Chronologies have long proved their worth—compressing masses of data that occupy many pages in standard texts, simplifying complicated material, pinning down dates that are often ignored or obscured in these same texts. There are certainly many chronologies in many books. They tend to fall into two categories. There are those for specific countries published as adjuncts to specialized histories of those countries. And then there are the big “synoptic” chronologies or timelines of the entire world's history. Each of these serves its own useful function and special public.
Yet none, it can safely be claimed, does what this one attempts—namely, to provide a chronology for all of Asia that is both specific and comprehensive. The history of each country is set forth in a detailed and sequential manner, one that is above all intended to clarify. Each of the countries or major historical/political entities of Asia (as defined: see below) gets its own full treatment. (Several of these countries have never received such an orderly treatment.) Meanwhile, each of the three largest nations—China, India, and Japan—gets separate chronologies for the many achievements in the areas of (1) arts, culture, thought, and religion, and (2) science, technology, economics, and everyday activities. Beyond these elements, what distinguishes this work from the other available chronologies is that their entries are, at best, overly terse, and at worst, meaningful only to the initiated. Each event is simply set down as an isolated event: Individuals are not identified, places are not located, obscure words are not defined, relationships are never made clear. In this chronology, by contrast, such matters are clearly identified.
This still leaves a number of ground rules that the user of this work should know of. We discuss each of these in the pages that follow, and we advise any reader/user to consult them so as to understand the true characteristics and boundaries of this work.