c.3000 BC: The urban Indus valley (or Harappan) civilization appeared; it spread throughout north-western India and included the cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa, the ruins of which are in modern-day Pakistan.
c.1500 BC: Aryans arrived in north-western India from modern-day Afghanistan, establishing agrarian communities in the Punjab. They are believed to have developed the Sanskrit language and composed the hymns of the Rig Veda, which represent the beginnings of ritual and philosophy associated with Brahminism.
800 BC-500 BC: The commentaries and speculations known as the Brahmanas and Upanishads were formulated.
c.599 BC-527 BC: Lifetime of Vardhamana Mahavira, the apparent founder of Jainism, an ascetic religion related to Buddhism.
c.563 BC: Gautama Siddhartha was born. Although raised as a prince, he renounced the privileges of his birth and, on eventually achieving enlightenment, became the Buddha.
c.400 BC-c.300 BC: The epic poems the Ramayana and the Mahabharata were composed.
326 BC: Following his conquest of the territories of the Persian Empire, Alexander II (‘the Great’) of Macedon crossed the Indus River into northern India and the region of Gandhara (in modern-day Pakistan); after Alexander’s death in 323 BC his eastern lands were controlled by Greek colonies under the command of Seleucus Nicator, one of his generals.
c.303 BC: Seleucus ceded all Greek lands east of Qandahar (in modern-day Afghanistan) to Chandragupta Maurya, the first true emperor of India (c. 322-298 BC).
c.273 BC-232 BC: The Mauryan Empire, which ruled over much of the north of the Indian subcontinent (including parts of modern-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), reached its apogee under the Emperor Asoka; Asoka converted to Buddhism in 262 BC.
1st century AD: Under the Kushan dynasty, the Graeco-Buddhist art and culture of Gandhara (in modern-day Pakistan) reached its height.
c.319-540: The Gupta Empire ruled, eventually coming to dominate north-central India; the dynasty sponsored great achievements in art, science, philosophy and law, reaching its high point under the Emperor Chandra Gupta II (375-415).