The 100 Most Important Events in Human History

For those who don’t have time to wade through the entire Timeline of Human History, I have created a list of the 100 most important events in human history by collecting and combining several lists of 10, 25, 50 or 100 “most important events” or “events that changed the world” from the Internet and combining them into one meta-list, which is presented below in chronological order.  As with many such lists, the results are unlikely to win universal approval. For example, I find the list biased toward Western (in particular American) civilization and overly focused on war, religion and dead white men.  There is also a bit of “comparing apples to oranges” because some of the important events happened in an instant and others occurred over many years or decades.  Despite these caveats, I think it is safe to say that all the events listed here are important to understanding human history.  

1.  The Agricultural Revolution: Humans Domesticate Plants and Animals: c. 11,000-4,000 BCE
— c. 20,000 BCE: Earliest evidence of humans exerting some control over wild grain (Israel)
— c. 11,000 BCE: Planned cultivation and trait selection of rye (Syria); evidence of domestication of lentils, vetch, pistachios and almonds (Greece)
— c. 9,500 BCE: By  this time, eight key crops (emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chickpeas and flax) have been domesticated in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey)
— c. 9,100 BCE: Oldest known agricultural settlement, at Klimonas (Cyprus)
— c. 9,000 BCE: Domestication of sheep in several locations in central and southwest Asia
— c. 8,000 BCE: Farming is fully established along the Nile River by this time (Egypt); rice and millet are domesticated in China; domestication of goats (Iran); domestication of pigs (Near East; China; Germany); domestication of maize and squash (Mexico)
— c. 7,000 BCE: Agriculture is well-established in Mesopotamia (Iraq); first evidence of agriculture in the Indus Valley (Pakistan, India); domestication of cattle in North Africa, India and Mesopotamia
— c. 6,000 BCE: First evidence of agriculture on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal); domestication of chickens (India; Southeast Asia); domestication of llamas (Peru)
— c. 5,500 BCE: Farmers in Sumeria have developed large-scale intensive cultivation of land, mono-cropping, organized irrigation and a specialized agricultural labor force (Iraq)
— c. 5,000 BCE: Domestication of rice and sorghum in Africa’s Sahel region (Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia)
— c. 4,000 BCE: Domestication of the horse (Ukraine; Kazakhstan)
— c. 3,700 BCE: Oldest known field systems, including stone walls (Ireland)
— c. 3,000 BCE: Earliest known use of the ox-drawn ard plow (Egypt)

2.  The First Cities Emerge in Mesopotamia: c. 4000-3000 BCE (Iraq)
— c. 5400 BCE: According to legend, the Sumerians create their first settlement in Mesopotamia at Eridu
— c. 4500 BCE: The Sumerian settlement of Uruk becomes the first city in Mesopotamia
— c. 2900 BCE: Uruk is the largest city in the world
— c. 2075 BCE: The Sumerian city of Lagash is the largest city in the world
— c. 2030 BCE: The Sumerian city of Ur is the largest city in the world

3. The First Wheeled Vehicles Appear in Mesopotamia, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus: c. 3500 BCE (Iraq, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania)

lubjlana marshes wheel and axle

The remains of the oldest existing wheel and axle, dating to 3000 BCE, were found in the Lubjlana marshes in Slovenia.

4.  The First Writing Systems Appear in Mesopotamia (Cuneiform), Egypt (Hieroglyphics) and the Indus Valley (Indus Script): c. 3200 BCE

5. The Ancient Egyptians Build the Great Pyramid of Giza for Pharaoh Khufu: c. 2560 BCE (Egypt)


The Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt was built as the tomb of Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu.

6. The Origin and Development of Modern Alphabets: c. 1850-800 BCE (Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Greece)
— c. 1850 BCE (or 1550 BCE): First evidence of the Proto-Sinaitic/Proto-Canaanite script, which gives rise to the Phoenician alphabet
— c. 1050 BCE: Development of the all-consonant Phoenician alphabet, which gives rise to the Semitic, Hebraic and Arabic scripts
— c. 800 BCE: The Greeks adapt the Phoenician alphabet by converting some of the letters to vowels; the Greek alphabet gives rise to the Roman and Cryllic alphabets


The Phoenician alphabet and the alphabets derived from it.

7. Babylonian King Hammurabi Issues the Code of Hammurabi, One of the Earliest Legal Codes: c. 1754 BCE (Iraq)

stele of hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi is engraved on an eight-foot tall diorite stele, with a portrait of the king receiving the laws from Shamash, the sun god. It is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

8. As Knowledge of Iron Metallurgy Spreads, the Bronze Age Ends and the Iron Age Begins: c. 1200-500 BCE
— c. 3000-2700 BCE: First evidence of smelting iron ore to make wrought iron (Iraq, Syria)
— c. 1800-1200 BCE: Evidence of smelting iron ore to make wrought iron in India
— c. 1500-1200 BCE: The Hittites are working iron in bellows-aided furnaces (“bloomeries”) (Turkey)
— c. 1200 BCE: The Iron Age begins in the Ancient Near East (Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine) and India
— c. 800 BCE: The Iron Age begins in Central and Western Europe
— c. 500 BCE: The Iron Age begins in Northern Europe and China

9.  The Rise of Ancient Greek Civilization: c. 800-336 BCE  (Greece)
— c. 800 BCE: The Greek Dark Ages end and the Archaic Period begins; the first Greek city-states emerge 
— 776 BCE: Traditional date of first Olympic Games athletic competitions
— c. 595-575 BCE: Solon institutes wide-ranging constitutional reforms in Athens
— 490 BCE: The Greeks stop the first Persian invasion at the Battle of Marathon
— 480-479 BCE: Greek city-states (led by Athens and Sparta) repel the second Persian invasion at Salamis and Plataea; Classical Period begins 
— 461-429 BCE: Pericles leads Athens during a golden age of arts and culture
—– 458 BCE: The Oresteia, a trilogy of tragic plays by Aeschylus, is performed in Athens
—— 440 BCE: Herodotus writes The Histories, an account of the Greco-Persian wars
—— 432 BCE: Completion of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens
—— 429 BCE: Oedipus Rex, a tragic play by Sophocles, is performed in Athens
— 404 BCE: Sparta defeats Athens, ending the Peloponnesian War
— 400 BCE: First articulation of the Hippocratic Oath for physicians
— 386 BCE: Plato opens the Academy in Athens
— 336 BCE: Aristotle opens the Lyceum in Athens

10.  The Rise and Fall of Ancient Roman Civilization: c. 753 BCE – 476 CE (Italy)
— 753 BCE: Legendary date of founding of Rome
— 509 BCE: Legendary date of founding of the Roman Republic
— 202 BCE: Rome under Scipio Africanus defeats Carthage under Hannibal at the Battle of Zama to end the Second Punic War (Tunisia)
— 146 BCE: Roman armies destroy the city of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War (Tunisia)
— 49 BCE: Julius Caesar and his army cross the Rubicon, starting Roman Civil War
— 44 BCE: Julius Caesar is assassinated in the Senate by Brutus, Cassius and others
— 31 BCE: Octavian defeats Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium, ending the Roman civil wars (Greece)
— 27 BCE: The Senate makes Octavian (later called Augustus) Imperator, effectively ceding power to him and marking the beginning of the Roman Empire
— 27 BCE-180 CE: Pax Romana, a period of relative peace in the Roman Empire
— 9 CE: In the Battle of Teutoberg Forest, Germanic forces led by Arminius ambush and destroy three Roman legions led by Publius Quinctilius Varus (Germany)
— 312 CE: Constantine defeats rival Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge to become co-emperor
— 313 CE: Co-emperors Constantine and Licinius issue the Edict of Milan, which makes Christianity legal in the Roman Empire
— 390 CE: Theodosius the Great issues the Edict of Thessalonica, which makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire
— 395 CE: Death of Theodosius; from this point, the Roman Empire is permanently divided between Eastern and Western portions
— 410 CE: Sack of Rome by the Visigoths under Alaric
— 476 CE: Flavius Odoacer leads a revolt that deposes Emperor Romulus Augustulus, marking the end of the Western Roman Empire

A map of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent, under Emperor Trajan.

A map of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent, under Emperor Trajan.

11.  The Life of the Buddha and Birth of Buddhism: c. 563-400 BCE (India)

12.  The Life of Confucius and Birth of Confucianism: 551-479 BCE (China)

13.  Alexander the Great Creates an Immense Empire: 336-323 BCE (Greece)
— 338 BCE: The Macedonians, led by King Philip II and his son Alexander, take Athens in the Battle of Chaeronea, giving Macedon power over all the Greek city-states
— 336 BCE: Upon the death of Philip II, Alexander becomes king of Macedon (Greece)
— 333 BCE: Alexander wins the Battle of Issus over Darius III of Persia (Turkey)
— 332 BCE: Alexander conquers Syria and Egypt
— 331 BCE: Alexander becomes ruler of the Persian Empire after defeating the Persians at the Battle of Gaugamela (Iraqi Kurdistan)
— 327 BCE: Alexander invades the Indian subcontinent (Pakistan)
— 323 BCE: Alexander dies at Babylon (Iraq)

Alexander the Great's Empire as of.

Alexander the Great’s Empire at its peak.

14. Unification of China under Emperor Qin Shi Huang, Who Begins Building The Great Wall:  221-206 BCE

45.  The Birth of the Modern Calendar: 45 BCE (Italy)
— 45 BCE: Reforms made to the Roman calendar under Julius Caesar create the Julian Calendar, with 365 days in a year divided into 12 months and a leap year every four years (Italy)
— 1582: Due to inaccuracies resulting from the Julian Calendar, Pope Gregory XIII issues the Gregorian Calendar, which reduces the number of leap years (Italy)

16.  The Life of Jesus and the Birth of Christianity: c. 4 BCE-70 CE (Israel)
— c. 4 BCE: Birth of Jesus
— c. 29 CE: Crucifixion of Jesus
— c. 50 CE: Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians is the earliest known Christian text

17.  The Life of Muhammad and the Birth of Islam: 570-630 CE (Saudi Arabia)
— 570 CE: Muhammad is born in Mecca
— 622 CE: Muhammad leads the Hejira from Mecca to Medina
— 632 CE: The Qu’ran is completed; Muhammad dies

18.  The Franks, Led by Charles Martel, Defeat a Umayyad Caliphate Army under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi at the Battle of Tours-Poitiers, Halting the Muslim Advance into Western Europe: 732 CE (France)

19.  Pope Leo III Crowns Charlemagne, Carolingian King of the Franks and the Lombards, as the First Holy Roman Emperor: 800 CE (France, Germany)

Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire.

Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire.

20. The Invention of Gunpowder and its Use in Weaponry: c. 800-1300 (China)
— c. 800: Chinese alchemists seeking an elixir of life produce gunpowder instead
— c. 904: First reference to the use of fire arrows (gunpowder-fueled projectiles) in warfare
— c. 1000: By this time, fire arrows, fire lances and rocket arrows are commonly used by Chinese armies
— c. 1110: First reference to a fireworks display using gunpowder-fueled rockets
— c. 1130: Bombs and cannons fueled by gunpowder have appeared in China by this time
— c. 1240: Knowledge of gunpowder spreads to the Middle East
— c. 1258: First evidence of gunpowder use in India
— c. 1300: By this time, gunpowder use has spread throughout Europe

21.  Norse Explorers Discover and Colonize New Lands in the North Atlantic: c. 870-1000 CE (Iceland, Greenland, US)
— c. 870: Norse explorers discover and colonize Iceland
— c. 986: Erik the Red and settlers from Iceland and Norway establish a colony on the west coast of Greenland  
— c. 1000: Leif Erikson establishes a short-lived settlement at Vinland in North America (Canada)
— c. 1510: By this time, the Norse settlements in Greenland have been abandoned

22. Norman Conquest of England:
1066 CE (UK)
— 9/28/1066: William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, crosses the English Channel and lands at Pevensey
— 10/14/1066: William defeats Anglo-Saxon King Harold II, who is killed at the Battle of Hastings
— 12/25/1066: After taking London, William is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey

23. The First University Is Established, at Bologna: 1088 CE (Italy)

24. The First Crusade: 1095-1099 (France, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Israel)
— 1095 CE: Pope Urban II calls on Christians to drive the Muslims out of the Holy Land by force (France)
— 1096 CE: The untrained mobs of the People’s Crusade march toward Jerusalem, massacring Jews across Europe, but are slaughtered by the Turks before they reach their goal 
— 1097 CE: The armies of the Princes’ Crusade gather outside Constantinople and march to the Levant (Turkey)
— 1098 CE: Crusader states are established at Edessa and Antioch (Syria, Turkey)
— 1099 CE: After a siege, the Crusaders enter Jerusalem, kill many of its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants, and establish the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Israel/Palestine)

25.  King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Empire Builds Angkor Wat; Originally Dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, It Became a Buddhist Temple by the End of the 12th Century: c. 1150 CE (Cambodia)

Angkor Wat (2)

A view of the Angkor Wat temple complex.

26. Shogun Minamato no Yorimoto Overthrows the Taira Emperor, Establishing the Kamakura Shogunate; Start of 675 Years of Shogunate Rule in Japan: 1192 CE 

27. Genghis Khan Establishes a Vast Mongol Empire, Which Is Expanded After His Death: 1206-1260 (Central Asia, China)
— 1206: Mongolian leader Temujin defeats his rivals and receives the title Genghis Khan, Universal Ruler of the Mongols (Mongolia)
— 1215: Genghis Khan captures the capital of the Jin Dynasty (China)
— 1221: The Mongols defeat the Khwarezmid Empire and take over Persia (Iran, Afghanistan)
— 1227: Death of Genghis Khan in battle against the Western Xia Dynasty (China)
— 1241: The Mongols defeat an army of Poles and Moravians at the Battle of Liegnitz (Poland)
— 1258: The Mongols capture and destroy Baghdad, capital of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate (Iraq)
— 1260: The victory of the Islamic Mamluks over the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut signals the waning of the Mongol Empire (Israel/Palestine)

Genghis Khan's empire.

The Mongol Empire during the life of Genghis Khan.

28. English Nobles Force King John to Sign the Magna Charta Restricting His Powers: 1215 (UK)

29.  Europe Hears Tales of the Far East From Marco Polo: 1271-1300 (Italy; Asia)
— 1271-1295: Venetian merchant Marco Polo travels through Asia with his father and uncle, probably going as far as China
— c. 1299: While in prison, Marco Polo relates stories of his travels to cellmate Rustichello da Pisa (Italy)
— c. 1300: Rustichello da Pisa publishes his version of Marco Polo’s stories as Book of the Marvels of the World 

30. The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Civilization: 1325-1521 (Mexico)
— 1325: The nomadic Mexica people found the city of Tenochtitlan on an island in Lake Texacoco (traditional date)
— 1428: A Triple Alliance is formed between Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan
— 1487: For the dedication of the Templo Mayor, Aztec Emperor Ahuitzotl sacrifices 20,000 prisoners of war to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli
— 1519: Tenochtitlan has an estimated population of 200,000-300,000, making it one of the largest cities in the world, when Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrives in November and meets with Aztec ruler Montezuma
— 1521: With the aid of local enemies of the Aztecs (including the Texcoco), the Spanish conquer Tenochtitlan and the Aztec Empire

A map of the Aztec Empire just before the Spanish invasion.

A map of the Aztec Empire just before the Spanish invasion.

31. The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) Devastates Europe, Killing One-Third of the Population: 1347-1348 (Europe)

32. The Renaissance: A Rediscovery of Classical Knowledge Brings About Innovations and Achievements in Arts and Culture: c. 1350-1600 (Italy, Europe)
— c. 1350: The Renaissance begins in Florence (Italy)
— c. 1410-1420: Florentine artist and architect Filippo Brunelleschi sets out the rules of linear perspective
— 1435: Leon Battista Alberti publishes Della Pittura, a treatise on painting
— c. 1436: Brunelleschi completes the dome of the Florence Cathedral
— 1452: Sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti completes the East Doors of the Florence Baptistery, known as the Gates of Paradise
— c. 1486: Sandro Botticelli paints The Birth of Venus
— 1501: Michelangelo completes his sculpture of David
— c. 1504: Leonardo da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa
— 1508-1512: Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome
— 1513: Niccolò Machiavelli writes The Prince, a treatise on politics


A portion of the frescoes painted by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, with the Creation of Man in the center.

33. The Inca People Create an Empire: 1438-1533 (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia)
— 1438: Formation of the Incan Empire
— 1476: The Incas defeat the Chimu civilization (Peru)
— 1532: Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro and 150 men set up a meeting with Incan ruler Atahualpa at Cajamarca, but instead take him captive and slaughter his 4,000 unarmed attendants

The Incan Empire.

The growth of the Incan Empire.

34. Johannes Gutenberg Invents a Printing Press Using Movable Metal Type and Oil-Based Ink, Bringing Inexpensive Printing of Books and Papers to the West: 1440-1455 (Germany)
— 1040: Bi Sheng invents movable type printing, but the technology does not travel to the West (China)
— 1377: Jikji, the earliest known printed book made with metal movable type, is printed in Korea
— c. 1455: The Gutenberg Bible is Gutenberg’s first mass-produced book

35. The Ottoman Turks Take Constantinople, Marking the Fall of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire: 1453 (Turkey)

36. Christopher Columbus Arrives in the West Indies and Claims the Land for Spain; European Conquest of the Americas Begins: 1492 (The Bahamas)

columbus voyages

A map of the four voyages Columbus made to the Americas between 1492 and 1504.

37. Portuguese Explorer Vasco da Gama Finds a Sea Route from Europe to India, Allowing Portugal To Create a Trading Empire: 1498

38. Spanish and English Explorers Returning to Europe Bring Back New World Foods, Including Tomatoes, Potatoes, Corn (Maize), Squash and Cacao: 1500-1600

39.  The Slave Trade: Enslaved African People Are Brought to the Americas: 1502-1619 (US, Haiti, Dominican Republic)
— 1502: Spaniard Juan de Córdoba sends one of his African slaves from Spain to Hispaniola (Haiti, Dominican Republic)
— 1510: King Ferdinand of Spain authorizes a shipment of 50 African slaves to be sent to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
— 1619: A Dutch ship brings 20 African slaves to the British colony in Jamestown, Virginia (US)

40. Martin Luther Sends his 95 Theses to the Archbishop of Mainz, Marking the Start of the Protestant Reformation: 1517 (Germany)

41. Suleiman the Magnificent Rules Ottoman Empire During Period of Great Expansion: 1520-1566 (Turkey)
ottoman empire under suleiman

42.  Ferdinand Magellan’s Expedition Is the First to Circumnavigates the Globe, Although Magellan Is Killed in the Philippines and Does Not Complete the Voyage: 1522

43. Polish Scientist Nicolaus Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres Shows that the Movement of Heavenly Bodies Is Best Explained By a Heliocentric Model (That Is, the Earth Revolves Around the Sun, and Not the Other Way Around): 1543

44.  England under Queen Elizabeth I Repels a Spanish Invasion by Defeating the Spanish Armada: 1588 (UK)

45.  William Shakespeare Writes Hamlet: 1599-1601 (UK)

46. English Colonists Establish Their First Permanent Settlement in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia: 1607 (US)

47.  Galileo Galilei Publishes The Starry Messenger, Which Announces a Series of Astronomical Discoveries Made Using a Home-Made Telescope: 1609-1610 (Italy)

48. England Undergoes A Civil War: 1642-1660
— 1642: After years of conflict, relations between King Charles I and Parliament break down and civil war begins
— 1645: The Parliamentary army wins a decisive victory over Charles at the Battle of Naseby
— 1646: Charles surrenders to the Scots, who turn him over to the English
— 1649: Charles is tried and convicted of treason, then beheaded
— 1653: Oliver Cromwell declares himself Lord Protector of England
— 1658: Oliver Cromwell dies; his son Richard becomes Lord Protector
— 1660: Charles II, son of Charles I, returns to England from France and restores the monarchy

49. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan Builds the Taj Mahal, a Mausoleum for his Favorite Wife, Mumtaz Mahal: 1632-1653 (India)

Taj mahal

The Taj Mahal.

50.  The Power of Steam is Harnessed in the Steam Engine: 1663-1801 (UK)
— 1663: Edward Somerset invents the first steam pump
— 1698: Thomas Savery designs an improved steam pump to pump water from mines
— 1705-1733: Thomas Newcomen invents the atmospheric engine, a more powerful steam pump, and teams up with Savery to build and distribute the machines
— 1765: James Watt invents a steam engine with a separate condenser that is five times more efficient than earlier versions
— 1776: Watt teams up with Matthew Boulton to build their first commercial steam engine
— 1799: Richard Trevithick builds a high-pressure steam engine
— 1801: Oliver Evans builds the first high-pressure steam engine in the US

51.  The Holy Roman Empire, the Hapsburg Monarchy and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Join Forces to Defeat the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna, Halting Ottoman Expansion into Western Europe: 1683 (Austria)

52. Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica Explains Universal Laws of Motion and Gravitation That Provide a Foundation for the Science of Physics Until Einstein: 1687 (UK)

53. Innovations in the British Textile Industry Spark the Industrial Revolution: 1733-1785
— 1733: John Kay patents the flying shuttle
— 1764: James Hargreaves invents the spinning Jenny
— 1767: Richard Awkwright invents the water frame
— 1775-1779: Samuel Crompton invents the spinning mule
— 1785: Edward Cartwright invents the power loom
— 1793: Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin (US)

54. The Boston Tea Party: American Colonists Protest New British Taxes by Throwing Tea in Boston Harbor: 12/16/1773 (US)

55. The American Revolution: 1775-1783 (US)
— 4/19/1775: The Battles of Lexington and Concord
— 7/4/1776: America Issues its Declaration of Independence from Great Britain
— 1777: British General John Burgoyne, surrounded and unreinforced, surrenders his entire army to the Americans at the Battle of Saratoga
— 1778: France signs a treaty of alliance with the US
— 1781: British General Cornwallis surrenders to George Washington, effectively ending the American Revolutionary War
— 1783: The Treaty of Paris officially ends the war between the US and Great Britain

56. The French Revolution: 1789-1799 (France)
— 6/20/1789: The Tennis Court Oath: Members of the Third Estate (the National Assembly) vow to stay together until they produce a new constitution for France
— 7/14/1789: Parisian revolutionaries storm the Bastille prison, a symbol of the monarchy’s abuse of power
— 8/26/1789: Declaration of the Rights of Man
— 1792: Wars between Revolutionary France and European powers begin
— 1/21/1793: King Louis XVI is beheaded
— 4/6/1793: The Committee of Public Safety takes control, exercises dictatorial powers
— 1795: The Directory is inaugurated

57. The Medical Revolution: 1796-1885 (UK; US; France)
— 1796: Edward Jenner uses live cowpox virus to create the first vaccine, for smallpox (UK)
— 1842: Crawford Long uses ether as an anesthetic in surgery for the first time in Georgia. but does not publish his results until 1849 (US)
— 1846: William Morton uses ether as an anesthetic in surgery in Massachusetts and receives credit for the discovery (US)
— 1860-1864: Louis Pasteur’s experiments prove the germ theory of disease (France)
— 1882: Robert Koch shows that a specific bacillus causes a specific disease (Germany)
— 1885: Pasteur is the first to use weakened virus to make a vaccine, for rabies (France)

58. The Birth of Rail Transport: 1802-1830 (UK)
— 1804: Richard Trevithick’s early steam locomotive pulls a train with 10 tons of iron and 70 passengers nine miles Merthyr Tydfil, to Abercynon in Wales
— 1812: Matthew Murray builds the Salamanca, the first commercially-successful steam locomotive, and runs it on the Middleton Railway in Leeds 
— 1813: Christopher Blackett and William Hedley build Puffing Billy, a steam locomotive, and run it on the Wylam Colliery Railway
— 1814:  George Stephenson improves on earlier designs with the Blücher
— 1825: The Stockton & Darlington Railway, the first public steam railway, opens; Stephenson drives his locomotive the Locomotion nine miles in two hours hauling an 80-ton load
— 1829: Stephenson’s new locomotive, the Rocket, wins the Rainhill Trials, a steam railway competition in Lancashire
— 1830: Opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the first railway to rely exclusively on steam-powered trains


An 1862 photo of the early steam locomotive Puffing Billy.

59. Enslaved People in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, Having Fought a Successful Revolution, Establish the New Nation of Haiti: 1804

60.  The Napoleonic Wars: 1799-1815 (France, Europe)
— 1799: Having successfully won many battles, General Napoleon Bonaparte is named First Consul of France and assumes sweeping powers
— 1804: Napoleon becomes Emperor of the new French Empire
— 1805: The French fleet loses to the British and Spanish, led by Admiral Horatio Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar (Spain)
— 1812: During the French invasion of Russia, Napoleon wins the Battle of Borodino and takes Moscow, but must eventually retreat after huge losses resulting both from Russian troops and the Russian winter (Russia)
— 1813: Napoleon’s forces suffer a major defeat at the Battle of Leipzig against a coalition of Russian, Prussian, Austrian and Swedish armies (Germany)
— 1814: Napoleon abdicates and is exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba (Italy)
— 1815: Napoleon escapes from Elba and raises an army, but is defeated by British and Prussian Armies Led by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher at the Battle of Waterloo (Belgium)
— 1815: Napoleon is exiled to the southern Atlantic island of St. Helena, off the coast of Africa

61. The End of the African Slave Trade and Abolition of Slavery: 1807-1888 (UK, US, Mexico, Brazil)
— 1807: The United Kingdom abolishes the slave trade
— 1808: The United States bans the importation of slaves
— 1824: Mexico abolishes slavery
— 1833: Slavery is abolished in the British Empire
— 1836: The Republic of Texas declares independence from Mexico and reinstates slavery
— 1865: The Thirteenth Amendment to the American Constitution abolishes slavery (US)
— 1888: Brazil abolishes slavery


The official medallion of the British Anti-Slavery Society.

62.  Spain’s Colonies in Central and South America Fight for and Win Independence
: 1817-1825
— 1817: José de San Martín defeats Chilean royalists at the Battle of Chacabuco, and enters Santiago, Chile
— 1819: The forces of Simón Bolívar defeat the Spanish at the Battle of Boyacá, which leads to the independence of New Granada (Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela)
— 1819: The Congress of Angostura creates Gran Colombia and Simón Bolívar is elected its president (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Guyana, Brazil)
— 1821: Bolívar’s win at the Battle of Carabobo guarantees the independence of Venezuela
— 1824: The Battle of Ayacucho ends the Spanish presence in Peru

63.  The Invention of the Telegraph Revolutionizes Communication: 1832-1840
— 1832: Pavel Schilling creates an electromagnetic telegraph (Estonia)
— 1833: Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber build the first electromagnetic telegraph used for regular communication (Germany)
— 1836: David Alter invents the first American electric telegraph
— 1837: William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone (UK), Edward Davy (US) and Samuel Morse (US) all independently develop commercial electrical telegraphs, but Morse’s system, with his Morse code, quickly spreads through the US
— 1840: American Alfred Vail improves Morse code

64.  Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Publish The Communist Manifesto, Which Explains History in Terms of Class Struggle and Proposes That Workers Unite and Overthrow Capitalism
: 1848 (UK)

65. Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species, which Proves that Natural Selection is the Mechanism of Biological Evolution: 1859 (UK)

A first edition copy of Darwin's Origin of Species.

A first edition copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species.

66. The American Civil War
: 1860-1865
— 1860: Election of Republican Abraham Lincoln as U.S. President leads southern states to secede
— February 1861: Seven southern states form the Confederate States of America
— 4/12/1861: Confederate soldiers fire on the Union garrison at Ft. Sumter in Charleston Bay (South Carolina)
— 1861: Following the commencement of hostilities, four more states join the Confederacy
— 1/1/1863: The Emancipation Proclamation frees slaves in rebel areas
— 7/1-3/1863: The Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg is the turning point of the war in favor of the Union (Pennsylvania)
— 4/9/1865: Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House (Virginia)
— 4/15/1865: Assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth (Washington, D.C.)
— 4/26/1865: Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrenders the Army of Tennessee to Union General General William T. Sherman (North Carolina)

67. The Meiji Restoration: Tokugawa Yoshinobu Abdicates to Emperor Meiji, Ending Shogun Rule in Japan: 1867 CE

68: Opening of the Suez Canal Linking the Mediterranean and the Red Sea: 1869 (Egypt)

69. Alexander Graham Bell Patents the Telephone: 1876 (US)

70. European Powers Colonize Africa: 1880s (Europe, Africa)
— 1830: France invades and colonizes Algeria
— 1884-1885: At the Berlin Conference, European leaders divide up Africa
1885: King Leopold of Belgium establishes the Congo Free State as a private corporate colony (Democratic Republic of Congo)
1895: France establishes French West Africa, a consolidation of eight French colonial territories (Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, French Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger)
1908: Belgium annexes the Congo Free State
1910: France establishes French Equatorial Africa from its central African colonies (Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Gabon)
1912: Italy forms the colony of Italian Libya from colonies taken from the Ottoman Empire

A map showing the colonization of Africa by European powers.

A map showing the colonization of Africa by European powers.

71. The Suffrage Movement: Women Fight For the Right to Vote
: 1893-1928
1848: The Declaration of Sentiments, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and signed at the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, calls for giving women the right to vote (US)
1872: Susan B. Anthony is arrested when she votes in the presidential election (US)
1893: The self-governing colony of New Zealand grants suffrage to women; Colorado becomes first US state to grant full voting rights to women
1903: Australia is the first sovereign nation to grant women the right to vote
1906: The Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire, becomes the first country to give women both the right to vote and to run for office
1920: 19th Amendment to the US Constitution grants women the right to vote
1922: Women obtain full voting rights in Ireland
1928: Women in the UK obtain full voting rights
1946: The nations of Cameroon, Kenya, Romania and Venezuela grant women the right to vote
2005: The Kuwaiti Parliament grants women the right to vote and run in elections
2015: Saudi Arabia grants women the right to vote and run for office

72.  The Invention of Radio: 1879-1901
— 1872: James Clerk Maxwell  establishes the mathematical basis for propagating electromagnetic waves through space (Scotland)
— 1879: David E. Hughes may be the first to intentionally send a radio signal through space using his spark-gap transmitter (Wales/US)
— 1880: Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Sumner (US) invent the photophone, a wireless telephone that transmits sound on a beam of light
— 1885: Thomas Edison (US) invents a method of electric wireless communication between ships at sea
— 1886: Heinrich Hertz (Germany) conclusively demonstrates the transmission of electromagnetic waves through space to a receiver 
— 1890: Édouard Branly (France) improves the receiver device
— 1893: Nikola Tesla (Serbia/US) develops a wireless lighting device
— 1894: Sir Oliver Lodge (UK) improves Branly’s receiver and demonstrates a radio transmission; Jagadish Chandra Bose (India) demonstrate transmission of radio waves over distance 
— 1895: After reading Lodge’s and Tesla’s papers, Guglielmo Marconi (Italy) builds a series of radio devices, including one that can transmit radio waves 1.5 miles; Alexander Popov (Russia) demonstrates a radio transmission
— 1896: Marconi moves to England and shows his device to Sir William Preece at the British Telegraph Service 
— 1897: Marconi patents his device and starts his own wireless business, which establishes radio stations at various locations
— 1898: Tesla demonstrates a remote controlled boat
— 1899: Marconi sends radio waves across the English Channel; Bose develops an improved transmitter and receiver; Ferdinand Braun invents the closed circuit system and increases the distance that signals can carry 
— 1900: Roberto Landell de Moura (Brazil) invents a radio that can transmit a human voice a distance of eight kilometers
— 1901: Marconi claims to send the first transatlantic radio message 
— 1906:  Reginald Fessenden makes the the first AM radio broadcast from Ocean Bluff-Brant Rock, Massachusetts (US)

73.  The Discovery of X-Rays: 1895
1875: Researchers first noticed a new type of ray emanating from experimental discharge tubes called Crookes tubes
1886: Ivan Pulyui (Ukraine/Germany) discovered that sealed photographic plates darkened when exposed to Crookes tubes
1887: Nikola Tesla (Serbia/US) begins experimenting with the new rays
1891: Fernando Sanford (US) generates and detects the new rays
1895: Wilhelm Röntgen (Germany) begin studying x-rays and announces their existence (giving them the name ‘x-rays’) in a scientific paper; Röntgen identifies medical use of x-rays
1896: Thomas Edison (US) invents the flouroscope for x-ray examinations; John Hall-Edwards (UK) is the first physician to use x-rays under clinical conditions
1913: William D. Coolidge (US) invents the Coolidge tube to generate x-rays, replacing the cold cathode tubes used previously

first x-ray

One of the first x-ray photographs was made by Wilhelm Röntgen of his wife Bertha’s hand, showing her wedding ring.

74. Orville & Wilbur Wright Fly the First Heavier-than-Air Powered Aircraft:
12/17/1903 (US)

The Wright Brothers' first powered flight, December, 1903.

The Wright Brothers’ first powered flight, December, 1903.

75. After Defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan Is Recognized as a World Power
: 1904-1905

76. Albert Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis: 1905 (Switzerland)
— 6/9/1905: Paper explaining the photoelectric effect by means of quanta
— 7/18/1905: Paper explaining Brownian motion provides evidence of atoms
— 9/26/1905: Einstein publishes the special theory of relativity
— 11/21/1905: Einstein shows the equivalence of energy and matter (E = mc2)


A photograph of Albert Einstein in about 1905, when he was working in the Swiss Patent Office.

77. World War I:
1914-1918 (Europe, Asia, Africa)
— 6/28/1914: Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo triggers war
— 5/7/1915: A German U-boat sinks the Lusitania
— 1916: Battle of Verdun; Battle of the Somme
— June 1917: The US enters the war
— December 1917: Russia leaves the war; makes major concessions in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
— 11/9/1918: German Kaiser Wilhelm abdicates
— 11/11/1918: An armistice ends the fighting
— 1919: The Treaty of Versailles redraws the map of Europe and imposes harsh terms on Germany

78. The Russian Revolution
: 1917-1922
— February and March 1917: The February Revolution: Massive uprisings lead to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II; a provisional government is established under Prince Georgy Lvov 
— September 1917: The Directorate rules Russia under Alexander Kerensky
— October 1917: The October Revolution: Lenin and the Bolsheviks overthrow Kerensky’s government and establish the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the first socialist state
— 1918-1922: Russian Civil War between Communists (Reds) and their opponents (Whites)
— 1922: 15 republics are united in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) 

Lenin speaks to a crowd in 1917.

Lenin speaks to a crowd in 1917.

79.  A Global Influenza Epidemic Kills 20 Million People:

80. The Invention of Television: 1925-1929
— 1925: Early television transmissions by John Logie Baird (Scotland), Charles Francis Jenkins (US), Bell Labs (US), Kenjiro Takayanagi (Japan) and Leon Theremin (USSR)
— 1926: Advances in TV transmission demonstrated by Baird and Kálmán Tihanyi (Hungary)
— 1927: Philo T. Farnsworth (US) patents first complete electronic television system; Herbert Ives and Frank Gray at Bell Labs (US) demonstrate a better quality images than prior systems
— 1928: Jenkins receives the first television station license
— 1929: Zworykin demonstrates both transmission and reception of images in an electronic system; Farnsworth transmits live human images

81. Global Depression Follows Crash of US Stock Market: 1929-1940 (US; Europe; Asia)
— October 1929: US stock market crashes
— 1930-1931: Widespread bank failures in US and Europe
— November 1932: US elects Franklin Delano Roosevelt as president
— 1933-1934: FDR proposes and Congress passes New Deal legislation

82. The Rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis: 1920-1939 (Germany)
— 1920: Hitler forms the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis)
— 11/8/1923: Hitler and the Nazis attempt to overthrow the government of Bavaria in the failed Beer Hall Putsch
— 1925: After being released from prison, Hitler publishes Mein Kampf
— 1928-1932: Nazi Party candidates win increasingly larger portion of the popular vote, but never a majority
— 1/30/1933: Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany
— 1933-1934: Hitler consolidates power; becomes dictator
— 1935: Nuremberg Laws strip Jews of German citizenship
— 1936: German troops reoccupy the Rhineland; Germany forms Axis alliances with Italy and Japan
— 3/14/1938: The Anschluss: Germany invades and occupies Austria
— 9/30/1938: In the Munich Agreement, Western European democracies allow Hitler to occupy the Sudetenland
— 11/9/1938: Kristallnacht: Jewish shops and synagogues are destroyed
— 3/15/1939: Hitler invades and occupies Czechoslovakia 

Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering wave to a torchlight parade in honor of Hitler's appointment as chancellor.

Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering wave to a torchlight parade in honor of Hitler’s appointment as chancellor.

83. Revolution in China: 1911-1949
— 1911: The Xinhai Revolution overthrows the Qing dynasty
— 1912: The Republic of China is established
— 1927: Civil war breaks out between the Communists and the Nationalists
— 1934-1935: The Long March
— 1937-1945: During the Sino-Japanese War, Communists and Nationalists join forces to fight their common enemy, Japan
— 1945: Civil war resumes 
— 1949: After defeating the Kuomintang, Chinese Communists under Mao Tse Tung proclaim the People’s Republic of China; Chiang Kai-Shek retreats to Taiwan

84. World War II: 1939-1945 (US, Europe, Asia, Africa)
— 9/1/1939: Germany invades Poland, triggering WW II
— 12/7/1941: Japanese surprise attack on US fleet at Pearl Harbor; US enters war
— 1/20/1942: The Final Solution: At the Wannsee Conference, Nazis make plans to exterminate the Jews (Germany)
— 1942-1943: Defeat of German armies by the USSR in the Battle of Stalingrad marks a turning point in the war (Russia)
— 6/6/1944: Allied Armies Invade Nazi-Occupied France at Normandy on D-Day (France)
— 5/8/1945: Nazi Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies
— 8/6, 9/1945: US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, leading to Japanese surrender

85. The United Nations Is Formed: 1945-1946 (Europe, N. & S. America, Asia, Africa, Australia)
— 10/24/1945: UN Charter takes effect, with 51 member nations
— 1/10/1946: First meeting of General Assembly (UK)

The first meeting of the UN General Assembly took place in London, UK on January 10, 1946.

The first meeting of the UN General Assembly took place in London, UK on January 10, 1946.

86.  The Digital Revolution: The Invention of the Digital Electric Computer
— 1833: Charles Babbage designs the Difference Machine but does not build it (UK)
— 1939: John V. Atanasoff and Clifford E. Berry create the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (US)
— 1940: George Stibitz and his team demonstrate the Complex Number Calculator
— 1941: Konrad Zuse creates the Z3 computer (Germany)
— 1943: Max Newman, Tommy Flowers and others build the Mk I Colossus (UK)
— 1944: The Mk II Colossus; the Harvard Mark I begins operation (US)
— 1945: Konrad Zuse develops the Z4; John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert create ENIAC (US)
— 1958: Invention of the integrated circuit (microchip) (US)
— 1965: Olivetti introduces the Programma 101, the first commercially produced personal desktop computer (Italy)

87. After Long Struggle, India Obtains Its Independence from the UK: 1947

88. The Cold War:
1945-1989 (US, Russia, Europe)
— 3/5/1946: Winston Churchill Gives “Iron Curtain” Speech (US)
— 1948-1949: US and UK overcome Berlin Blockade by USSR through the Berlin Airlift
— 1961: Building of the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin (Germany)

89. The Discovery of the Double Helical Structure of DNA: 1953 (UK)

90. U.S. Civil Rights Movement: 1954-1968 (US)
— 5/17/1954: The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated education is unconstitutional
— 12/1/1955: Rosa Parks refuses to sit in the back of the bus, sparking Montgomery bus boycott
— 1957: President Eisenhower sends US troops to protect black students attending Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
— 1960: First lunch counter protest in Greensboro, North Carolina
— 8/28/1963: Martin Luther King, Jr. leads march on Washington, makes “I Have a Dream” speech
— 9/15/1963: Four black girls killed in bombing of church in Birmingham, Alabama
— 7/2/1964: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act
— 2/21/1965: Assassination of Malcolm X
— 3/7/1965: Protest march from Selma  to Montgomery, Alabama
— 8/6/1965: President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act
— 4/4/1968: Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington.

91. The Vietnam War: 1955-1975 (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos)
— 1954: After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu ends French rule in Indochina, Vietnam is divided into North and South Vietnam
— 1955: North Vietnam begins guerrilla attacks on South Vietnam
— 1960: North Vietnam backs formation of the Viet Cong, which begins civil war in South Vietnam
— 1961: US President Kennedy sends military personnel and equipment to aid South Vietnam against the Viet Cong
— 1963: The US backs a violent coup in South Vietnam that results in the death of President Ngo Dinh Diem
— 1964: Congress authorizes the US to intervene in the war through the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
— 1965: First US combat troops land at Da Nang
— 1967: By this time, 500,000 American troops are stationed in Vietnam; anti-war protests erupt throughout US
— 1968: The Tet Offensive, a combined assault by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops, is a turning point in the war; later in the year, US soldiers commit the Mai Lai massacre
— 1969: Death of North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh
— 1970: US bombing of Cambodia revealed, sparking wave of protests and Kent State shootings
— 1971: The New York Times publishes the leaked Pentagon Papers
— 1973: The Paris Peace Accords end US involvement in the war
— 1975: Saigon falls, South Vietnam surrenders and Vietnam is unified as a single nation

92. Soviet Union Launches Sputnik, First Man-Made Satellite: 10/4/1957 (Russia)

93. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration Approves the First Contraceptive Pill: 5/9/1960 (US)

94.  Yuri Gagarin Becomes the First Man in Space: 1961 (Russia)

95. U.S. President John F. Kennedy Is Assassinated in Dallas, Texas: 11/22/1963 (US)

96. Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Land on the Moon and Walk on its Surface: 7/20-21/1969 (US, Moon)

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon is a 1969 photograph by Neil Armstrong.

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon is a 1969 photograph by Neil Armstrong.

97.  The Birth of the Internet: 1965-1995 (US)
— 1965: Lawrence G. Roberts and Thomas Merrill create the first wide-area computer network
— 1967: Roberts publishes a plan for the ARPANET
— 1968: Frank Heart’s team at Bolt Beranek and Newman builds packet switches called Interface Message Processors (IMPs)  
— September 1969: BBN installs the first IMP at UCLA, creating the first node; Doug Engelbart’s Stanford Research Institute (SRI) provided the second node
— October 1969: The first message is sent between UCLA and SRI
— December 1969: Four computers are linked in the ARPANET
— 1970: S. Crocker and his Network Working Group finish the ARPANET’s initial host-to-host protocol, the Network Control Protocol (NCP)
— 1971: The Merit Network and Tymnet networks become operational
— 1973: The first trans-Atlantic transmission occurs, to University College of London
— 1974: The International Telecommunication Union develops X.25 packet switching network standards
— 1977: Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington invent the PC modem
— 1978: The first online bulletin board
— 1979: Usenet and CompuServe are launched
— 1981: The National Science Foundation (NSF) creates CSNET and links it to ARPANET
— 1983: ARPANET computers switch from the NCP protocol to the TCP/IP protocol
— 1985: The first dot-com domain name is registered
— 1986: NSF creates NSFNET, which is linked with ARPANET
— 1988: Internet Relay Chat is introduced
— 1989: America Online (AOL) is launched
— 1990: ARPANET is decommissioned in favor of NSFNET
— 1995: NSFNET is decommissioned and replaced by networks operated by several commercial Internet service providers

98. The Cold War Ends: 1989-1991 (Europe, Russia)
— 11/9/1989: Opening of gates between East and West Berlin; demolition of Berlin Wall begins (Germany)
— 1989-1990: Fall of Communist governments in Eastern Europe
— 1990: Reunification of Germany
— 12/26/1991: Soviet Union is dissolved

Germans celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989.

Germans celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989.

99. The End of Apartheid in South Africa: 1990-1994
— 1990: South African President F.W. de Klerk lifts the ban on the African National Congress; ANC leader Nelson Mandela is released after 27 years in prison
— 1991: De Klerk repeals apartheid laws
— 1994: In the first multiracial elections in South Africa, Nelson Mandela is elected president

100. Al Qaeda Terrorists Attack New York City and Washington, D.C. With Hijacked Planes, Destroying World Trade Towers; US Declares “War on Terror”: 9/11/2001 (US)

september 11

September 11, 2001 – New York City.


Looking for a deeper dive into world history? 
Check out the Timeline of Human History:
Part 1: Prehistory to 1499
Part 2: 1500-1799
Part 3: 1800-1899
Part 4: 1900-1999
Part 5: 2000-Present