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Sicily in the Currents of Time
A timeline of ancient and medieval Sicilian history

Prehistory - Native Peoples - Carthaginian & Greek - Roman - Byzantine - Arab - Norman - Swabian - Angevin - Aragonese - Spanish

Prehistoric PeriodPhoenician, Greek and Roman alphabets.

85,000 BC (BCE) - Homo Sapiens Sapiens (genetically modern humans) migrate out of Africa via southern Arabian peninsula. Genetic differentiation (including superficial "racial" variation) begins.

45,000 BC - "Modern" humans begin to populate Europe, migrating westward. Anthropological variations develop among isolated communities. Artistic culture begins to develop.

10,000 BC - Neolithic peoples are present across mainland Europe and in Sicily. Indo-European cultures arrive with subsequent waves of migration. Proto-Celts probably Indo-European but Sicily's Proto-Sicanians probably not. Addaura cave drawings (outside Palermo) dated to 8000 BC or earlier. Pleistocene Epoch ends, followed by Holocene (present epoch).

7000 BC - Neolithic jewels crafted in Sicily.

4000 BC - Proto-Sicanians present in neolithic Sicily. Earliest Sicilian religion practiced. More advanced Minoan (Cretan and Aegean) civilization flourishes in eastern Mediterranean.

Early Native History

2000 BC - Non-Indo-European Sicanian culture dominant in Sicily. Use of copper tools ("early Bronze Age"), possibly indicating non-Sicilian influences, prevalent by 2500 BC.

1800 BC - Distinct "native" Sicanian culture identifiable across Sicily. Mycenean and Late Minoan cultures present in isolated eastern localities.

1300 BC - Ramses II pharoah in Egypt, but references in Biblical Book of Exodus may be to another personage. Probable period of introduction of olive trees in Sicily by peoples of Aegean cultures.

1200 BC - Arrival of Sicels (Sikels), an Italic people, in eastern Sicily, around this time. Iron Age begins in Greece.

1100 BC - Elymians (possibly from Anatolia in Asia Minor), arrive in western Sicily (Erice and Segesta).

1000 BC - Indo-European languages and societies identified based on linguistic similarities.

Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Greeks

735 BC - Naxos founded as first permanent Greek colony in Sicily.

733 BC - Syracuse (Siracusa) founded as Greek colony.

705 BC - Greeks assimilate Sicels' city of Enna, with which myth of Persephone becomes identified.

700 BC - Phoenicians establish Punic city of Zis (Palermo) and other trading posts (including Motya and Kfra or Solunto) in western Sicily. Phoenician alphabet (basis for Roman and Greek letters shown at right) introduced.

730 BC - Zancle (Messina) settled.

688 BC - Gela founded.

650 BC - Himera (Termini Imerese) founded.

630 BC - Selinus (Selinunte) established.

580 BC - Akragas (Agrigento) founded.

396 - Tyndaris colonised

504-466 BC - Hippocrates and Gelon (from 478), as tyrants of Syracuse, rule most of eastern Sicily.

490 BC - Persian wars begin, lasting until 479.

480 BC - Carthaginians under Hamilcar defeated by Gelon of Siracuse at Battle of Himera.

455 BC - Aeschylus dies at Gela.

452 BC - Sicel leader Ducetius (died 440) leads revolt.

431 -404 BC - Peloponnesian War.

415-413 BC - Athenians invade eastern Sicily.

410-405 BC - Carthaginians invade western Sicily, destroying Himera in 409.

405-367 - Dionysius I rules as "tyrant" (leader) of Syracuse

400 BC - Carthaginians, residual Phoenician civilization in north Africa, establish permanent presence at Palermo. Wars between Carthaginans and Greeks (and subsequently with Romans) continue. Greeks re-name Zis Panormos ("all port").

398-396 BC - Another war of some Greek cities against Carthaginians.

398 BC - Plato in Syracuse; suggests Sicily as model of utopian society.

367-344 BC - Dionysius II is leader of Syracuse. Philip II rules Macedonia 359-336.

346-345 BC - Another Carthaginian war in Sicily. Alexander the Great rules Macedonia 336-323.

317-289 BC - Agathocles, native of Himera, tyrant of Syracuse and then (304) king.

311 & 280 BC - Carthaginian invasions of western Sicily.

310 BC - Greeks under Agathocles invade Carthaginian territories of African coast. Treaty signed in 306.

278 BC - Pyrrhus of Epirus fights "Sicilian Campaign" against Syracuse supported by Taormina.

Roman Period

265-215 BC - Hieron II king of Syracuse. His death signals beginning of Roman control of Sicily.

264 BC - First Punic War (Romans against Carthaginians), ending in 241. Second Punic War in 218, ending in 201.

227 BC - Sicily becomes first Roman province but Syracuse resists.

212 BC - Syracuse finally falls to Romans. Archimedes killed.

146 BC - Romans defeat Carthaginians in Third Punic War. Romans call Palermo Panormus. Earliest Jewish communities in eastern Sicily.

70 BC - Cicero prosecutes Verres, corrupt governor of Sicily.

55 BC - First invasions of Britain by Julius Caesar.

23 BC? - Diodorus Siculus, historian, dies.

6 BC? - Birth of Jesus.

AD 52? - Saint Paul preaches in Syracuse en route to Rome.

AD 306 - Constantine the Great rules until 337. Permits open practice of Christian religion.

325 - Council of Nicea defines Christian doctrine and determines accepted New Testament scripture.

330 - Capital of Roman Empire transferred to Byzantium (Constantinople).

395 - Roman Empire splits into Western and Eastern (or "Byzantine").

410 - Visigothic sack of Rome under Alaric; political fall of Western Roman Empire begins.

468 - Vandal occupation of Sicily, lasts until 476.

476 - Ostrogoth rule until 535; Odoacer deposes last (western) Roman Emperor. Beginning of Middle Ages usually dated from this time.

491 - Ostrogoth leader Theodoric takes control of Sicily.

521 - Birth of Mohammed.

Byzantine Period

527-565 - Rule of Justinian I as Eastern Roman ("Byzantine") Emperor. Established lasting legal code.

529 - Saint Benedict founds religious order.

535 - Byzantines under Belisarius defeat Goths and annexes Sicily to Byzantine Empire.

660-668 - Constans rules Byzantine Empire from Syracuse.

Arab Period

827 - First major Arab incursion (over 10,000 men sailing from Tunisia) under Asad ibn al-Furat.

831 - Bal'harm (Palermo) occupied by Aghlabid dynasty of Tunisia. Emirate eventually established.

831-838 - Rule of Ziyadat Allah I ibn Ibrahim.

838-841 - Rule of al-Aghlab Abu Affan ibn Ibrahim.

841-856 - Rule of Muhammad I Abul-Abbas ibn al-Aghlab Abi Affan.

856-863 - Rule of Ahmad ibn Muhammad.

863 - Rule of Ziyadat Allah II ibn Abil-Abbas. During 9th century Arabs introduce mulberries (for silk making), oranges and sugar cane.

863-875 - Rule of Muhammad II ibn Ahmad.

875-902 - Rule of Ibrahim II ibn Ahmad.

902-903 - Rule of Abdullah II ibn Ibrahim.

903-909 - Rule of Ziyadat Allah III ibn Abdillah.

948 - Fatimids (who decide to move their capital in Egypt) entrust Sicily to local Kalbids. Conflict among Sicily's emirates.

948-964 - Rule of Emir Hassan al-Kalbi. First kanats built under Palermo.

965?-982 - Rule of Abu al-Qasim.

967 - Sicilian-born Jawhar as-Siqilli founds Al-Qahira (Cairo) in name of Fatimids.

982-983 - Rule of Jabir al-Kalbi.

983-985 - Rule of Jafar al-Kalbi.

985-990 - Rule of Abd-Allah al-Kalbi.

990-998 - Rule of Yusuf al-Kalbi.

1000 - Approximate time of Viking landings in North America.

998-1019 - Rule of Ja'far al-Kalbi.

1019-1037 - Rule of al-Akhal.

1040-1053 - Rule of Hasan as-Samsam.

1054 - Schism between eastern and western Christianity. Most Sicilian Christians remain "eastern" (Orthodox) until circa 1200.

Norman Era

1060 - Unsuccessful Norman incursion into coastal northeastern Sicily; permanent presence after Battle of Messina (1061).

1072 - Battle of Palermo ends in early January with Norman occupation under Roger and Robert de Hauteville. Nicodemus removed from authority over Christian community.

1101 - Roger II born; first King of Sicily.

1154 - "Book of Roger" completed by Abdullah al-Idrisi. Roger dies and reign of King William I "the Bad" begins.

1161 - Matthew Bonellus of Caccamo leads revolt of Norman barons.

1166 - Reign of King William II "the Good" begins. Gradual Latinization of language; Roman Catholic influence in religion.

1177 - William II marries Joan, daughter of Henry II of England.

Swabian Period

1194 - Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI von Hohenstaufen arrives.

1198 - Frederick II king until 1250, marries Constance of Aragon. Swabian German influences in Sicily. Islam and Greek Orthodoxy tolerated but practiced by ever-smaller minorities. Sicilian language is Italic with foreign influences.

1221 - University of Naples founded by Frederick II.

1229- Frederick II goes on Sixth Crusade as King of Jerusalem. Signs peace with Muslims without war.

1231 - Constitutions of Melfi become legal code for Kingdom of Italy under Frederick II.

1240 - Ciullo of Alcamo composes poetry in Sicilian language.

Angevin Rule

1266 - Charles of Anjou (brother of Louis IX of France) reigns from Naples. Angevin period begins. Sicily's remaining Muslims have converted to Catholicism.

Aragonese Period

1282 - Vespers revolt expels Angevin French and makes Peter of Aragon King of Sicily.

1302 - Peace of Caltabellotta treaty signed between Aragonese and Angevins.

1453 - Constantinople falls to Ottomans. End of Middle Ages usually dated to this time.

Spanish Rule

1492 - Edict against Jews forces widespread conversions in 1493. Albanian refugees arrive following Turkish invasions of Balkans. Spanish period begins with unification of Spanish Iberian lands and continues in Sicily until 1700s. Inquisition widely introduced. Columbus lands in America.

1516 - Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (also King of Spain) King of Sicily.

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© 2008 Best of Sicily Travel Guide. Used by permission.

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