This is an unofficial timeline of events for the wiki. It assumes that measurement units in the source texts, unless qualified or implied otherwise, refer to Earth units. Exercise care when using compilation.
The timeline is presented using the Common Era (CE) format, where the year 1 equals the year 1 in the Gregorian calendar used on Earth today.

81st century BCEEdit

  • c. 81st century BCE: the Culture gains the ability to Sublime
Noted to have been possible for the Culture 10000 years before c. 19th century CE[note 1]

76th century BCEEdit

  • c. 76th century BCE: the Culture is formed
Noted for occuring nearly 10000 years before c. 24th century CE[note 2]

71st century BCEEdit

  • c. 71st century BCE: Phage Rock begins wandering the galaxy; it is one of the Culture's oldest elements c. 19th century CE
Noted to have started wandering 9000 years before c. 19th century CE[note 3]

68th century BCEEdit

  • c. 68th-58th century BCE: first Culture drones; they are bulky pan-human-sized
First drones said to have been created 8000-9000 years before the 22nd century CE[note 4]

58th century BCEEdit

  • c. 58th century BCE: the medicine of the Culture becomes "effectively perfect"
Claimed to have been perfected 8000 years before the 22nd century CE[note 5]

14th century BCEEdit

  • 1345-991 BCE: Idiran Second Great Exile following the the Skankatrian-Idiran war[6]

10th century BCEEdit

  • 990 BCE: Idirans retake Idir[6]

8th century BCEEdit

  • c. 8th century BCE: Chelgrians traditions of the 22nd century CE span back to this time
Chelgrian traditions leading to the 22nd century CE Caste War are said to span 3000 years[note 6][note 7]

6th century BCEEdit

  • c. 6th century CE: Culture GCU Problem Child encounters an excession
Noted to have occurred 2500 years before c. 19th century CE[note 8]

5th century BCEEdit

  • c. 5th century BCE: the belief that the souls of the dead spend one year in limbo before entering heaven becomes widespread amongst Chelgrians
Noted to have been a consistent Chelgrian belief for 2700 years from the perspective of the 22nd century CE[note 9]

4th century CEEdit

  • c. 4th century CE: the Elench split from the Culture
Noted to have occurred 400 years before c. 19th century CE[note 10]

7th century CEEdit

  • c. 7th century CE: Chelgrians fight the Last Unification War
Noted to have occurred 1500 years before the 22nd century CE.[note 11]

8th century CEEdit

  • 8th century CE: the Culture stops building "genuine" warships[6]

11th century CEEdit

  • c. 11th century CE: Bregan Latry decides to build a system of sailing cable cars in the Epsizyr Breaks on Masaq' Orbital
Noted to have happened 1100 years before the 22nd century CE[note 12]

12th century CEEdit

  • c. 12th century CE: the family of Tibilo Quilan, a Chelgrian, starts a trend for being landowners, traders, bankers and insurers
Quilan's family is noted for a 1000 years in these professions from the perspective of the 22nd century CE.[note 13]

13th century CEEdit

  • 1267 CE: first Idiran-Culture dispute[6]
  • 1288 CE: second Idiran-Culture dispute[6]
  • 1289 CE: the Culture builds its first genuine warship in five centuries[6]

14th century CEEdit

  • 1307 CE: third Idiran-Culture dispute[6]
  • 1310 CE: Peace Faction splits from the Culture[6]
  • 1326 CE: formation of Culture War Council[6]
  • 1327 CE: Idiran-Culture War officially begins with the direct involvement of Culture forces[6]
  • 1327 CE: ratification of Idiran-Culture War Conduct Agreement[6]
  • c. 1331 CE: Idiran Empire unsuccessfully attempts to capture a Culture Mind at Schar's World
Takes place in the fourth year[note 14][note 15][note 16] of the war which started in 1327 CE[6]
  • 1332 CE: Homomdan enter the Idiran-Culture War on the Idiran side[6]
  • 1333 CE: Idiran-Culture War Conduct Agreement amended to forbade destruction of populated, non-military, habitats[6]
  • 1335 CE: Idiran-Culture War enters second phase[6]
  • c. 1357 CE: Homoda withdraw from the Idiran-Culture War[6]
  • c. 1357-1367 CE: the Changer species becomes extinct sometime during this period[15]
  • c. 1357-1367 CE: the Twin Novae Battle occurs sometime during this period[15]
  • 1367 CE: space warfare effectively ends in the Idiran-Culture War[6]
  • 1375 CE: Idiran-Culture War officially ends[6]
  • c. 14th century CE: a Culture drone a metre-high, and half that in width and depth would not be out of place at this time
Culture drones of this size are associated with those made a 1000 years before the 22nd century CE[note 17][note 18]

17th century CEEdit

  • c. 1675 CE: small, backwater, conflicts fought by remnant forces of the Idiran Empire from the Idiran-Culture War cease[6]
  • c. 17th century CE: Bregan Latry completes transforming the Epsizyr Breaks on Masaq' Orbital into "Pylon Country".
Noted to have taken 600 years from c. 11th century CE[note 19]

19th century CEEdit

  • 1813 CE: the Culture statistically "proves" the Idiran-Culture War was morally justified[15]
  • c. 19th century CE: the Esperi Excession crisis
It has been 500 years[note 20] since the Idiran-Culture War ended in 1375 CE[6]
  • c. 19th century CE: Culture assets prevent the destruction of the Sursamen shellworld by an Iln entity
The exploits of the GSV Sleeper Service during the Esperi Excession crisis are 20+ years in the past.[note 21]

20th century CEEdit

  • November 1976 - 2 January 1978 CE: During this time, GCU Arbitrary discovers the human civilization of Earth and conducts initial information gathering from Earth orbit; it leaves the world Uncontacted.
Noted to have arrived in November of the year prior to 1977,[note 22] and leaving at 2 January 1978 03:05:03 GMT.[note 23]
  • 2090 CE: Diziet Sma composes the poem "Slight Mechanical Destruction".
The poem is written in the Khmer year 115.[20] Khmer year 0 is 1975 CE.
  • c. 1978-2091 CE: Zakalwe is rehired by Culture Special Circumstances to defuse a crisis in the Voerenhutz cluster
Takes places after Diziet Sma joins Special Circumstances and before she replies to Listach Petrain's inquiries.[note 24] She was still in contact in 1978 CE[note 25], and finally responded to Petrain in c. 2091.[note 26]

21st century CEEdit

  • c. 2083 CE: Culture Special Circumstancer Gurgeh boards the GOU Limiting Factor for an assignment to the Empire of Azad
Limiting Factor was constructed 716 years before during the Idiran-Culture War, just before the space warfare ended[note 27]; the war in space ended in 1367 CE.[6]
  • c. 2091: Diziet Sma writes to Listach Petrain about her experiences at Earth in 1976-1978 while part of the crew of the GCU Arbitrary
Noted that she is relating events 115 years past.[note 28]

22nd century CEEdit

  • 2110 CE: an English language version of the Culture publication A Short History of the Idiran War is extant; it becomes part of a Contact-approved Earth Extro-Information Pack[24]
  • c. 2153-2163 CE: Chelgrian composer and self-imposed exile Mahrai Ziller settles on Masaq' Orbital sometime around this period
Ziller has lived on Masaq' for seven years by the time the Chelgrian plot to destroy the orbital is underway.[note 29]
  • c. 2153-2170 CE: Chelgrian Caste War occurs sometime during this period
The war occurs after Ziller settles on Masaq'.[note 30]
  • c. 2160-2170 CE: Light from Portisia, the first star to go supernova during the Twin Novae Battle of the Idiran-Culture War, reaches Masaq' sometime during this period.
The battle took place in the 14th century CE and the light from the first nova takes 803 years to reach Masaq'.[note 31]
  • 9th of spring, 3455 (Chelgrian): Chelgrian officer Tibilo Quinlan retrieves the mind-state of Sholan Hadesh Huyler from the wreck of Winter Storm, lost during the Chelgrian Caste War; they proceed to Masaq' afterwards[26]
  • c. 2160-2170 CE: Light from Junce, the second star to go supernova during the Twin Novae Battle of the Idiran-Culture War, reaches Masaq' sometime during this period; Tibilo Quinlan unsuccessfully attempts to destroy Masaq'[27]

24th century CEEdit

  • c. 24th century CE: Gzilt Sublimation event
The Idiran-Culture War is 1000 years in the past[note 32]

29th century CEEdit

  • c. 29th century CE: The War in Heaven ends in victory for the anti-Hell side
It has been 1500 years since the end of the Idiran-Culture War[note 33] in 1375 CE[6], and 600 years since the "Chel debacle"[note 34]


  1. "That was a decision the Culture had been putting off for many millennia; in theory it could have sublimed anything up to ten thousand years ago..."[1]
  2. "The Gzilt were a sort of cousin species/civilisation to the Culture. Nearly founders, though not quite, they had been influential in the setting up and design of the Culture almost ten thousand years earlier..."[2]
  3. "Phage Rock had been wandering the galaxy for nearly nine thousand years. made it one of the Culture's oldest elements."[3]
  4. "It was a generally reliable rule that the bigger a Culture drone appeared, the older it was. The first examples, dating from eight or nine thousand years ago, had been the size of a bulky human."[4]
  5. "'Well, our medicine effectively became perfect about eight thousand years ago...'"[5]
  6. "'The background to the war, my studious Homomdan pal, is three thousand years...'"[7]
  7. "'So in comes Kapyre, out goes common sense, out goes thousand years of tradition...'"[8]
  8. "'Long ago and far away - two and a half thousand years ago...'"[9]
  9. "'It has been a consistent article of our faith for twenty-seven hundred years,' he said casually, 'that the souls of the departed are held in limbo' for a full year...'"[7]
  10. "The Elench had once been part of the Culture proper; they had split off fifteen hundred years ago..."[10]
  11. "It had duly suffered the same fate as a handful of cities round the globe during the Last Unification War fifteen hundred years earlier..."[11]
  12. "'Eleven hundred years ago he got it into his head that what this place really needed was a system of sailing cable cars.'"[12]
  13. "'Quilan’s family had been landowners, traders, bankers and insurers for a thousand years. '"[8]
  14. "The Culture's General Contact Units, which until now had borne the brunt of the first four years of the war in space..."[13]
  15. "But the Culture [...] had fought for almost four years without showing any sign of giving up or even coming to a compromise."[13]
  16. "'Well, you wait and see,' the boy said, nodding at her. 'I think we'll pull out of the war and let the Idirans get on with their expansion - or whatever you want to call it. The war's been sort of exciting, and it's made a change, but it's been nearly four years now, and...'"[14]
  17. "Kabe swivelled to find the drone E. H. Tersono floating at his side at a level a little above head height for a human and a little below that of an Homomdan. The machine was a little less than a metre in height, and half that in width and depth."[4]
  18. "Tersono’s metre-tall body might have suggested that it had been constructed millennia ago..."[4]
  19. "'By the time he’d finished, six hundred years after he’d started...'"[12]
  20. "This was different. Nothing like this had been seen in the galaxy since the worst days of the Idiran war five hundred years earlier..."[16]
  21. "The granddaddy, the exemplary hero figure, the very God of such vessels, was the GSV Sleeper Service, which had selflessly impersonated such eccentric indifference to the Culture for four decades and then, some twenty-plus years ago now..."[17]
  22. "By the spring of the year 1977 AD, the General Contact Unit Arbitrary had been stationed above the planet Earth for the best part of six months. The ship, of the Escarpment class, middle series, had arrived during the previous November..."[18]
  23. "At five minutes and three seconds past three AM, GMT, on the morning of January the second, 1978, the General Contact Unit Arbitrary broke orbit above the planet Earth."[19]
  24. "'...and send a stalling letter to that Petrain guy.'"[21]
  25. "I am no longer in Contact ordinaire, and my position in Special Circumstances"[22]
  26. "...but while I have stuck as strictly as memory (machine and human) will allow to what actually happened those hundred and fifteen years ago..."[22]
  27. "The Limiting Factor was 'Murderer' class General Offensive Unit number 50017, and as such was one of the last built, constructed seven hundred and sixteen years earlier in the closing stages of the Idiran war, when the conflict in space was almost over."[23]
  28. "...but while I have stuck as strictly as memory (machine and human) will allow to what actually happened those hundred and fifteen years ago..."[22]
  29. "'Mahrai Ziller has lived there for the last seven years. He appears to be content to remain on the world. As I say, you will, seemingly, be going there to attempt to persuade him to renounce his exile and return to Chel.'"[25]
  30. "Then something terrible happened, and he saw, and still did not go home, even after the Caste War, which broke out nine years after he left..."[7]
  31. "Eight-hundred-and-three-year-old light shone steadily down."[4]
  32. "Still, as one of the ship Minds that had been involved at the sharp end of the Idiran war a thousand years earlier and not gone into a profound retreat..."[2]
  33. "It had been fifteen hundred years since the Idiran conflict..."[28]
  34. "'However, as part of what were in effect war reparations after the Chel debacle, six hundred years ago...'"[29]


  1. Excession, chapter 3.1
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 5
  3. Excession, chapter 3.4
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Look to Windward, chapter 1
  5. Look to Windward, chapter 11
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 Consider Phlebas, The war, briefly
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Look to Windward, chapter 5
  8. 8.0 8.1 Look to Windward, chapter 6
  9. Excession, chapter 2.2
  10. Excession, chapter 3.2
  11. Look to Windward, chapter 10
  12. 12.0 12.1 Look to Windward, chapter 9
  13. 13.0 13.1 Consider Phlebas, chapter 2
  14. Consider Phlebas, State of play: two
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Consider Phlebas, Dramatis personae
  16. Excession, chapter 11.5
  17. Matter, chapter 20
  18. "The State of the Art", chapter 2.1
  19. "The State of the Art", chapter 6.4
  20. Use of Weapons, "Slight Mechanical Destruction"
  21. Use of Weapons, chapter 1.Two
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 "The State of the Art", chapter 1
  23. The Player of Games, chapter 2
  24. Consider Phlebas, Appendices: the Idiran-Culture war
  25. Look to Windward, chapter 12
  26. Look to Windward, chapter 2
  27. Look to Windward, chapter 16
  28. Surface Detail, chapter 3
  29. Surface Detail, chapter 9