Pirates in the Ancient Mediterranean


Piracy, defined as the act of attacking and robbing a ship or port by sea, had a long history in the ancient Mediterranean stretching from the time of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten (r. 1353-1336 BCE) and throughout the Middle Ages (c. 476-1500 CE). Piracy in the Mediterranean remains a persistent threat in the present day only with different kinds of ships and more advanced technology.

More about: Pirates in the Ancient Mediterranean


  • c. 1353 BCE - c. 476 CE
    Piracy flourishes in the Mediterranean.
  • c. 1276 BCE - 1178 BCE
    The piratical Sea Peoples ravage the Mediterranean.
  • c. 475 BCE
    Athenian general Cimon drives the Dolopian pirates out of the Aegean island of Scyros.
  • 231 BCE - 227 BCE
    The Illyrian Pirates threaten legitimate trade during the reign of Queen Teuta.
  • 71 BCE
    Rome wages war on the Cretan pirates.
  • 69 BCE - 67 BCE
    Rome wages a second war against the Cretan pirates.
  • 67 BCE
    Pompey the Great defeats the Cilician Pirates at the Battle of Coracesium.
  • 67 BCE
    The Gabinian Law is passed, giving Pompey great power to deal with pirates.
  • c. 67 CE
    The Roman port of Ostia provides a base for operations against the Cilician pirates.
  • c. 476 CE - 1500 CE
    Piracy continues to flourish in the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages.
  • Sep 1695 CE
    The English pirate Henry Every captures a treasure ship of the Mughal emperor, one of the richest prizes ever taken by a pirate in any era.
  • Sep 1717 CE - Nov 1718 CE
    The English pirate Blackbeard (aka Edward Teach) is active in the Caribbean and western Atlantic.
  • 1765 CE - 1807 CE
    Life of the Chinese pirate Zheng Yi (aka Cheng I).
  • c. 1780 CE - c. 1821 CE
    Life of the pirate leader Jean Lafitte who operated in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • 1805 CE
    Zheng Yi (aka Cheng I) becomes the head of a large confederation of Chinese pirates.
  • 1807 CE - 1810 CE
    Zheng Yi Sao leads a large confederation of Chinese pirates and terrorizes the South China Sea.
  • Jul 1808 CE
    The pirate fleet of Zheng Yi Sao defeats a Chinese imperial naval fleet near Canton.
  • Jul 1809 CE
    The pirate fleet of Zheng Yi Sao defeats a second Chinese imperial naval fleet near Canton.