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2nd century BC

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Title: 2nd century BC  
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Subject: 1st millennium BC, 1st century BC, 3rd century BC, 100 BC, 19 BC
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2nd century BC

Millennium: 1st millennium BC
Decades: 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC
140s BC 130s BC 120s BC 110s BC 100s BC
Categories: BirthsDeaths
Eastern hemisphere at the end of the 2nd century BC.

The 2nd century BC started the first day of 200 BC and ended the last day of 101 BC. It is considered part of the Classical era, although depending on the region being studied, other terms may be more proper (for instance, if regarding only the Eastern Mediterranean, it would best be called part of the Hellenistic period).


Fresh from its victories in the Second Punic War, the Roman Republic continued its expansion into neighbouring territories, eventually annexing Greece, and the North African coast after completely destroying the city of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War. Rome's influence was also felt in the near east, as crumbling Hellenistic states like the Seleucid Empire were forced to make treaties on Roman terms in order to avoid confrontation with the new masters of the western Mediterranean. The period is noted for the emergence of a new arrogance on the part of the Romans, which manifested itself in provincial corruption, and a shameless lust for wealth and status among the privileged classes. The end of the century witnessed the reforming of the Roman Army from a citizen army to a voluntary professional force, under the guidance of the great general and statesman Gaius Marius—(Marian Reforms).

In East Asia, China reached a high point under the Han Dynasty. The Han Empire extended its boundaries from Korea in the east to Vietnam in the South to the borders of modern day Kazakhstan in the west. Also in the 2nd century BC, the Han dispatched the explorer Zhang Qian to explore the lands to the west and to form an alliance with the Yuezhi people in order to combat the nomadic tribe of the Xiongnu.[1]


Antiochus the Great of the Seleucid empire challenged Rome in the Roman-Syrian War
Empress Lü's jade seal, in the Shaanxi History Museum.
Bust of Antiochus IV at the Altes Museum in Berlin.
Mural from the tomb of Liu Wu whose principality was at the heart of the Rebellion of the Seven States
Coin of Menander I, the Greek king who ruled most of Northern India (c.150-130) and converted to Buddhism.
Cleopatra II ruled Egypt in co-operation and competition with her brothers Ptolemy VI and VIII for most of the century.
Gaius Marius dominated Rome in the final decade of the century...
Emperor Wu of Han was probably the most powerful man in the world at the end of the century

190s BC

180s BC

170s BC

160s BC

150s BC

140s BC

130s BC

120s BC

110s BC

100s BC

Significant persons

Emperor Wu of Han sent Zhang Qian to explore the west world and to discover other confederates against Xiongnu. Zhang Qian's travels are associated with the major route of transcontinental trade, the Silk Road.

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

Hipparchus' equatorial ring.


  1. ^ , The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. BurnhamSilk Road, North ChinaC.Michael Hogan,

Decades and years

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