The tumultuous 6th century BC

The sixth century BC was a very agitated time in almost every part of the world. Here are maps of the years 600 BC, 550 BC, 527 BC, and 500 BC.





The Tale of RomeThe three main events, in my opinion, are:
  • Persians begin to seize power, and dominate eastern Mediterranean.
  • Carthage’s merchant empire slowly dominates the western Mediterranean.
  • The Roman republic begins.
The Tale of Rome
Here are some rulers of that century:

Amyntas I, King of Macedonia
Astyages, King of Medes
Bias of Priene, Greek sage
Callimachus, Athenian general
Cambyses II, King of Persia
Chilon of Sparta, Greek sage
Cleisthenes, Tyrant of Athens
Cleomenes I, King of Sparta
Croesus, King of Lydia
Cyaxares, King of Medes
Cyrus the Great, King of Persia
Darius I, King of Persia
Epimenides, Greek seer
Gorgo, Queen of Sparta
King Helü of Wu, King of Wu
Lucius Junius Brutus, co-founder of the Roman Republic
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, King of Rome
Miltiades, Athenian general and politician
Nabonidus, the last King of Babylon
Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon
Necho II, Pharaoh of Egypt
Pisistratus, tyrant of Athens
Periander, Tyrant of Corinth
Pittacus of Mytilene, Greek politician
Psammetichus III, Pharaoh of Egypt
Servius Tullius, King of Rome
Solon, Athenian statesman

Author: MarcusAurelius

Writer. Podcaster. Author. Illustrator and coder. Nutella monster.

One thought on “The tumultuous 6th century BC”

  1. Sardinia was conquered by Carthage only by 520 bc according to both ancient authors and archaeological evidence. Don’t confuse Phoenician cities, which were independent and mostly inhabited by natives, with being under Carthaginian domain.

    Here’s Piero Bartoloni, one of the biggest experts of the Phoenicians in the Central Mediterranean currently alive, talking about the Sardo-Phoenician cities and the later Carthaginain conquest of said cities:
    “…However, an indispensable help is given by the archaeological investigations that have been carried out in Sardinia and in particular in Sulky and its surroundings during the last century and that at least partly compensate for the bleak picture. The first traces of life in Sant’Antioco are to be placed in the Neolithic age, even if the morphology and the structure of the island have always been an obvious natural fortress and therefore allow us to believe that it has constituted an excellent refuge for man from the earliest times. However, the first traces of human settlements on the island of Sant’Antioco are represented by two menhirs, ie two monolithic steles erected along the isthmus connecting Sardinia to the island. More consistent evidence of life on the island of Sant’Antioco are to be placed always in the Neolithic period, in this case around 2500 BC. The most concrete remains are represented by some Domus de Janas, of the type consisting of no more than two successive cells. These are some hypogeal chambers dug into the tufa, practiced in a relief behind Is Pruinis beach. The most impressive and most interesting nuraghe of the district was the one located on the top of the hill of the Savoy castle that dominates the city. It was a complex nuraghe, consisting of a central tower – perhaps but not necessarily the oldest of the building – surrounded by at least two other towers connected to each other. This is what emerges from the foundations of the Phoenician-era building and the Punic-era tower that were erected on the nuraghe and which are currently partly included in the structures of the aforementioned castle, built in the eighteenth century of our era. The nuraghe, probably active in its primary function between 1400 and 1200 BC, was certainly inhabited until the early years of the eighth century BC. and there are traces of the presence of a village of circular huts on the slope that opens up north of the tower.

    The first evidence of a stable presence of the Phoenicians, the last to reach Sardinia after the Mycenaean navigators, North-Syrians and Cypriots, can be dated around 780/770 BC. and also in Sulky there are clear clues, also attributable to this period. In fact, the oldest objects found in the area of ​​the town can be dated no later than 780/770 BC. Thanks to these archaeological elements, which approach the founding date of the ancient Sulky to that of Carthage, which traditionally arises in 814 BC, at the current state of research the city is considered the oldest among those built by the Phoenicians in Sardinia . It is not even remotely conceivable that all the inhabitants of Phoenician culture who settled in Sulky and subsequently Mount Sirai as well as in all the other Phoenician foundation cities of the Sardinian coast were of Eastern origin. We must think rather of a mixed population composed of a minority of Phoenicians of the East and a majority of inhabitants of Nuragic lineage. The presence of strong groups of people of native origin and the real possibility of mixed marriages especially in the first years of the foundation of the city is suggested for example by some testimonies related to the oldest funerary practices in use in the district and some everyday objects, as well as the pots, which, as an exterior form, were undoubtedly of a Nuragic type, but were manufactured using the lathe and, therefore, with a technology imported from the Phoenicians. The village was planted on a ridge formed by trachitic rocks or, better ignimbrite ones, which ran parallel to the coast and separated from the hills behind it, constituting a further natural defense. Thus, the Phoenicians settled permanently in Sulky around 780/770 BC. building an inhabited center that from the beginning was of considerable size and that spread out on the slope to the east of the old Nuragic tower. The original urban agglomeration occupied an area of ​​about fifteen hectares, practically of equal extension to that relative to the inhabited center of the Middle Ages. The Phoenician necropolis instead extended along the coast south of the city, behind the ancient port and had an extension of about three hectares. the global urban structure of the settlement is not known in detail nor the totality of the original road network nor do we know the detailed topography of the ancient Phoenician settlement, but only a part of the wall structures that compose them emerge in the modern urban area. It has been found that the houses from the Phoenician period were of the usual type in the motherland and generally in the whole area of ​​the Near East, that is, formed by several rooms gathered around a central courtyard.”

    “”…In any case, thanks to its vast commercial network and its two ports straddling the isthmus, the lagoon and the Gulf of Palmas, the city quickly became a metropolis of great wealth and started to control the territory of south western Sardinia which still today bears the name of Sulcis. The testimonies of its commercial activities have emerged from the excavations carried out in the town and speak to us from the first half of the eighth century BC. of stable relations with Tyre and with the other Phoenician cities of the eastern motherland, of links with Cadiz and with the other Phoenician centers of Andalusia, of very close exchanges with the Etruscan world and with the Greek environment of Euboea and the Magna Greecian colonies. The Phoenician community spent a period of about two hundred and fifty years of quiet commercial, agricultural and domestic activity in the town of Sulky until – around 540 BC, when Carthage, a Phoenician city of Tyrian origins located on the African coast between Sicily and Sardinia, following an imperialist policy aimed at conquering the coastal territories of the western Mediterranean, decided to set foot in Sardinia to take possession of it and effectively insert it into its metropolitan territory. For some time now, the North African city seemed to have expressed its expansionist ambitions, establishing some colonies in the North African area, but only around the middle of the 6th century BC these intentions really took shape in all their violence and drama with the invasion of the western part of Sicily and with the consequent conquest of Motya and of the Phoenician centers present in the territory. In fact, with two successive invasions, the one which happened precisely around 540 and the other towards 520 b.C., Carthage invaded Sardinia. The succession of events is widely known, that is, how an army commanded by General Malco, already victorious in Sicily, came to the island first. It is told by old and unfortunately scarce sources that the Carthaginian commander, after ups and downs, was severely defeated, probably by a coalition of Phoenician cities whose head was probably Sulky, and forced to re-embark towards Carthage. It is not to be excluded that against the Carthaginian army also nuragic troops intervened, both as allies, and as mercenaries of the Phoenician cities. Although temporarily defeated, Carthage continued to develop its hegemonic policy aimed at supremacy in the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Proof of this are the events that resulted in the naval battle fought in the Sardinian Sea, probably to be found in the waters of Corsica, perhaps in Alalia, and the alliance with the Etruscan city of Caere, now Cerveteri, highlighted by the well-known gold plates of Pyrgi.

    Later – around 520 b.C. – Carthage made another attempt and its armies passed under the command of Asdrubale and Hamilcar sons of Magone, conqueror of the Iberian peninsula. This time the Carthaginian armies defeated the resistance opposed by the inhabitants of the Phoenician cities of Sardinia. In fact, as evidenced by the significant traces of destruction, the hostilities of the North African city were mainly directed towards these centers and therefore especially towards Sulky. So, after fierce fighting, Carthage firmly took possession of Sardinia, so much so that, already in 509 BC, in the framework of the first peace treaty with Rome, handed down from the Greek historian Polibio, the island, if it was not literally assimilated to its metropolitan territory , was strictly controlled so that foreign sailors were prevented from landing and from the realization of any form of trade if Carthaginian officials were not present. In any case, like most of the Phoenician cities of Sardinia, Sulky also came out severely damaged by the Carthaginian conquest. The African metropolis, which had conquered Sardinia to take over the considerable agricultural resources of the island, brought settlers transported from the coasts of North Africa to the Sulcitan city. Many areas of the island, especially the hilly ones, were abandoned because they were unsuitable for the landowner-type agriculture carried out by Carthage, while numerous new settlements arose in the plains. So, while in the previous centuries the island had constituted a fundamental node of exchange between East and West and between the North and the South of the Mediterranean, the entirety of Sardinia was practically assimilated by the metropolitan territory of Carthage and was totally and strictly closed to internal trade. In particular, all imports from Etruria and Greece ceased, while only those subjected to Carthage’s mediation were permitted and under the strict control of its officials.”

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