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1st Century

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Title: 1st Century  
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1st Century

Millennium: 1st millennium
Decades: 0s 10s 20s 30s 40s
50s 60s 70s 80s 90s
Categories: BirthsDeaths
AD 1, map of Eurasia with the Roman Empire (red), Parthian Empire (brown), Chinese Han dynasty (yellow) and other states/areas with smaller states (white)
Eastern Hemisphere in AD 50, in the middle of the 1st century
Eastern Hemisphere in AD 100, at the end of the 1st century

The 1st century was the century that lasted from 1 to 100 according to the Julian calendar. It is often written as the 1st century AD[1] or 1st century CE to distinguish it from the 1st century BC(E) which preceded it. The 1st century is considered part of the Classical era, epoch, or historical period.

During this period Europe, North Africa and the Near East fell under increasing domination by the Roman Empire, which continued expanding, most notably conquering Britain under the emperor Claudius (43). The reforms introduced by Augustus during his long reign stabilized the empire after the turmoil of the previous century's civil wars. Later in the century the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which had been founded by Augustus, came to an end with the death of Nero in 68. There followed the famous Year of Four Emperors, a brief period of civil war and instability, which was finally brought to an end by Vespasian, 9th Roman emperor, and founder of the Flavian dynasty. The Roman Empire generally experienced a period of prosperity and dominance in this period and the 1st century is remembered as part of the Empire's golden age.

In the Roman province of Judea, the 1st Century saw the appearance of Christianity. Some scholars maintain this occurred after the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus Christ while others express doubts of the historicity of the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[2]

China continued to be dominated by the Han Dynasty, despite a 14-year interruption by the Xin dynasty under Wang Mang. Han rule was restored in 23; Wang Mang's rule represents the watershed between the Western/Former Han and the Eastern/Later Han. The capital was also moved from Chang'an to Luoyang.

Regional Events and Politics


The skeleton called the "Ring Lady" unearthed in Herculaneum, one of the victims of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79

Significant people

Bronze statue of Augustus, Archaeological Museum, Athens.
Bust of Caligula.

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

  • Codex, the first form of the modern book, appears in the Roman Empire
  • Year 78—the beginning of the Saka Era used by South Asian calendars.
  • Bookbinding
  • Various inventions by water organ, and various other water-powered machines.
  • In 31, the Han Dynasty Chinese engineer and statesman Du Shi (d. 38) from Nanyang invented the first-known hydraulic-powered bellows to heat the blast furnace in smelting cast iron. He used a complex mechanical device that was powered by the rushing current against a waterwheel, a practice that would continue in China.
  • Although Philo of Byzantium described the saqiya chain pump in the early 2nd century BC, the square-pallet chain pump was innovated in China during this century, mentioned first by the philosopher Wang Chong around 80 AD. Wang Chong also accurately described the water cycle in meteorology, and argued against the mainstream 'radiating influence' theory for solar eclipses, the latter of which was accepted by many, including Zhang Heng.
  • The Chinese astronomer Liu Xin (d. 23) documented 1080 different stars, amongst other achievements.
  • End of 1st century – codex replaces the scroll.


According to the New Testament, during the reign of Tiberius, Jesus, a Jewish religious leader from Galilee, was crucified in Jerusalem on the charge of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God. But God raised him from the dead[3] three days later, see Resurrection of Jesus. Over the next few decades his followers, following the Great Commission, including the apostle Paul, carried his message throughout the Greek-speaking regions of Asia Minor, eventually introducing it to Rome itself. Roman rulers began to persecute the new sect almost immediately (the emperor Nero accused the Christians of starting the fires that destroyed much of Rome in 64 AD), and would continue to do so for centuries, sometimes vigorously, and other times passively. Christian tradition records that all of Christ's apostles except John the Evangelist suffered martyrdom.

In the 4th century, Christianity was eventually taken up by the emperor Constantine, although one of his successors Julian the Apostate renounced it for paganism and again persecuted the Church. However, by the end of the 4th century, Emperor Theodosius I proclaimed Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire.

Decades and years


  1. ^ This in violation of the general rule that the abbreviation AD should precede the date in question.
  2. ^ Historicity of Jesus
  3. ^ Acts 2:24, Acts 2:32, Acts 3:15, Acts 3:26, Acts 4:10, Acts 5:30, Acts 10:40, Acts 13:30, Acts 13:34, Acts 13:37, Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 6:14, 1 Corinthians 15:15, Galatians 1:1, Colossians 2:12, 1 Peter 1:21
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