the period between 220 and 146 BC (d. 120 BC)
- Chao Cuo, Chinese political advisor and official (approximate date)
- Gongsun Hong, Chinese statesman and chancellor (d. 121 BC)
- Jia Yi, Chinese statesman and poet (d. 170 BC)
- Wen, Chinese emperor of the Han dynasty (d. 157 BC)
- Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Roman general who has captured Syracuse during the Second Punic War and has become known as "the sword of Rome" (b. 268 BC)
- Li Si, Chinese philosopher and politician (assassinated) (b. 280 BC)
- An Dương Vương, King of Việt Nam since 257 BC
- Chrysippus, Greek philosopher from Soloi who was the principal systematiser of Stoic philosophy (b. c. 280 BC)
- Hasdrubal Barca, Carthaginian general who has unsuccessfully attempted to sustain Carthage's military ascendancy on the Spanish peninsula in the face of Roman attacks (b. 245 BC)
- Machanidas, Spartan general and regent (killed in the battle of Mantinea)
- Qin Er Shi, Emperor of the Qin Dynasty of China (assassinated) (b. 229 BC)
- Simuka, Indian king from 230 BC and the founder of the Satavahana dynasty (b. 230 BC)
- Zhao Gao, Chief eunuch in the service of the Emperors of the Qin Dynasty of China (assassinated)
- Chrysippus, Greek Stoic philosopher (approximate date)
- Han Cheng, Chinese ruler of the Eighteen Kingdoms
- Han Guang, Chinese ruler of the Eighteen Kingdoms
- Scerdilaidas, Illyrian king of the Ardiaean Kingdom
- Yi (or Huai II), Chinese ruler of the Chu State
- Ziying, Chinese ruler of the Qin Dynasty
- Ptolemy IV Philopator, Greek king of Egypt who has reigned from 221 BC (b. c. 238 BC)
- Sima Ang, Chinese ruler of the Eighteen Kingdoms
- Zhang Han, Chinese general of the Qin Dynasty
- Arsinoe III, queen of Egypt, sister and wife of Ptolemy IV (assassinated) (b. c. 246 BC)
- Dong Yi, Chinese general of the Qin Dynasty and conferred with the title of "King of Di"
- Fan Zeng, Chinese adviser during the Chu-Han Contention (206–202 BC) (b. 277 BC)
- Gong Ao, Chinese ruler of the Eighteen Kingdoms during the Chu-Han Contention
- Hanno the Elder, Carthaginian general executed by Scipio Africanus
- Ji Xin, Chinese general during the Chu-Han Contention
- Li Yiji, Chinese politician and adviser (b. 268 BC)
- Long Ju, Chinese general and Grand Marshal
- Ptolemy IV Philopator, king (Pharaoh) of Egypt
- Sima Xin, Chinese general of the Qin Dynasty
- Mago Barca, Carthaginian general during the Second Punic War against Rome who has accompanied his brother Hannibal on the invasion of Italy (b. 243 BC)
- Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, Roman general and statesman whose cautious delaying tactics (which have led to his surname Cunctator, meaning "delayer") during the early stages of the Second Punic War have given Rome time to recover its strength and take the offensive against the invading Carthaginian army of Hannibal (b. c. 275 BC)
- Syphax, Numidian king allied with the Carthaginians during the Second Punic War against Rome
- Hasdrubal Gisco, Carthaginian general who has fought against Rome in Iberia and North Africa during the Second Punic War, customarily identified as the son of Gisco (suicide)
- Xiang Yu, rebel leader against the Qin dynasty and nemesis of Liu Bang in the Chu–Han Contention (b. 232 BC)
- Gnaeus Naevius, Latin epic poet and dramatist, who has written historical plays (fabulae praetextae) that are based on Roman historical or legendary figures and events (b. c. 264 BC)
- Zhongli Mo, Chinese general during the Chu–Han Contention
- Abdissares, king of Sophene (Armenian Kingdom) from 212 BC
- Euthydemus I, king of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom from 223 BC (approximate date) (b. c. 260 BC)