Year 666You may ask what happened in the year 666 because of the infamous history of the number 666 wondering both about the year 666 B.C. or the year 666 A.D. Both years saw kings overthrown, scientific discoveries made, and the deaths of a few important people on the world stage.

In the 21st century, we now have the technology to easily learn about these ancient civilizations.

Continue reading to find out a quick answer to the significance of the year 666 and to learn more about the historical characters that played roles in the world’s history.

What Happened in the Year 666 BC?

Little record is maintained of the events that occurred in 666 BC. Most of the civilizations we know today had not yet developed. However, some events did occur and were recorded in the Middle East. The Assyrian empire was doing well and had it the ability to record events in writing.

Some ancient Assyrian written records have survived until the present day!

It was a king called Ashurbanipal who ruled the Assyrian empire during the year 666 BC. He reigned for the longest time of any Assyrian king – 38 years. During this nearly 40-year period, King Ashurbanipal extended military conquests outwards into Mesopotamia and Egypt, to varying rates of success. He also supported a flourishing period of arts and culture in the ancient kingdom that mark his reign as one of the most innovative and creative of all Assyrian rulers.

Continue reading to learn more about the different aspects of King Ashurbanipal, who ruled during the year 666 BC.

– Genocidal King

Even though King Ashurbanipal was remembered by Greek and Roman scholars as an ineffective, ‘sissy like’ ruler, his real actions during his reign couldn’t be farther from that characterization. King Ashurbanipal could be described as ‘genocidal’ in his zeal to conquer lands for Assyrian use. He was empowered by his belief that Assyria could only be right in its desire for more territory, power, and influence, and that all rebels or challengers were enemies of the gods.

Artistic reliefs from the Assyrian era of Ashurbanipal show him persecuting and attacking civilians through horrible forms of torture. This included impaling them and skinning them alive. In one of Ashurbanipal’s palaces, archaeologists found a wall relief that depicted in grisly detail Assyrian soldiers ripping open the pregnant stomach of an Arab woman.

During the year 666, it is likely that King Ashurbanipal, who had only ascended to the throne three years prior at the age of 16, was managing uprisings in Egypt. At this time, the Assyrians controlled it, but only barely. They were struggling to maintain control.

While quelling Egyptian revolts wasn’t entirely successful, Ashurbanipal did destroy the Elamites, who lived in what is now southwest Iran. He also sent some less-successful military campaigns into Arab territories.

– Library of Ashurbanipal

It is especially poetic that we know about Ashurbanipal at all because one of the main hallmarks of his reign was his interest in and support of record-keeping in Assyria. He constructed the Library of Ashurbanipal, second to none until the construction of the Library of Alexandria by the Greeks in the mid-200s B.C. This library was rumored to contain over 30,000 books, a massive number during this ancient time.

The Library of Ashurbanipal was located in Ninevah, a city located in modern-day Iraq on the outskirts of the modern city Mosul. In 666 BC, Ninevah would have been the bustling capital city of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. This meant that its library was very accessible to travelers, merchants, scholars, and anyone else who wanted to access the books and literature inside.

To stock its shelves, Ashurbanipal issued commands requesting all texts from as far as scribes could travel to get them.

Despite Ashurbanipal’s significant military conquests, it was his library that he was most proud of. It could be said that he considered it his duty as ‘king of the universe’ to gather knowledge and make it available to the public. It is more likely, however, that he wanted his name to go down in Assyrian history as the powerful creator of the most extensive library in the world.

What Happened in the Year 666 AD?

A quick answer is not much! In terms of the larger historical picture, what happened in the year 666 AD was not very groundbreaking at all. The year started on a Thursday and is written as DCLXVI in Roman numerals. During this time, several historical events occurred in Europe, the Byzantine Empire, the Middle East, and Asia.

– Events in Europe

In Europe, the Italian King Grimoald I defeated a revolt from the Duke Lupus of Friuli. Duke Lupus, who was already in charge of Friuli, a mountainous yet fertile region of northern Italy, wanted more territory and power. When King Grimoald I placed him in charge of Pavia when he went to rescue his son, Lupus enacted an authoritarian regime.

Upon the king’s return, Lupus fled back into Friuli. To maintain order, King Grimoald I asked for support from the Avars, a nomadic people hailing from Northeast Asia. They attacked and eventually killed Lupus upon his request.

King Grimoald I didn’t just stop there after defeating Duke Lupus. He destroyed Friuli and murdered Arnefrit, Lupus’s son, in a battle at a castle called Nimis. The line of Duke Lupus was destroyed forever. As a successor to Duke Lupus, King Grimoald I appointed a man named Wechtar as the new Duke of Friuli.

– Events in the Byzantine Empire

What happened in the year adThe Bishop Maurus of Ravenna, an Italian bishop from a scattered territory established by Justinian, received approval from Emperor Constans II to consecrate a new bishop without having to request and get approval from Rome. At the time, Rome was the seat of the Catholic Church. Normally all bishops had to be approved by executive order, but in this case, Constans II granted Bishop Maurus’s petition.

Interestingly, the Emperor of Byzantium Constans II was the same individual from which King Grimoald I had to rescue his son.

– Events in Asia

Scientific advancements took place when the south-pointing chariot was mass-produced by two Buddhist monks from China, Zhi Yu and Zhi Yuo. The south-pointing chariot in question had been invented almost four hundred years earlier, in the early 200s, by Ma Jun, a Chinese engineer. The chariot itself didn’t have any kind of compass, instead, it continually pointed south by means of mechanical gear.

Chariots that Zhi Yu and Zhi Yuo made were created to be given to Japanese royalty, specifically, Emperor Tenji. A record of their gifts was recorded in the Nihon Shoki, a chronicle of classical Japanese history.

– Events in the Middle-East

In 666 in the Middle East, a death significant to followers of Islam occurred. Ramla bint Abi Sufyan, a wife of Muhammad and daughter of Abu Sufyan, a former enemy of Muhammad before his conversion, died. Having been born between 589-594, she was relatively old when she died.

Ramla was also previously married, but she divorced her first husband when he converted to Christianity. Her second husband, Muhammad, was also married to her ex-husband’s sister. When Ramla and Muhammad were married, Muhammad wasn’t actually present at the ceremony – just a man named Khalid ibn Said, who acted as her legal guardian.


– How Did the Year 1 Start?

Year 1 started in reference to the time when Jesus Christ was born. At the beginning of the sixth century, a Christian monk named Dionysius Exiguus wanted to create a new calendar that focused on the most important date in history.

For him, that was the year Jesus was born. He chose to start the calendar 753 years after the founding of Rome. He labeled all dates prior to Jesus’ birth B.C. and all dates after his birth A.D.

The abbreviation B.C. stands for “Before Christ” and the abbreviation A.D. stands for “Anno Domini,” which is Latin for “The Year of Our Lord.” This calendar does not actually have a Year 0. There is only year 1 B.C. and year 1 A.D. This type of calendar, the Gregorian calendar, grew popular during the early Middle Ages.

Of course, humans began counting years according to many different calendars and civilizations long before the use of the Gregorian calendar began.


What happened in the yearThe information that we have from many sources on the events that occurred in the years 666 B.C. and 666 A.D. help dispel common myths about infamous activity occurring during these times. Sources from Assyria, Italy, the Byzantine Empire, Asia, and the Middle East show events typical for the time period.

  • The year 666 BC was a time when the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal quelled revolutions in Egypt and began plans to develop his legendary library.
  • In the year 666 AD, minor skirmishes among European royals occurred, the Chinese sent advanced mechanical chariots to Japan, and a wife of Mohammed died.
  • The dating system that people today use began when a Christian monk decided to make a dating system centered around the birth of Jesus Christ.

It’s important to remember that some rumors humans started about numbers are just that, rumors!

Now that you know nothing weird or strange occurred during these two years, you can rest easy.