The 3rd millennium BC spanned the years 3000 through 2001 BC. This period of time corresponds to the Early to Middle Bronze Age, in which imperialism, or the desire to conquer, grew to prominence in the city-states of the Middle East and throughout Eurasia. The civilization of Ancient Egypt rose to a peak with the Old Kingdom. World population is estimated to have doubled in the course of the millennium, to some 30 million people.
Near East (c. 3300–1200 BC)
- Anatolia, Caucasus, Elam, Egypt, Levant, Mesopotamia, Sistan, Canaan
- Late Bronze Age collapse
South Asia (c. 3300–1200 BC)
- Indus Valley Civilization
- Bronze Age South Asia
- Ochre Coloured Pottery
- Cemetery H
Europe (c. 3200–600 BC)
- Aegean, Caucasus, Catacomb culture, Minoan, Srubna culture, Beaker culture, Unetice culture, Tumulus culture, Urnfield culture, Hallstatt culture, Apennine culture, Canegrate culture, Golasecca culture,
- Atlantic Bronze Age, Bronze Age Britain, Nordic Bronze Age
East Asia (c. 2000–300 BC)
- Erlitou, Erligang, Gojoseon, Jomon, Majiayao, Mumun, Qijia, Siwa, Wucheng, Xindian, Yueshi
The Bronze Age occurred roughly between 3000 BC and 2500 BC. The previous millennium had seen the emergence of advanced, urbanized civilizations, new bronze metallurgy extending the productivity of agricultural work, and highly developed ways of communication in the form of writing. In the 3rd millennium BC, the growth of these riches, both intellectually and physically, became a source of contention on a political stage, and rulers sought the accumulation of more wealth and more power. Along with this came the first appearances of mega architecture, imperialism, organized absolutism and internal revolution.
The civilizations of Sumer and Akkad in Mesopotamia became a collection of volatile city-states in which warfare was common. Uninterrupted conflicts drained all available resources, energies and populations. In this millennium, larger empires succeeded the last, and conquerors grew in stature until the great Sargon of Akkad pushed his empire to the whole of Mesopotamia and beyond. It would not be surpassed in size until Assyrian times 1,500 years later.
In the Old Kingdom of Egypt, the Egyptian pyramids were constructed and would remain the tallest and largest human constructions for thousands of years. Also in Egypt, pharaohs began to posture themselves as living gods made of an essence different from that of other human beings. Even in Europe, which was still largely neolithic during the same period, the builders of megaliths were constructing giant monuments of their own. In the Near East and the Occident during the 3rd millennium BC, limits were being pushed by architects and rulers.
Towards the close of the millennium, Egypt became the stage of the first popular revolution recorded in history. After lengthy wars, the Sumerians recognized the benefits of unification into a stable form of national government and became a relatively peaceful, well-organized, complex technocratic state called the 3rd dynasty of Ur. This dynasty was later to become involved with a wave of nomadic invaders known as the Amorites, who were to play a major role in the region during the following centuries.
A model of the prehistoric town of Los Millares
, with its walls.
Certain 4th millennium BC events were precursors to the 3rd millennium BC:
The 3rd millennium BC included the following key events:
- c. 3000 BC: Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.
- c. 3000 BC: First evidence of gold being used in the Middle East.
- c. 3000 BC: Nubian A-Group, Ta-Seeti "kingdom" came to an end, possibly due to raids by Egypt.
- c. 3000 BC–2000 BC: Vessels from Denmark are made; they are now at National Museum, Copenhagen.
- c. 2890 BC: Second Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Hotepsekhemwy.
- Syria: Foundation of the city of Mari (29th century BC).
- Semitic tribes occupy Assyria in northern part of the plain of Shinar and Akkad.
- Phoenicians settle on Syrian coast, with centers at Tyre and Sidon.
- Beginning of the period of the mythical Sage Kings in China, also known as the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors.
- c. 2879 BC: Rise of the mythical Văn Lang Kingdom and the Hồng Bàng Dynasty in northern Viet Nam.
- c. 2800 BC–2700 BC: Harp Player, from Keros, Cyclades, was made. It is now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
- Iran: Creation of the Kingdom of Elam.
- Germination of the Bristlecone pine tree "Methuselah" about 2700 BC, one of the oldest known trees still living now.
- c. 2686 BC: Third Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Sanakhte.
- c. 2613 BC: Fourth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Sneferu.
- c. 2600 BC: Founding of the Chalcolithic Iberian civilizations of Los Millares and Zambujal.
- c. 2500 BC: Excavation and development of the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni at Paola, Malta, a subterranean temple complex subsequently used as a necropolis.
- c. 2498 BC: Fifth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Userkaf.
- c. 2492 BC: The Armenian patriarch Hayk defeats the Babylonian king Bel (legendary account).
- c. 2345 BC: Sixth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Teti.
- c. 2070 BC–1600 BC: The legendary Xia Dynasty in China.
- c. 2500 BC–2200 BC: Incised panel "Frying pan", from Syros, Cyclades is made; it is now at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
- c. 2500 BC–2200 BC: Two figures of women, from the Cyclades, are made; they are now at Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens.
- Dynasty of Lagash in Sumer.
- 2474 BC–2398 BC: Golden age of Ur in Mesopotamia.
- 2600 BC: Unified Indus Valley Civilisation.
- 2334 BC: Sargon of Akkad conquers Mesopotamia, establishing the Akkadian Empire.
- c. 2300 BC: C-Group pastoralists arrive in Nubia.
- c. 2181 BC: Seventh and Eighth Dynasty of Egypt (2181–2160).
- c. 2160 BC: Ninth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Akhtoy Meryibtowe.
- c. 2130 BC: Tenth Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Meryhathor.
- c. 2134 BC: Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt, reign of Mentuhotep I.
- Megalithic, Corded Ware culture and the Beaker flourish in Europe.
- Sumerian poetry, lamenting the death of Tammuz, the shepherd god.
- Sumerian cuneiform writing reduces pictographs still in use to about 550 BC.
- Major religious festival in Sumeria celebrates victory of god of spring over goddess of chaos.
- Earliest Trojan culture.
- Glass beads in Egypt.
- Beginning of the Pengtoushan culture in China.
- The world's last surviving mammoth population, on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean, goes extinct, sometime between 2500 and 2000 BC.
- Imhotep, first known architect, physician and engineer in Ancient history.
- The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors of China.
- Djoser, king of Egypt, commissions the Step Pyramid at Saqqara.
- Gilgamesh, fifth king of the First Dynasty of Uruk, immortalized in the world's first literary work the Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 26th century BC).
- Khufu, king of Egypt, builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
- Urukagina, king of Lagash, creates the first known judicial code (24th century BC).
- Lugalsaggizi, king of Uruk and Umma conquers Lagash (2371 BC–2347 BC).
- Sargon the Great, founder of the empire of Akkad and Sumer (2371 BC–2316 BC middle chronology).
- Ur-Nammu founder of the 3rd dynasty of Ur (2112 BC–2095 BC middle chronology).
Inventions, discoveries, introductions