World 200 CE

Great religions spread along the trade routes of the Eastern Hemisphere. Meanwhile one of the largest cities in the whole world now flourishes in the Western Hemisphere.

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World history in 200 CE - the ancient world at its height

The great empires of Rome, China and India almost straddle Eurasia from east to west.

Europe and the Mediterranean

The Roman empire is at its height, but is just about to enter its long decline. It has given its inhabitants two centuries of almost unbroken peace, and so, like the Han dynasty in China, ranks as one of the longest periods of peace in world history. The appearance of Roman merchants in south Chinese ports shows the strength of trade links between different parts of the Eastern Hemisphere by this time.

East Asia

The Chinese Han empire, however, is already in steep decline, and will not last for much longer. The Han empire still dominates eastern central Asia, despite its internal weaknesses. One group of Huns, refusing Chinese overlordship, has moved westward. In due course they will reappear in history as attackers of the Roman empire under their fearsome king, Attila.

South Asia

The Kushanas have succeeded the Scythians in ruling a huge empire stretching from central Asia into India. Their state plays a major role in global history by acting as the base for the spread of Buddhism to China and East Asia.

The Middle East

Another great state whose end is fast approaching is the Parthian empire, which has ruled much of the Middle East for the past 300 years (though without the stability of the Roman and Han empires).

To the west, the small land of Judaea has been the springboard of the spread of two major religions. Christianity is finding millions of converts throughout the Roman and Parthian empires. At the same time, the Jewish people are now experiencing the early stages of their Diaspora, which by this time has also reached the frontiers of Rome and Parthia. The Jews will play a major role in the history of Europe, particularly in the development of commerce and finance.


Trade links are being extended in West Africa, where Berber traders are pioneering the trans-Saharan trade routes, with the vital aid of camels.

To the south, the Bantu migration is now moving down into southern Africa.

South East Asia and Oceania

Indian-style kingdoms are emerging in South East Asia.

In the Pacific, a variety of different societies are emerging on the numerous islands.

The Americas

In central America, the Mayan civilization is on the rise, while in Mexico one of the largest cities of the pre-Columbian Americas, Teotihuacan, is in its pomp.

In South America, the Moche civilization is now flourishing, bringing Andean urban culture to new heights.


Two developments stand out in this period as highly significant for the history of world technology. Paper has been invented in Han China. This will make the dissemination of written information much easier and cheaper. The heavy plow probably appears about now in northern Europe. This will be of great importance in opening up the heavy clay lowlands of the region to arable farming, and so be one the keys to future European growth.

Next map: the world in 500 CE

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World history

The Steppe peoples of Central Asia

For details of the different civilizations, click on the relevant timeline above. 

More ‘Dig Deeper’ links may be found in the regional maps. To access, click on the markers in the world map.

Premium Units

China in late Han times

India at the time of the Kushana empire

The Rise and Fall of the Roman empire

World Trade in 200 CE






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