This century is dominated by the rise of Rome into the major power of the Mediterrenean and European worlds as well as the emergence of another dominant Persian empire and the corresponding division of the Greek-ruled kingdoms between them. Elsewhere, the Maurya and Xin Dynasties of India and China fell, giving way to new powers that would take their place. Arabia was the setting of the conflict between Sabaea and Himyar. In Anahuac the Maya continued to centralize into major power centers and gradually overtook the Zapotec as the dominant force in the region. Peru recovered from the collapse of the Chavin culture and new societies gradually emerged to take its place.
The Homeland Falls
Following the defeat of the Aeacids and the division of their territory between the victorious allies, the other Greek states began to envy and fear the power of the Roman Republic within Greece. While everyone had gained from the war, Rome received the lion's share, taking much of central Greece as well as the two oracles of Dodonia and Delphi. The latter was particularly hurtful to the Greeks, who felt that the possession of the center of the world by anyone other than themselves was a grave insult to both themselves and their gods. While both the Antigonids and the Argead Hegemony did not trust each other, they understood that only together could they potentially evict the Romans from Greece.
Despite this, it took some time before tensions would devolve into open war. Rome was more focused on solidifying its presence in Africa and Hispania than it was expanding further east and the Greek states wanted to gather their strength for a war that they knew would be difficult. They also hoped that a great and terrible event would befall the Roman Republic at some point, allowing themselves to take advantage of the disorder and lessen the chances of defeat. Ultimately, the annexation of Carthage and the resulting instablity in the early 140s BC would give them the best chance and so they struck.
With most of Rome's assembled forces in Africa and the frontier provinces of Illyria and Hispania, the Greek forces expected relatively little resistance in their march against fellow Greek areas. Macedonian forces led by the Antigonids marched against Thessaly while the Argolid Hegemonic forces hoped to liberate Delphi and the rest of Aetolia. Roman forces were forced back a bit before they rallied and were able to hold the rest of the pressed frontiers, especially after a more conclusive Carthaginian settlement was reached by 155 BC, allowing the transfer of Roman forces to Greece. Additionally, the Romans gained the allegiance of the Attalids in Anatolia, promising them protection from the rising power of the Cappadocians further east.
Turning their attentions against the Antigonids first, the Romans marched from their strongholds in Epirus and coastal Illyria while the Attalids seized much of Antignoid Anatolia. Compressed on two fronts, the Antigonids collapsed by 151 BC, stretching Roman rule across the north of Greece to the shores of the Black Sea. The Argolids, possessing the greater untapped force of support compared to the Antigonids, were able to resist far longer even as they were unable to push further into Roman-controlled Greek lands. At the Battle of Copae in 147 BC, the Romans were able to break Argolid power, pushing past Thebes and entering the southern Greek lands. With no allies and a growing Roman presence, the Argolids were conclusively beaten at the Battle of Tenea in 146 BC and all of Greece was now subject to Roman law.
The Hawk and the Sun
Further east in the ancient lands still ruled by Alexander's descendants, new threats began to arise, both from their native subjects and each other. The Seleucids, while successful at defeating Ptolomaic attempts to annex their portion of Alexander's former empire, failed to return the favor and now struggled to defend their more porous northeastern frontiers against advancing Iranian tribes collectively known as the Parthians. While the Ptolomaic rulers would have loved to take advantage of this difficulty, they were ultimately unable to for reasons of their own. Native revolts in both the Ptolomaic Fertile Crescent and Argead Egypt proved to be difficult and ever-present threats for the their rulers, often prompting them to make the difficult decision of Hellenization to appease the Greek upper classes or assimilate for the peace of mind of their many subjects. Rarely did any specific policy prove effective in these scenarios.
In addition to these domestic struggles, both the Ptolomies and the Argeads waged long wars against each other in a bid to gain an upper hand in their regional struggles. For many decades, neither was able to weaken the other to the point of subjugation and never had their respective capitals of Bucephala and Alexandria fallen to the enemy. However, the regions that lay between those two capitals such as Judea and Phoenicia suffered constantly as they often switched hands. These two regions also happened to be the most restless of both realms, as their inhabitants frequently saw themselves back and forth in the hands of two foreign oppressors of the same kind.
Towards the latter half of this century, the struggle had begun to swing in favor of the Argeads, as their superior influence amongst Greeks and greater ability to mobilize armies faster than the more spread out Ptolomies began to take affect. Furthermore, the continued march of the Parthians put strain on the Ptolomaic border province of Mesopotamia, as Seleucid remnants fled the fall of their power base in Persia. While Mesopotamia and its major cities of Susa, Babylon, and Ptolomais Charax had yet to fall, the region was under increased threat and the Ptolomies had a greater difficulty in dealing with both the impending Parthians as well as the Argeads.
Starting at 167 BC, Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem became outraged at a series of edicts enforced by their Ptolomaic occupiers demanding that they worship the Greek gods and conform to standard Greek culture. Unable to accept these edicts because of their unique monotheism, the Jews revolted, led by a local priest by the name of Mattathias, who soon fled into exile. His son, Judah Maccabee, returned a year later to complete his father's work and drive the Greeks from Judea and restore Jewish practice to the land. Still unable to effectively resist because of the turmoil in their realm, the Ptolomies put up only meager resistance, allowing the poorly trained yet highly motivated Judeans to regain Jewish independence for the first time since their conquest by the Second Babylonian Empire.
Despite these constant wars, Greek civilization reached some of its highest points during this period. The cities of Bucephala and Alexandria were some of the largest and most sophisticated in the world at this time while Greek art, philosophy, religion, and other cultural elements had a presence from the Indus to Rome. Greek science, building off of previous discoveries by the Babylonians and Egyptians, continued moving forward at a remarkable pace, leading to several key discoveries such as the round Earth and the first description of a steam engine. Greek society, reviled as it was by some of the occupied, had reached a height that few in living memory had observed before.
A More Perfect Reunion
The aftermath of the Punic War had effectively left the Carthaginians at the mercy of Rome. Despite a nascent desire to level the city and scatter its inhabitants as slaves, no such thing was done and Carthage was consigned to be a mere and ineffectual puppet of Rome, unable to put up any sort of armed resistance. While Scipio Africanus languished in his new rule as Dictator-for-Life, Hannibal and his own descendants did their best to return Carthage back to the trading power that it once was. Over time, the power of Carthage's trade began to return, posing a new challenge to the Roman Republic, even as it maintained its presence as the dominant political force of the Western Mediterranean.
There were several key factors that made Carthaginians desire to revolt against Roman hegemony. While the annual payment of talents was something that could be done, especially as Carthage's economic might gradually returned. However, any border dispute had to be resolved by the Roman Senate, and since most of the disputes were with Numidians allied to Rome, they did not end in Carthage's favor. Additionally, Rome desired the plentiful fields of Africa that could provide much of Rome's growing need for grain. As a result, both sides had reasons for war.
Eventually war was declared between the two powers in 159 BC after Gisco II and his head general Hasdrubal announced that they would no longer be abiding by Rome's restrictions on disputes and waging war. They hoped that heavy Roman casualties would force Rome to reconsider the terms of the last war. While Carthage was united in the need for war, Rome was more split on how to react. Many in Roman society and the Senate wanted to punish Carthage and destroy it completely for its insurrection. Conversely, the majority of the Scipio family, including Scipio Africanus' son Scipio Aemilianus, who was chosen to lead the campaign, and Africanus' cousin Cornelius Scipio Nascia in the Senate, opposed destroying Carthage, believing that the destruction of Carthage would ultimately be detrimental to Rome's prosperity.
Roman forces soon forced Carthaginian skirmishers out of the countryside, placing Carthage under siege. With plenty of food stocks, the siege lasted years. However, Roman naval and martial might could not be denied and Carthage was ultimately forced to surrender two years later in 157 BC. As a result, Aemilianus was placed in charge of the occupied city and was largely free to decide its fate on his own, as the Senate was deadlocked and unable to decide. He ultimately decided to spare much of the city, only selling some portions of the population to slavery and returning most of the loot captured from previous Carthaginian campaigns, particularly from Sicily.
While sparing Carthage did have several noticeable benefits, namely the preservation of its rich fields and valuable harbor, there was also considerable unrest from both the upper and lower classes, requiring a large military presence to maintain order. This could not be maintained in the long run, as Roman forces were needed in Hispania and Greece for other more pressing conflicts. A new political situation had to be found that would allow the reduction of troops and the further integration of Carthage within the Roman Republic.
Soon enough, Aemilianus found a solution. By lobbying in the Senate and with his considerable familial and political connections, he successfully pushed for a limited gain of citizenship for upper classes of "cultured peoples" such as Carthaginians and Greeks in 155 BC. This allowed for Roman troops to be redeployed, as the sensibilities of Carthage's nobility was sufficiently mollified enough to reduce unrest. However, this provision was deeply unpopular amongst many of the lower classes of the Republic and particularly in Italy, where many native Italians still did not have such rights. This solution helped ease the issue, at least for now. Aemilianus also gained some political leverage from marrying Sophinisba, a daughter of the Barcid line. This act helped unite the upper classes somewhat, yet also angered many in both classes, leading to a still lingering tension over time.
Guardian of Europe
Following the Punic War with Carthage, Rome was now the undisputed power in the Western Mediterranean and a major player throughout the rest of Europe. Italy was united under Roman rule, all of European Greece was integrated, and Africa was dominated by it and its allies in Numidia and Mauretania. Rebellious tribes in northern Hispania and the Alpine regions continued to resist, but they did not possess the numbers to push into Roman territory, only slow the Roman advance. After consolidating its gains, Rome would eventually look north and east for further expansion and glory, with plenty of enemies for both.
Rome's size following the defeat of Carthage allowed it to fight multiple campaigns at once. While it was fighting against the Greek cities during and after Carthage's fall, Rome also began to deal with rebellions from the Lusitanian and Numantian tribes in western Hispania from 155 B.C. Over the course of fifteen years the Romans were ultimately successful at crushing the Lusitanian and Numantian rebellions despite the sacking of several Roman towns and outposts in the region. The victory solidified Roman control over Hispania except for the northern mountain tribes, gaining Rome access to Lusitania's vast mineral wealth and tin trade routes. Later on in 113 B.C. migrating tribes from Germany, the Teutones and the Cimbri, begun a war against Roman authorities in the northern Alps. A series of military defeats and corresponding reforms were required before the tribes could be defeated by 101 B.C.
WIth most of Europe's centralized and urbanized areas under its control, Rome became extremely wealthy. The upper classes of Roman society became equally so, turning their wealth into political power and ensuring the ire of the popular masses to most of them. The Scipio family, while still a powerful force, gradually declined in prominence as inner political issues emerged and the Scipios, more accumstomed to fighting Carthaginians than forging political situations, could not respond adequately. Scipio Africanus was appointed as Consul-for-Life but died in 183 B.C. His son Scipio Aemilianus had his political popularity sapped from his Carthaginian favoritism and slander because of his Carthaginian wife before also dying in 139 B.C. Following the Scipio family, their relatives the Gracci Brothers tried to take power and institute reforms aimed at redistribution of land and managing the urban poor, but both were assassinated by their political opponents. Two new rivals, Sulla and Marius, became the main political leaders, with Marius holding the upper hand because of his military reforms and victory over the Cimbri and Teutones.
Roman society also changed as it expanded, becoming more and more multicultural over time. Greeks, Carthaginians, Berbers, Iberians, and Illyrians all now populated the Republic, although only Roman citizens, a comparatively small social class, maintained any political power within the Republic's inner workings. Laws were passed by the Senate to distribute rights to "civilized" segments of the new Roman society, primarily Carthaginians and Greeks, but even these expanded benefits did not extend to political abilities like the right to vote or run for any office. The number of slaves also increased greatly, especially in Italy, allowing the Romans to create bigger and better buildings for their society even as social unrest amongst the slaves grew as well. Roman culture and technology also increased at this time, with some added influences from Africa and Greece, especially in terms of religion, philosophy, and scientific thought.
East and West
In Anatolia, the native culture managed to survive Alexander's conquest and the subsequent rule of his Greek successors. While most of the Lydian homeland was occupied, many Lydian nobles had fled to the northwest, where Greek rule was sparse. They set up a new kingdom in Cappadocia, where native Anatolians and immigrant Lydians and Lycians had settled during the closing decades of Lydia's empire. With the Diadochi focused more on uniting Alexander's empire and warring with each other as a result, Cappadocia was free to recover and prepare for war with the Greeks.
The new king Aribaeus, the first independent Anatolian sovereign since the fall of Lydia, settled in the prominent coastal stronghold of Sinope as his capital. Relations between Aribaeus and the Greek rulers, in particular the Attalids who ruled the rest of Anatolia, were cold. As such, Aribaeus gathered the shattered fragments of Lydia's military and began to formulate an army for Cappadocia. Based on Lydia's previous fighting style of a Greek-style Phalanx supplemented by lightly armed skirmishers, Aribaeus added cavalry that could function in both heavy cavalry and skirmishing roles and heavy chariots to hit enemy flanks. In this way Aribaeus hoped to bring more flexibility to the phalanx formation that Anatolian rulers had relied upon for centuries.
The Battle of Dioclea in 281 BC ended the impending Celtic threat to Anatolia and its rulers, Greek and Anatolian alike. While not part of the coalition to defeat the Celts, Aribaeus prayed that the Greeks would both win the battle yet also be crippled. In this Dioclea did not disappoint, and it even gave Aribaeus added time to gather a better force. However, the Greek forces were still too powerful, and it would take quite some time before the new military would be ready. Ultimately this would fall to Aribaeus' grandson, Artumparus, to succeed in this task.
At the Battle of Malos in 181 BC, Artumparus defeated the Attalids conclusively, repelling their invasion and expanding the borders of Paphlagonia further south. A few decades later, Artumparus defeated the Attalids again at the Battle of Antiokheia in 158 BC, forcing the Attalids to seek help from the Romans. Soon after much of Anatolia was returned to the control of native Anatolians, with the Greeks only holding the regions of Ionia, Phrygia, and a few isolated city-states and colonies along the southern Aegean and the Sea of Marmara. Rather than continue and try to expand into new territories such as Syria or Europe, the Cappadocian rulers decided to concentrate their power and return what they saw as strength and proper culture to western Anatolia, which had been considerably Hellenized in the decades of Diadochi rule.
Return of the Old Gods
As part of his efforts to restore "proper" Anatolian government and society, Aribaeus pushed through new policies affecting nearly all aspects of life. New coinage, laws, and systems of magistrates were crafted as well as public edicts regarding more social aspects such as dress, language, and ettiquete. The pantheon of Anatolian gods and accompanying rituals was standardized, with gods chosen from both the more urban western areas like Lydia and others picked from the more rural and traditional areas like the Cappadocian and Paphlagonian hinterlands. While other religions and gods were tolerated at the ruler's leisure, the Anatolian pantheon was aggressively promoted in all lands under their rule.
Additionally, Aribaeus' successors instituted official languages for commerce and government business. While most of the nobility and upper class were fluent in Lydian and Greek, the majority of the lower classes and rural populations were fluent in a form of Lycian, derived from when the Lydians encouraged immigration to the west to act as a bulwark against Achaemenid expansion. As such, when Cappadocian rule began to spread back west, populations gradually began to speak a combination of Lydian and Lycian as opposed to solely Greek after a few decades, although multilingualism remained common in parts of the country. This new language is typically refered to as Neo-Classical Lycian or Lyco-Cappadocian. Under Cappadocian rule, it soon spread and became a powerful force in eastern and central Cappadocia.
Additionally, Aribaeus and his successors began ambitious building projects across their territory, enhancing communication through road systems based off of the Achaemenid Royal Road as well as other buildings such as lavish temples and administrative complexes as well as other areas for public use. These constructions helped to reinforce the presence of the new Anatolian rulers and help ease any public tension against their rule. Fortifications of limited number were built in both the east and west, hoping to forstall attacks from Armenians and Greeks and any other antagonist that might seek to attack the Cappadocian state. Cities soon began to expand after decades of Greek and now Cappadocian rule, increasing in population and prosperity.
Arabia continued to be in a state of confused stagnation during this century, as Nabataea remained a major trading force in northern Arabia while Sabaea and Himyar continued to wage occasional wars in order to gain the upper hand against each other. Their respective grand strategies to do so largely failed, as Sabaean attempts to capture the religious city of Mecca were poorly received by local tribes across Arabia while Himyar did not yet have the political and economic power to steal away the last few vestiges of Sabaean strength away just yet. Arabia would remain in an awkward and unstable balance of power for another few decades.
For much of the past century Persia had been under the control of the Seleucids, who came to power after the death of Alexander the Great and the division of the empire by the Diadochi shortly afterwards. At the peak of their power, the Seleucids pushed against the tribal regions of Sogdiana, the river valleys of northwestern India, and the cities of Media and Mesopotamia. However, this rule would not be absolute, and while it came with benefits, much of the Indus Valley and Bactria were lost to the Maurya Dynasty while attempts to expand further west and unite the empire were stalled by staunch Ptolemaic resistance. In the background of these events, a tribal coalition north of Parthia, in the region of Dahae, was forming and preparing for expansion.
Taking advantage of the distractions plaguing the Seleucid court, the tribal coalition, retroactively named the Arsacids, moved south and claimed the region of Parthia as their own. From this point onwards, they were typically referred to in most European dialogues as the Parthians. With a central region and the powerful city of Merv, formally Antiochia, as their capital, the Parthians were soon able to bring the rest of the Sogdian cities under their control, bringing them great wealth as the nascent Silk Road began to grow into being. Further attempts to expand southeast into India were halted by local Indian and migrant nomadic rulers, forcing a turn towards the rest of the former Persian empire that the Parthians increasingly claimed as their predecessor.
Gradually, as Seleucid power weakened in the face of unyielding war between themselves and the Ptolomies, more and more important power bases were lost to Parthian expansion. Expanding in the regions of Bactria and Gedrosia, the Parthians captured the major Greek colonies of Seleucia and Antioch Carmania, depriving the Seleucids of almost all of their eastern support and increasing the Parthian base to draw wealth and manpower from. With their eastern border a source of trade and security, the Parthians were free to push into the Persian heartlands, forcing the Seleucids into a rump state occupying much of Media and small portions of northern Persia and Hyrcania. By the end of the century, the entirety of the Seleucid realm had been conquered, with the remnants of the Seleucid court fleeing into the hands of their former rivals the Ptolemies and the Arsacids ruling from the lavish Median metropolis of Ecbatana.
Gradually, as the centers of power for the Parthians became more urban, their traditions and ways of live began to deviate from the centuries of tribal nomadism that they had previously followed. Much of the Greco-Persian culture of the Seleucids had been assimilated, with some Hellenic elements purged but much of the Persian religious and bureaucratic infrastructure intact and employed by the Arsacids to govern over their new territory. Iranian and especially Persian culture began to proliferate across Parthian territory, even as the Parthians themselves believed it was their right and responsibility to restore the former borders of the Achaemenid dynasty under their rule.
The Maurya Dynasty continued to rule over large parts of the Indian subcontinent, but by the turn of the century the empire had begun to lose control of its more distant provinces and was racked by corruption and poor governance. The Mauryas managed to limp forward another thirteen years before collapsing in 187 BC, sending much of the realm into a period of temporary anarchy. Fortunately for most regions, the pieces were swiftly collected by at least three different successor states, all of which maintained the essence of Maurya religious and political administration. The most powerful of the three, the Shunga dynasty, held much of the former Maurya heartland, including the capital of Pataliputra. The other two states held dominion further south and faced a greater struggle between the Buddhist establishment and their Hindu majority subjects.
Further to the west, another tribal coalition from the north established a powerful state of their own. The Sakas migrated south from their traditional homelands near the emerging Silk Road and established their dominance over the Indus Valley around the turn of the century. No power was able to resist them at the time of their invasion and they soon formed a powerful state centered around the prominent city of Taxila. While they were unable to mirror the success of their Iranian brethren farther west, the Sakas were nonetheless a powerful force that would significantly sever India from the Asian and European state of affairs until the height of the Roman Empire several centuries later.
Fall of the Xin
In China, the Xin Dynasty was still a major political force and at the height of its power. However, its dominance was not to last. Earlier, in 209 BC, a major revolt against Xin authority occurred, typically referred to as the Dazexiang Rebellion. This rebellion occurred because a military patrol was delayed because of inclement weather and the punishment for lateness was typically death. Rather take their chances in rebellion rather than submit to almost certain death, the two commanders of the revolt soon gathered considerable support from the Chinese peasant class and fringes of the military dissatisfied with Xin rule. The revolt soon consumed much of China, engulfing it in civil war yet again.
The rebels were outclassed at first, unable to contend with the stronger and more organized Xin military, but discontent with the dynasty was strong, especially in some aspects of the military that resented the relative harshness of punishments. As civil war began to ravage the countryside, increased incidents of famine added to the disarray and a larger segment of the population began to view the Xin as having lost the Mandate of Heaven. Due to many years of poor weather and stagnant campaigns, the Xin dynasty did not ultimately fall until 197 BC. Chen Sheng, one of the two military officers who led the revolt, declared himself the first emperor of the Qiang dynasty.
Rise of the Qiang
Now enthroned in Tianjing, Sheng set about consolidating his rule and rebuilding the country. Compared to previous periods of civil discord, the Xin-Qiang transition was relatively calm and less destructive. That being said, rebuilding was needed, especially in the south where rebels had devestated much of the rural land during the period of stress. After a generation of Qiang rule, Sheng's successors set about the Great Southern Campaign, a military expedition aimed at expanding the dynasty towards the wealthy yet untamed lands of the south. Sheng had himself set up the preparations of this campaign but did not live to see it to completion. Military expeditions were launched in 140 BC, pacifying the southern lands of all rebels, colonizing the island of Hainan, and conquering what is now Yunnan and northern Vietnam within three decades.
Additional campaigns were also launched to the west, north, and east. Campaigns to the north relatively failed to expand the dynasty's power that much, although it did quell many of the northern tribes for many years. Expeditions to the west established firm control over the Hexi Corridor, conquering the Tocharian city-states and establishing the trade routes to the west. The War of the Heavenly Horses was the Qiang effort to control those trade routes and obtain superior stocks of horses from superior nomadic breeds. Military efforts to the east managed to claim much of what is now northern Korea and southern Jurchenia for much of the dynasty's power. These military conquests, combined with the centralization of the Qiang, made the dynasty the dominant military power in the region for centuries. As per this strength, most nations not directly subjugated were enrolled in the Chinese tributary system of vassalage.
Alongside China's expansion, its wealth and economic power drastically began to expand at this time, as newly conquered lands and sources of goods became available to Chinese merchants and traders. This corresponded to an explosion of art and literature that helped constitute the Qiang as the dominant form of classical Chinese culture and political authority. Chinese civilization would go on to influence many other national identities during this time, primarily Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, with smaller influences in Tibet and Central Asia. This influence has led some to classify the Qiang dynasty as the start of what is sometimes called the Sinosphere, although many in other countries would prefer other terms to describe such classical Chinese influence.
Anahuac remained in the grip of both the Zapotec and the Maya, as they continued to expand in opposite directions from each other. The Zapotec city Danibaan remained the largest city in the region while the Mayan metropolis of Kaminaljuyu became the strongest of the Mayan city-states and began to act accordingly, pushing back against Zapotec influence and exerting its own control over neighboring city-states. Other neighboring states like the Mixtec and Olmec remained active at this time, typically acting in accordance with the greater powers that surrounded them. Another growing civilization, that of the Huastec, began to develop alongside the northwestern coast, creating cities and fortifications somewhat similar to their Mayan cousins further south yet nowhere near their size or stature.
The collapse of the Chavin culture in Peru stalled the development of the region for some time, even as new societies based on the Chavin began to rise in their place and were influenced by Chavin culture. The Nazca dominated the south and began to grow, while the Moche culture began to develop along the northwestern coast as well, taking the place of the Chavin culture. Other cultures in the mountains also emerged, at a much slower rate than those alongside the more productive coasts with their abundance of fish and other aquatic foods.