Timeline Of Religion

The timeline of religion is a chronological catalogue of important and noteworthy religious events in pre-historic and modern times. This article reaches into pre-historic times, as the bulk of the human religious experience pre-dates written history. Written history (the age of formal writing) is only c.5000 years old. A lack of written records results in most of the knowledge of pre-historic religion being derived from archaeological records and other indirect sources, and from suppositions. Much pre-historic religion is subject to continued debate.

Main articles: Religion and History of Religion


Middle Paleolithic (300,000-50,000 BCE)

Despite claims by some researchers of bear worship, belief in an afterlife, and other rituals, the archaeological evidence does not support the presence of religious practices by modern humans or Neanderthals during this period.

100,000 BCE
Earliest known human burial in the Middle East.
70,000-35,000 BCE
Neanderthal burials take place in areas of Europe and the Middle East.

50th to 11th millennium BCE

40,000 BCE
The remains of one of the earliest known anatomically modern humans to be discovered cremated, was buried near Lake Mungo.
38,000 BCE
The Aurignacian Löwenmensch figurine, the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world and one of the oldest known sculptures in general, was made. The sculpture has also been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, although it may have represented a deity.
35-000-26,000 BCE
Neanderthal burials are absent from the archaeological record. This roughly coincides with the time period of the Homo sapiens’ introduction to Europe and decline of the Neanderthals; individual skulls and/or long bones began appearing, heavily stained with red ochre and separately buried. This practice may be the origin of sacred relics. The oldest discovered “Venus figurines” appeared in graves. Some were deliberately broken or repeatedly stabbed, possibly representing the murders of the men with whom they were buried, or owing to some other unknown social dynamic.
25,000–21,000 BCE
Clear examples of burials are present in Iberia, Wales, and eastern Europe. These, too, incorporate the heavy use of red ochre. Additionally, various objects were included in the graves (e.g. periwinkle shells, weighted clothing, dolls, possible drumsticks, mammoth ivory beads, fox teeth pendants, panoply of ivory artifacts, “baton” antlers, flint blades etc.).
13,000–8,000 BCE
Noticeable burial activity resumed. Prior mortuary activity had either taken a less obvious form or contemporaries retained some of their burial knowledge in the absence of such activity. Dozens of men, women, and children were being buried in the same caves which were used for burials 10,000 years beforehand. All these graves are delineated by the cave walls and large limestone blocks. The burials share a number of characteristics (such as use of ochre, and shell and mammoth ivory jewellery) that go back thousands of years. Some burials were double, comprising an adult male with a juvenile male buried by his side. They were now beginning to take on the form of modern cemeteries. Old burials were commonly re-dug and moved to make way for new ones, with the older bones often being gathered and cached together. Large stones may have acted as grave markers. Pairs of ochred antlers were sometimes mounted on poles within the cave; this is compared to the modern practice of leaving flowers at a grave.

10th Millennium to 1st century BCE

9130–7370 BCE
This was the apparent period of use of Göbekli Tepe, one of the oldest human-made sites of worship yet discovered; evidence of similar usage has also been found in another nearby site, Nevalı Çori.
7500–5700 BCE
The settlements of Catalhoyuk developed as a likely spiritual centre of Anatolia. Possibly practising worship in communal shrines, its inhabitants left behind numerous clay figurines and impressions of phallic, feminine and hunting scenes.
Hourglass Clock Sand Time Knapp Minute Timepiece


The Ancient Era

c.3750 BCE
The Proto-Semitic people emerged from a generally accepted urheimat in the Levant. The Proto-Semitic people would migrate throughout the Near East into Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ethiopia and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.
3300–1300 BCE
The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system and multi-storeyed houses.
3200–3100 BCE
Newgrange, the 250,000 ton (226,796.2 tonne) passage tomb aligned to the winter solstice in Ireland, was built.
3100 BCE
The initial form of Stonehenge was completed. The circular bank and ditch enclosure, about 110 metres (360 ft) across, may have been completed with a timber circle.
3000 BCE
Sumerian Cuneiform emerged from the proto-literate Uruk period, allowing the codification of beliefs and creation of detailed historical religious records.
The second phase of Stonehenge was completed and appeared to function as the first enclosed cremation cemetery in the British Isles.
2635–2610 BCE
The oldest surviving Egyptian Pyramid was commissioned by Pharaoh Djoser.

Extent and major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization. The shaded area does not include recent excavations.

Extent and major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization. The shaded area does not include recent excavations.

2600 BCE
Stonehenge began to take on its final form. The wooden posts were replaced with bluestone. It began taking on an increasingly complex setup (including an altar, a portal, station stones, etc.) and shows consideration of solar alignments.
2560 BCE
This is the approximate time accepted as the completion of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest pyramid of the Giza Plateau.
2494–2345 BCE
The first of the oldest surviving religious texts, the Pyramid Texts, was composed in Ancient Egypt.
2200 BCE
The Minoan Civilization developed in Crete. Citizens worshipped a variety of goddesses.
2150–2000 BCE
The earliest surviving versions of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh—originally titled He who Saw the Deep (Sha naqba īmuru) or Surpassing All Other Kings (Shūtur eli sharrī)—were written.
1700–1100 BCE
The oldest of the Hindu Vedas (scriptures), the Rig Veda was composed. This is the first mention of Rudra a fearsome form of Shiva as the supreme god.
1600 BCE
The ancient development of Stonehenge came to an end.
1500 BCE
The Vedic Age began in India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
1351 or 1353 BCE
The reign of Akhenaten, sometimes credited with starting the earliest known recorded monotheistic religion, in Ancient Egypt.
1300–1000 BCE
The “standard” Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh was edited by Sin-liqe-unninni.
1250–600 BCE
The Upanishads (Vedic texts) were composed, containing the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
1200 BCE
The Greek Dark Age began.
1200 BCE
The Olmecs built the earliest pyramids and temples in Central America.
877–777 BCE
The life of Parshvanatha, 23rd Tirthankara of Jainism.
800 BCE
The Greek Dark Age ends.
8th to 6th centuries BCE
The Chandogya Upanishad is compiled, significant for containing the earliest to date mention of Krishna. Verse 3.17.6 mentions Krishna Devakiputra (Sanskrit: कृष्णाय देवकीपुत्रा) as a student of the sage Ghora Angirasa.
6th to 5th centuries BCE
The first five books of the Jewish Tanakh, the Torah (Hebrew: תורה‬), are probably compiled.
6th century BCE
Possible start of Zoroastrianism; however some date Zarathustra closer to 1000 BCE . Zoroastrianism flourished under the Persian emperors known as the Achaemenids. The emperors Darius (ruled 522–486 B.C.E.) and Xerxes (ruled 486–465 B.C.E.) made it the official religion of their empire.
600–500 BCE
The earliest Confucian writing, Shu Ching, incorporates ideas of harmony and heaven.
599–527 BCE
The life of Mahavira, 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism.
c.563/480–c.483/400 BCE,
Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism was born.
551 BCE
Confucius, founder of Confucianism, was born.
399 BCE
Socrates was tried for impiety.
369-372 BCE
Birth of Mencius and Zhuang Zhou
300 BCE
The oldest known version of the Tao Te Ching was written on bamboo tablets.
300 BCE
Theravada Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Venerable Mahinda.
c.250 BCE
The Third Buddhist council was convened by Ashoka. Ashoka sends Buddhist missionaries to faraway countries, such as China, mainland Southeast Asia, Malay kingdoms, and Hellenistic kingdoms.
140 BCE
The earliest grammar of Sanskrit literature was composed by Pāṇini.
100 BCE–500 CE
The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, constituting the foundational texts of Yoga, were composed.

The Common Era

1st to 5th Centuries

Jesus Quotes

Jesus Quotes

c.4 BCE–c.30/33 CE
The life of Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Christianity.
The death of John the Baptist.
The first Christian Council was convened in Jerusalem.
The Siege of Jerusalem, the Destruction of the Temple and the rise of Rabbinic Judaism.
Manichaean Gnosticism was formed by the prophet Mani.
Some of the oldest parts of the Ginza Rba, a core text of Mandaean Gnosticism, were written.
Classic Mayan step pyramids were constructed.
The Edict of Milan decreed religious toleration in the Roman empire.
The first ecumenical council (the Council of Nicaea) was convened to attain a consensus on doctrine through an assembly representing all Christendom. It established the original Nicene Creed and fixed the date of Easter. It also confirmed the primacy of the Sees of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, and granted the See of Jerusalem a position of honour.
The oldest record of the complete biblical texts (the Codex Sinaiticus) survives in a Greek translation called the Septuagint, dating to the 4th century CE.
Theodosius I declared Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.
The second ecumenical council (the First Council of Constantinople) reaffirmed and revised the Nicene Creed, repudiating Arianism and Pneumatomachi.
Theodosius proscribed paganism within the Roman Empire.
A council of early Christian bishops listed and approved a biblical canon for the first time at the Synod of Hippo.

Middle Ages (5th to 15th centuries)

See also: History of religions § Middle Ages

5th to 10th centuries

St. Jerome completed the Vulgate, the first Latin translation of the Bible.
The Western Roman Empire began to decline, signalling the onset of the Dark Ages.
The Church of the East in Sassanian Empire (Persia) formally separated from the See of Antioch and proclaimed full ecclesiastical independence.
The third ecumenical council (the First Council of Ephesus) was convened as a result of the controversial teachings of Nestorius of Constantinople. It repudiated Nestorianism, proclaimed the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos (the God-bearer or Mother of God). It also repudiated Pelagianism and again reaffirmed the Nicene Creed.
The Second Council of Ephesus declared support for Eutyches and attacked his opponents. Originally convened as an ecumenical council, its ecumenical nature was rejected by the Chalcedonians, who denounced the council as latrocinium.
The fourth ecumenical council (the Council of Chalcedon) rejected the Eutychian doctrine of monophysitism, adopting instead the Chalcedonian Creed. It reinstated those deposed in 449, deposed Dioscorus of Alexandria and elevated the bishoprics of Constantinople and Jerusalem to the status of patriarchates.
The Oriental Orthodox Church rejected the christological view put forth by the Council of Chalcedon and was excommunicated.
Benedict of Nursia wrote his Rule, laying the foundation of Western Christian monasticism.
The fifth ecumenical council (the Second Council of Constantinople) repudiated the Three Chapters as Nestorian and condemned Origen of Alexandria.
The life of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh, the Prophet of Islam.
The Rashidun Caliphate heralded the Arab conquest of Persia, Egypt and Iraq, bringing Islam to those regions.
The verses of the Qur’an were compiled in the form of a book in the era of Uthman, the third Caliph of Islam.
The Umayyad Caliphate brought the Arab conquest of North Africa, Spain and Central Asia, marking the greatest extent of the Arab conquests and bringing Islam to those regions.
The sixth ecumenical council (the Third Council of Constantinople) rejected Monothelitism and Monoenergism.
The division between Sunni and Shiites Muslims developed.
The Quinisext Council (also known as the Council in Trullo), an amendment to the 5th and 6th ecumenical councils, established the Pentarchy.
Kojiki, the oldest Shinto text, was written.
The migration of Zoroastrian (Parsi) communities from Persia to India began, caused by Muslim conquest of their lands and the ensuing persecution.
The latrocinium Council of Hieria supported iconoclasm.
The seventh ecumenical council (the Second Council of Nicaea) restored the veneration of icons and denounced iconoclasm.
The life of Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara, who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedānta.
The oldest extant manuscripts of the vocalized Masoretic text, upon which modern editions are based, date to 9th century CE.

11th to 15th centuries

The life of Milarepa, one of most famous yogis and poets of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Great Schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches was formalised.
The First Crusade led to the capture of Jerusalem.
Sigurd I of Norway led the Norwegian Crusade against Muslims in Spain, the Balearic Islands and in Palestine.
The Second Crusade was waged in response to the fall of the County of Edessa.
In the Third Crusade European leaders attempted to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin.
The Fourth Crusade, originally intended to recapture Jerusalem, instead led to the sack of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire.
The Delhi Sultanate was established.
The Albigensian Crusade was conducted to eliminate Catharism in Occitania, Europe.
With the Fifth Crusade, Christian leaders again attempted (but failed) to recapture Jerusalem.
The life of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law and founder of Nichiren Buddhism.. Based at the Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple Taisekiji (Japan), this branch of Buddhism teaches the importance of chanting the mantra Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.
The Sixth Crusade won control of large areas of the Holy Land for Christian rulers, more through diplomacy than through fighting.
The Codex Gigas was completed by Herman the Recluse in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim.
Jerusalem was sacked again, instigating the Seventh Crusade.
The Eighth Crusade was launched by Louis IX of France but largely petered out when Louis died shortly after reaching Tunis.
The Ninth Crusade failed.
Pope John XXII laid the groundwork for future witch-hunts with the formalisation of the persecution of witchcraft.
The Roman Catholic Church split during the Western Schism.
The death of Jan Hus who is considered as the first reformer of the Western Christianity. This event is often considered as the beginning of the Reformation.
The life of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism.
Pope Innocent VIII marked the beginning of the classical European witch-hunts with his papal bull Summis desiderantes.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu popularised the chanting of the Hare Krishna and composed the Siksastakam (eight devotional prayers) in Sanskrit. His followers, Gaudiya Vaishnavas, revere him as a spiritual reformer, a Hindu revivalist and an avatar of Krishna.

Early modern and Modern eras

See also: History of religions § Modern period

16th Century

In the Spanish Empire, Catholicism was spread and encouraged through such institutions as the missions and the Inquisition.
Martin Luther posted The Ninety-Five Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church, Wittenberg, launching the Protestant Reformation.
African religious systems were introduced to the Americas, with the commencement of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Henry VIII separated the English Church from Rome and made himself Supreme Head of the Church of England.
The Massacre of Vassy sparked the first of a series of French Wars of Religion.

17th Century

Guru Gobind Singh Ji created the Khalsa in Sikhism.

18th Century

Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the last Sikh guru, died after instituting the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, as the eternal Guru.
Baron d’Holbach published The System of Nature said to be the first positive, unambiguous statement of atheism in the West.
Ghanshyam, later known as Sahajanand Swami/Swaminarayan, was born in Chhapaiya at the house of Dharmadev and Bhaktimata.
In the Dechristianisation of France the Revolutionary Government confiscated Church properties, banned monastic vows and, with the passage of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, removed control of the Church from the Pope and subordinated it as a department of the Government. The Republic also replaced the traditional Gregorian Calendar and abolished Christian holidays.
The Second Great Awakening, a Protestant religious revival in the United States.
Freedom of religion, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, was added as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, forming an early and influential secular government.

19th Century

The French Revolutionary Government and Pope Pius VII entered into the Concordat of 1801. While Roman Catholicism regained some powers and became recognized as “the religion of the great majority of the French”, it was not afforded the latitude it had enjoyed prior to the Revolution and was not re-established as the official state religion. The Church relinquished all claims to estate seized after 1790, the clergy was state salaried and was obliged to swear allegiance to the State. Religious freedom was restored.
The life of Siyyid ‘Alí Muḥammad Shírází (Persian: سيد علی ‌محمد شیرازی), better known as the Báb, the founder of Bábism.
The life of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith.
The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith claimed to see the Angel Moroni and prophesied of what is now the Book of Mormon.
Adventism was started by William Miller in the United States.
The Church of Christ was founded by Joseph Smith on 6 April — initiating the Latter Day Saint restorationist movement.
The life of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the messianic Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam.
The life of Ramakrishna, saint and mystic of Bengal.
Satguru Ram Singh Ji created the Namdhari sect within the Sikh religion.
Joseph Smith was murdered on 27 June, resulting in a succession crisis in the Latter Day Saint movement.
First great popular uprising against British colonial government in India. Also called Sepoy Mutiny.
The Theosophical Society was formed in New York City by Helena Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others.
Christian Science was granted its charter in Boston, Massachusetts.
Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was formed by Charles Taze Russell, initiating the Bible Student movement.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established.
Swami Vivekananda’s first speech at The Parliament of World Religions, Chicago, brought the ancient philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world.
Aradia (aka The Gospel of the Witches), one of the earliest books describing post witchhunt European religious Witchcraft, was published by Charles Godfrey Leland.

20th Century

The incorporation of the Spiritualists’ National Union legally representing Spiritualism in the United Kingdom.
Thelema was founded by Aleister Crowley.
In France the law on the Separation of the Churches and the State was passed, officially establishing state secularism and putting an end to the funding of religious groups by the state.
Becoming a place of pilgrimage for neo-druids and other pagans, the Ancient Order of Druids organised the first recorded reconstructionist ceremony in Stonehenge.
The Khalifatul Masih was established in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as the “Second Manifestation of God’s Power”.
The October Revolution in Russia led to the annexation of all church properties and subsequent religious suppression.
The Self Realization Fellowship Church of all Religions with its headquarters in Los Angeles, CA, was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda.
Cao Dai founded.
The Cristero War, fought between the secular government and religious Christian rebels in Mexico, ended.
The Rastafari movement began following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as Emperor of Ethiopia.
The Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit, Michigan.
A neo-Hindu religious movement, the Brahma Kumaris or “Daughters of Brahma”, started. Its origin can be traced to the group “Om Mandali”, founded by Lekhraj Kripalani(1884–1969).
Jehovah’s Witnesses emerged from the Bible Student movement under the influence of Joseph Franklin Rutherford.
Millions of Jews were relocated and murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
First nation in the name of Islam was created called Pakistan. British India was partitioned into the Islamic nation of Pakistan and the secular nation of India with a Hindu majority.
The modern state of Israel was established as a homeland for the Jews.
The Church of Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard.
Wicca was publicised by Gerald Gardner.
Navayana Buddhism (Neo-Buddhism) was founded by B. R. Ambedkar, initially attracting some 380,000 Dalit converts from Hinduism.
The 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet amidst unrest and established an exile community in India.
Various Neopagan and New Age movements gained momentum.
Unitarian Universalism was formed from the merger of Unitarianism and Universalism.
The Church of All Worlds, the first American neo-pagan church, was formed by a group including Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, and Richard Lance Christie.
The Second Vatican Council was convened.
Srila Prabhupada established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and introduced translations of the Bhagavad-Gita and Vedic Scriptures in mass production all over the world.
The Church of Satan was founded by Anton LaVey on Walpurgisnacht.
The Stonehenge free festivals started.
Germanic Neopaganism (aka Heathenism, Heathenry, Ásatrú, Odinism, Forn Siðr, Vor Siðr, and Theodism) began to experience a second wave of revival.
Claude Vorilhon established the Raëlian Movement and changed his name to Raël following a purported extraterrestrial encounter in December 1973.
The Temple of Set was founded in Santa Barbara, California.
The Iranian Revolution resulted in the establishment of an Islamic Republic in Iran.
The Stregherian revival continued. “The Book of the Holy Strega” and “The Book of Ways” Volume I & II were published.
Operation Blue Star in the holiest site of the Sikhs, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, led to Anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and adjoining regions, following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The Battle of the Beanfield forced an end to the Stonehenge free festivals.
Following the revolutions of 1989, the overthrow of many Soviet-style states allowed a resurgence in open religious practice in many Eastern European countries.
Reconstructionist Pagan movements (Celtic, Hellenic, Roman, Slavic, Baltic, Finnish, etc.) proliferate throughout Europe.
The European Council convened in Copenhagen, Denmark, agreed to the Copenhagen Criteria, requiring religious freedom within all members and prospective members of the European Union.
The Strega Arician Tradition was founded.

21st century

21 terrorists from Al-Qaeda killed 2,977 on September 11, 2001 in the name of Islam against the United States of America. Osama Bin Laden claimed responsibility and praised the attacks.
Sectarian rivalries exploded in Iraq between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, with each side targeting the other in terrorist acts, and bombings of mosques and shrines.
Nepal, the world’s only Hindu Kingdom, was declared a secular state by its Constituent Assembly after declaring the state a Republic on 28 May 2008.
The Church of Scientology in France was fined €600,000 and several of its leaders were fined and imprisoned for defrauding new recruits of their savings. The state failed to disband the church owing to legal changes occurring over the same time period.
Civil war broke out in Syria over domestic political issues. The country soon split along sectarian lines between Sunni, Alawite and Shiite Muslims. War crimes and acts of genocide were committed by both parties as religious leaders on each side condemned the other as heretics. The Syrian civil war soon became a battleground for regional sectarian unrest, as fighters joined the fight from as far away as North America and Europe, as well as Iran and the Arab states.
A supposed Islamic Caliphate was established by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in regions of war torn Syria and Iraq, drawing global support from radical Sunni Muslims. This was a modern-day attempt to re-establish Islamic self-rule in accordance with strict adherence to Shariah- Islamic religious law. In the wake of the Syrian civil war, Islamic extremists targeted the indigenous Arab Christian communities. In acts of genocide, numerous ancient Christian and Yazidi communities were evicted and threatened with death by various Muslim Sunni fighter groups. After ISIS terrorist forces infiltrated and took over large parts of northern Iraq from Syria, many ancient Christian and Yazidi enclaves were destroyed.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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