2nd century BC
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|Millennium:||1st millennium BC|
|Categories:||Births – Deaths |
Establishments – Disestablishments
The 2nd century BC started the first day of 200 BC and ended the last day of 101 BC. It is considered part of the Classical era, although depending on the region being studied, other terms may be more suitable. It is also considered to be the end of the Axial Age. In the context of the Eastern Mediterranean, it is referred to as the Hellenistic period.
Fresh from its victories in the Second Punic War, the Roman Republic continued its expansion into neighboring territories, eventually annexing Greece and the North African coast, after destroying the city of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War. Rome's influence was also felt in the Near East, as crumbling Hellenistic states like the Seleucid Empire were forced to make treaties on Roman terms to avoid confrontation with the new masters of the western Mediterranean. The end of the century witnessed the reform of the Roman Army from a citizen army into a voluntary professional force, under the guidance of the noted general and statesman Gaius Marius (Marian Reforms).
In East Asia, China reached a high point under the Han Dynasty. The Han Empire extended its boundaries from Korea in the east to Vietnam in the South to the borders of modern-day Kazakhstan in the west. Also in the 2nd century BC, the Han dispatched the explorer Zhang Qian to explore the lands to the west and to form an alliance with the Yuezhi people in order to combat the nomadic tribe of the Xiongnu.
- 199 BC: (March 15) Lucius Cornelius Lentulus and Publius Villius Tappulus become the new Roman consuls. From 222 BC to 153 BC, consuls began their one year terms on March 15. 
- 198 BC: Battle of Panium: Antiochus III of the Seleucid empire defeats Ptolemy V of Egypt and takes control of Coele Syria and Judea.
- (November 12): Antiochus issues a decree requiring registration of all Egyptians taken slave during the war (somata Aigyptia) for census purposes. 
- 196 BC:
- (March 27) Upon reaching the age of 14, Ptolemy V Epiphanes is crowned as the King of Egypt at Memphis. The decree made in conjunction with the coronation, dated the first day of the Egyptian month of Pharmouthi, is written in the Egyptian language in both hieroglyphics and in demotic script, as well as in Greek on the Rosetta Stone, providing the key to deciphering the hieroglyphics almost 20 centuries later.
- Antiochus III conquers western Asia Minor and Thrace, with severe impact on relations with Rome.
- Empress Lü's execution of Han Xin leads to the Ying Bu rebellion.
- 195 BC:
- (June 1) In China, Emperor Gaozu of Han dies and is succeeded by his 15-year-old son Prince Liu Ying. As the second Han dynasty ruler, Liu Ying is given the regnal name of Emperor Hui and reigns until his death in 188 BC at the age of 22. However, the true resides with his mother, the Empress Lü Zhi, who serves as the Regent as widow of Gaozu.
- The War against Nabis marks the end of Spartan power in Greece.
- 194 BC:
- (April 4) — The first Games of Megalesia and a festival are held in Rome after games were promised in honor of Cybele following Rome's triumph over Carthage in the Punic Wars. The festival and games last seven full days, closing on April 10. 
- Wiman of Gojoseon establishes Wiman Joseon in Korea, marking the first Chinese imperial presence on the Korean peninsula.
- 195 BC: (June 1) Prince Liu Ying, age 15, becomes the second Han dynasty Emperor of China upon the death of his father, the Han Gaozu.
- 192 BC:
- The Yue Kingdom of Eastern Ou established in Zhejiang with Chinese support.
- (February)— Antiochus IV, the son of Antiochus III and co-regent for the Seleucid throne since 209 BC, dies; according to cuneiform tablets, news reaches Babylon sometime during the month of Addara after April 8. 
- (March)— Rome sustains a destructive flood of the River Tiber shortly before the new Roman magistrates are preparing to take office. G
- (July) — During the sixth month of the third year of China's Emperor, 20,000 criminals and slaves are sent to rebuild the city wall of Chang'an. 
- (October)— In the fourth year of his reign, China's Emperor Huindi marries Princess Lu-yuan. 
- (November) — Antiochus III, ruler of the Seleucid Empire in what is now Syria and Iraq, brings his troops to Greece, at the invitation of the Aetolians who wanted to challenge Rome's attempt to gain control of Greece; four months later Manlius Acilius Glabrio, Roman Consul, assembles a force of 30,000 Roman troops beginning the Roman-Syrian War.
- 191 BC: Battle of Thermopylae: Glabrio drives Seleucid Emperor Antiochus III out of Greece. (The date of the battle's beginning has been listed by F. W. Walbank of the University of Liverpool as April 24  and by Victor Duruy as July, after the Ides of May). 
- 190 BC: (October 5)  Battle of Magnesia: Rome and Pergamon drive Antiochus III out of Asia Minor.
- 188 BC: (September 26) Prince Liu Gong, the 5-year old younger brother of Emperor Hui becomes the third Han dynasty Emperor of China upon his brother's death. Liu Gong takes the regnal name of Emperor Qianshao. Because of his minority, his grandmother, Lü Zhi continues as the actual ruler and serves as the regent. She imprisons Qianshao after less than four years and has him put to death in 184 BC at the age of 11.
- 187 BC: (July 3) Seleucid Emperor Antiochus III dies at the age of 53 and is succeeded by his son Seleucus IV Philopator
- 185 BC:
- 184 BC: (June 15) Emperor Qianshao of Han, the 11-year old nominal ruler of China, is removed, imprisoned and then put to death on order of his grandmother, the Empress Regent Lü Zhi. Prince Liu Hong, the brother of Qianshao, is installed by the regent as the new Emperor, under the name of Emperor Houshao.
- 180 BC:
- (November 14) Lü Clan Disturbance: with the death of Empress Lü of China, the nominal Houshao is killed along with the rest of the Lü Clan. Another of the sons of Emperor Gaozu of Han, the first Han Dynasty emperor, Prince Liu Heng, becomes the fifth Han emperor and takes the name of Emperor Wen.
- Demetrius I of Bactria invades India, leading to the establishment of the Indo-Greek Kingdom.
- 179 BC:
- 176 BC:
- May 4 - On "the third day before the Nones of May", the Roman Senate begins a session that soon is interrupted later by a vitium, an error announced by the augur in the taking of the auspices.  (citing Livy 41:16)
- August 12 - The Roman Senate resumes its interrupted session on "the third day before the Ides of August". 
- The Yuezhi attack the Xiongnu.
- 175 BC: (September 3) Upon the assassination of his brother Seleucus IV Philopator, Antiochus IV Epiphanes takes possession of the Syrian throne, which rightly belonged to his nephew Demetrius I Soter.
- 168 BC:
- 164 BC
- 163 BC:
- 161 BC:
- 157 BC: (July 6) Emperor Wen of Han dies and is succeeded by his son Prince Liu Qi who takes the regnal name of the Emperor Jing.
- 154 BC
- 152 BC: Alexander Balas starts a revolt against Demetrius I Soter with the support of Jonathan Maccabaeus
- 148 BC:
- 146 BC: Rome destroys and razes the city of Carthage (Third Punic War) and destroys the Achaean League and razes Corinth (Achaean War).
- 145 BC:
- 141 BC (March 9): Emperor Jing of Han dies and is succeeded by his son Prince Liu Che, who is enthroned as the Emperor Wu and begins a 54-year reign. The new emperor's attempts at reform are immediately stymied by his grandmother.
- 139 BC:
- 135 BC
- 133 BC:
- 132 BC: Rioting on the streets of Alexandria leads to civil war between Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra II.
- 130 BC: Greek astronomer Hipparchus continues lifelong studies, becoming the first to calculate the precession of moon and sun and to create a sizable catalog of stars.
- 129 BC: Battle of Ecbatana: Antiochus VII Sidetes of the Seleucid empire attempt to reclaim the Iranian Plateau from Parthia ends in failure.
- 124 BC: Artabanus II of Parthia is killed in battle with the Yuezhi and succeeded by his son Mithridates II
- 116 BC: (June 28) Ptolemy VIII of Egypt dies and is succeeded by his wife Cleopatra III and son Ptolemy IX Soter.
- 113 BC: The Cimbri and Teutones arrive on the banks of the Danube in Noricum, clashing with Roman allies, beginning the Cimbrian War.
- 111 BC: A power struggle in Nam Viet leads to its conquest by China, ending the Triệu dynasty and beginning the First Chinese domination of Vietnam.
- 109 BC
- 108 BC: Chinese troops destroy Wanggeom seong, capital of Wiman Joseon, establishing the Four Commanderies of Han to govern the northern part of Korea.
- 107 BC: Roman consul Gaius Marius passes the Marian Reforms, which remove all ownership restrictions for joining the Roman Army.
- Andriscus, last independent ruler of Macedon
- Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the last effective ruler of the Seleucid Empire
- Antiochus VII Sidetes, last King of a United Seleucid Empire
- Appius Claudius Pulcher, Roman consul and censor
- Boiorix, king of the Cimbri
- Cato the Elder, Roman politician, writer and historian
- Gaius Gracchus, Roman politician
- Gaius Marius, Roman general and politician
- Huo Qubing, Chinese general
- Jonathan Maccabaeus, leader of the Hasmonean rebellion and first autonomous ruler of Judea
- Judas Maccabeus, leader of the Hasmonean rebellion and its first successful general
- Li Guang, Chinese general
- Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus, Roman general and politician
- Lucius Caecilius Metellus Calvus, Roman general
- Lucius Caecilius Metellus Dalmaticus, Roman general
- Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Roman general and politician
- Lucius Mummius Achaicus, conqueror of Corinth
- Marcus Claudius Marcellus (consul 166 BC), Roman politician
- Perseus of Macedon, last King of the Antigonid dynasty
- Publius Mucius Scaevola, Roman politician
- Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus, Roman general and politician
- Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus, Roman general and politician
- Quintus Lutatius Catulus, Roman general
- Scipio Aemilianus Africanus, conqueror of Carthage
- Teutobod, King of the Teutons
- Tiberius Gracchus Roman politician and statesman
- Wei Qing, Chinese general
- Emperor Wu of Han (漢武帝,劉徹), seventh Han Dynasty emperor, who consolidated and expanded imperial power in China
- Zhang Qian (張騫), Chinese diplomat and explorer
- Zhao Tuo, Chinese military commander who founded the Trieu dynasty
- Apollodorus of Athens, Greek writer, grammarian, and historian
- Bion of Smyrna, Greek poet
- Gaius Lucilius, Roman satirist
- Lucius Accius, Roman poet
- Moschus, Greek poet
- Pacuvius, Roman poet
- Quintus Ennius, Roman poet
- Sima Xiangru (司馬相如), Chinese musician, poet and writer
- Titus Maccius Plautus, Roman playwright
- Terence, Roman playwright
- Sangam literature, corpus of ancient Tamil literature
- Kaniyan Pungundranar, one of the poets of the Tamil Sangam work Purananuru
Science and philosophy
- Apollonius of Perga, Greek geometer
- Carneades, Greek philosopher
- Crates of Mallus, Greek grammarian and philosopher
- Diogenes of Babylon, Greek philosopher
- Eight Immortals of Huainan (淮南八仙), Chinese philosophers
- Hipparchus, Greek astronomer
- Hypsicles, Greek mathematician and astronomer
- Liu An (劉安), Chinese geographer
- Panaetius, Greek philosopher
- Polybius, Greek historian
- Posidonius, Greek philosopher, geographer, astronomer and historian
- Seleucus of Seleucia, Hellenistic astronomer
- Sima Qian (司馬遷), Chinese historian
- Zenodorus, Greek mathematician
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
- The Chinese first produce paper.
- Silk Road between Europe and Asia.
- Hipparchus discovers precession of Earth's equinoxes and compiles first trigonometric tables.
- According to legend, Liu An invents tofu.
- The Roman concrete (pozzolana) first used.
- A system for sending signs to communicate quickly over a long distance is described by Polybios.
- The earliest known winnowing machine is depicted in a Han Dynasty Chinese tomb model.
- Meister, Chad (2009). Introducing Philosophy of Religion. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 10. ISBN 0-203-88002-1.
- C.Michael Hogan, Silk Road, North China, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham
- John Drinkwater and Timothy Venning, A Chronology of the Roman Empire (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2011)
- Willy Clarysse, Dorothy J. Thompson, Ulrich Luft, Counting the People in Hellenistic Egypt, Volume 2, Historical Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2006) p263
- Bernard Mineo, A Companion to Livy (Wiley, 2014) p412 (drawn by author from Polybius and Livy
- Alan K. Bowman, Egypt After the Pharaohs, 332 BC-AD 642: From Alexander to the Arab Conquest (University of California Press, 1989), p30
- Eckart Kèohne, Gladiators and Caesars: The Power of Spectacle in Ancient Rome (University of California Press, 2000) p10
- T. Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon (Peeters Publishers, 2004) p157
- regory S. Aldrete, Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007) p67
- Alfred Schinz, The Magic Square: Cities in Ancient China (Axel Menges, 1996) p115
- Hong Yuan, The Sinitic Civilization, Book II: A Factual History Through the Lens of Archaeology, Bronzeware, Astronomy, Divination, Calendar and the Annals (2018) p397
- F. W. Walbank, Philip V of Macedon (Cambridge University Press, 1940) p330, 344
- Victor Duruy, History of Rome, and of the Roman People: From Its Origin to the Invasion of the Barbarians (Estes and Lauriat, 1894) pp117-122
- Michael Koortbojian, Crossing the Pomerium: The Boundaries of Political, Religious, and Military Institutions from Caesar to Constantine (Princeton University Press, 2020)
- "Mathematics in the Context of Alexandrian Culture" (PDF).[dead link]
- "Polybius • Histories — Book 10". penelope.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
- Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology, Part 2, Mechanical Engineering (Cambridge University Press, 1985) p118