Chronology for 500BC to 1AD

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About 500BC
The Babylonian sexagesimal number system is used to record and predict the positions of the Sun, Moon and planets. (See this History Topic.)

About 500BC
Panini's work on Sanskrit grammar is the forerunner of the modern formal language theory.

About 465BC
Hippasus writes of a "sphere of 12 pentagons", which must refer to a dodecahedron.

About 450BC
Greeks begin to use written numerals. (See this History Topic.)

About 450BC
Zeno of Elea presents his paradoxes.

About 440BC
Hippocrates of Chios writes the Elements which is the first compilation of the elements of geometry.

About 430BC
Hippias of Elis invents the quadratrix which may have been used by him for trisecting an angle and squaring the circle.

About 425BC
Theodorus of Cyrene shows that certain square roots are irrational. This had been shown earlier but it is not known by whom.

About 400BC
Babylonians use a symbol to indicate an empty place in their numbers recorded in cuneiform writing. There is no indication that this was in any way thought of as a number. (See this History Topic.)

387BC
Plato founds his Academy in Athens

About 375BC
Archytas of Tarentum develops mechanics. He studies the "classical problem" of doubling the cube and applies mathematical theory to music. He also constructs the first automaton.

About 360BC
Eudoxus of Cnidus develops the theory of proportion, and the method of exhaustion.

About 340BC
Aristaeus writes Five Books concerning Conic Sections.

About 330BC
Autolycus of Pitane writes On the Moving Sphere which studies the geometry of the sphere. It is written as an astronomy text.


About 320BC
Eudemus of Rhodes writes the History of Geometry.

About 300BC
Euclid gives a systematic development of geometry in his Stoicheion (The Elements). He also gives the laws of reflection in Catoptrics.

About 290BC
Aristarchus of Samos uses a geometric method to calculate the distance of the Sun and the Moon from Earth. He also proposes that the Earth orbits the Sun.

About 250BC
In On the Sphere and the Cylinder, Archimedes gives the formulae for calculating the volume of a sphere and a cylinder. In Measurement of the Circle he gives an approximation of the value of π with a method which will allow improved approximations. In Floating Bodies he presents what is now called "Archimedes' principle" and begins the study of hydrostatics. He writes works on two- and three-dimensional geometry, studying circles, spheres and spirals. His ideas are far ahead of his contemporaries and include applications of an early form of integration.

About 235BC
Eratosthenes of Cyrene estimates the Earth's circumference with remarkable accuracy finding a value which is about 15% too big.

About 230BC
Nicomedes writes his treatise On conchoid lines which contain his discovery of the curve known as the "Conchoid of Nicomedes".

About 230BC
Eratosthenes of Cyrene develops his sieve method for finding all prime numbers. (See this History Topic.)

About 225BC
Apollonius of Perga writes Conics in which he introduces the terms "parabola", "ellipse" and "hyperbola".

About 200BC
Diocles writes On burning mirrors, a collection of sixteen propositions in geometry mostly proving results on conics.

About 200BC
Possible earliest date for the classic Chinese work Jiuzhang suanshu or Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art. (See this History Topic.)

About 180BC
Date of earliest Chinese document Suanshu shu (A Book on Arithmetic). (See this History Topic.)

About 150BC
Hypsicles writes On the Ascension of Stars. In this work he is the first to divide the Zodiac into 360 degrees.

127BC
Hipparchus discovers the precession of the equinoxes and calculates the length of the year to within 6.5 minutes of the correct value. His astronomical work uses an early form of trigonometry.

About 1AD
Chinese mathematician Liu Hsin uses decimal fractions.


List of mathematicians alive in 500BC.

List of mathematicians alive in 1AD.



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JOC/EFR August 2001

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