Paleolithic Age, Neolithic Age, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Ancient China, Islam, Byzantium, Americas, Oceana, China, Mongolia, Europe (Middle Ages)
5 Million BC - 10,000 BC
Stone Age/Ice Age
It was very cold during the ice age/stone age. Archeologists found a number of caves that had paintings on the walls that displayed the animals that they hunted for survival (food). This was their system of education. They did not have a written language. The only things we know about them is from what is left in the caves and their burial sites.
Controlling fire was an important technology the Paleolithic people learned. They were hunters, fishers, and gatherers.
10,000 BC - 3300 BC
Middle Stone Age (Agricultural Revolution)
Due to the warming of the earth the glacial ice receded and brought forth fertile land for agriculture. The nomadic life (continuously moving) to follow the herds was replaced with small villages that grew crops for food production. Domestication of animals was beginning to take effect.
This was still the stone age, but tools made out of bones, wood, and stones were developing.
Neolithic Huts Skara Bae - Neolithic Dwellings
Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England.
Stonehenge seems to have been built in several phases around 2000BC. The mysterious structure, believed in the Middle Ages to have been the work of the magician Merlin, who spirited it from Ireland, or the work of a race of giants, comes in our own time to be thought of as an accurate calendar.
The Development of Written Language and Metallurgy (Bronze Age)
Fertile Crescent Sumerian Tax tablet
The Fertile Crescent was the beginning of civilization. Mesopotamia (now Iraq) to the East and Pre-Israel/Egypt to the West were very different but complex civilizations developed from these two areas in the "Bronze Age".
Ancient Mesopotamia was supported by two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The river in Egypt was the Nile that brought rich fertile top soil every year to the lower valleys as the annual floods occurred.
Mesopotamia was ruled by Kings. There were temples called Ziggurats built that were similar to the step pyramids of ancient Egypt. Their kings were rulers that were spiritual in nature and ruled by laws that gave the people of this civilization freedom and the ability to develop individual wealth.
The Development of Written Language and Metallurgy (Bronze Age)
The Pharaoh's Power:
The challenge to the early pharaohs was how they were to maintain their rule over the vast land of Egypt. Pharaonic Egypt was over 750 miles long, and in its early years it contained a wide diversity of peoples and cultures. Egyptian unity and stability were not an accident of environment. They were instead created by the Egyptian people themselves, in particular of their gifted ruling class. What worked for Egypt in ancient times was a dictatorship of a god-king.
The Egyptians were a very religious people and prepared themselves for the "afterlife". Their gods took many animal/human forms in their art and hieroglyphs. The pyramids began as burial sites in a mastaba form which had many square layers placed on top of the other layer as a step pyramid.
These pyramids became more extravagant as time progressed into what is now seen in Giza as remnants of massive edifices to bury the Pharaoh and his wife.
These tombs were elaborately decorated with riches and other important items for their voyage to the "afterlife".
Archeologists have found many smaller tombs that had similar attributes for the common people.
One of the most important parts of an Egyptian was to be "honest". Their voyage to heaven depended on their obedience to honesty. Their heart was weighted (figuratively) against a feather (truth). If they were truthful throughout their life they could travel to heaven (book of the dead).
The pharaoh (God/King) and his wife were the ultimate rules of the entire country. In Mesopotamia there were many Kings that ruled their local governments with an overlord King to create national unity.
The Pharaoh was "it". Everything was for the Pharaoh. There was no upper class with exception to the priests and the Pharaoh's relatives, the elite.
The peasant class served the Pharaoh and they wanted their God/King to be happy so that the Gods would be appeased to give the people their needed rain and fertile land for food production.
There was little interaction between Mesopotamia and Egypt at the beginning. As time progressed the two nations traded and bartered with each other for resources not found in their individual countries.
Greece developed an interesting type of "freedom of the people" called democracy. This type of government did not evolve easily. Their government began with a King, royalty, priestesses (Oracles), and the "people" (peasants).
Homer was a prolific writer and created a major religious past of Gods and Goddesses that had human qualities. These myths developed into a religious system that was cast down as time progressed. The "rational" thinking of the greeks was a major force in the world. Their written language was as strong as their intellectual and scientific research.
Eventually Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle helped continue the development of philosophy of the "real world" to higher levels than had every been presented before.
Today many countries use a form of this democratic idea as republics. The Romans used this system in their beginning of government. As their development and expansion was experienced they turned to a combination of Ruler (Augustus Caesar) and Senate.
The Greeks were on the cutting edge for centuries for scientific discovery. Since they were not "curbed" by religious intolerance they were able to break through the barriers of the knowledge of the known world without worries of heresy which later prevailed in future generations.
Alexander the Great was the son of a conqueror (Phillip II) who spoke Greek but was from the North of central Greece (Athens). When Alexanders father was poisoned and died he inherited the expansion of the army of Macedonia (Greece). He invaded everywhere. He was 23 years old when he was called to this leadership position, and he did a tremendous job. He even led his forces at the front of the battles, which most Kings/Rulers would watch the battle from a mountain or hill top far off from danger.
He took over the Mediterranean and even the known East (Persia). His knowledge of creative tactics of battle were revolutionary and are studied in military schools even today as exceptional.
When he conquered Egypt he called a major port "Alexandria". He created the worlds largest library which had books and knowledge related things that were magnificent in every way. The library was eventually burned down and destroyed in later years after Alexander the Great died to the detriment to historians today. This loss is still considered today a major catastrophe for our knowledge of the past.
Women in Greece were stifled in many ways. The family was an important part of Greece. Women were to take care of house work and were not involved in the government.
The religious priestess was an important part of the Greek religion. The Greeks would not do anything regarding wars or major decisions until they went to the Oracle in their area (Delphi near Athens) to find out what the Gods wanted them to do and what the future was.
Rome in Italy became the major power of the known world around the Mediterranean years after Alexander the Great. The army was a major part of their success of expanding and conquering.
The Romans admired the Greeks in their government, literature, and armed forces. Their gods were taken from the gods of the Greeks and renamed.
Their government began as a republic with the people making the decisions for their country. As the army became more ferocious the generals were not only striking out for the expansion of their government, but were fighting each other for power as time progressed.
The republic was replaced by an General/Emperor, Julius Caesar. As he was stabbed to death by "senators" who thought that the people would be happy to go back to a republic form of government, this proved to be wrong.
The next leader, Augustus Caesar (Octavius), ruled with a kind hand for many years. He ruled between 27 BC until his natural death in 14 AD. During his reign the government of Roman became known and the "Roman Empire".
The Roman Army and Navy was exceptional. It was well trained. The development of weapons and tactics were ahead of the other regions which gave them victories almost wherever they fought. The Army was exceptional in engineering and building projects during wars and sieges.
The Roman government also had many building projects. As assimilated other cities in their expansion throughout the known world they developed roads. The phrase, "all roads lead to Rome" was very true. The Romans were also interested in aqueducts and other unique inventions for city life. The "games" were also part of their entertainment in colosseums.
The Greek concept of "hero worship" was part of their interest. Spectator sports were interesting but yet very violent.
As the Romans adopted the Greek Gods even though they renamed them, they built temples to worship these Gods and Goddesses.
Years after Augustus Caesar (Octavius) died in the early 4th century Constantine (also a general) conquered Rome and ruled as the sole ruler. When he entered Rome with his army he had a conversion to Christianity and gave an order to treat Christians in a civil fashion.
Years later the Roman Empire was ordered to all become Christians. It was eventually the religion of all of the Mediterranean.
When Constantine was in power he changed the ruling center of the Roman Empire from Rome to Byzantium (North East). This change of location gave way to the Christian Church eventually being split into East and West Christianity.
The Greek Orthodox Church started in Constantinople. It was the only Christian church during the time of Constantine. After his death the Roman Catholic Church broke off from the Eastern Orthodox Church.
China was isolated from other regions due to it's geography. Their writing system was remarkable. It is half communication and half art. The calligraphic style is very difficult to master as is remarkable. Picture words are devised in this style of writing that evolved into a beautiful motion of lines the bend in an eloquent fashion.
Harmony with nature is a major part of the Chinese people in ancient days which continues today. Their primary religion was honoring their relatives. The Chang Dynasty began their written language and metallurgy. The Zhou Dynasty took over between 1050 - 256 BC and ruled with an iron hand.
The development of a system of thought similar to the Greeks was through Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism. "Rational" thought and doing "good" was important to the Chinese. They were not steeped in major religious doctrine. The family was the center of their society.
Even though there was not a major religion in China the Rulers were interested in getting information from the Gods by the Priests using Oracle Bones or Tortoise shells that were heated up to find answers to questions in the cracks in the surface of the bones or shells.
China was interested in developing many inventions that were not in other civilizations. The Chinese were inspired to make "paper". They also invented the printing press. They used block printing and moveable type centuries before Guttenburg was credited for the same thing. Guttenburg just added enhanced this system with metal moveable type.
Confucius was a very pius man that changed China. His influence is even felt today by his sayings called "Analects".
He was a brilliant man that developed a form of logic based on "rational" understanding of people and relationships.
Mecca was a major trading city in Saudi Arabia. The Islamic religion began in the Arabian Peninsula and then spread throughout the world. Through trade Islam became well known through India, China and the Mediterranean.
As the silk road to China expanded more and more people were interest in Islam and became Muslims.
Muslims (Islam) were able to tolerate Christians & Jews and Christians and Jews tolerated Muslims. There was a cooperation between the two religions until the middle ages.
The expansion of Islam eventually went north and took over Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul.
Islam grew in Egypt and went West and then North to Spain. During the Spanish Inquisition Islam was forced out of Spain.
Muhammad lived from 570 - 632 AD. His teachings created the Koran which were written down a few years after this sudden natural death.
Muhammad lived in Mecca but fled from the city to a city north called Medina. After living in Medina a number of years he came back to Mecca with an army and took up residence and control of the city with his troops.
Muslims make a pilgrimage once in their lifetime to Mecca to honor the prophet and their religion.
The Koran was written a number of years after the prophet, Muhammad, died. The Muslims believe the new and old testament but also include the Koran to be the supreme last word from God.
They tolerated Christians and Jews but collected taxes from them when they became legislators in the towns and cities. The Muslims were exempt from these taxes. Many Christians and Jews became converts so that they did not have to pay these taxes. It was a subtle conversion for many people in this time.
They expanded North, South, East and West. The expansion of the Muslims was all the way to southern Spain. In the expansion to Spain the African Mediterranean basin was also their territory. The religion expanded North to Constantinople and to the East into Persia.
The Byzantines loved the Greek of old and built monument that were copies of the Greek art. The Greek literature and philosophy was also admired by the Roman, Byzantines.
Latin was the language of the Romans and the emperor Justinian wrote a code of law exclusively in Latin. This code of law has features that are used today throughout the world.
The science of medicine was an important part of the Byzantine life. They believed in the four humors of the body which was introduced in Greece many years before by Hippocrates'.
They believed in the importance of diet, rest, and herbs.
Between 324 to 632 AD Constantinople (Byzantium) was a very powerful city. It represented the headquarters of the Roman Empire.
The goal of the rulers of Constantinople (Byzantium) was "one God, one empire, and one religion".
Justinian (shown above) was a Roman Emperor that is dressed as if a clergy. His wife on the other art work is shown as a saint.
The combination of church and state was a major part of the centralization of the government, even though there were many individualized states.
Link: Inca Road System
Link: Expeditions to the Americas before Columbus
Link: The Kon Tiki Expedition
Olmec Sculpture Maya Temple
Link: Mesoamerican History
Aztec Calendar Aztec throne Aztec temple
Link: Song Dynasty
Trade was intensified with merchants and guilds specializing in different products sold to other countries
With the improvement of water tight bulkheads improved buoyancy protecting the cargo. The rear mounted rudders also helped improve steering. The ships were larger and some had oars and sails.
These improved ships went further than previous shipping lanes with cargo for trade from many foreign lands.
When the Chinese invented the magnetic compass the ships were capable to travel to distant lands not possible in past years.
Mongols - expert horsemen Genghis Khan
This was known as the Carolingian dynasty. On Christmas Day 1800 Charles the Great (Charlemagne) was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope in Rome.
His Christian enthusiasm was a bonding of Europe in a prolific development of bible production and monasteries (church facilities). Literacy was promoted on a grand scale.
The High Middle Ages was a remarkable time in Western Civilization. After the fall of the Roman Empire the Kings and Lords along with the church protected the people the best they could. As this metamorphosis occurred a nationalism began to take hold to protect each country from the other.
The Gothic cathedrals towered throughout Europe and the Christian religion took hold. As the Christian beliefs were expanding and the Pope was more and more powerful the order for the Crusades and Holy Wars began to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims.
The church created the universities throughout Europe. The Bishops of each area assigned a chancellor to oversee the educational facility.
Eventually the universities expanded their field of knowledge in law and medicine as well as the training of the clergy.
There was a crop failure between 1315 and 1317 AD. This famine was devastating. The cities were hit by the famine more than the rural areas. By the lack of nutrition the European population was susceptible to the Bubonic plague and other diseases. By 1348 Europe was "sick".
The trade routes were the vehicle for the plague to spread. Venice, Genoa, and Pisa were the ports that spread the plague in 1348. By the 1400's the plagues killed over 20% of the European population. Due to the horrible circumstances of the European health situation with so many people dying early in their lives there was an enduring pessimism.
Sickness began to end in the late 1300's. The 1400's brought a more positive feeling in Europe which helped spawn the Renaissance ("rebirth").