Keeping Track Of History – Timelines

Did Alexander the great rule first or king Napoleon?
Did Indus Valley civilization exist before or after the Mesopotamian civilization?
Did Thomas Watt live around the same time as Einstein?

How does anyone remember these baffling before and after questions of history? Aren’t they so tricky? With so many events in thousands of years of history, it is a mind-boggling task to remember what happened when. How do historians keep track of what happened when?

To keep track of events in history, historians use something called a Timeline. Much like a number line, where numbers are put one after the other, a timeline is a line where important dates in history get put in chronological order, that is, one after the other.

Therefore, timelines help us to know when an important event happened and what other events happened before and after it.

The answer to the first question asked at the beginning of the post is that Alexander the Great became a king in 336 BC which is hundreds of years before Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned an emperor in 1804 AD.

Puzzled again? You must be wondering What is BC and AD? To keep track of thousands of years in history, and to plot dates easily on the timeline, we divide the timeline into two parts:

Before Christ or BC – All the events that happened before the birth of Christ get recorded as BC. BC is sometimes also referred to as BCE meaning Before Common Era. The years in BC era get counted backward. Therefore, an event that happened in 100 BC is more recent than an event that happened in 300BC. Odd but true!


AD or Anno Domini – All the events that have happened after the birth of Christ get recorded as AD. AD is sometimes also referred to as CE meaning the Common Era. We live in 2014 AD.

Events that happened in BC years are much older than the events that happened in AD years. Can you now answer the remaining two questions asked at the beginning of this post.

Did you know?

Prehistory is referred to time when there is no written record of anything that happened. Early humans were prehistoric. History is referred to the time when man started recording events by writing them.

Ancient period is referred to the time in history starting from BC years and ending around AD.

Medieval period or Middle age in history lasted from the 5th century AD to the 15th century AD. It was a period in which many great inventions took place. Can you find out a few of them?

Modern Period started in the 16th century AD. We are living in the modern period.

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2 responses to “Keeping Track Of History – Timelines”

  1. Victoria Avatar

    I need to know more about Alexander the Great Napoleon.

  2. Greg Gravis Avatar
    Greg Gravis

    Medieval period or Middle age in history from lasted from 9 AD to 16 AD. So according to this the Medieval period or Middle age in history only lasted 7 years? Interesting.

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