After being crowned king of a province in Upper Egypt, Menes unites Upper and Lower Egypt into one country.
Hammurabi conquers and unites the independent city-states of Mesopotamia, forming the political foundations of one of humankind's first great civilizations.
Hatshepsut promotes herself as sole ruler of Egypt.
Ramses II comes to power and begins expanding the borders of Egypt to what will become their greatest extent while concurrently maintaining internal peace.
David, ruler of Israel, unites the Jews and helps to establish the system of religious worship that will shape Jewish life for more than a millennium.
Cyrus II attacks and conquers Babylonia for the Persian Empire, incorporating the last of the ancient Near Eastern kingdoms into its expanse.
Darius I claims the throne of the Persian Empire; his rule, though marked by vast military expansion, will lead to disaster when he tries to conquer Greece.
Pericles defeats rivals in an election to become ruler of Athens and establishes a popular dictatorship.
Alexander III succeeds his father as king of Macedonia and launches a 10-year military campaign that will transform Macedonia into a vast empire and foster the spread of Greek culture into Asia and Egypt.
Candragupta makes himself head of the Maurya dynasty and emperor of India and attempts to unite and expand the Indian Empire by reclaiming Hellenized India, by pushing India's boundaries westward toward Persia, and by establishing friendly relations with both the Romans and the Persians.
Aśoka takes the throne of the Indian Empire and converts the empire to Buddhism, elevating it from a small sect to the status of a major world religion.
Shih Huang-ti becomes head of the Ch'in dynasty and accedes to the throne of China; during his reign he will unify China through bribery, espionage, and keen military strategy.
Spartacus and his army of fellow slaves battle Roman legions in one of the greatest slave rebellions in ancient Rome.
Building on a series of military victories, Julius Caesar becomes dictator of the Roman Empire; during his rule his military expansion, dictatorial rule, and claims to divinity will undermine the republic and lay the groundwork for an imperial system of government that will last for centuries.
Cleopatra VII, of the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty and the last pharaoh of Egypt, rules with ambition and charm, delaying Egypt's fall to the Roman Empire.
Emperor Octavian defeats the forces of Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium, securing his succession to Julius Caesar; he has the title Augustus (Venerable) bestowed upon him by the Senate.
Hadrian becomes emperor of Rome, leading the empire during one of its longest periods of peace and prosperity.
Bar Kokhba, Jewish rebel leader and martyr, is killed by Hadrian's troops during one of many revolts against Roman efforts to destroy Jewish culture in the Middle East; his martyrdom will reinforce the cultural identity that will maintain Jewish civilization in the face of systematic persecution.
Marcus Aurelius becomes emperor of Rome; he devotes himself to defending the empire and preserving the Roman Golden Age.
Diocletian, after defeating a rival army at the Battle of Margus River, claims the title of Roman emperor, or Augustus, the most important symbol of imperial rule.
Constantine I becomes sole ruler of the Roman Empire; by converting to Christianity and building a new capital in the East, he will lay the foundation for Rome's successor, the Byzantine Empire.
Attila, a Hunnish king, expands his kingdom in both eastern and western Europe, threatening both ends of the Roman Empire.
Justinian I becomes emperor of Rome; he will renew the legal, territorial, and religious foundations of the Byzantine Empire and establish a close relationship between church and state, paving the way for future rulers such as Charlemagne.
Wen-ti becomes emperor of China; during his reign, he will issue a new law code, employ censors to ensure that it is obeyed, and embark on numerous military expeditions that will bring all of southern China under his control.
'Umar I, second caliph of Islam, orders the consolidation and Islamicization of Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, and Egypt; the spread of Islam will cause the fall of the Persian Empire and make destructive inroads into the Byzantine Empire.