Empires of Antiquity

This dynamic video map shows the movement and expansion of the great empires of antiquity, starting with the Egyptian New Kingdom in 1450 B.C.E. and ending with the Islamic Empire in 800 C.E.

The rising and falling of the many empires included on this map are important for understanding the Bible and the formation and spread of the three monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that dominate a large part of the world today. Nestled between these great empires, the two small kingdoms of Israel and Judah, out of which biblical literature emerged, were often caught up in larger imperial power struggles.

It was not until several centuries after the fall of Judah to the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. that the nation would once again become independent, under the Hasmoneans. But this modest nation, like so many others, would be swallowed up by the Roman imperial machine, never to gain independence again. It was during the Roman period that Christianity and rabbinic Judaism were formed. After the Romans crushed the Great Jewish Revolt in 70 C.E. and destroyed the second Jerusalem temple, Christianity and Judaism became increasingly dispersed throughout the imperial world.

This map was created by and appears courtesy of the exhibition Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times, created by the Israel Antiquities Authority and produced by Discovery Times Square and the Franklin Institute, curated by Dr. Risa Levitt Kohn, San Diego State University and Debora Ben Ami, Israel Antiquities Authority.