Timeline First States - Athletic Design


Each card describes a historical event or era, which you should try to date as precisely as possible by clicking on the timeline below it. You do not need any previous knowledge of ancient Rome. You will learn as you play - that is the intention anyway! But if you'd like a head start, you may spend a minute or two on the Crash Course further down on this page.



Your main task is to place the card event in the right order relative to the events already marked out on the timeline.

If you pick the correct interval (a stretch between two markers) you will get 100 Order Points. If you pick the wrong interval you will get zero Order Points and it counts as an error. Three errors mean Game Over.


You can earn additional Precision Points by picking a position at or close to the exact year in question. Precision Points vary between 0 and 100. A green marker is placed at the correct position and green gradient bar shows the total scoring span. (Note that a crowded timeline with tight intervals may allow for Precision Points even if you have chosen the wrong order.)


Finally there is a Time Bonus between 0 and 100 points based on the time meter on the card. Nothing happens when the time runs out so you can safely ignore it if you are yet not an expert.

The first states emerged around the great rivers of the Fertile Crescent where agriculture also began. The Fertile Crescent can be divided into three regions:

• Mesopotamia - the area between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.

• Egypt - the area surrounding the Nile River.

• The Levant - the area surrounding the Jordan River.

The Fertile Crescent

Mesopotamia 3200–1595 BC

The Sumerian culture in southern Mesopotamia invented writing. At first it was solely a tool for administrative tasks, like taxing the harvest, and was closely connected to the development of larger societies. Sumerian cities like Ur and Uruk came to rule their surrounding land and formed CITY-STATES.

Sargon of Akkad conquered and united Sumerian and Akkadian speaking areas. He thus created the world’s first EMPIRE (i.e. one rule over several cultures). It didn’t last long but the Akkadian language replaced Sumerian and became the spoken language for all succeeding city-states of Mesopotamia - from Babylon in the south to Assur in the north

Babylon would be the center of the next major empire. The Old Babylonian Empire is famous for the written laws of King Hammurabi and for its advanced mathematics. In 1595 BC, it fell to invaders from the mountains north and east of Mesopotamia.

Assur would later (see below) become the center of the brutal Neo-Assyrian Empire.

Egypt 2660–1070 BC

Egyptian writing is almost as old as Sumerian writing. Some believe it evolved independently, some believe the Sumerian system inspired it.

The Egyptian civilization was very stable due to the Nile’s yearly, predictable flooding, which made resource management easy, and due to its shielded position between deserts. Nevertheless there were turbulent periods, which historians use as break-up points for three main periods.

The Old Kingdom

The city of Memphis in the north was the center and it was here that the first pyramids were built.

The costly pyramids and pharaoh cult combined with a period of draught made the pharaoh unable to support his people. Civil wars ensued and local rulers arose.

The Middle Kingdom

When Egypt again was united, the society was less elitist and afterlife wasn’t reserved for the pharaoh only.

At the end of this period, people from Asia invaded and settled in the Nile delta. The Egyptians retreated south to the city of Thebes.

The New Kingdom

The invaders were eventually driven out, and not only was the Nile delta regained, but Egypt grew into an empire as it expanded into both the Levant in the north and Nubia in the south.

At the end of the millennium (c. 1200–1100 BC) there was a big and mysterious upheaval. Egypt declined and new powers arose. This corresponds to the transition between ‘Bronze Age’ and ‘Iron Age’.

The Levant 1100–587 BC

The Phoenicians rose in importance following Egypt’s decline. They were seafarers who traded all over the Mediterranean Sea and founded Carthage in 814 BC in today’s Tunisia. They invented an alphabet derived from Egyptian hieroglyphic consonants. Later it was adopted by the Greeks (who added vowels) and it would eventually evolve into the alphabet that this text is written with!

The Hebrews also took advantage of Egypt's decline. They founded the Kingdom of Israel, which was later split into two halves. The northern part was destroyed 722 BC by the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The southern part survived until 587 BC when it was conquered by a Neo-Babylonian Empire.

The Assyrians and the Persians 911–331 BC

From their base in northern Mesopotamia, the militaristic Assyrians created an empire, which stretched over the Levant and into Egypt. After about 300 years of ruthless rule, the Neo-Assyrian Empire was laid waste by the Babylonians, who once again had risen to power.

The Neo-Babylonian Empire was soon conquered by the Persian king Cyrus, who created an enormous empire from a base in the south of today’s Iran. The Persians allowed subordinate people to practice their native customs and religions. Still, they experienced revolts and were involved in a long war against Greece. The empire finally fell to Alexander the Great in 331 BC.