Scientific and Technological Events from 0 to 499 C.E.

© Copyright Andy Pepperdine, 2007 - 2014

Some of these entries need cross-checking against more citations.


Science event

Political event


Origin of Gregorian calendar


Origin of Ethiopic calendar

ca 30

Jesus crucified

ca 50

Manganese salts added to glass to make it clear  [1]

ca 60

Boudicca (Boadicea) leads revolt against Romans in Britain.

ca 62

Heron of Alexandria describes several labour saving gadgets, like steam engines, water clock, water fountain.


Origin of Modern Hindu Solar calendar.

Pliny the Elder leaves his Natural History on his death in 79.

Vesuvius erupts burying Stabiae, Herculaneum and Pompeii

ca 80

Pedanius Dioscorides writes first pharmacopoeia describing medical effects of 600 plants.

ca 100

Heron of Alexandria demonstrates a set of gears for doing calculations.

Parthians start to use the arch that becomes typically Islamic.

Evidence of extensive trade all across north America.


Cai Lun describes how to make paper (China). Discoveries still being made.

ca 110

Ptolemy writes his astronomical and mathematical text book (later known as the Almagest)


Zhang Heng invents seismograph and armillary sphere (China)

ca 180

Galen treats gladiators and dissects corpses; uses experience to write medical texts and develop surgical techniques.


Irrigation in Arizona to grow squash, beans and corn.

Romans introduce ploughs with iron coulters.

Law Code of Manu written down in India, in Sanskrit; translation and critique. Based on oral tradition of unknown age.

Bantu farmers reach south Africa

Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan completed

ca 250

Liu Hui comments on The Nine Chapters and shows he understands iteration and limits; adds justifications for the calculations. Finds an approximation to π accurate to 6 significant figures.

ca 260

Diophantus of Alexandria works on Number Theory, especially integer solutions of polynomials.


Pei Xiu draws map of China using NS/EW grid.

ca 300

Polynesians colonise Hawaii. This date is uncertain, but certainly before 800; 300 – 500 is probably a good guess.

ca 330

Pappus of Alexandria finds basis for projective geometry.

ca 400

Earliest known suspension bridge (San-ch'ihp'an, Himalayas); length: ca 120m.


An unknown Indian publishes the Lokavibhaga, a treatise on astronomy containing first indisputable use of a symbol for zero in the old world, although a number place system had been in use at several locations for a long time.

ca 460

Zu Chongzhi finds 355/113 for pi, accurate to 7 significant figures, and estimates length of the mean year accurate to 50 seconds.


Aryabhata (India) gives table for sin, and how to calculate them. Believes planets follow ellipses round Sun and estimates their distances, that they reflect light from Sun, and has correct explanation for eclipses.


[1] J. Emsley, Nature's Building Blocks – An A-Z guide to the elements, Oxford University Press, 2001

© Copyright Andy Pepperdine, 2007 - 2009

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