2nd millennium BC
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|Millennium:||3rd millennium BC - 2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC|
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The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age. Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. Indo-Iranian expansion reaches the Persian plateau and Indian subcontinent, spreading the chariot. The alphabet develops. Chariot warfare and population movements lead to violent changes at the center of the millennium, and a new order emerges with Greek dominance of the Aegean and the rise of the Hittite Empire. The end of the millennium sees the transition to the Iron Age. World population begins to rise steadily, reaching some 50 million towards the 1000 BC.This era in time is also when Judaism is said to have arisen.
 Middle Bronze Age
The first part of the millennium is a time a bit less colorful than others, a lull in the history of Ancient Near East, still living in the shadow of greater past times, and spending all energies in trying to recuperate from the deeply anarchic situation that was at the turn of the millennium. Even the most powerful civilizations of the time, Egypt and Mesopotamia, were having what could be called a low-profile period, aiming at modest, realistic goals. The Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and their contemporary Kings of Babylon, of Amorite origin, brought good governance without too much tyranny, favoured elegant art and architecture without overblown exaggeration, painstakingly achieved a good general balance that lasted only a short while. Farther east, the Indus Valley civilization was in a period of decline, possibly as a result of intense, ruinous flooding.
Egypt and Babylonia's military tactics were still based on foot soldiers transporting their equipment on donkeys. Combined with a weak economy and difficulty in maintaining order, this was a fragile situation that crumbled under the pressure of external forces they could not oppose.
 Unrest of the 16th century
About a century before the middle of the millennium, bands of Indo-European invaders burst from their Central Asia plains and swept through the Near East like a series of electric shocks. They were riding fast two-wheeled chariots powered by horses, a system of weaponry developed earlier within the context of plains warfare. This tool of war was unknown among the classical oriental civilizations. Egypt and Babylonia's foot soldiers were simply no match for them. In 1630 BC, the Hyskos swept into the Nile Delta. In 1600 BC, the Balkans and the Aryans swept into Greece and India, and in 1595 BC, the Hittites swept into Mesopotamia.
 Late Bronze Age
The peoples in place were quick to adapt to the new tactics, and a whole new international situation resulted from the change. For most of the second half of the 2nd millennium BC, the Ancient Near East became a giant chessboard where several regional powers competed endlessly for hegemony, rolling their chariots at full speed in all directions. These actually became very colorful times, with new emphasis on grandiose architecture, new clothing fashions, vivid diplomatic correspondence on clay tablets, renewed economic exchanges, and the New Kingdom of Egypt playing the role of the main superpower. Among the great states of the time, only Babylon refrained from taking part in the rolling chessgame, satisfied with its prestigious new position as the World's religious and intellectual capital.
This was the Bronze Age civilization at its final and brightest period of time, with all its characteristic social traits : low level of urbanization, small cities centered around temples or royal palaces, strict separation of classes between an illiterate mass and a powerful military elite, knowledge of writing and education reserved to a tiny minority of scribes, and grandiose aristocratic life.
Near the end of the 2nd millennium BC, new waves of barbarians, riding on horseback this time, wholly destroyed the Bronze Age world, and were to be followed by waves of social changes that marked the beginning of very different times. Also contributing to the changes were the Sea Peoples, ship-faring raiders of the Mediterranean Sea.
- Second dynasty of Babylon.
- First Bantu migrations from West Africa.
- The Cushites drive the original inhabitants from Ethiopia, and establish trade relations with Egypt.
- Middle Kingdom in Egypt (2052–1570 BC)
- c. 2000 BC - Menhir statue of a woman, from Montagnac, France, was made. It is now at Musee d'Histoire Naturelle et de Prehistoire, Nimes.
- c. 2000 BC - 1900 BC - Kamares Ware jug, from Phaistos, Crete, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
- Hittites Old Kingdom in Anatolia (1900 BC).
- Civilization in Canaan (1800 BC).
- c. 1800 BC - 1600 BC - Horse and sun chariot, from Trundholm, Zealand, Denmark, was made. It is now at National Museum, Copenhagen.
- c. 1750 BC - An earthquake damaged palaces at Knossos and Phaistos.
- c. 1700 BC - 1550 BC - Woman or Goddess with snakes, from the palace complex, Knossos, Crete, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
- c. 1700 BC - 1550 BC - Pendant in the form of two bees or wasps, from Chryssolakkos near Mallia, Crete, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
- c. 1700 BC - 1550 BC - Bull Jumper (?), from the palace complex, Knossos, Crete, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
- c. 1700 BC - 1300 BC - Palace complex in Knossos, Crete, was built.
- c. 1650 BC - 1450 BC - Harvester Vase, from Hagia Triada, Crete, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
- c. 1650 BC - 1450 BC - Vapheio cup, found near Sparta, Greece, was made. It is now at National Archeological Museum, Athens.
- Santorini erupts in the Mediterranean (1640 BC ± 12 years), killing 30,000 with the power of 20,000 hydrogen bombs.
- Before 1630 BC - 1500 BC - Priestess (?), detail of a wall painting from Akrotiri, Thera, Cyclades, was made. It is now at National Archeological Museum, Athens.
- Before 1630 BC - 1500 BC - Landscape, wall painting with areas of modern reconstruction from Akrotiri, Thera, Cyclades, was made. It is now at National Archeological Museum, Athens.
- c. 1623 BC - Volcanic explosion on the Cyclades island of Thera.
- Shang Dynasty was founded in China in 1600 BC.
- Egyptian domination over Canaan and Syria (1600 BC–1360 BC).
- c. 1550 BC - 1450 BC - Bull's-head rhyton, from the palace complex, Knossos, Crete, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
- c. 1550 BC - 1450 BC - Bull jumping, wall painting with areas of modern reconstruction, from the palace complex, Knossos, Crete, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
- c. 1500 BC - 1450 BC - Octopus Flask, from Palaikastro, Crete, was made. It is now at Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete.
- Athens founded (1235 BC)
- Conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. The United Monarchy emerges in the last decades of the millennium.
- Beginnings of Judaism (1200 BC).
- Fall of Troy (traditional date 1184 BC. c.f. Troy VII).
 Inventions, discoveries, introductions
- 2000 BC - Wheeled chariots and wagons appeared.
- Development of the alphabet
- Hindus developed caste system.
- Chinese record the earliest known sighting of a comet
- Earliest known use of Chinese ideograms
- Beginning of the Iron Age: discovery of iron smelting and smithing techniques in Anatolia or the Caucasus in the late 2nd millennium BC.
- Introduction of the Peach from China to Persia and Europe.
- Emergence of the historical Vedic religion (Rigveda).
- Emergence of early monotheism (Atenism).
- Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica.
- Middle Elamite period.
- Oxus civilization.
- Andronovo culture, Central Asia.
- Aegean civilization.
- Beaker culture (ca. 2200 BC to 1800 BC).
- Unetice culture (ca 1800 BC to 1600 BC).
- c. 1600 BC - Cycladic culture ended in Ancient Greece.
- c. 1600 BC - Minoan civilization reached its peak.
- Mycenaean civilization (c. 1600 BC–1200 BC).
- c. 1600 BC - Mycenae, Greece, became inhabitted.
- Tumulus culture (ca. 1600 BC to 1200 BC).
- c. 1450 BC - Minoan civilization lost its power.
- c. 1400 BC - Minoan culture ended on Crete.
- c. 1400 BC - Mycenaen culture started in Ancient Greece.
- Urnfield culture (ca. 1300 BC to 750 BC).
- c. 1200 BC - Mycenae, Greece, was abandoned.
- c. 1100 BC - Mycenaen culture ended in Ancient Greece.
 Significant people
- Hammurabi, Babylonian king and law maker(1792–1745 BC)
- Pharaoh Kamose of the Seventeenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1573 BC - 1570 BC).
- Pharaoh Ahmose I of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1570 BC - 1546 BC).
- Pharaoh Amenhotep I of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1546 BC - 1524 BC).
- Pharaoh Thutmose I of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1525 BC - 1518 BC).
- Pharaoh Thutmose II of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1518 BC - 1504 BC).
- Pharaoh Thutmose III of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1503 BC - 1450 BC).
- Pharaoh Hatshepsut of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1498 BC - 1483 BC).
- Pharaoh Amenhotep II of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1453 BC - 1419 BC.
- Pharaoh Thutmose IV of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1453 BC - 1386 BC).
- Pharaoh Amenhotep III of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1386 BC - 1349 BC).
- Pharaoh Akhenaten of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1350 BC - 1334 BC.
- Pharaoh Smenkhkare of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1336 BC - 1334 BC0.
- Pharaoh Tutankhamun of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1334 BC - 1325 BC).
- Pharaoh Ay of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1325 BC - 1321 BC).
- Pharaoh Horemheb of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1321 BC - 1293 BC).
- Pharaoh Ramesses I of the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1293 BC - 1291 BC).
- Pharaoh Seti I of the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1291 BC - 1278 BC).
- Pharaoh Ramesses II of the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1279 BC - 1212 BC).
- Shalmaneser I, King of Assyria (reigned 1274 - 1245 BC).
- Theseus. Legendary King of Athens, credited with the political unification of Attica under Athens (reign estimated to 1234 BC - 1204 BC or 1213 BC).
- Pharaoh Merneptah of the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt (reigned 1212 BC - 1202 BC).
- The biblical patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, in the Genesis narrative are set in the early to mid 2nd millennium.
- The Exodus and Moses are set in the late 2nd millennium (possibly the Amarna period, see also Osarseph, Moses and Monotheism).
- The Canadian–American speculative fiction author S.M. Stirling has written a trilogy (the Nantucket series) set in Bronze Age era, circa the 1250s BC. The trilogy describes the conflict between the different factions of the population of the island of Nantucket after an unknown phenomenon ("The Event") transports them into the past — some trying to dominate the world for their own benefit, others trying to better it — and the different Bronze Age civilizations.
 Centuries and Decades
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