3rd century

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Millennium: 1st millennium
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Eastern Hemisphere at the beginning of the 3rd century AD.
Map of the world in AD 250.
Eastern Hemisphere at the end of the 3rd century AD.
Millennium: 1st millennium
Categories: BirthsDeaths

The 3rd century was the period from 201 to 300 A.D.

In this century, the Roman Empire saw a crisis, marking the beginning of Late Antiquity. In Persia, the Parthian Empire was succeeded by the Sassanid Empire.

In India, the Kushan Empire was replaced by the Gupta Empire. China was in the Three Kingdoms period. The Xiongnu formed the Tiefu state under Liu Qubei. Korea was ruled by the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Japan entered the Kofun period.

At about this time in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Bantu expansion reached Southern Africa.

In Pre-Columbian America, the Adena culture of the Ohio River valley declined in favor of the Hopewell culture. The Maya civilization entered its Classic Era.

Roman Empire[edit]

After the death of Commodus in the previous century the Roman Empire was plunged into a civil war. When the dust settled, Septimius Severus emerged as emperor, establishing the Severan dynasty. Unlike previous emperors, he openly used the army to back his authority, and paid them well to do so. The regime he created is known as the Military Monarchy as a result. The system fell apart in the 230s, giving way to a fifty-year period known as the Military Anarchy or the Crisis of the Third Century, where no fewer than twenty emperors held the reins of power, most for only a few months. The majority of these men were assassinated, or killed in battle, and the empire almost collapsed under the weight of the political upheaval, as well as the growing Persian threat in the east. Under its new Sassanid rulers, Persia had grown into a rival superpower, and the Romans would have to make drastic reforms in order to better prepare their state for a confrontation. These reforms were finally realized late in the century under the reign of Diocletian, one of them being to divide the empire into an eastern and western half, and have a separate ruler for each.


The Baths of Caracalla, in 2003

Significant people[edit]


Science and Philosophy[edit]

Inventions, discoveries, introductions[edit]

  • The south-pointing chariot invented by Ma Jun, a wheeled mechanical device that acts as a directional compass
  • An early type of hot air balloon used for military signalling, known as the Kongming lantern was said to be invented by Zhuge Liang.
  • The repeating crossbow or semi-automatic crossbow is an improved version of a model that first appeared during the Warring States Period (though there is debate whether the original Warring States Period bow was semi-automatic, or rather shot multiple bolts at once). Nevertheless, Zhuge's version could shoot farther and faster.
  • Some sources report that Zhuge Liang invented a primitive land mine type device.
  • A mysterious but efficient automatic transportation device (initially used for grain) referred to as the "wooden ox and flowing horse" (木牛流馬) also invented by Zhuge, which is sometimes identified with the wheelbarrow.