one page timeline

Here’s how you can diagram the empires and dynasties of world history on a single piece of paper.

You will be folding the paper to make creases that repreent thousand-year periods.  (Want to watch it first on YouTube?)

To make the creases, first fold the paper in half from top to bottom, which will give you a long lengthwise crease. Then put the paper lenghwise in front of you an fold it in half from left to right, then fold the result in half again from left to right, so that when you open it you will have four columns.


Holding the paper lengthwise in front of you, write 2000 BC at the extreme upper left corner. At the first crease to the right, write 1000 BC. at the top of the center crease, write 1 AD (or CE, which means “common era;” more on “A.D.” at footnote 1.) Write 1000 AD at the next crease to the right, and write 2000 AD at the upper right corner of the paper. PART ONE First we will draw in the Roman Empire, starting at the center of your paper, on the middle horizontal line. You will be drawing a band (elongated rectangle) along the crease to represent the Roman empire. Starting a little to the left of the center vertical crease (because the empire started 27 years BC), draw a vertical bar (about an inch high) crossing the middle horizontal crease. From each tip, draw a short straight line to the right, to form the beginning of your rectangle. Write ROM EMP (or an abbreviation of your choice) to the right of your vertical line. Here’s how the diagram should look so far:

  Continue drawing the bottom line to the right until you are almost half-way to the next vertical crease; at that point, draw a short line upward. That represents the time when the western part of the Roman empire was ended by the invasions of the Germanic tribes in 476 AD. (I do not recommend that you write the dates on your sheet of paper; I am including them to help you estimate where to draw your lines. In this approach, you also are not meant to memorize any of the dates. What you memorize is the visual placement of the countries within the thousand-year columns.) The eastern part of the Roman Empire continued for another thousand years, so from the top of that short line, continue to draw a line to the right until you are almost to the middle of the right-most column.  During that time the Eastern Roman Empire is mostly limited to Greece and today’s Turkey, and is also called the Byzantine Empire, so write BYZ above the long line. To continue the top line, draw to the right starting at your original vertical line, but then draw a small step down when you reach the 600’s, to designate the time when the Arabs, who had become Muslims, took possession of the Middle Eastern and African parts of the Roman Empire in the 630’s. Then continue the line to the right.  [Following is a detail not shown on the YouTube version]: Draw your line a little past the vertical crease in the paper., then make another step downward, all the way to the crease. That represents 1071 AD, when the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantines and within a few decades controlled almost all of Turkey. Draw an S to the right of the small vertical line to represent the Seljuks. Draw a horizontal line along the crease to the right until it is as long as the lower line of your diagram. This narrow band indicates that The Byzantine Empire was left mostly with the area round their capital city, Constantinople. That city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 and renamed Istanbul. At that date, draw a vertical line connecting your two horizontal lines, thus closing the Roman Empire band. To the right of the band wite OTTO to represent the Ottoman Turks. Look below to see how your Roman Empire diagram should look.

Click here to see maps of the Roman Empire. Rom and Byz

Now we will diagram some of the Germanic tribes. At the niche you drew at 476, start a narrow band and continue it to the right hand edge of the paper. At 476, write FRANKS, for that is the tribe that became dominant in the area now called France and Germany. Just before the third crease, start an additional narrower band within this one, and continue it to about where the year 1800 would be. This band represents the Holy Roman Empire, formed in 962 as a combination of Germany and northern Italy. It was ended by Napoleon in 1806, so end it with a vertical line. Write HRE within the band. After it ended, the ruling family at the time, the Hapsburgs, continued to rule part of it as the “Austro-Hungarian Empire” right up to World War I. so draw an extension of the bar up to the point where 1918 would be, and draw a vertical line up to end the band. Divide the band lengthwise into a top and bottom half. In the lower half, write AH to indicate the Austro-Hungarian empire. In the upper half write Pr, which stands for the Prussians, who united the northern part of the Holy Roman Empire into the German Empire in 1870. Both empires were ended by World War I. The band extending to the right from the word FRANKS that was not included in the HRE band represents France, and the line goes to the edge of the paper.. Under the word FRANKS, draw another band that also extends all the way to the edge of the paper. This will represent England. In this new band, below the word FRANKS, write ANGLE/S, for with the departure of the the Roman armies from Britain, Germanic tribes called the Angles and the Saxons invaded. The word “England” is a short form of “Angle-land.” In 1707 England joined with Scotland and the resulting combination is called Great Britain, so write GB within the band, in the center of the right-most column. Today the official name of the country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. so write UK at the far right of the band. Now we will diagram more details about the Arab Muslims. After Muhammad died in 632, he was followed in succession by four other leaders, who were called Caliphs. Caliph means someone who is taking Muhammad’s place as ruler of the Muslims. Then in 661 came the first entity we will add to the diagram, the Ummayad Caliphate. Starting in the niche you made for the 600’s, write U above the Roman Empire. In 750 the Abbassid Caliphate took control, so draw a small vertical line to the right of the U and after it write ABB. [The Caliphate gradually was divided into independent kingdoms that ruled in its name. For details, see the diagram near the bottom of this page, in the “detail” section just above the footnotes.] Draw another vertical line in 1258, when the Mongols end that Caliphate. To its right, write M for the Mongols, who ruled the region now called Iraq until the 1330’s: draw a vertical line there representing the end of the Mongols. To show what happened in Turkey after the Mongols, first draw a horizontal line just above the crease, even with the height of the Byzantine line before you made the inset for the Seljuks. Draw the line as far as where the year 1516 would be.  After the Mongol rule ended in Turkey, various groups of Turks controlled different parts of Turkey, and one of them, the Ottomans, gradually defeated the others. To show this process, draw a diagonal line starting from the lowest end of the Mongol line (where it touches the Byzantines), over to touch the new horizontal line where it ends in 1516. On the top of the diagonal, write Tu for Turks, and leave the bottom blank, for it spills into the Ottoman space you have already created at the right. To show what happened in the middle east after the Mongols, write TIMUR to the right of the Mongol section, in the space above the triangle you just drew for Turkey. Timur claimed to be a descendant of Mongols, and his successors the Timurids ruled the in the middle east area until the Ottoman Turks took over the Middle East in 1516.  That is where your new horizontal line ends, so draw a short upward line to show the end of the Timurids. Below is what your diagram should look like. I recommend that you learn to draw this diagram by memory before moving on to the next part.

Here is the YouTube video showing the process you have just gone through. Each of the following parts also has its own YouTube video.

PART TWO This part will fill in the space to the left of the Roman Empire. Just before 1000 BC, start a band projecting both above and below the center horizontal crease. This will represent the kingdom of Israel, where David became king around 1000 BC. (write ISR along the crease) After the death of David’s son Solomon, the kingdom divided into a northern half, which kept the name Israel , and a southern half, called Judah (write JUD just below the crease). The northern half ended in 722 BC, so draw a vertical line ending it, but the southern half continued until 586, where you will draw a vertical line upward ending the entire band. Now we will draw the empires that brought these kingdoms to an end. About 935 BC start a band over Israel, and label it ASS, for it represents the Assyrian empire. That empire continued until 609 (draw a vertical line downward until it touches Judah to end the band) when it was conquered by Babylon. (For Babylon, draw a band whose top line continues the top of the Assyria line, but which extends further than the end of Judah, and then ends with a vertical line at the year 539 that drops down until it is even with the bottom line of Judah, which you should extend to complete the Babylon band. Within the band, write B or BABYLON.) When Babylon ended the kingdom of Judah in 586, it took many of the Jewish people into exile in Babylon. By this time, the word “Jew” came into usage, meaning “people from Judah.” The word “Judea” is from the Roman (Latin) pronunciation of Judah. Draw an even higher band for the next empire, the Persians, still using bottom line of Judah as the lower line. Persia rules the middle east from 539 to 331. Draw the lines for these two dates, and connect them at top and bottom. The reason you drew it higher is because it also encompasses Turkey and Iran. The bottom line will still be parallel with the previous bottom line. Write P or PERSIA within the band. )In 538 Persia allowed some of the Jewish exiles to return to Judah.) In 331 Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire, and so his empire is to be drawn even higher. Increase the height of your 331 line, and draw the top line to the right until it is even with the start of the Roman Empire, but don’t draw the vertical ending line yet. After Alexander died, one of his generals, Seleucus, took over the rule of the middle eastern part of that empire. His descendants  continued to rule there for several centuries as the “Seleucid” dynasty, so write SEL in the space. The combination of Greek and Persian culture is called “Hellenistic” culture. In 235 BC the Parthians conquered the Persian area (Iran) and made it independent from the Seleucids. To show this, draw a narrow band starting at 235 BC, and whose lower line is even with the top of the Roman empire line. Within it write PAR. The top edge of the Iran band shows you where to end the vertical line that ends the Seleucid dynasty, which should be drawn at 64 BC.. We will now trace the major political changes in Iran up to the modern era. The Parthians are replaced in 224 AD by the Sassanids. Draw a vertical line to indicate the change, and to its right write SASS. When the line reaches the time of the Umayyads, extend their line upward into the Iran band, because the Umayyads and then the Abbasids both rule in Iran. After 1000 the Iranians have threir own rulers, some ruling in the name of the Abbassid Caliphs. To show them, daw a band even with the Sassanid band, cutting into the Abbassid area, starting at 830, and extending to the Mongol line. Divide that band into four parts by drawing 3 vertical lines within it. At this time we will fill in only one of these four boxes. (the other details are given at “optional details,”  at the end of this page.) These details are additions to the YouTube version. In the third box, write S. This represents the Seljuk Turks. After they were defeated in Iran, they still kept their control of Turkey, where you have already indicated them by the S you drew at the inset  of the Byzantine empire. Also, write a letter S within the Abbassid box, at the right edge,because the Seljuks also ruled in Syria and Palestine in the name of the Abbassids. The first two crusades were fought against the Seljuks in Palestine. The Mongols did rule in Iran. Above the large M, draw the lines framing the Mongols high enough to include the Iran horizontal band. The Mongol group that ruled in Iran, as well as in today’s Iraq,  was called the “Il-Khan,” so write IK in the space above the M. The Il-Khan also ruled in today’s Afghanistan.  After the Mongol rule ended, a man named Timur gained control of Iran, starting in 1370 (The T is already written on the Caliphate line, so just extend their vertical line upward. ) His family line, the Timurids, continued to rule in Iran until their place is taken by a native group, the Safavids (1502 to 1722). (draw a band for them) cutting into the Timurid area.) After the Safavids, , continue the band to the edge of the paper, to indicate the continuing complex history of Iran. The entire band from Parthians to the end can now have a top line. The bottom line of the Safavids forms the top line of the Ottomans, and extends on to the end of the paper. You can write the word IRAN in the space after 1722. After the Mongol rule ended in Turkey, various groups of Turks controlled different parts of Turkey, and one of them, the Ottomans, gradually defeated the others. To show this process, draw a diagonal line from the lowest end of the Mongol line (where it touches the Byzantines, up and right to the end of the Timur line i 1516. On the Top of the diagonal, write Tu for Turks, and leave the bottom blank, for it spills into the Ottoman space you have already created at the right. In 142 BC the Jews, who had been fighting the Seleucids since 167, formed an independent kingdom. Draw the beginnings of a small band within the SEL band, and at the same height as the Israel band. Draw an H in the band, as the Jewish rulers of the country are called the Hasmonean dynasty, ruled by the Maccabee family. Do not draw a line at the right side of the H, as instructions for it will be in the next paragraph. To represent the growth of the Roman Republic, draw a straight line extending to the left from the bottom line of the Roman Empire, all the way back to the year 753 BC, the traditional date for the founding of Rome. Starting in the 200’s BC, draw a steeply curving line up to the upper left tip of the Roman Empire band. That means the Romans as they expanded ended up taking the Middle Eastern lands away from the Seleucids, and that line will also become the right hand edge of the Jew’s Hasmonean dynasty, which the Romans took over as a protectorate in 63 BC. Below is what your Part two should look like.

Click here to see the YouTube video of Part Two.

PART THREE We will start by drawing some details of the middle east before 2000 BC.  A little distance under the time-line crease, filling the left hand column, draw a circular loop with an arrow pointing to the left. This will be used to indicate events before 2000 BC. In it first write Sumer. The Sumerians are credited with forming the first civilization in the middle east. They were located in the southern part of today’s Iraq. (Today’s Iraq was also called Mesopotamia, which means “between the rivers” the rivers being the Tigris and Euphrates.) Various cities of the Sumerians dominated the others in turn. Then another group speaking a different language, the Akkadians, appeared just to the north of the Sumerians, and one of their leaders conquered the Sumerians to form what is regarded as the first empire in the region, that of Sargon of Akkad. Under Sumer make a box ith the words SARG/A; that represents Sargon of Akkad.  This empire lasted from around 2400 BC to 2180 BC. Then other cities again became dominant, and the last name to write within your loop is Ur III, this being the third time that the Sumerian city of Ur came to prominence.

At the left margin, at the year 2000 BC, write Amor on the horizontal crease to represent the Amorites, a people group that had migrated from Arabia to the middle east by the year 2000. They took control of southern Iraq to form the Old Babylonian empire: draw that as a box sitting on the crease from 1820 BC to 1580 BC, and within it write OLD B. One of their kings was Hammurabi, famous for the set of laws he drew up.  (The Babylonian empire you drew last time, that ended the kingdom of Judah, is called the new Babylonian Empire.) After the Old Babylonia Empire, a group called the Kassites took control in Mesopotamia. (Write Kass on the crease — no box needed.) After that the Babylonians and a new group to its north, the Assyrians, alternated in dominance: show this by writing B A B, fillng in the space up to the box for Israel.

Above the Old Babylonia Empire starting at the left write MINOAN because the Minoan culture on the island of Crete had begun already before 2000 BC. Draw a dotted line that ends around 1500.  Just under it, write MYC at the 1600’s. This represents the Myceneans, whose culture appeared on the Greek mainland at that time, and draw a dotted line for them right up to the year 1200. At that time a major event happened in Greece. Draw a vertical dashed line extending above and below the main time line right at that year. This line represents the Dorian Invasion (you can write DORIAN INV sideways along it. The Dorians were less civilized Greek speakers who invaded from the north.They brought the Mycenean civilization to an end. From that point on, the developments in Greece were an interplay between the newcomers, some of whom became the Spartans, and the previous residents of Greece, notably those at Athens. Draw a horizontal dotted line after vertical dashed line from the Myceneans until you reach the Persian empire. This represents the rise of the Greek city-states. On the oine write Gr city: Sparta v. Athens. The Golden Age of Classic Greek culture was in the century when the Athenians defeated invasions from the Persians in 490 and 480. Later Athens lost its empire to Sparta, and then Greece was taken over by Alexander the Great, already shown on your map by SEL for the Seleucid empire.  .

One of the groups displaced by the tumult of the Dorian Invasion looked for a new place to settle somewhere on the Mediterranean. The Egyptians called them the Sea Peoples and repelled them. They finally settled on the western shore of the Mediterranean, We know them as the Philistines.Write PHIL along the part of the year 1200 dashed line that is below the horizontal crease.  One of their major cities was called Gaza.  There was conflict between them and the people of Israel, who had entered the area, called Canaan, along the southern coast of the Mediterranean before the arrival of the Philistines, having been led out of 430 years of residence in Egypt by Moses . For example, the giant Goliath that David brought down with a stone from his sling shot was a Philistine. The establishment of the Kingdom of Israel at the time of David involved David’s conquering of the Philistines. The term Palestine comes from their name.

Above the Minoan line, starting at 2000, write Hurr for the Hurrians, who lived in northern Mesopotamia. They established a kingdom called Mitanni around 1600, which was defeated by the Hittites about that same time. Write HITT above Mitanni. They were located in Anatolia, the region we now call Turkey. By the 1600’s they had become a major power and played a role in the downfall of the Old Babylonian empire,. The Hittite kingdom ended just aftrer 1200, so draw a dotted line up to your vertical dashed line. Anatolia then had small independent states.

By 1200, the Aramaeans had moved from Arabia into northern Mesopotamia; that area, where Syria now is, was then called Aram. Write ARAMAEANS to the right of the Hittites. Starting in the 1500’s,they had replaced the Amorites as a dominant group. Some Aramaeans called Chaldeans settled in southern Mesopotamia. They  were defeated by the Assyrian empire in 720 BC, but the Chaldeans then overthrew the Assyrians and formed the New Babylonian Empire.  Though that empire was ended by the Persians, the langauge of the Aramaeans,  Aramaic, gradually became the trade language of West Asia,  until it was replaced by Arabic when the Muslims took over the area in the 600’s AD. Jesus and his disciples would have spoken Aramaic to one another; the Bible was early on translated into an Aramaic language called Syriac. The Jewish Talmuds were written in Aramaic.

With the downfall of the Minoans, the Phoenicians from the western shore of the Mediterranean (today’s Lebanon) became prominent sea traders. They established colonies along the African and Spanish coast, one of which was Carthage in present-day Tunisia. Write PHOEN/CARTH in the space under Judah, As Rome was rising in power, it came into conflict with Carthage (during one of the wars, the Carthaginian general Hannibal led his army, including elephants, over the Alps.) Rome eventually triumphed so so that the curved line you already drew representing Rome’s expansion becomes the end of the Carthaginian empire. From that point, Rome was the prime sea power.

This ends Part 3. The way your diagram should look is shown below.

Here’s the link to the YouTube version of Part 3. Once you have internalized these developments, you can add additional countries and movements to your diagram according to your interests. In the following parts, the upper part of your paper will diagram empires and dynasties in Asia, and the lower part will diagram Africa and the Americas.

MAP CARDS Before going on, you have the option of creating a set of cards. These cards are maps showing the boundaries of some of the empires you have just written down. Print the appropriate maps, cut them apart, and fold the name and date to the back. The date shows when that empire was at its farthest extent. You are not expected to memorize the date, but eyou can make use of the cards by shufflling them and then trying to name them and place them in the proper chronological order. You would then look at the dates in back to see if you are correct. From the 18 maps provided, add only a few at a time to your deck. When you go to the map link, select only the empires you have written down so far. Go to map cards. You could also create an index, on which you will record the names of countries on your diagram and also people that have been mentioned in the text.. Your index could be looseleaf pages, with a letter of the alphabet for each sheet. It could be a spiral notebook. Or you could type it as a word document. (It is optional whether that you alphabetize the words within each letter of the alphabet.) After each word, write what century it occurred in, so you can quickly locate it on your diagram.

PART FOUR   —- THE CHINESE DYNASTIES To add Asia and the Americas, you need to add more creases to the paper. Refold the paper from to to bottom, along your original time line, then fold it in half again, so that when you open it again you will have creases above and below your original timeline. We will use the top crease for Asia. Start by creating a band along the top crease that extends the entire length of the paper. We will draw vertical lines in between the dynasties. The oldest dynasty commonly recognized is to be drawn starting at the year 2000 BC. Write Xia within the band, and draw a vertical line at 1600. Now a word about Chinese pronunciation. This site will use what is called “pin-yin” spelling system. This system is used on mainland China and in today’s newspaper articles and books. Previously, a system called “Wade-Giles” was commonly used. As I present each Chinese dynasty, I will first give you the pin-yin spelling. After that, in brackets, I will give you an approximation of the sound, using my own system. After that, in parentheses, I will give you the Wade-Giles version. You will probably see the Wade-Giles spelling if you consult older reference books. Put both the pin-yin and Wade Giles spellings into your permanent index. To pronounce the word Xia, you need to know that the “x” represents a soft, breathy “s.” For my version of the pronunciation, say “sya” gently. The Wade-Giles spelling is Hsia. Record as follows in your index: Xia [Sya] (Hsia). More on Chinese pronunciation. The next dynasty lasts from 1600 to 1120. The name of the dynasty is Shang. Pronounce it so the letter “a” rhymes with father. The Wade-Giles spelling is the same. So in your index you would write Shang [Shang] (Shang). Indicate in your index that this dynasty is also called Yin [een] (yin). This dynasty’s influence continues up to today, in that the Chinese expression for a Chinese businessman is a Shang person. The next dynasty is Zhou [Joe] (Chou), up to 221. As time passed, the individual states within the Zhou dynasty fought with one another. This was the “warring states period,” and it was during this time that Confucius lived, and that Sunzi (prounounced swun dzuh) wrote “The Art of War.” One of those states finally defeated the others to unite China and become the next dynasty, called Qin [cheen] (ch’in). It was during the Qin dysnasty that the Great Wall of China was pieced together from some existing walls. It has continued to be repaired and rebuilt over the years. Our English word China comes from the Wade-Giles spelling of this dynasty.  The Qin dynasty was short, lasting from 221 to 206. There’s no room to write it in the band, so write the word to the left of the band, in the Zhou part, with an arrow pointing to its narrow part of the band. The Han dynasty lasted 400 years, from 206 BC to 220 AD. (There was a brief interruption that you may choose to put onto your diagram: in the year 9 AD, a dynasty called the XIN [seen] (Hsin) displaced the Han, but the han regained control in the year 25. China then divided into many different dynasties. Some were in the south, and some were in the north, so designate that by drawing a horizontal line within the band right up to the year 589, writing N in the space above the line, and S below. Details are at footnote 2. In 589 China was united again by the SUI [sway] (sui) dynasty. It only lasted until 618. Again, the space is small, so just write a letter S in it. Then the TANG [tang] (tang) took over. That dynasty ended in 906. For the next 54 years China was again divided into many separate groups. Finally in 960 China was united by the SONG [soong] (sung) dynasty, which lasted up to 1279. Draw SONG in smaller print along the bottom half of the band, because In 1179 a tribe from the north conquered the northern half of China, and established the JIN [jeen} (chin) dynasty. You can show it by making a small inset within the Song band. During those years, the remnant of the Song was called the Southern Song. Both dynasties were ended by the Mongols in `1279. The Mongols, starting under Kublai khan, called their dynasty the YUAN [u-umlaut followed by en] (Yuan). That was the time when Morco Polo visited China. The Yuan ended in 1369, and was followed by the MING [ming] (ming), which ended in 1644. Djuring the 1600’s, some of the northern tribes united to form a new group which they called the Manchus. They defeated the Ming in 1644, and began a new dynasty called the QING [ching] {ch’ing), which was overthrown in 1911. China then became the Republic of China (write ROC). In 1949 the Communist Party defeated the ROC in mainland China, but the ROC under Chiang Kai Shek escaped to Taiwan, where they continue. The Communists called the part they ruled the People’s Republic of China (PRC). You can draw the PRC as an inset in the ROC. Though it is small on the diagram, it is the most populous nation in the world. That ends part 4. The diagram for Asia will appear after part 5. Here is the YouTube version of Part 4.

PART FIVE — KOREA AND JAPAN Please draw the Korea sequence right on top of the Chinese band. You could start again by drawing the entire band first, starting at 1 AD. Write “Korea:” just before the 1 AD crease, to the left of the Korea band. At 1 AD write CHOSON.. During the 100’s and 200’s, the country became divided into three separate.states. This can be diagrammed by drawing two horizontal lines during the space from 100  to 660. The three are named in footnote 3. One of the kingdoms conquered the other two in 690, so draw a vertical line there and write SILLA. In 932 it was replaced by KORYO, from which we get our word Korea. In 1259 the Mongols conquered Korea,, so draw a line there and writ M. Notice it is just above the Yuan dynasty inn China, which is the name for the Mongol rule there. In 1388 the country again came under Korean leadership, so draw a line and write in the next era, which is called YI. (another name for it is Chosen). In 1910, Japan took control of Korea, so draw a line and put a J. Japan had to give up Korea at the end of World War 2, so draw a line at 1945, and then to its right draw a horizontal line in the middle of the band, writing N above the line and S below, showing that Korea now became divided then into North Korea and South Korea. Please draw the Japan sequence just above the Korean sequence. Around the 200’s AD, write YAMATO. Then, within the 700’s, put an N. which stands for the capital city during the Nara period (711-791). For the rest of the diagram, please make two bands, one above the other, because most of the eras have at least two names: one is the name of a location, and the other the name of a family. For the period 791 to 1185, write HEIAN in the upper space, for that was the Capital City (it is also called Kyoto), and in the lower space write FUJI, standing for the name of the family that because dominant during the ere: the Fujiwara. For the era from 1185 to 1392, write KAM  for Kamakura in the upper space, for that is the name of the leaders’ military base, and MIN for Minamoto in the lower space, for that is the family name of the founding leader. (After his death, the leading family was the Hojo family). For the era from 1392 to 1603, write MUR for Muromachi in the upper space (it was the district that the leaders were based in), and ASH for Ashikaga, the name of the predominant family. If you want to add more detail, the 30 years prior to 1603 was called the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Those are both names of castles). Then, for the period 1603 to 1868 write EDO in the top space. it was the capital city for that era; we now call it Tokyo. In the \lower space, write TOK for Tokugawa, the name of the predominant family. During the Three major eras you have just filled in, the emperor was basically a figurehead, and the actual ruling was done by military leaders, called Shoguns. That is why these eras are sometimes called “shogunates.” In 1868, the emperor at the time took power back from the shoguns and began a period of modernization. In the upper space write TOK for Tokyo, the capital city, and in the lower space write MEI for Meiji, the name of the emperor. With his death in 1911, the Meiji period comes to an end. INDIA We will add some highlights of India just below the China line. Before 2000 BC, the Indus Valley Civilazation developed around the Indus river. Draw it by making a loop with an arrow point to the left. Inside write IND VAL, and that it started around 2500 BC. That civilization is also called Harappan. The English word India is taken from the name of the Indus River, and so is our adjective Hindu, formed by adding an H in front of the River’s name. The Indus Valley civilization came to an end sometime before 1500 BC. At the 1500 BC mark, make a vertical dotted line, and write ARYAN INVASION. That invasion came from the north, from Central Asia. The invaders brought new gods and concepts that mixed with the ones already found in India. the inter-action has resulted in Hinduism, the collective names for the religions that developed in India. The invaders, by dominating the original population, also started the caste system. Scholars noted that the invader’s language, Sanskrit, has some similarity to words found in Iran, in the Hittite language, and to many languages found in Europe. They have proposed that all these languages have a common origin, and have named that common source “Indo-European,” which simply means it is found both in India and Europe. For much of the time, India was ruled by small indpendent states. We will draw in a few times when large parts of India were united into empires. the ones we will draw were based in north India, and each one conquered some but not all of southern India. For the first one, make a band from 321 BC to 185 BC, and inside write MAU, for the Mauryan empire. Make another band from the 320 AD to 500 AD, and write GUP, for the Gupta empire. Muslims immigrated to India starting already in the 700’s. Draw a line at 1562, and after it write MOG  for Mogul, a Muslim empire that took control of much of India. The name of this empire is also spelled Mughal. One of its leaders built the Taj Mahal during the mid 1600’s. As it’s power began to fade in the 1700′,s the control of the British was gradually increasing, so within the band draw a diagonal line starting at the bottom line in 1600 and moving up to hit the top line in 1858, the year when India was officially added to the British Empire. Write BR for Britain under that line. India became independent in 1947, so draw a vertical line showing the end of  British rule.  Tt that time the area around the Indus River became a separate country, Pakistan. Pakistan is mostly Muslim, but there are still also a lot of Muslims within India itself. In 1971 the Muslim area at the east edge of India, which had been part of Pakistan since 1947,  separated to become the country of Bangladesh. You may indicate these divisions by drawing horizontal lines up to the edge of the paper. See the options section when you are ready to add more details about India. Below is how the Asia part of your time line should look. Here is the Korea/Japan sequence on YouTube.

The following map shows china, Japan, and Korea.
PART SIX — THE AMERICAS On the YouTube version, I drew the Americas half-way down the bottom half of the paper. Now I recommend that you put the Americas on a crease close to the bottom of the paper, so you can put Africa directly under the material you drew along the center crease. this will allow you to see the inter-connections between Egypt and the empires of western Asia/ For the Americas, make a crease about an inch above the bottom of paper. Since most of the larger and longer-lasting entities are found either in or near Mexico or in or near Peru, please write Mexico on that crease, and Peru below it. The first band to draw on the Mexico sequence, writing just above the crease, starts around 1500 BC, and continues to 600 BC. Drawing a vertical line to end an empire doesn’t mean that the people stop existing, just that the empire has now reached the end of its time of predominance. Inside this first band write OLMEC. Then, above the Olmec band, starting at 800 BC make a band that lasts to 700 AD, and label it ZAPOTEC. Under that,that is, n the crease. make a band from 300 AD to 700 AD, and write TEO. That stands for the Teotihuanaco Civilization. Note that the Zapotec and Teotihuanaco end at the same time.  The Toltecs then became dominant — write that name after 700 AD. In the 900’s, a war-like tribe, the Chichimec, was beginning to raid throughout Mexico. Write their name above the Toltics, but without making a band. The Chichimec group defeated the Toltec around 1200. . After the collapse of the Toltecx. the Aztecs moved to central Mexico, and developed their civilization, which is dated starting at 1325. The Spanish conquered the American peoples starting round the 1520’s so draw a dashed vertical line at that date, extending both above and below the crease, writing SP to the right of that line. Then write the word AZTEC after Toltec, but so it fits before that dashed line. Meanwhile, the time of greatest flourishing for the Maya was in Guatemala from AD 300 to 900, so make a bar or shape for them just above the Zapotec line. After 900, many Mayans moved to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, and that is where the Spaniards found them and conquered them. So after 900, continue the Mayans as a dotted line, and end the line at the dashed vertical line. The Maya still exist in Mexico. For the Peru sequence, to be written just below the line, we will for the most part write names without making bands. Many of these civilizations existed at the same time, but in different parts of western South America. At 1000 BC write CHAVIN.  Then starting around 300 BC write PARACAS.  At 200 AD, write NAZCA, and jsut below it, write MOCHICA. Just below that, you can make a band lasting from 300 AD to 1000 AD, for the Tiahuanaco civilization. One of their major cities was Huari. You could write TIA/HUARI in the band. Make a dotted line from the Mochica extending to the right to 1000 AD, and their write CHIMU. The Incas formed and began expanding after that. Their empire is dated from 1438. Draw INCA so it fits before the Spanish dashed line. The Inca conquered the Chimu. To represent North America, we will first write in three civilizations that together are called the “mound builders”  Write these names one after another, without making a band, above the Mexico material. At 700 BC  write ADENA (It was centered in Ohio). Then starting about 300 BC write HOPEWELL (centered in the midwest.)  At 500 AD write MISSISSIPPIAN, which was centered in the southern US. To represent the many gruops in the southwest, wrote ANASAZI aound 800 AD. That is the commonly-used name for the ancestors of today’s Pueblo-building peoples (Anasazi is a Navajo word that means “Ancient Ones.), The term refers to the settlements that developed around the 4-corners area (where the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico converge), noted for building stone houses in the clefts of canyon walls. One of those settlements, at Mesa Verde, reached its high point in the 1300’s, but soon after that was deserted. It is presumed that the peoples then moved further south to their present location. At the right of the dashed line, representing the Spanish conquest, writing just above the Maya line, draw a line starting in the 1600’s, with a diagonal going up from the same starting point, to represent the French and British colonizing in North America. Create a small band at 1776 for the year that the United States of America declared independence, and write USA within in.. Above USA, make a box for Canada, which received home-rule from Britain in 1867, and total independence in 1931, while still accepting the king or Queen of Britain as their king and queen. Under USA, and extending downward vertically to below the crease, draw a dashed line paralleling the Spanish dashed line, at about the 1820 point, for it was in the 1820’s that most of the present South American countries fought their wars of independence against Spain. to the right of the line, write LAT AM (Latin American countries). Below you can see what your diagram of the Americas should look like. Click here for the YouTube version.

PART SEVEN — AFRICA In a change sfrom the YouTube version, please draw a crease just below the material you drew along the center crease. Make a band along this crease to represent Egypt. We will begin with Egypt, and please start by making a band at the low edge of your paper, all the way from left to right. We will simply draw the vertical lines of divisiion within that band as we progress. Egypt became a united country around 3100 BC, so below the band you have drawn, make a loop with an arrow pointing to the left. In it write “Egypt united, 3100 BC.” That was the beginning of the First Dynasty. By the time we get to the third dynasty, Egypt enters into a major period of flourish called the Old Kingdom. Within your loop, draw a band, and in it right OLD K.  The dates are 2700 BC to 2180 BC. It was during the ealy part of the Old Kingdom taht the well known pyramids were built, in the 2500’s. Now we will draw within the band across the bottom of your paper. Draw vertical lines to create a space from 1900 BC to 1786 BC, and within it write MID K for Middle Kingdom. Then separate a space from 1560 BC to 1085 BC, and write NEW K for New Kingdom. It would have been during the New Kingdom that Moses led the people out of Egypt and into the wilderness of Sinai. In between the Middle and New Kingdom, one of groups that took control of Egypt was Semite invaders called Hyksos, so write HYK between those two kingdoms. During the 400 years after the New Kingdom, there were 4 dynasties, 4 DYN. (Details in footnote 4.) Then comes a thousand year period when Egypt is controlled by the countries you have already drawn on your center crease. As you copy them to the Egyptian band, make it a point to draw the country in line with the corresponding one above. The Persians included Egypt in their empire (write P). Then Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, and after his death it was ruled by his general Ptolemy and his descendants (write PT). Cleopatra was a member of the Ptolomy family. Since we associate her with the Roman Anthony, it is no surprise that Egypt next came under Roman control, from 64 BC to 661 (write ROM), when it came under the control of the Muslim Umayyad Caliphate. (During the years after 476 AD, it was the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) that controlled Egypt, except for a few years when Persia (the Sassanids) took control). Write ROM for Romans. At 661 with U for the Umayyads, then at 750 write AB for the Abbassids, then at 879 write M, for several other Muslim families that took control. Additional Muslim dynasties followed. [For details, see the diagram near the bottom of this page.] The Fatimids (FAT) took control in 980, then the Ayubbids AY) in 1189. The major Ayubbid leader was Saladin, who also controlled Jerusalem, and was the opponent of Richard the Lion Hearted of England during the Third Crusade. When the Mongols invaded western Asia, they did not conquer Egypt, but at the time a class of Turkish slaves rose to power, and established the Mamluk dynasty (MAM) from 1250 to 1517, when the Ottoman Turks defeated them (OTTO). You already know that the Ottoman Empire came to an end at World War I. The following African kingdoms will be drawn below the Egypt band. Another African country that continued through most of the period on our paper was Ethiopia, also known as Abyssinia. We will end with a few of the larger and longer lasting empires and kingdoms that developed in West Afria. Draw an oval from 1500 AD to 1300 AD. The part of that oval before 1000 AD was the kingdom of Ghana (GHANA), and after 1000 the same general area was controlled by the kingdom of Mali (MALI). Starting around 1500, write Songhai, below it write Hausa, and indented from the write Fulani. By that time the colonial history of Africa was under way. Below is the diagram for Part Seven, the last part.

Here is the link to the YouTube video.

More options and details follow, but here is the complete diagram. This diagram is different than the YouTube version, in that the Americas are placed at the bottom so that Egypt can be closer to the middle. It also includes the names of the additional  Iranian and Egyptian eras that are explained below in the Optional Details section.


Abbreviations for above, page one

Abbrviations for above, page two


By now you probably have thought of additional countries that you could add. You are encouraged to add as many as you would like, but because there is limited room on the paper, I recommend you develop separate pages that give close-ups of certain time periods and continents, or even century pages. Here are three learning methods to help you:


By memorizing one famous person in each century, you can internalize a framework upon which you can add more detail.
Here’s an easy way to proceed:  Go to Explanation

On a century page, you will combine ribbons from the diagram with the names of key people and events of that century.   Go to explanation
You learn them by listing them on a 10-century form that helps you memorize by space and location. Go to Explanation


More details on Iran. You have drawn a band with four sections where Iran became independent from the Abbassid Caliph. The Tahirids (T) ruled from about 800 to 870, and then the Samanids (Sa) from 870 to about 1000. You have already drawn in S in the third section, indicating the rule of the Seljuk turks.  Around 1140 they were defeated by an Iranian group, the Khwarezm Shahs (indicate as KS),  Around 1220 the Saljuks defeated the Shahs, leaving both groups too weak to resist the Mongols.

The European conquest of the Byzantines. In1204, during the fourth crusade, the Europeans defeated the Byzantines and ruled their territory until 1261. They called their rule the “Latin Kingdom of Constantinople.” You may show this by writing an L in the lower part of the Byzantine band in the 1200’s.

Of the four dynasties after the New Kingdom of Egypt, two were invaders from outside Egypt: one Libyan and one Cushite (the country south of Egypt). The dynasties are:  TANITE, 1085 to 970, (it is named after the Egyptian city of Tanis), then LIBYAN to 760, then CUSHITE to 650, (they ruled in the southern half of Egypt while the Assyrians controlled the northern half) then SAITE to 545 (named after the Egyptian city of Sais).

Japan detail. The 30 years prior to 1603 was called the Azuchi-Momoyama period. (Those are both names of castles).

More India details. Of the many smaller groups that appeared, you could add these, and then add more as you study India. In the space around 1AD, write Kushan. Under the gupta band, write Pallava, thena after it around 500 AD write Chola. From 1206 there were many separate Muslim states, called the Sultanates of Delhi.  Under the Mogul band, write Maratha.

Spain. Draw a band for Spain under and the same length as the band for the Angles. The Germanic tribe that ended up in Spain was the Visigoths, so write VISI at the beginning of the band. The Umayyad dynasty conquered Spain by crossing over from northern Africa, so draw a vertical line ending the Visigoth period and draw a U to the right of it. A sequence of Muslim groups continued to rule in Spain, but the Christian rulers who remained in the far north of the country over the next 500 years gradually took back control of the country. Show this by drawing a diagonal line starting around the 900’s at the bottom line of the band, and ending up in 1492 at the top of the band. Under the line write Chr, to represent the Christian rulers, and at the end of the band, by the right edge of the paper, write SP for Spain.

Arab Kingdoms. The diagram below shows the many small states that ruled parts of the Muslim world starting with the Umayyad Caliphte:

Arab Caliphates


CHINA — THREE KINGDOMS. The diagram below shows the Chinese groups that ruled after the end of the Han Dynasty: 3 kingdoms and 6 dynasties.

CHINA AFTER TANG. The diagram below shows the many gruops that ruled in Chna after the Tang dynasty ended.  China 5 dynasties and 10 kingdoms


1. It was in the 500’s that someone (named Dionysius Exiguus) got the idea of numbering the years starting from the time of Christ. That’s what is commemorated by the use of the initials AD (those snd for the Latin Words Anno Domini, which means “the year of the Lord” with BC then being read as “before Christ.”) Many scholars today use CE (reading it as “common era”) to label the time period from Christ to the present, and then title the period before Christ as BCE (before common era). In estimating the time when Augustus was emperor, he was about 6 years off, so that is why we now commonly present the date of the birth of Christ as about 6 or 7 B.C.

2. After the end of the Han dynasty, China was divided into 3 kingdoms, called Wei, Shu Han, and Wu. Later these combined and the result was called Western Jin. After that the north and south had different dynasties. In the north, most of the time span was a dynasty called Toba, or Northern Wei. In the south, the succession os dyansties was: Eastern Jin, Luiu Song, Southern Qi, Lian, and Southern Chen. See diagram above.

3. The Three kingdoms in Korea were Silla, Paekche, and Koguryo.


Timeline Chart of World History by John Sparks. Many pages fold out to give colored bands on which are printed names of famous peole and events. The accompanying book has an essay about each of several of the major civilizations. This link also mentions other similar books. Sometimes you can find this book on discount book tables.

Read the  Author’s introduction to these pages

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