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The Birth Of Civilisation And The Path To Modern Times

Sep 15, 2008
With the human body fully developed and farming and culture slowly spreading across the planet civilisation could begin. Civilisation began when people stopped leading nomadic lives and started to live in permanent settlements.

As farming techniques improved and became more efficient people would no longer have to spend all their time gathering food. This would leave time over for other pursuits and some members of the early civilisations would go on to other occupations such as priests and artisans.

The division of labour would lead to social hierarchies forming as well as a larger range of activities. This would eventually lead to significant scientific and cultural discoveries and inventions. Once human intelligence could really be utilised then the path to the modern day seems inevitable.

The first civilisations proper are thought to have arisen around 3000 BC in Sumer and Egypt with the development of formal writing. Chinese states also began appearing and many other civilisations were founded with numerous wars fought for the next two thousand years.

The main strength of early human civilisations was military, a state would often expand its borders through its armies and man power. As a result of the militaristic nature of early civilisations ancient history can be told as a series of wars and empires' peaks and declines.

Around 800 BC the Greeks founded their famous civilisation. Many important philosophical and technological discoveries were made during this time. In 776 BC the first Olympic games were held and continue to be held every four years to the present day. The Greek civilisation would continue to last for hundreds of years and would eventually be conquered by Philip of Macedon in 338 BC.

As the Greek civilisation was rising another was forming not far away. In 750 BC Rome was founded in Italy. Over the next seven hundred years the Roman empire would stretch over much of Europe and become one of the most successful empires in history, with a significant legacy. Due to its immense size the Roman empire would have a huge impact on Western culture and language, even to this day.

The Empire initially started as a republic but would grow extremely large at the turn of the millennium. At its peak in 117 AD the Empire was ruled by Trajan and controlled around 5,900,00 kilometres squared of land. Rome would eventually fall in 476 AD, the point which signals the start of the Middle Ages.

During the Middle Ages Christianity and Islam began to spread and Europe was in a constant state of flux as wars were fought and countries invaded. The Vikings were extremely active during the first thousand years AD, invading England in 865. Two hundred years later England would again be conquered in the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066. The Normans would rule the country for centuries and produce the first ever national census when they wrote the Doomsday Book in 1086.

In 1206 Genghis Khan united the Mongols and set off creating one of the largest empires in history. Even after his death in 1227 the Mongols continued to gain land, invading Russia, Poland, Hungary and Bagdad. The next two hundred years would be characterised by war and conquest as countries tried to expand their borders.

The period of time that is thought to separate the Middle Ages from the Modern Era is known as the Renaissance. Meaning reborn, the Renaissance would see a huge leap forward in arts, education, politics and social thinking. It lasted from the 14th to the 17th century and began in Italy. Men such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michalangelo would inspire much of the new thinking during the period.

The Renaissance has been seen as an attempt by scholars to gain a greater understanding of the world around them. This is also evident in art as painters started to try and paint much more realistically than before, developing techniques that would accurately show lighting and depth.

The Renaissance would also see the introduction of the scientific method, where discoveries would be made based on results and observations. These methods put forward by Galileo and Copernicus would form the foundation for many discoveries in astronomy, physics, biology and medicine.

The next couple of hundred years were characterised by discoveries of new lands and the development of science and technology along with the arts. In 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, initially mistaking the land for East-Asia when he named the local people Indians. The discovery of this new continent by Europeans would see quick colonisation and the eventual extermination of much of the native people. Inca, Aztec and Mayan civilisations were wiped out by European diseases brought over by the Spanish and Portuguese.

William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and would go on to influence the English language like no one before or since, with his plays still studied almost five hundred years after they were written. In the century after Europeans would set out to colonise North America with English Puritans and the Dutch leading the way, founding New York and towns in New England.

In China the Ming Dynasty was overthrown and replaced by the Manchu Dynasty. Oliver Cromwell rose to power in England in 1653 and London burnt down in the great fire of 1666. In 1687 Isaac Newton published his theories on the concept of gravity as scientific thinking continued to move forward.

The late 1700s saw the American War of Independence and the start of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. In 1789 George Washington became the first president of the USA and the French Revolution started. The 1800s would see the continuation of the Industrial Revolution, leading to many significant discoveries and the accelerated development of transport and urban areas.

In 1859 Charles Darwin published his book, On the Origin of the Species, the first text that would seriously question religion. Light bulbs and steam power saw introduction in this time, as well as the ability to harness electricity. In 1885 the car was invented and in 1903 the first aeroplane was flown by the Wright brothers.

Civilisation had come a long way but the advances made in the industrial revolution were just the beginning. The 20th century would see the most significant discoveries made by mankind as well as some of the most important advances. In just 66 years humans would go from the first powered flight to landing on the Moon. However, the time would also see the deployment of this technology in some of the bloodiest battles ever seen.
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