Timeline of scientific discoveries

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The timeline below shows the date of publication of possible major scientific breakthroughs, theories and discoveries, along with the discoverer. This article discounts mere speculation as discovery, although imperfect reasoned arguments, arguments based on elegance/simplicity, and numerically/experimentally verified conjectures qualify (as otherwise no scientific discovery before the late 19th century would count). The timeline begins at the Bronze Age, as it is difficult to give even estimates for the timing of events prior to this, such as of the discovery of counting, natural numbers and arithmetic.


To avoid overlap with timeline of historic inventions, the timeline does not list examples of documentation for manufactured substances and devices unless they reveal a more fundamental leap in the theoretical ideas in a field.

Bronze Age

Many early innovations of the Bronze Age were prompted by the increase in trade, and this also applies to the scientific advances of this period. For context, the major civilizations of this period are Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley, with Greece rising in importance towards the end of the third millennium BC. The Indus Valley script remains undeciphered and there are very little surviving fragments of its writing, thus any inference about scientific discoveries in that region must be made based only on archaeological digs. The following dates are approximations.

The Nippur cubit-rod, c. 2650 BCE, in the Archeological Museum of Istanbul, Turkey Nippur cubit.JPG
The Nippur cubit-rod, c. 2650 BCE, in the Archeological Museum of Istanbul, Turkey

Iron Age

The following dates are approximations.

500 BC – 1 BC

The following dates are approximations.

1 AD – 500 AD

Mathematics and astronomy flourish during the Golden Age of India (4th to 6th centuries AD) under the Gupta Empire. Meanwhile, Greece and its colonies have entered the Roman period in the last few decades of the preceding millennium, and Greek science is negatively impacted by the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and the economic decline that follows.

500 AD – 1000 AD

The age of Imperial Karnataka was a period of significant advancement in Indian mathematics. Indian Rashtrakuta Empire map.svg
The age of Imperial Karnataka was a period of significant advancement in Indian mathematics.

The Golden Age of Indian mathematics and astronomy continues after the end of the Gupta empire, especially in Southern India during the era of the Rashtrakuta, Western Chalukya and Vijayanagara empires of Karnataka, which variously patronised Hindu and Jain mathematicians. In addition, the Middle East enters the Islamic Golden Age through contact with other civilisations, and China enters a golden period during the Tang and Song dynasties.

1000 AD – 1500 AD

16th century

The Scientific Revolution occurs in Europe around this period, greatly accelerating the progress of science and contributing to the rationalization of the natural sciences.

17th century

18th century





21st century

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Brahmagupta was an Indian mathematician and astronomer. He is the author of two early works on mathematics and astronomy: the Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta, a theoretical treatise, and the Khaṇḍakhādyaka, a more practical text.

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Early study of triangles can be traced to the 2nd millennium BC, in Egyptian mathematics and Babylonian mathematics. Trigonometry was also prevalent in Kushite mathematics. Systematic study of trigonometric functions began in Hellenistic mathematics, reaching India as part of Hellenistic astronomy. In Indian astronomy, the study of trigonometric functions flourished in the Gupta period, especially due to Aryabhata, who discovered the sine function. During the Middle Ages, the study of trigonometry continued in Islamic mathematics, by mathematicians such as Al-Khwarizmi and Abu al-Wafa. It became an independent discipline in the Islamic world, where all six trigonometric functions were known. Translations of Arabic and Greek texts led to trigonometry being adopted as a subject in the Latin West beginning in the Renaissance with Regiomontanus. The development of modern trigonometry shifted during the western Age of Enlightenment, beginning with 17th-century mathematics and reaching its modern form with Leonhard Euler (1748).

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of ancient Greek mathematicians</span> Timeline and summary of ancient Greek mathematicians and their discoveries

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The following is a timeline of key developments of geometry:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of calculus and mathematical analysis</span> Summary of advancements in Calculus

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The Story of Maths is a four-part British television series outlining aspects of the history of mathematics. It was a co-production between the Open University and the BBC and aired in October 2008 on BBC Four. The material was written and presented by University of Oxford professor Marcus du Sautoy. The consultants were the Open University academics Robin Wilson, professor Jeremy Gray and June Barrow-Green. Kim Duke is credited as series producer.


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