2nd century BC

Millennium: 1st millennium BC
Decades: 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC
140s BC 130s BC 120s BC 110s BC 100s BC
Categories: Births – Deaths
Establishments – Disestablishments
Eastern hemisphere at the end of the 2nd century BC.

The 2nd century BC started the first day of 200 BC and ended the last day of 101 BC. It is considered part of the Classical era, although depending on the region being studied, other terms may be more suitable. It also considered to be the end of the Axial Age.[1] In the context of the Eastern Mediterranean, it is also referred to as the Hellenistic period.

Fresh from its victories in the Second Punic War, the Roman Republic continued its expansion into neighboring territories, eventually annexing Greece, and the North African coast after completely destroying the city of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War. Rome's influence was also felt in the Near East, as crumbling Hellenistic states like the Seleucid Empire were forced to make treaties on Roman terms to avoid confrontation with the new masters of the western Mediterranean. The end of the century witnessed the reform of the Roman Army from a citizen army into a voluntary professional force, under the guidance of the noted general and statesman Gaius Marius (Marian Reforms).

In South Asia, the Mauryan Empire in India collapsed when Brihadnatha, the last emperor, was killed by Pushyamitra Shunga, a Mauryan general and the founder of the Shunga Empire.

In East Asia, China reached a high point under the Han Dynasty. The Han Empire extended its boundaries from Korea in the east to Vietnam in the South to the borders of modern-day Kazakhstan in the west. Also in the 2nd century BC, the Han dispatched the explorer Zhang Qian to explore the lands to the west and to form an alliance with the Yuezhi people in order to combat the nomadic tribe of the Xiongnu.[2]


Bust of Antiochus IV at the Altes Museum in Berlin.
Mural from the tomb of Liu Wu whose principality was at the heart of the Rebellion of the Seven States
Terence, one of the founders of the Roman comedy
Coin of Menander I, the Greek king who ruled most of Northern India (c.150-130) and converted to Buddhism.
Cleopatra II ruled Egypt in co-operation and competition with her brothers Ptolemy VI and VIII for most of the century.
Emperor Wu of Han was probably the most powerful man in the world at the end of the century
Posidonius was acclaimed as the greatest polymath of his age.

190s BC

180s BC

170s BC

160s BC

150s BC

140s BC

130s BC

120s BC

110s BC

100s BC

Significant people


Science and philosophy

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

Hipparchus' equatorial ring.

Sovereign States

See: List of sovereign states in the 2nd century BC.


  1. Meister, Chad (2009). Introducing Philosophy of Religion. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 10. ISBN 0-203-88002-1.
  2. C.Michael Hogan, Silk Road, North China, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham

Decades and years

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