Evidence was discovered in 2369 that suggests many of the galaxy's humanoid races were descended from a single humanoid race, the originators of the form, who had seeded many worlds with a DNA code to guide evolution to a humanoid form. Related species, such as the offshoot Romulans, displayed evidence of these DNA sequences which may imply the Vulcans were descended from them as well. (TNG: "The Chase")
Another possibility came to light in 2268 with the discovery of Sargon and his people. When Sargon explained that his people colonized many worlds in the galaxy six million years prior, Spock theorized that Vulcan might have been such a colony world. According to Spock "that would tend to explain certain elements of Vulcan prehistory". (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow")
Although Vulcan civilization goes back much farther than that of Humans for example, there are still many gaps in Vulcan prehistory, such as the Obelisks of ancient Vulcan, which were lost for many years but were an important archaeological discovery when they were finally excavated. (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow"; VOY: "One Small Step")
According to Spock, early Vulcans once subscribed to a "martial philosophy." When a series of Earth outposts in Sector Z-6 (along the neutral zone) came under attack by a Romulan ship, Spock likened the Romulans to early Vulcans, explaining that "Vulcan, like Earth, had its aggressive, colonizing period; savage, even by Earth standards." (TOS: "Balance of Terror")
Time of Awakening
- For main article, see Time of Awakening.
By the 4th century, Vulcan was tearing itself apart. Their rampant emotions combined with a hostile warrior culture led to many wars using atomic weapons. But out of this came a philosopher named Surak, who would propose leading a life governed by logic rather than emotion. His teachings quickly spread, and Vulcan finally began a shift towards peace.
One group still opposed allowing logic to govern their lives. "Those who marched beneath the Raptor's wings", as Surak called them, fought a final war with the rest of Vulcan, were forced to leave the planet, and became the Romulans.
20th & 21st centuries
By the 20th century, Vulcans had discovered Earth and the Human civilization that inhabited it, but never made contact because they were deemed too primitive. The Vulcans were startled, however, by the launch of the first human-made artificial satellite into orbit - "Sputnik" in 1957 (which they may have detected through unmanned recon probes elsewhere). Surprised that humans were advancing towards spaceflight so quickly, Vulcan survey ships began making routine flybys through the Sol system to keep on eye on how humans were developing. Fearing cultural contamination, however, Vulcans did not make contact with humans because they had not achieved faster-than-light propulsion on their own; this included not intervening during Earth's World War III even though the Vulcans were aware it was happening, because they felt it was a local problem they shouldn't get entangled in. (ENT: "Carbon Creek")
In 2063, the Vulcans were the first to make formal contact with the Human race, when a routine scouting mission noticed Zeframe Cochrane's first human warp-speed flight. The survey ship followed Cochrane's vessel back to his base in Bozeman, Montana, to meet the man who had achieved Earth's first faster-than-light travel, and subsequently established formal diplomatic relations with Earth. An alliance that lasted for centuries was formed between the two worlds, though the Vulcans initially refused to share advanced warp technology with the Humans. Almost a century after first contact, Earth was able to launch its first warp 5 starship, the Enterprise NX-01. (Star Trek: First Contact; ENT: "Broken Bow")
By the mid-22nd century, Vulcan was a regional power in the Alpha Quadrant. The Vulcan High Command engaged in conflicts with the neighboring Andorians, and also used its influence to slow Earth's technological development.
At some point prior to 2151, the Vulcans built a monitoring station beneath the ancient monastery at P'Jem for the purpose of spying on the Andorians. In 2151, the listening station was discovered by the Human starship captain Jonathan Archer and the Andorian Shran. (ENT: "The Andorian Incident") Shortly thereafter, the monastery was destroyed by Andorian orbital bombardment. This caused turmoil and upheaval on Vulcan, including the dismissal of the First Minister. (ENT: "Shadows of P'Jem")
- For the main article, see Vulcan Reformation.
Subsequent to this crisis, the High Command gained more control over civilian affairs. Under the leadership of Administrator V'Las, the High Command persecuted the Syrrannite sect, which claimed that Vulcan no longer followed the true teachings of Surak. (Many of Surak's original writings had been lost in the centuries since the Time of Awakening.) In 2154, V'Las claimed to have proof that the Andorians were developing a superweapon based on Xindi technology, and planned to invade Andoria in order to preempt this threat.
As these plans were developing, agents loyal to V'Las bombed Earth's embassy and framed the Syrrannite T'Pau for the act. Jonathan Archer, investigating the Syrrannites, was briefly joined with the katra of Surak, and re-discovered the Kir'Shara, an artifact containing the original writings of Surak.
Ambassador Soval and Commander Charles Tucker warned the Andorians of the planned invasion, and the Vulcan attack fleet lost the element of surprise (see Battle of Andoria). As the battle got underway, Archer and T'Pau brought the Kir'Shara into the High Command's headquarters, justifying the Syrranites' position and enabling Minister Kuvak to challenge V'Las's increasingly illogical behavior.
In short order, the attack on Andoria was canceled, V'Las deposed, and the High Command disbanded. Kuvak and T'Pau formed a new transitional government which promised to pursue peaceful policies, and also to end its restrictions on Earth's technological development and expansion. (ENT: "The Forge", "Awakening", "Kir'Shara")
The years following the Vulcan reformation also saw the Vulcans being one of the leading members of the Coalition of Planets, an alliance which included friends such as Earth as well as long-time rivals such as the Andorians. This alliance lead Vulcan to be one of the founding members of the United Federation of Planets in 2161. (ENT: "Terra Prime", "Azati Prime")
By the 23rd century, Vulcans were one of the more active members of the Federation. Personifying this was Ambassador Sarek, whose quick and logical responses during debates (such as with Tellarite Ambassador Gav) brought him recognition. He was even asked to come out of retirement to represent Vulcan at the Babel Conference. He later served as a personal adviser to the Federation President, and was involved in the Khitomer Accords. (TOS: "Journey to Babel"; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
On a less than positive light, by then some saw the Vulcans as the "intellectual puppets of the Federation" as the Klingon ambassador put it while arguing before the Federation Council. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
Romulan invasion attempts
The Romulans have attempted to invade, subvert, and/or gain control of the Vulcan government on at least three occasions.
Another occurred in the 22nd century, during a time of political and social upheaval in Vulcan society that ended in the Vulcan Reformation. Administrator V'Las, who was either a Romulan or a Romulan sympathizer, attempted to wipe out the Syrrannite movement. His efforts were thwarted by Starfleet Captain Jonathan Archer, T'Pol, and T'Pau when they recovered and returned the Kir'Shara, which held the recordings of Surak's true teachings. (ENT: "The Forge", "Awakening", "Kir'Shara")
In 2368 an attempt at a Vulcan-Romulan reformation/reunification almost resulted in an invasion of Vulcan. It began when Ambassador Spock went to Romulus because the new Proconsul Neral convinced Spock he was ready to open formal relations with Vulcan. (TNG: "Unification I", "Unification II")