The Axial Age

The Axial Age Timeline

The Axial Age is a term coined by German philosopher Karl Jaspers in the sense of a “pivotal age”, characterizing the period of ancient history from about the 8th to the 3rd century BCE. Jaspers introduced the concept of an Axial Age in his book Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte (The Origin and Goal of History).

During this period, according to Jaspers’ concept, new ways of thinking appeared in Persia, India, China, and the Greco-Roman world in religion and philosophy, in a striking parallel development, without any obvious direct cultural contact between all of the participating Eurasian cultures. Jaspers identified key thinkers from this age who had a profound influence on future philosophies and religions and identified characteristics common to each area from which those thinkers emerged.

“Confucius and Lao-Tse were living in China, all the schools of Chinese philosophy came into being, including those of Mo Ti, Chuang Tse, Lieh Tzu, and a host of others; India produced the Upanishads and Buddha and, like China, ran the whole gamut of philosophical possibilities down to materialism, skepticism, and nihilism; in Iran, Zarathustra taught a challenging view of the world as a struggle between good and evil; in Palestine, the Hebrew prophets made their appearance from Elijah by way of Isaiah and Jeremiah to Deutero-Isaiah; Greece witnessed the appearance of Homer, of the philosophers—Parmenides, Heraclitus, and Plato,—of the tragedians, of Thucydides and Archimedes. Everything implied by these names developed during these few centuries almost simultaneously in China, India, and the West.”

— Karl Jaspers, Origin and Goal of History, p. 2

The Axial Age witnessed unprecedented imperial expansion in the Indo-Mediterranean region and China. It was overthrown and replaced by the short-lived empire of Alexander the Great. His Empire was succeeded by three Empires ruled by the Diadochi—the Seleucid, Ptolemaic, and Macedonian, which, despite being independent, are called the “Hellenistic Empire” by virtue of their similarities in culture and administration.

The Axial Age: Uranus-Neptune-Pluto Triple Alignment 677 BC

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