5th millennium BC

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  • 50th century BC
  • 49th century BC
  • 48th century BC
  • 47th century BC
  • 46th century BC
  • 45th century BC
  • 44th century BC
  • 43rd century BC
  • 42nd century BC
  • 41st century BC

The 5th millennium BC spanned the years 5000 BC to 4001 BC (c. 7 ka to c. 6 ka). It is impossible to precisely date events that happened around the time of this millennium and all dates mentioned here are estimates mostly based on geological and anthropological analysis.

The exceptions are several neolithic pile dwellings around the Alps whose construction time can be dated to within a year.[citation needed]


The rapid world population growth of the previous millennium, caused by the Neolithic Revolution, is believed to have slowed and become fairly stable. It has been estimated that there were around forty million people worldwide by 5000 BC, growing to 100 million by the Middle Bronze Age c. 1600 BC.[1]


The Cucuteni–Trypillia culture (aka Tripolye culture) began around 4800 BC. It was centred on modern Moldova and lasted in three defined phases until c. 3000 BC.[2][3][4]

From about 4500 BC until c. 2500 BC, a single tongue called Proto-Indo-European (PIE) existed as the forerunner of all modern Indo-European languages, but it left no written texts and its structure is unknown.[5]


Chinese civilisation advanced in this millennium with the beginnings of three noted cultures from around 5000 BC. The Yangshao culture was based in the Huang He (Yellow River) basin and endured for some 2,000 years. It is believed that pigs were first domesticated there. Pottery was fired in kilns dug into the ground and then painted. Millet was cultivated.[6] A type-site settlement for the Yangshao was established c. 4700 BC at Banpo near modern Xi'an, Shaanxi.[7]

Also about 5000 BC, the Hemudu culture began in eastern China with cultivation of rice,[8] and the Majiabang culture was established on the Yangtze estuary near modern Shanghai, lasting until c. 3300 BC.[9]


It is estimated that the distinctive Aboriginal rock carvings near Sydney were created sometime between 5000 BC and 3000 BC.[10]


It is estimated that the beginning of the Pastoral Neolithic was in the later phase of the Green Sahara, in the 6th or 5th millennium BC. It was prior to the end of the African humid period (c. 3900 BC) and the desiccation of the Green Sahara. During this time, sub-Saharan Africa remained in the Palaeolithic. As the grasslands of the Sahara began drying after c. 3900 BC, herders moved into the Nile Valley and by the middle of the 3rd millennium BC into eastern Africa.[11]

The earliest-known permanent settlement in Egypt, situated at the southwestern edge of the Nile Delta (near Merimde Beni Salama), dates to approximately 4750 BCE -- possibly composed of as many as 16,000 residents.[12]

Calendars and chronology[edit]

The 5th millennium has become a start point for calendars and chronologies. The year 4750 BC is the retrospective startpoint for the Assyrian calendar, marking the traditional date for the foundation of Assur, some 2,000 years before it actually happened.[13]

Another traditional date is 19 July 4241 BC, marking the supposed beginning of the Egyptian calendar, as calculated retrospectively by Eduard Meyer. The more likely startpoint is 19 July 2781 BC, one Sothic cycle later. It has generally been believed that the calendar was based on a heliacal (dawn) rising of Sirius but that view is now being questioned.[14][15]

According to the Ussher chronology, the creation of Earth happened on 22/23 October 4004 BC. This chronology was the work of James Ussher, whose basis was the dates in the Old Testament of the Bible. He estimated that the universe was created by God at either 18:00 on the 22nd (Jewish calendar) or 09:00 on the 23rd (Ussher-Lightfoot-Chronology).[16]

Yet another calendar starting date in the 5th millennium is Monday, 1 January 4713 BC, the beginning of the current Julian Period, first described by Joseph Justus Scaliger in the sixteenth century. This Julian Period lasts 7,980 years until the year 3268 (current era) in the next millennium. It is a useful device for date conversions between different calendars. The date of origin has the integer value of zero in the Julian Day Count: i.e., in the Julian Calendar; the equivalent date in the Gregorian Calendar is 24 November 4714 BC.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Biraben, Jean-Noël (1979). "Essai sur l'évolution du nombre des hommes". Population (in French). JSTOR. 34 (1): 13–25. doi:10.2307/1531855. ISSN 0032-4663. JSTOR 1531855.
  2. ^ Schmidt, Hubert (1932). Cucuteni in der oberen Moldau, Rumanien: die befestigte Siedlung mit bemalter Keramik von der Steinkupferzeit bis in die vollentwickelte Bronzezeit [Cucuteni in upper Moldova, Romania: the fortified settlement with painted pottery from the stone age to the copper age] (in German). Berlin: W. de Gruyter. OCLC 4942033.
  3. ^ Lazarovici, Cornelia-Magda (2010). "New data regarding the chronology of the Pre-Cucuteni, Cucuteni and Horodistea–Erbiceni cultures". PANTA RHEI: Studies on the Chronology and Cultural Development of South-Eastern and Central Europe in Earlier Prehistory Presented to Juraj Pavúk on the Occasion of His 75th Birthday: 71–94.
  4. ^ Passek, Tatiana Sergeyevna (1949). Periodizatsiia tripol'skikh poselenii, iii–ii tysiacheletie do n. e. [Trypillia settlement periodization…]. Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR (in Russian). Vol. 10. Moscow: Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR. OCLC 27000780. OL 22401126M.
  5. ^ Powell, Eric A. (2019). "Telling Tales in Proto-Indo-European". Archaeology. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  6. ^ Liu, Li; Chen, Xingcan (2012). The Archaeology of China: From the Late Palaeolithic to the Early Bronze Age. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-64310-8.
  7. ^ Yang, Xiaoping (2010). "Climate Change and Desertification with Special Reference to the Cases in China". Changing Climates, Earth Systems and Society. pp. 177–187. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-8716-4_8. ISBN 978-90-481-8715-7.
  8. ^ Crawford, Gary W.; Shen, Chen (1998). "The origins of rice agriculture: recent progress in East Asia". Antiquity. Cambridge University Press (CUP). 72 (278): 858–866. doi:10.1017/s0003598x00087494. ISSN 0003-598X. S2CID 162486123.
  9. ^ Chang, Kwang-chih (1986). The Archaeology of Ancient China. pp. 206–209. ISBN 0-300-03784-8.
  10. ^ Delaney, Brigid (23 July 2015). "Hidden in plain sight: Indigenous Australian rock art on Sydney's doorstep". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  11. ^ Gifford-Gonzalez, Diane (2017). "Pastoralism in sub-Saharan Africa". The Oxford Handbook of Zooarchaeology. pp. 396–413.
  12. ^ Cole, Joshua; Symes, Carol (2017). Western Civilzations. United States of America: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. pp. 21–24.
  13. ^ Wozniak, Marta (2012). "Far from Aram-Nahrin: The Suryoye Diaspora Experience". In Eamer, Allyson (ed.). Border Terrains: World Diasporas in the 21st Century. Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-84888-117-4.
  14. ^ Grimal, Nicolas (1988). A History of Ancient Egypt. Librairie Arthéme Fayard. p. 52.
  15. ^ Kitchen, K. A. (October 1991). "The Chronology of Ancient Egypt". World Archaeology. 23 (2): 205. doi:10.1080/00438243.1991.9980172.
  16. ^ Bressan, David (22 October 2013). "October 23, 4004 B.C.: Happy Birthday Earth!". History of Geology. Scientific American. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  17. ^ Seidelmann, P. Kenneth (2013). Introduction to Positional Astronomy. Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac (3rd ed.). University Science Books. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-891389-85-6.