The 3rd century BC started the first day of 300 BC and ended the last day of 201 BC. It is considered part of the Classical era, epoch, or historical period.
The first few decades of this century were characterized by a balance of power between the Greek Hellenistic kingdoms in the east, and the great mercantile power of Carthage in the west. This balance was shattered when conflict arose between Carthage and the Roman Republic. In the following decades, the Carthaginian Empire was first humbled and then destroyed by the Romans in the first and second Punic wars. Following the Second Punic War, Rome became the most important power in the western Mediterranean.
In the 3rd century BC the Xiong Nu were at the height of their power in Mongolia. The Warring States period in China drew to a close, with Qin Shihuang conquering other nation-states and establishing the short-lived Qin dynasty, the first empire of China, which was followed in the same century by the long-lasting Han dynasty. The Protohistoric Period began in the Korean peninsula. In India, Ashoka the Great ruled the Maurya Empire. The Pandya, Chola and Chera dynasties of the classical age rule and flourish in the ancient Tamil country.
- Mencius, Chinese philosopher and sage (371–289 BC)
- Euclid, geometer (c. 365–275 BC)
- Ashoka, Mauryan ruler of India (273 BC–232 BC)
- Archimedes of Syracuse, mathematician, physicist, and engineer (c. 287–212 BC)
- Eratosthenes (c. 276–194 BC), Greek mathematician, geographer and astronomer
- Apollonius of Perga, mathematician (c. 262–190 BC)
- Qin Shi Huang, Chinese Emperor (259–210 BC, reigned 246–210 BC)
- Emperor Gaozu of Han, founder of the Han Dynasty in China, (256 BC–195 BC, reigned 202 BC–195 BC)
- Xiang Yu (232 BC–202 BC), Chinese rebel general against the Qin Dynasty and arch nemesis of Liu Bang in the Chu-Han contention.
- Hannibal, military leader of Carthage (247–182 BC)
- the "second" Brennus, Gaulish chieftain, invades Macedonia in 279 BC
- The Ptolemaic dynasty rules Egypt
- Appius Claudius Caecus, Aqua Appia, Via Appia, invented letter G
- Arcesilaus, founder of new Academy
- Manetho, wrote History of Egypt
- Xun Zi, founder of Legalism (philosophy)
- Zeno of Citium, founder of Stoicism
- Bai Qi, Chinese general
- Song Yu, Chinese poet
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
Much of what we know of this century comes down to us from the works of the Roman historian Polybius
, whose main concern is the story of how Rome comes to dominate the known world.
Decades and years