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This image shows a wall painting from Val Camonica, Lombardy, Italy, ca. 12,000 b2k. Credit: Mazarin07.

The classics comprise the Draft:languages, Draft:literature, Draft:philosophy, Draft:history, Draft:art, Draft:archaeology and other Draft:culture of the ancient Mediterranean world (Bronze Age ca. Before Christ (BC) 3000 – Late Antiquity ca. Anno Domini (AD) 300–600); especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity (ca. BC 600 – AD 600). Initially, the study of the Classics (the period's literature) was the principal study in the Draft:humanities.


The classics refer to studies of the cultures of classical antiquity, namely the cultures of the 8th-7th centuries BC (2800-2700 b2k) ending "with the dissolution of classical culture at the close of Late Antiquity between AD 300-600 (1700-1400 b2k).

The study of the classics is considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities.

During classical antiquity, the concept of the seven liberal arts evolved, involving grammar, rhetoric and Draft:logic (the trivium), along with arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music (the quadrivium).[1] These subjects formed the bulk of medieval education, with the emphasis being on the humanities as skills or "ways of doing."



  1. "[o]f or relating to the first class or rank, especially in literature or art",[2]
  2. "[o]f or pertaining to established principles in a discipline",[2]
  3. "[d]escribing European music and musicians of the late 18th and early 19th centuries",[2]
  4. "[o]f or pertaining to the ancient Greeks and Romans, especially to Greek or Roman authors of the highest rank, or of the period when their best literature was produced; of or pertaining to places inhabited by the ancient Greeks and Romans, or rendered famous by their deeds",[2] or
  5. "[c]onforming to the best authority in literature and art; chaste; pure; refined; as, a classical style"[2]

is called classical.

"The power of the 'classical' does not spring, as is usually thought, from its relation to a real or imagined past, but from its relation to current social, political, and moral values that it helps to legitimate (Settis 2004: 104). In other words, the 'classical' is ideological. An ideology may be defined as 'a self-serving set of deeply held, often unconscious beliefs [and values]' (Rose 2006: 103) and a way of expressing these beliefs and values in a 'legitimating discourse' that 'takes for granted a particular, established social order', but 'fails to include an analysis of the institutional mechanisms that maintain this order, and is liable to be no more than a contribution to the efficacy of the ideology itself' (Bourdieu 1977: 188). Since antiguity, the discourse of the 'classical' has functioned in just this way to legitimate a social order and a set of institutions, beliefs, and values that are commonly associated with western civilization and 'our' western cultural heritage."[3]

Planetary sciences[edit]

Def. "[a]ny of several periods of history noted for a particular style of art, architecture, literature or music termed classical"[4] is called a classical era.


"Though we generally use the words "classical" and "Classics" in a high-cultural sense, this use is derivative and figuratively loaded. These words derive from the Latin adjective classicus,-a,-um, originally referring to someone belonging to the highest of the five classes of Roman citizens in the division of the Roman people according to property and wealth made by Servius Tullius (Livy 1.43.5; Aulus Gellius 6[7].13.1, 3)."[5]


The classical era from 5000 b2k to 1400 b2k had the recovery of minerals and metals from the Earth as commodities. So too did nations or empires use hominins as slaves, sometimes their own children or the members of other tribes, peoples, or intelligent species.

"Whilst a relatively small proportion of Attica’s slaves worked on grand building projects, an enormous number – perhaps even 35,000 by 340 B.C.E. – worked in the mining region of southern Attica."[6]

Ancient Italy[edit]

Roman collared slaves in chains are portrayed in this relief found at Smyrna (present day İzmir, Turkey), 1800 b2k. Credit: .

Slavery in ancient Rome played an important role in society and the economy. Besides manual labor, slaves performed many domestic services, and might be employed at highly skilled jobs and professions. Teachers, accountants, and physicians were often slaves. Greek slaves in particular might be highly educated. Unskilled slaves, or those condemned to slavery as punishment, worked on farms, in mines, and at mills. Their living conditions were brutal, and their lives short.

Slaves were considered property under Roman law and had no legal personhood. Unlike Roman citizens, they could be subjected to corporal punishment, sexual exploitation (prostitutes were often slaves), torture, and summary execution. The testimony of a slave could not be accepted in a court of law unless the slave was tortured—a practice based on the belief that slaves in a position to be privy to their masters' affairs would be too virtuously loyal to reveal damaging evidence unless coerced. Over time, however, slaves gained increased legal protection, including the right to file complaints against their masters. Attitudes changed in part because of the influence among the educated elite of the Stoics, whose egalitarian views of humanity extended to slaves.

The 1st-century BC Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus indicates that the Roman institution of slavery began with the legendary founder Romulus giving Roman fathers the right to sell their own children into slavery, and kept growing with the expansion of the Roman state. Slave ownership was most widespread throughout the Roman citizenry from the Second Punic War (218–201 BC) to the 4th century AD. The Greek geographer Strabo (1st century AD) records how an enormous slave trade resulted from the collapse of the Seleucid Empire (100–63 BC).[7]

Ancient Greece[edit]

Slaves in the mines of ancient Greece are depicted. Credit: Huesca.

"During the Classical period, Athens and a number of other poleis relied upon trade with ‘barbarian’ territories on the periphery of the Aegean world to maintain large slave populations which played an integral role in economic life and formed the bedrock of elite wealth."[6]

Slaves "were imported from a number of regions [...] Thrace and the Black Sea regions [...] Colchis [...] Getic slaves from the lower Danube region [the] Scythian slave-trade in the 6th and 5th centuries BC [...] Asia Minor and the Levant [...] which fell under the domination of the Persian Empire during the Classical period. [...] Boeotia [...] Sarmatia and Syria. [...] the region of southern Iran generally known as Elam [...] Paphlagonia, bordering the southern Black Sea littoral, was another well-known source of slaves. [...] Phrygia, Caria and Paphlagonia were the most important suppliers of slaves from Asia Minor, Lydia and Cilicia are also attested as slave sources for the Greeks"[6]

"The Getai are the people living in the area reaching eastwards to the Black Sea, while the Dacians live in the area towards Germany and the sources of the Danube. I think that in ancient times they were called ‘Dai’; and it was because of them that the names ‘Geta’ and ‘Daos’ were common for slaves among the Athenians – at least, this is a more likely explanation than that they were named after the Scythian tribe called the ‘Daai’, since they live far away in Hyrcania and it is most unlikely that any slaves were ever brought to Attica from there. In fact, the Athenians would either name their slaves after the area from which they were imported, or give them the same names as their tribes (such as ‘Lydos’ or ‘Syros’), or give them names which were common in those countries, like ‘Manes’ or ‘Midas’ for a Phrygian, or ‘Tibios’ for a Paphlagonian."[6]

"The Athenians wanted to diversify the ethnic composition of their slave holdings to limit cohesion among the slaves, and were not overly concerned about the ethnicity of their slave stock so long as it was free from what they perceived as excessively weak or excessively bellicose peoples. This was aimed at maximizing the profits of slave labour whilst minimizing the risks of resistance; there was little incentive for a slave seller to falsify the ethnicity of his merchandise."[6]

"In Attica alone during the Classical period there was a slave population of perhaps 100–150,000 at its height.60"[6]

Slavery was common practice and an integral component of ancient Greece throughout its rich history, as it was in other societies of the time including ancient Palestine and early Christian societies.[8][9][10] It is estimated that in Athens, the majority of citizens owned at least one slave. Most ancient writers considered slavery not only natural but necessary, but some isolated debate began to appear, notably in Socratic dialogues while the Stoics produced the first condemnation of slavery recorded in history.[10]

Slaves were present through the Mycenaean civilization. In the tablets from Pylos 140 do-e-ro can be identified with certainty. Two legal categories can be distinguished: "common" slaves and "slaves of the god" (te-o-jo do-e-ro / θεοιο), the God in this case probably being Poseidon. Slaves of the god are always mentioned by name and own their own land; their legal status is close to that of freemen. The nature and origin of their bond to the divinity is unclear.[11]

Ancient Israel[edit]

Slavery "played an important role in ancient Israel [...] the qualities of an ideal housewife are set out, which centre upon the ability to manage a household, including ordering the slaves to perform their various tasks.64 And recently, Catherine Hezser has demonstrated that slave labour was the key ingredient in elite wealth as pictured in the stories of the early patriarchs, which reveals that the Israelites as well as the Greeks perceived a connection between large slaveholdings and wealth.65"[6]

Ancient Babylonia[edit]

Slaves "may have constituted between a quarter and a third of the population of Babylonia under the Persian Empire; in terms of its social location, many households owned a few slaves, with wealthier families owning dozens and sometimes hundreds, and the Royal household owning considerably more.66"[6]

Ancient Asia Minor[edit]

"In Asia Minor, slave ownership was not merely restricted to the Greek cities of the coast; for instance, Herodotus tells us of Atys, the richest man in Asia (besides the king of Persia), who was apparently willing to give up the vast majority of his riches to finance Xerxes’ invasion of Greece and to live out the rest of his days on his estates, from wealth generated by his slaves and flocks (Hdt. 7.27–8)."[6]

Ancient Phrygia[edit]

"Eumenes of Cardia seized a number of similar estates in Phrygia, full of slaves and flocks, in the fourth century (Plu. Eum.8.5)".[6]

Ancient Lydia[edit]

"Xenophon (An. 7.8.9–23). Seizing an opportunity for apparently easy plunder, Xenophon and a number of mercenaries raided the estate of a wealthy Persian named Asidates in northern Lydia, but found the venture more difficult than they had originally envisaged; the slaves who worked Asidates’ lands mostly got away, but some 200 were captured by the Greek soldiers. An estate of 200 slaves would be enormous by Greek standards, and Xenophon’s account makes clear that this was only a por- tion of Asidates’ holdings (Asidates, we may mention, was not even exceptionally wealthy by Persian standards).67"[6]

Ancient Egypt[edit]

The image apparently shows servants or slaves to a noble. Credit: unknown artist or photographer.{{fairuse}}

"Aršam the satrap of Egypt, from a number of letters dating to the fifth century, and it is clear that slavery was the predominant form of labour on his lands. Many of these letters are addressed to subordinates who had been appointed to administer his estates, and the supply of slave labour is an important theme; in one letter, Aršam orders an officer to acquire more workers for his estates and brand them with his own mark, since many of his slaves had fled during the chaos of a revolt. Aršam also owned estates in Syria and Babylonia in addition to his Egyptian holdings.68"[6]

Ancient Persia[edit]

In relation to Greeks in the Persian work gangs, "There are men in our texts who are simply called Yaunā. No one that I know of has spoken against the obvious view that this is not a true proper name, that the persons concerned are Greeks, known by their ethnics instead of their strange and no doubt unpronounceable names, just as the Greeks habitually called slaves Skythes or Kar."[6]

Ancient Thracia[edit]

"The ownership of slaves in appreciable numbers was possible in other regions; the Thracian king Seuthes had large enough holdings that he could easily give 120 slaves to a Greek mercenary force as a gift (Xen. An. 7.7.53); see Velkov (n. 2 [1986])."[6]

Ancient India[edit]

Women slaves are fetching water apparently during the Mughal Empire in India. Credit: Karen E. Carr, artist unknown.{{fairuse}}

"There were probably always slaves in India, but until about 1000 AD there were only a few slaves, and most of them worked as house servants."[12]

When "Islamic conquerors reached India, they forced many more people to be slaves. The Islamic conquerors sold thousands of these slaves out of India to work in Persia (modern Iran) or Afghanistan. Many of these people worked in the mines."[12]

People "also came to India to work as slaves, especially black people from East Africa. Beginning about 500 AD, as more traders went back and forth between Africa and India, more of them bought people in Africa and brought them back to India as slaves. African people mostly worked as bodyguards and soldiers; because they came from outside Indian politics, rulers trusted them more. Many of these African people eventually got free and became traders or government administrators."[12]

"Slavery and empire-formation tied in particularly well with iqta and it is within this context of Islamic expansion that elite slavery was later commonly found. It became the predominant system in North India in the thirteenth century and retained considerable importance in the fourteenth century. Slavery was still vigorous in fifteenth-century Bengal, while after that date it shifted to the Deccan where it persisted until the seventeenth century. It remained present to a minor extent in the Mughal provinces throughout the seventeenth century and had a notable revival under the Afghans in North India again in the eighteenth century."[13]

Theoretical classics[edit]

Def. "the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean World; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during the classical era"[14] is called the classics.

As the classical era seems to refer to an historical era between 5000 b2k and 1400 b2k, any languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture during this era may be referred to as the classics.


The word “classics” is derived from the Latin adjective classicus: “belonging to the highest class of citizens”, connoting superiority, authority, and perfection. The first “Classic” writer was Aulus Gellius, a 2nd-century Roman writer who, in the miscellany Noctes Atticae (19, 8, 15), refers to a writer as a Classicus scriptor, non proletarius(“A distinguished, not a commonplace writer”). Such classification began with the Greeks’ ranking their cultural works, with the word canon (“carpenter’s rule”). Moreover, early Christian Church Fathers used canon to rank the authoritative texts of the New Testament, preserving them, given the expense of vellum and papyrus and mechanical book reproduction, thus, being comprehended in a canon ensured a book’s preservation as the best way to retain information about a civilization. Contemporarily, the Western canon defines the best of Western culture. In the ancient world, at the Alexandrian Library, scholars coined the Greek term Hoi enkrithentes (“the admitted”, “the included”) to identify the writers in the canon.

Highest class is a synonym for dominant group.

Patrician classes[edit]

According to Livy, the first 100 men appointed as senators by Romulus were referred to as "fathers" (patres),[15] and the descendants of those men became the Patrician class.[16] The patricians were distinct from the plebeians because they had wider political influence, at least in the times of the Republic.

"Until the year 445 B.C. [2445 b2k] a regular marriage (iustae nuptiae) could be contracted only between patricians - members of the ruling class."[17] Bold added.

"'Consequently, the ruling class accumulated all the wealth for themselves, and the slave-population filled the country, while the real Italian population decreased terribly, worn out by poverty, taxation, and military service. And when there was a respite from these things they found themselves unemployed, because the land was owned by rich men who used slaves instead of freemen on their farms.' Whatever the origin of this passage may be, it shows the necessary result of the military expansion of Rome,"[17]

"Farmers found it unprofitable to grow grain in Italy since the Roman market was flooded with masses of imported grain which forced down the price (Liv., xxx, 26)."[17]

Patrician class when an exact synonym for ruling class is a relative synonym for dominant group.


"The initial enslavement of individuals was the result of a number of mechanisms of enslavement: war, piracy, brigandage, enslavement by judicial condemnation, enslavement for debt or self-sale due to poverty, the sale of infants and child abandonment, and the natural reproduction of a slave population; some or all of these processes could be in play in any given region at any given time in the ancient world. By these means individuals could be severed from their indigenous social milieu and become items of trade to be sold to foreign lands such as Greece. In terms of the northern branch of the slave trade, most historians have concluded that the majority of slaves ‘generated’ in Thrace, Scythia and Colchis were the product of inter-tribal warfare and raiding (both by land and sea); others were sold by parents who could not afford to keep large families (e.g. Hdt. 5.6; Poll. 7.14).71"[6]

Enslavement is in "a "market economy" in which the trade in slaves was the result of individual initiatives developing in an atmosphere of free competition".[6]

A "polyglot population [...] was principally drawn from Asia Minor, Syria and the eastern Balkans".[6]


Kouros (young man) is sculpture from ancient Greece. Credit: Vlad2i~commonswiki.{{free media}}
Fresco showing three women is Minoan from ancient Crete. Credit: cavorite.

The sculpture on the right is Kouros of the Archaic period, now in the Thebes Archaeological Museum.

The fresco on the left is from ancient Crete.


The Minoan civilization on Crete had all the characteristics of a culture. It was a Bronze Age civilization on Aegean islands from about 2600 to 1100 BC.


The classical languages are ancient Greek and those of Italy and other locales of the period.


Inscription is about the construction of the statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon, 440/439 BC. Credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis.{{free media}}

Hellēnikḗ was composed of dialect groups: Attic and Ionic, Aeolic, Arcadocypriot, and Doric,


Koine was apparently used from 300 BC – 300 AD (Byzantine official use until 1453).


Apparently Attic was localized to Attica and Lemnos, c. 500–300 BC and evolved into Koine.


Aeolic was apparently spoken in Boeotia, Thessaly, and Aeolis, c. 800 – 300 BC.


Distribution of ancient Greek dialects is shown in Greece in the classical period. Credit: Fut.Perf..{{free media}}

Distribution of ancient Greek dialects in Greece is for the classical period.[18]

Western group:
  Doric proper
  Northwest Doric
  Achaean Doric
Central group:
Eastern group:

Apparently, Ionic was spoken Circum-Aegean, c. 1000–300 BC.


Inscription of Mycenaean is written in Linear B. Credit: Gautier Poupeau.

Mycenean was apparently used from 16th–12th century BC locally in southern Balkans and Crete.


The Slavs apparently came to the Balkan Peninsula, a region called Macedonia, in the sixth and seventh centuries AD.


This shows the beginning of Homer's Odyssey. Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol.

On the right are the first 9 verses of Homer's Odyssey, apparently in Archaic Greek derived primarily from Ionic and Aeolic.


Raphael's School of Athens depicts an array of ancient Greek philosophers engaged in discussion. Credit: Raphael (1483–1520).

One ancient philosophy, or philosophies, was the School of Athens, painted by Raphael, shown on the right, where ancient Greek philosophers engaged in discussion.


Classical archaeology can mean the archaeology of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, for example, or it can mean archaeology performed by ancients such as those of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome of civilizations in their pasts.

Early Middle Ages[edit]

The Early Middle Ages date from around 1,700 to 1,000 b2k.

"Recent archaeological excavations have focused on the late fourth and fifth centuries. The discovery of two young adult skeletons in a burial pit in the courtyard of the commander's house have been dated to the early fifth century. The bodies were not buried immediately after their deaths but were left [...] for animals to prey upon before they were thrown into the burial pit. The bodies of the young man and young woman have been radiocarbon dated to 140-430 AD cal. and 340-660 AD. Archaeologists believe that the commander's house was already in ruins at the time of their deaths, and the burial in the pit suggests the Roman community was no longer present at Arebia. The end of the occupation can be tentatively dated by two coins dated to AD 388-402 found on the floor of the commander's house. These coins are the latest Roman coins to be found anywhere along the northern Roman defenses. This last period of Roman occupation was active, with the fort's garrison and defenses consistently maintained. The fortress was remodeled or repaired in the same period since another coin dating to 388-402 was found in the resurfaced road of the rebuilt west gate. This combined data suggests that the fortress was occupied by the Romans until the end of the fourth century and that the end came rapidly."[19]

Imperial Antiquity[edit]

The contemporaneity of Rome’s Imperial period textbook-dated to the 1st-3rd century AD with the Early Middle Ages (8th-10th century AD) is confirmed for Poland. Credit: Gunnar Heinsohn.{{fairuse}}
Ruins of Felix Romuliana palace are the gate area. Credit: Goran Andjelic.{{free media}}
Mosaic is of Greek god Dionysus from Felix Romuliana. Credit: Vanjagenije.{{free media}}
The image shows the East Gate of Felix Romuliana. Credit: Marcin Szala.{{free media}}
Gamzigrad-Romuliana is ruins of palace with mosaic floor. Credit: Vesna Vujicic-Lugassy.{{free media}}
The image is a detail of mosaic floor. Credit: Vesna Vujicic-Lugassy.{{free media}}
Emperor Galerius' portrait head in porphyry is from his palace in Romuliana (Gamzigrad). Credit: Shinjirod.{{free media}}

Imperial Antiquity lasts from 2,000 to 1,700 b2k.

In Felix Romuliana, "the construction [...] is [...] Imperial Antique (1st-3rd c.), and sometimes even late Hellenistic, [in] appearance."[20]

"Felix Romuliana is regarded as an ideal embodiment of a purely Late Antique (4th-6th c.) city in the Roman province of Moesia (today's Gamzigrad in Serbia), because in the earlier Imperial Antiquity of the 1st to early 3rd centuries there appears to be simply nothing at all in that splendid urban space erected around 305 CE for Emperor Galerius (293-311 CE)."[20]

"Felix Romuliana [was] erected around 305 CE for Emperor Galerius (293-311 CE)."[20]

"Felix Romuliana can boast a rich urban history up to the end of the 1st c. BCE"[20]

It "has “a long settlement continuity from the Neolithic period over the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, the Late Antiquity into the Middle Ages”2 (DAIST 2013, see already Petkovic 2011a, 40)."[20]

Between "1 and 1,000 CE there are only some 300 years with building strata in Felix Romuliana."[20]

"Just between the 1st and 3rd c. CE the city’s evolution is totally and mysteriously stalled."[20]

"Only during the Late Antique period (3rd to 6th c.), which appears to emerge out of thin air, does evolution pick up again with “different construction and expansion phases”3 (DAIST 2013). Since the German-Serbian excavations (2004 to 2012), one even knows “the localization of a necropolis belonging to the palace and its succession of settlements [up to the 6th c.], whose evidently dense occupation indicates a large population”4 (DAIST 2013)."[20]

"For the more than 400 years between the late 6th and early 11th centuries, there was, however, no building evolution in the emergency accommodations. There are no archeological remains for some 400 years of use. There is substantial evidence for only a few decades, or even less. Those 400 years were written into the excavation report to meet a textbook chronology that is not understood but deeply venerated."[20]

"Imperial Antiquity [apparently] did not leave any buildings [in Felix Romuliana] between Augustus (31 BCE - 14 CE) and Severus Alexander (222-235 CE)."[20]

"Since Marcus Licinius Crassus (consul in 30 BCE) had already conquered Moesia in 29 BCE, it remains an enigma why suddenly the fertile area of Felix Romuliana, which had been in full use since the Neolithic period, was suddenly abandoned."[20]

"Galerius’s Late Antique palace complex in Felix Romuliana was built by Legio V Macedonica (the bull and eagle were its symbol), a Roman legion that had been set up in 43 BCE by Octavian and Consul Gaius Vibius Panza Caetronianus (who fell in 43 BCE against Mark Antony)."[20]

"It is indisputable that in 6 CE the legion was in the province of Moesia, with sufficient time to build something. It is also known that right there, in 33/34 CE (now under Emperor Tiberius), the legion did road-construction along the Danube (Clauss EDCS, 1649)."[20]

"The Legio V Macedonica also participates in the construction of the gigantic Danube Bridge (1135 m; 103-105 CE) under Emperor Trajan (98-117). All this happens in close vicinity of Felix Romuliana, where the legion supposedly did not work before the 3rd/4th c. CE."[20]

"Also, for around a quarter of a millennium (1st-3rd c. CE), there are no Aeolian layers in Felix Romuliana with vegetation or small animal remains, etc., which are to be expected if a city lies fallow for such a long time."[20]

"Felix Romuliana still amazes [...] by its absence of Christian traces, despite its cultural proximity to the Greek part of the empire where Christianity had been in full development since the 1st c. CE. During the governorship (111-113 CE) of Pliny the Younger (61/61-113 CE) in Pontus-Bithynia, Christianity was, e.g., no longer stoppable. It had “spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms” of Asia Minor (Pliny: Letters 10:96)."[20]

"[Roman sites and buildings dated to Britain’s Late Antiquity, i.e., to the 5th/6th century AD] never have 1st-3rd century building strata with streets, residential quarters, latrines, aqueducts etc. that are—after the Crisis of the Third Century—built over by new streets, residential quarters, latrines, aqueducts etc. reflecting new styles and technologies. At best, there are alterations of 1st-3rd c. structures that retain the style of the 1st-3rd century AD. An example may be provided by the small basilica in the 2nd century forum of Lindum Colonia (Lincoln) that is currently dated 5th/6th c. but stylistically would perfectly fit the late 2nd early 3rd century AD. The situation is comparable for pottery dated to Late Antiquity that cannot be tied to settlements. E.g., a "small later Roman pottery assemblage" from Mucking is dated "to a period without major occupation" (Lucy 2016)."[21]

"From a stratigraphic viewpoint there is nothing wrong with the term "Saxon date," if Saxons and Romans lived side by side from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD. Since archaeologically this period is contingent with the High Middle Ages of the 10th century AD—there are no building strata with residential quarters etc. in between—, its dates cannot help but move into the 7th to 10th century AD time span."[21]

1st century[edit]

Venus standing on a quadriga of elephants is a Roman frecso from the Officina di Verecundus (IX 7, 5) in Pompeii. Credit: unknown.
In Sainte-Colombe, near Lyon (France), a whole suburb of ancient Roman Vienne is uncovered during preventive excavation on a projected construction site. Credit: Benjamin Clément.{{fairuse}}

On the left is a Roman fresca of Venus standing on a quadriga of elephants from the Officina di Verecundus (IX 7, 5) in Pompeii, first century.

"[1st century AD] Saxon Chauci create rich building evidence. 50 m long houses (three aisles) with integrated stables are found all over the city and many suburbs; blacksmith shops; charcoal kiln technology etc."[21]

"A succession of fires allowed the preservation of all the elements in place, when the inhabitants ran away from the catatrophe, transforming the area into a real little Pompei of Vienne [image on the right]."[22]

"The fire brought the top floor, the roof and the terrasse of a sumptuous dwelling to collapse, both caved in floors being preserved, with the furniture left in place. The house, dating from the the second half of the first century and surrounded by gardens, was baptised "House of the Bacchae" because of a mosaic with a cortege of bacchae surrounding a Bacchus."[22]

"With many others, a superb mosaic preserved in its near-totality in the "House of Thalia and Pan" has been lifted with much precaution earlier this week, to be restored at the ateliers of the gallo-roman museum of Saint-Romain-en-Gal."[22]

"The Roman city of Vienne, in Southeast France, was at a crossroads of communications, between the Rhône River and the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis, on a "highway" connecting Lyon, the capital of Gaul, to the city of Arles. Another axis of circulation had most probably preceded it and the excavations «provide also an exceptional opportunity to analyze the anterior states of the Roman road of Gallia Narbonensis, or Transalpine Gaul, "one of the most important of this time.""[22]

"Besides the two luxurious houses, the neighborhood included shops dedicated to metalwork, food stores and other artisanal production; a warehouse full of jugs for wine; and a hydraulic network that allows for cleaning and drainage. The neighborhood appeared to be built around a market square, apparently the largest of its kind to be discovered in France."[22]

A logboat from Britain 7 Baddiley Mere designated Q-1496 has been radiocarbon dated to 1980 ± 50 BP or b2k.[23]

2nd century[edit]

The Mainz celestial globe is the last known celestial globe of Roman antiquity (1850-1780 b2k, 11 cm diameter). Credit: Gunnar Heinsohn.
These are constellation illustrations on the last known celestial globe of Roman antiquity. Credit: Gunnar Heinsohn.
A 2nd-century sculpture of the Moon-goddess Selene accompanied by perhaps Phosphorus and Hesperus: the corresponding Latin names are Luna, Lucifer and Vesper. Credit: unknown.

"[2nd/3rd century AD] Ptolemy’s PHA-BIRABON is identified with Bremen though there are other candidates, too. Rich evidence for Roman period. Settlements of 1st century are continued."[21]

The last known celestial globe shown at the right dates from 1850 to 1780 b2k. The constellation illustrations from the Mainz celestial globe are shown at the left.

"After Octavian/Augustus (31 BCE – 14 CE) had, in 30 BCE, turned Egypt into an imperial province of the Roman Empire, Memphis continued to thrive. Suetonius (69-122) writes about the city in his Life of Titus (part XI of The Twelve Caesars)."[24]

A 2nd-century sculpture on the right perhaps shows Phosphorus (the Morning star) and Hesperus (the Evening star) on either side of the Moon (Selene or Luna).

A logboat from Ireland Crevinish Bay l, Co. Femlanagh, designated HAR-1969, has been radiocarbon dated to 1860 ± 70 BP or b2k.[23]

3rd century[edit]

The map shows late Roman antiquity of Egypt and surrounding provinces based on the Verona List c. 303-324. Credit: Tom Elliot and Rachel Barckhaus, Ancient World Mapping Center, University of North Carolina.

In the late imperial antiquity map on the right, provincial boundaries (dashed red lines) are approximate and, in many places, very uncertain.

"Many [British] building sequences appear to terminate in the 2nd and 3rd centuries [1900-1700 b2k]. [...] The latest Roman levels are sealed by deposits of dark coloured loam, commonly called the 'dark earth' (formerly 'black earth'). In the London area the 'dark earth' generally appears as a dark grey, rather silty loam with various inclusions, especially building material. The deposit is usually without stratification and homogeneous in appearance, It can be one meter or more in thickness. [...] The evidence suggests that truncation of late Roman stratification is linked to the process of 'dark earth' formation."[25]

“Parts [of Londinium] / were already covered by a horizon of dark silts (often described as 'dark earth') / Land was converted to arable and pastoral use or abandoned entirely. The dark earth may have started forming in the 3rd century."[26]

A logboat from Britain 168 Wisley designated Q-1399 has been radiocarbon dated to 1780 ± 45 BP or b2k.[23]

Classical history[edit]

The classical history period dates from around 2,000 to 1,000 b2k.

Subatlantic history[edit]

The "calibration of radiocarbon dates at approximately 2500-2450 BP [2500-2450 b2k] is problematic due to a "plateau" (known as the "Hallstatt-plateau") in the calibration curve [...] A decrease in solar activity caused an increase in production of 14C, and thus a sharp rise in Δ 14C, beginning at approximately 850 cal (calendar years) BC [...] Between approximately 760 and 420 cal BC (corresponding to 2500-2425 BP [2500-2425 b2k]), the concentration of 14C returned to "normal" values."[27]

"The main discontinuity in the climatic condition during the Bronze Age and Iron Age transition can be identified in the boundary from Subatlantic to Subboreal (2800-2500 BP; 996/914-766/551 2σ cal. BC). Such period “has globally been identified as a time of marked climatic change. Stratigraphical, paleobotanical and archaeological evidence point to a change from a dry and warm to a more humid and cool climate in central and northwestern Europe” (Tinner et al. 2003). The climatic deterioration which characterizes this chronological range is directly responsible of the plateau in the calibration curve between 760 and 420 BC (2500-2425 BP) (see chapter The climatic oscillation around 2700 BP (896/813 2σ cal. BC) has been detected worldwide. Van Geel et al. (1996, 1998) and Speranza et al. (2002) found an abrupt shift around 850 BC in changing species composition of peat-forming mosses in European Holocene raised bog deposits. The change was from mosses preferring warm conditions to those preferring colder and wetter environments. Archaeological evidence supports such a change. Bronze Age settlements located in the Netherlands were suddenly abandoned after a long period of occupation which last around one millennium (Dergachev et al. 2004). Other studies confirmed the climatic discontinuity; Schilman et al. (2001) studied δ18O and δ13C in deposits from the southeastern Mediterranean, off Israel, and recognized the presence of two humid events in the time ranges of 3500-3000 BP (1884/1772-1263/1215 2σ cal. BC) and 1700-1000 BP (332/389-1016/1030 2σ cal. AD) and a period of arid conditions between 3000 and 1700 BP (1263/1215 2σ cal. BC- 332/389 2σ cal. AD). Barber and Langdon (2001) identified three main long climatic deteriorations 2900-2830 BP (1119/1037-1012/934 2σ cal. BC), 2630-2590 BP (810/797-801/788 2σ cal. BC) and 1550-1400 BP (430/549-637/658 2σ cal. AD) through the analysis of plant macrofossils in a peat deposit of Walton Moss located in Northern England and comparing such data with a temperature reconstruction based on chironomids in the sediment of a nearby lake."[28]

Subboreal history[edit]

The "period around 850-760 BC [2850-2760 b2k], characterised by a decrease in solar activity and a sharp increase of Δ 14C [...] the local vegetation succession, in relation to the changes in atmospheric radiocarbon content, shows additional evidence for solar forcing of climate change at the Subboreal - Subatlantic transition."[27]

The "Holocene climatic optimum in this interior part of Asia [Lake Baikal] corresponds to the Subboreal period 2.5–4.5 ka".[29]

Early history[edit]

The early history period dates from around 3,000 to 2,000 b2k.

Iron Age[edit]

Photographs of three of the originally nine iron beads from Gerzeh, Lower Egypt, from left UC10738, UC10739 and UC10740. Credit: Thilo Rehren, Tamás Belgya, Albert Jambon, György Káli, Zsolt Kasztovszky, Zoltán Kis, Imre Kovács, Boglárka Maróti, Marcos Martinón-Torres, Gianluca Miniaci, Vincent C. Pigott, Miljana Radivojević, László Rosta, László Szentmiklósi, Zoltán Szőkefalvi-Nagy.
Comparison of neutron radiography and an optical photograph of an iron bead is shown. Credit: Thilo Rehren, Tamás Belgya, Albert Jambon, György Káli, Zsolt Kasztovszky, Zoltán Kis, Imre Kovács, Boglárka Maróti, Marcos Martinón-Torres, Gianluca Miniaci, Vincent C. Pigott, Miljana Radivojević, László Rosta, László Szentmiklósi, Zoltán Szőkefalvi-Nagy.

The iron age history period began between 3,200 and 2,100 b2k.

"The earliest known iron artefacts are nine small beads securely dated to circa 3200 BC, from two burials in Gerzeh, northern Egypt."[30]

"Since both tombs are securely dated to Naqada IIC–IIIA, c 3400–3100 BC (Adams, 1990: 25; Stevenson, 2009: 11–31), the beads predate the emergence of iron smelting by nearly 2000 years, and other known meteoritic iron artefacts by 500 years or more (Yalçın 1999), giving them an exceptional position in the history of metal use."[30]

The image on the left uses neutron radiography to show the metal underneath the corrosion.

"Bead UC10738 [in the image on the right] has a maximum length of 1.5 cm and a maximum diameter of 1.3 cm, bead UC10739 is 1.7 cm by 0.7 cm, and bead UC10740 is 1.7 cm by 0.3 cm. All three beads are of rust-brown colour with a rough surface, indicative of heavy iron corrosion. Initial analysis by [proton–induced X–ray fluorescence] pXRF indicated an elevated nickel content of the surface of the beads, in the order of a few per cent, and their magnetic property suggested that iron metal may be present in their body (Jambon, 2010)."[30]

Bronze Age[edit]

A general world-wide use of bronze occurred between 5300 and 2600 b2k.

"The first (purely typological) studies on Early Bronze Age (EBA) assemblages in the Jordan Valley settled on the turn of the 4th/3rd millennium BC [mark] the beginnings of the earliest Bronze Age culture (Albright 1932; Mallon 1932)."[31]

"In the Chalcolithic/earliest Bronze Age I period (c. 4500±3000 cal BC), copper was mined in open galleries from the massive brown sandstone deposit, which consisted of thick layers of the copper carbonate malachite and chalcocite, a copper sulphide."[32]

"From a cuneiform tablet of a later origin, King Assurbanipal, conventionally80 assigned to the 7th century B.P. [2600 b2k], boasts that he "finds pleasure in reading the stones of the time from before the flood."81 Indeed, his library, unearthed in Nineveh, revealed archaic written tablets which date back to the beginning of the Bronze Age (conventionally dated between 3100 and 2750 B.P.),82 which therefore stem from a period upon which more flood catastrophes would follow".[33]

"In those times [after the flood of Deucalion] the kings of Greece initiated the worship for the pagan gods, which were to rekindle in annually renewed festivities the memory of the Flood and the salvation of the people, as well as the difficulties of the life of those who were at first resettled into the mountains, then into the plains."83[33]

Late Bronze Ages[edit]

The Late Bronze Ages begin about 3550 b2k and end about 2900 b2k.

The "abandonment of lakeshore Swiss pile-dwellings has been dated to around 1520 BC [3520 b2k] (Menotti 2001). [Slightly] "later in time episodes of flood events and lake-level highstand at 3100 BP (1415/1311 2σ cal. BC) and 2800 BP (996/914 2σ cal. BC) have been recently detected in the Southern Alps, in the sediment cores extracted from the Lake Ledro, located in the province of Trento (Joannin et al. 2014)."[28]

Radiocarbon "data indicate that the New Kingdom of Egypt started between 1570 and 1544 B.C.E [3270 - 3544 b2k]."[34]

Middle Bronze Ages[edit]

Fresco of The Fisherman is from Akrotiri, Santorini, Greece at a height of 1.10 m. Credit: Yann Forget.{{free media}}

The Middle Bronze Ages begin about 4100 b2k and end about 3550 b2k.

The Fisherman is a Minoan Bronze Age fresco from Akrotiri, on the Aegean island of Santorini (classically Thera), dated to the Neo-Palatial period (c. 1640–1600 BC). The settlement of Akrotiri was buried in volcanic ash (dated by radiocarbon dating to c. 1627 BC [c. 3626 b2k]) by the Minoan eruption on the island, which preserved many Minoan frescoes like this.

High precision radiocarbon dating of 18 samples from Jericho, including six samples of carbonized cereal from the burnt stratum, gave the age of the strata as 1562 BC, with a margin of error of 38 years [3562 ± 38 b2k].[35]

"In Berber, the name "Siwa" means "prey bird and protector of sun god Amon-Ra." It is derived from the name of the indigenous inhabitants, Tiswan, who speak Tassiwit, a dialect related to Berber spoken in the Sahara and North Africa. Siwa is one of the most arid oases in western Egypt near the border of Libya at a depression of 18 meters below sea level, and it is 300 kilometers southwest of the Mediterranean port city of Marsa Matruh. The oasis is 82 kilometers long and has a width ranging between 2 and 20 kilometers. The oasis was occupied since Paleolithic and Neolithic times. It was first mentioned more than 2,500 years ago in the records of the pharaohs of the Middle and New Kingdoms (2050-1800 B.C. and 1570-1090 B.C.)"[36]

Early Bronze Ages[edit]

The Early Bronze Ages begin about 5300 b2k and end about 4100 b2k. A logboat from Ireland (Inch Abbey, Co. Down) was dendrochronology dated to 4140 b2k.[23]

A logboat made from alder from Denmark (Verup l) designated K-4098B was radiocarbon dated to 4220 ± 75 b2k.[23]

A logboat from Ireland (Ballygowan, Co. AmJagh) designated GrN-20550 was radiocarbon dated to 4660 ± 40 b2k.[23]

Atlantic history[edit]

Hieroglyphics found at El-Khawy in Egypt show two storks, back to back, with an ibis between them (left), as well as a bull's head (right). Credit: John Darnell, Yale University.{{fairuse}}
A little elephant is shown inside an adult elephant, an indication that the animal is pregnant. Credit: John Darnell, Yale University.{{fairuse}}

The "Atlantic period [is] 4.6–6 ka [4,600-6,000 b2k]."[29]

"This newly discovered rock art site of El-Khawy preserves some of the earliest — and largest — signs from the formative stages of the hieroglyphic script [such as the back-to-back storks in the image on the right dating back around 5,200 years] and provides evidence for how the ancient Egyptians invented their unique writing system."[37]

Another "carving, [shows] a herd of elephants, created sometime between 4000 B.C. and 3500 B.C. One of the adult elephants in the scene was drawn with a little elephant inside its body [in the image on the right] — an incredibly rare way of representing a pregnant female animal."[37]

The "reign of Djoser in the Old Kingdom started between 2691 and 2625 B.C.E."[34]

"The last remains of the American ice sheet disappeared about 6000 years ago [6,000 b2k]".[38]

Ancient history[edit]

The ancient history period dates from around 8,000 to 3,000 b2k.


  1. The classicus used local disasters caused by events they could see in the sky to put themselves above others as a dominant group.

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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