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Timeline Of World History Major Time Periods Ages

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Timeline Of World Major Time Periods Ages Img Vi

In particular, I’m going to be showing you how history can be divided into various time periods – or ages – and I’ll be explaining how these divisions end up highlighting some of the most important turning points in world history. Intro Let me start by explaining the basics of how this chart works. The vertical scale represents the flow of time, with time moving forward as you move down the page.

Every white line represents 100 years and the scale is equidistant, which means that the distance between two lines near the top of the chart is exactly same as it is near the bottom. This is important because it allows for accurate comparisons to be made and thus gives the viewer a proper perspective on time. Horizontally, the various sections of the chart represent different parts of the world. So, on the far left, we have the Americas, followed by Africa, Europe, Asia, and finally the Pacific islands. Every line on the chart represents a specific culture, civilization, or empire and the width of the line represents the relative importance of that culture when compared to other cultures from the same time period or region.

The next thing we need to talk about are the terms AD and BC and their equivalents CE and BCE. AD means Anno Domini, which is Latin for "in the year of the Lord". Basically, it's meant to measure the years from the birth of Jesus. Anything before that point is called BC, which stands for "Before Christ". Now, most scholars today have actually concluded that Jesus was probably born in 4 BC so keep in mind that the scale is a bit off.

So, as we move backwards through time, the AD dates go down but then once we get to BC, the dates start going back up. And I should point out that there is no year zero. So, basically, the year 1 BC was followed immediately by the year 1 AD. Nowadays, it’s becoming more and more standard for historians to use the terms CE and BCE instead. CE stands for Common Era and BCE stands for Before the Common Era.

The reason for the change is simply an attempt to use a more neutral term, which makes sense considering that 75% of the world is not Christian. Ok, now that we've got that under our belt, the next question we need to address is: What is the starting point for history? In other words, where do we draw the line between history and pre-history? Well, on this chart, I've used the year 33 hundred BCE as my starting point. The reason for this is that this is approximately when writing first appeared. The basic idea is that without written records, we can't have history. Therefore, everything before the emergence of the first writing systems is best categorized as pre-history.

And, of course, pre-history goes back much farther than 5,300 years. If we’re talking about the pre-history of our species, homo sapiens, it goes back about another 200 thousand years a time period also known as the Stone Age) and if we’re talking about the pre-history of the planet earth, that goes back about 4.5 billion years. But this chart doesn’t cover prehistory. Instead, it starts with the emergence of written records and goes from there. So, on this chart, history is divided into six main time periods: the Early Bronze Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, Classical Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Modern Period.

Let’s now take a look at each, one by one. The Bronze Age gets its name based on the fact that humans first started to make things out of bronze around the same time that they first developed writing. This occurred in three main areas: Egypt, Sumer which is modern-day Iraq), and the Indus Valley modern-day Pakistan). Unfortunately, the writing system used in the Indus Valley is yet to be deciphered so we can only read the records from Egypt and Sumer. But we do know that these three civilizations did trade with one another and that throughout the early Bronze Age, each grew in terms of both size and technology.

At the start of this period, the Sumerians had already invented the wheel, the plough, and the sail. But during the early Bronze Age, they also went on to develop astronomy and mathematics. Over in Egypt, it was during the early Bronze Age that the Great Pyramids of Giza were built. Besides these three civilizations, the only other place in the world to have large cities was over in what is today Peru. There, a culture known as the Norte Chico civilization was thriving.

But strangely, although they built large stone structures, they appear to have had no writing system and no pottery. Stone structures dating from the early Bronze Age can also be found at Stonehenge in England and on the island of Malta. But neither of these places had large populations. Okay, so that was the early Bronze Age. Now let’s look at the Bronze Age proper.

Dividing these two time periods is a very important event known as the 4.2 kiloyear event, named because it occurred approximately 4.2 thousand years ago. The exact cause of the event is still debated but we do know is that it resulted in approximately 100 years of extremely dry conditions worldwide. Because of this, the Egyptian Old Kingdom, the Akkadian Empire which had conquered Sumer) and the Indus Valley Civilization all declined rapidly and in the time period that followed, we get a new set of cultures. Egypt was revived as the Middle & New Kingdoms and the Sumerian civilization eventually evolved in the Babylonian civilization. But in South Asia, we get a more dramatic change.

The Indus Valley cities disappear altogether and we get a new set of people arriving, the Indo-Aryans, who were part of the larger Indo-European group. During the Bronze Age proper, we also get civilizations arising in other parts of the world for the first time, including in China, Sub-Saharan Africa, and unbeknownst to many people, North America. There we get the Poverty Point culture, where large mounds and complex settlements were built. Finally, we also get the first civilization in Europe – the Minoans on the island of Crete. Midway through the period though, there was a volcanic eruption nearby which led to the downfall of the Minoans and the rise of the Mycenean Greeks instead.

This catastrophe could very well have been the event that birthed the Atlantis myth. The next big turning point in history occurred around 12 hundred BCE and is known as the Bronze Age collapse. For reasons that are still somewhat unclear, the major civilizations in Greece, Anatolia, and Egypt all disappeared almost instantaneously. What followed is often called the Greek Dark Ages – a period in which the historical record for the region goes somewhat silent. Interestingly, it is during this silent period that many of the world’s most famous legendary tales supposedly took place, such as those found in the Jewish Torah, the Greek Iliad, and the Hindu Mahabharata.

The Bronze Age collapse also coincided with the first use of iron in the Middle East. Therefore, the period in which the Greek Dark Ages took place is also aptly called the Iron Age. This is the third and final period in what is known as the three-age system, consisting of the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. The next period is not actually part of the three-age system. This is because, after approximately 600 BCE, we no longer have to rely entirely on archaeology to get information.

As I mentioned earlier, humans have been writing since 33 hundred BCE. But there is nothing surviving from the Bronze Age or Iron Age that could really be considered a history book. Sure, we have the names of kings, lists of battles, and other details carved into rock and metal but we don’t have anything that starts with “In this treatise, I am going to record the complete history of X” But, around this time, we do start to get such writings, for example, from a Greek guy named Herodotus, who is often called the “father of history”. So, in other words, we know a heck of a lot more information about this next period, called Classical Antiquity, than we know about the previous periods. Classical Antiquity is when the Greeks and the Romans laid the foundations for what would become known as Western civilization, mostly by borrowing and building upon information gained from the earlier Bronze Age civilizations.

But there was a lot going on in other parts of the world as well. For example, in Mesoamerica, Olmec culture would go on to influence classical Mayan culture, with its intricate calendar and writing system and in North America, there was an extensive trade network where lots of different types of art was being exchanged In Africa, the long-standing Kingdom of Kush eventually gave way to the Kingdom of Aksum in Ethiopia. There was also the three mighty Persian empires, the Maurya & Gupta Empires in India, and the first imperial dynasty in China. Eventually, a trade route between all these areas opened up, known as the Silk Road, and thus the Western parts of Eurasia and the Eastern parts of Eurasia were connected for the first time. But perhaps even more importantly, it was during Classical Antiquity that humanity’s current moral and philosophical foundations were laid.

Simultaneously yet independently, we got Greek philosophy, the Bible, the Hindu & Buddhist scriptures and the writings of Confucius. We also saw the first experiments with democracy and the first evidence of truly scientific thinking. But this golden age of human development did not last forever. It came to an end around the year 500 CE with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. In other areas, the classical period ended a little earlier such as in China) or a little later like in Mesoamerica) but basically, all over the world, most of the major classical civilizations eventually crumbled.

We then get what’s called the Middle Ages. The word “middle” is used for this period because it is located in the middle between ancient history which consists of everything we’ve covered so far) and modern history which we’ll be getting to next). It’s also called the Medieval Period, “medieval” simply meaning “Middle Age”. But one term that really shouldn’t be used for the medieval period, but often is, is the Dark Ages. The reason for this is that the so-called dark ages were really just limited to Western Europe.

Other areas during this time, such as the Middle East and China, were actually experiencing new Golden Ages. So what made things in Western Europe change so drastically? Well, numerous theories have been put forward but one thing we know for certain is that it involved large scale migrations in several parts of the world. Whether or not these migrations were sparked by climate change or some other natural phenomenon, we can’t be sure. But it ended up creating kind of a domino effect. For example, the Huns moved into Europe from the East and this pushed several Germanic tribes south, bringing them into conflict with Rome.

Eventually, it was these Germanic tribes, known to the Romans as “barbarians” who caused the fall of the Western Empire and plunged Europe into the so-called Dark Ages. But it wasn’t just barbarians that caused trouble. In the years 535 and 536, there were several extreme weather events, perhaps started by a large volcanic eruption, that led to famines and cool, dry weather all over the world. There was also the First Bubonic Plague, also known as the Plague of Justinian, that killed 50% of the population in some cities. In the East, these events did not lead to the Eastern half of the Empire falling but they did set the stage for the rise of a new civilization nearby – Islam.

But while Islam was expanding in the Middle East, Christianity was expanding in Europe. Eventually, areas that started out as barbarian kingdoms evolved into major powers such as England, France, and the Holy Roman Empire. But there were lots of other things happening in the world during the Middle Ages as well. For example, in West Africa, we get several major empires for the first time, including the Mali Empire with its ruler Mansa Musa, who was the richest person ever in all of world history. And in Southern Africa, there was the city of Great Zimbabwe, which included the first large structures ever in that part of the world.

A lot was happening in the Americas as well. We don’t tend to think of cities existing in pre-Columbian North America but they did. There was Cahokia in what is now Illinois as well as the Puebloan cities in New Mexico. In Mesoamerica, the Aztecs were dominating and in South America, there were the Incas. Finally, it was during the Middle Ages that we get the largest land empire of all time – the Mongol Empire – started by Genghis Khan.

Okay, we now come to the sixth and final time period – the modern age – which is the period in which we live today. One could argue that the transition started with the most deadly pandemic of all time – the Black Death, also known as the Second Bubonic Plague. Once again, up to 50% of the population in many cities passed away and this perhaps helped spark the Renaissance. The Eastern Roman Empire finally fell, to the Ottoman Turks, and in Italy, there was a renewed interest in studying the art and philosophy of the Classical Period. Around the same time, Europeans started colonizing the Americas and major advances were made in science.

This in turn led to the industrial revolution, which then gave way to the technological revolution which we are still experiencing today. Okay, so that was obviously a very broad overview. But what I think is perhaps most interesting and most important are the similarities that can be seen in the transitions between each time period. Often they involved a combination of climate events, mass migrations, and pandemics – three things that we are currently dealing with in the year 2020. Does this mean that we are on the verge of entering a new period in human history? I guess only time will tell.

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