A timeline is a way of organizing historical events in chronological order. This can help to understand how the events relate to each other or to just compare when each event took place. Timelines can show different trends in history or the evolution of an idea. Timelines may concern just about any topic, for example, world history, American history, a history of world explorers, a history of toys, of sports teams, or even a single event, such as this link to a timeline of President Kennedy's assasination. Timelines can be organized in different ways. The events on a timeline can be organized vertically or horizontally. The amount of "time" on a timeline can be millions of years, 5,000 years, a year, a month, or even a day. Each segment of the timeline represents the same number of years, although there are exceptions to this and there are examples below.

You use timelines all the time, probably without realyzing it. That channel on your TV that tells you what is on and when is a kind of timeline. Your agenda for school could be considered a timeline, especially if you fill in the dates when assignments are due, when there are half days, or write in events such as field trips. So I guess timelines can not only tell us about the past, but also about the future.

Here are different examples of timelines.

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Ancient Greece and Rome Horizontal Timeline

Some timelines can be very complex and are really charts similar to charts used to show data or statistics. This Timeline chart below is very useful for us because it demonstrates how civilizations throughout history have overlapped and in many instances existed at the same time in history. This point can be lost at times in the classroom since we study one civilization and then move on to another. That format sometimes can give a 6th grade student the impression that one civilization is ending and another is beginning.

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Timeline Chart of Ancient Civilizations

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Ancient Rome 100 Years Vertical Timeline

We will be looking at timelines of each civilization that we study throughout the year. Many of the websites linked to this wiki and also on the Edline social studies page have timelines for that civilization. There are good examples of vertical timelines at Ducksters. The link will take you to the Mesopotamian timeline. You can navigate to other timelines of civilizations that we will be investigating this year, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Each timeline has internal links to all aspects of each civilization.

Below are links to timelines of civilizations to be investigated during the school year.

Mesopotamia - There are basically three different timelines with the same information. The first two work in conjunction with each other. You can hit an arrow key and move to and from information about different dates. When this is done just below a timeline progresses to where the information is located according to it's date. The third timeline is the information listed vertically.

Ancient Egypt - This site offers a choice of timelines about different subjects concerning ancient Egypt, such as pyramid building, mummification and writing.

Ancient Israelites This link is to the Ancient History Encyclopedia. I choose this timeline because it limits its dates to the events we are concerned with regarding ancient Israelite history. Through the Canaan link there is a brief description of the phrase or term the "promised land". This phrase will be an important topic in our discussions about the ancient Israelites.

Ancient Greece - This timeline can be a bit tricky. The timeline reads like a graph, with the dates along the top on the X axis and the events running from top to bottom on the Y axis. The dates at the top are in small print and at intervals of 1000 years. The events are listed from top to bottom, but also move from right to left as the dates for each become more recent. To find the exact date and to get a brief description of each event just move the cursor over the title. Again, as with the ancient Egypt timeline there are timelines for different subjects like, politics, war, religion, philosophy, writng and pottery.

Anceint Rome - This timeline on ancient Rome is a vertical timeline. The timeline starts with the founding of Rome and includes the major events up to the fall of the Byzantine Empire, which was a remnant of the Roman Empire. One of the events included on the timeline details that the Roman Empire divided into two halves resulting in the Byzantine Empire. At the bottom of the page there are links to topics related to ancient Rome, such as, people, culture and an overview of events in ancient Roman history.

The Story of Timelines

We are concerned with 3 important rules regarding timelines. The first rule is, there are two "systems" or terminologies that are used to identify the numbered years on a timeline. The second is how to tell which dates are older or farther back in time. The third is how to interpret or read a timeline, for instance, how many years there are between two events. Watch the video below that briefly explains the history of timelines and why the numbered years on a timeline seem not to run in the same direction. It also gives details about the 3 rules mentioned above and gives you an opportunity to practice skills related to those rules.

Below are some documents we might be using during the Timeline Unit.

This is a song we use to try to remember the two strategies on how to read a timeline.

Below are a few documents that could help you to practice using a timeline.

This MPR copy has all the dates with the questions so that it can be completed at home.


Timelines for Ancient Civilizations - http://www.ducksters.com/
Kennedy Assassination - http://simile.mit.edu/timeline/examples/jfk/jfk.html
Classical Civilization Timeline - http://www.rff.com/timeline_greece.htm
Timeline Chart of Ancient Civilizations - http://www.essential-humanities.net/world-history/timeline-of-world-history/
Ancient Rome 4th Century timeline - http://crystalinks.com/RomeTimeline.html
Think Green Image - http://www.ctesgreen.com/save-the-planet/green-cents.html