"Human history" redirects here. For humanity's evolutionary history, see Human evolution.
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This scheme of historical periodization (dividing history into Antiquity, Post-Classical, Early Modern, and Late Modern periods) was developed for, and applies best to, the history of the Old World, particularly Europe and the Mediterranean. Outside this region, including ancient China and ancient India, historical timelines unfolded differently. However, by the 18th century, due to extensive world trade and colonization, the histories of most civilizations had become substantially intertwined, a process known as globalization. In the last quarter-millennium, the rates of growth of population, knowledge, technology, communications, commerce, weapons destructiveness, and environmental degradation have greatly accelerated, creating opportunities and perils that now confront the planet's human communities.
Modern humans spread rapidly from Africa into the frost-free zones of Europe and Asia around 60,000 years ago. The rapid expansion of humankind to North America and Oceania took place at the climax of the most recentice age, when temperate regions of today were extremely inhospitable. Yet, humans had colonized nearly all the ice-free parts of the globe by the end of the Ice Age, some 12,000 years ago. Other hominids such as Homo erectus had been using simple wood and stone tools for millennia, but as time progressed, tools became far more refined and complex.
Perhaps as early as 1.8 million years ago, but certainly by 500,000 years ago, humans began using fire for heat and cooking. They also developed language in the Paleolithic period and a conceptual repertoire that included systematic burial of the dead and adornment of the living. Early artistic expression can be found in the form of cave paintings and sculptures made from ivory, stone, and bone, showing a spirituality generally interpreted as animism, or even shamanism. During this period, all humans lived as hunter-gatherers, and were generally nomadic. Archaeological and genetic data suggest that the source populations of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers survived in sparsely wooded areas and dispersed through areas of high primary productivity while avoiding dense forest cover.
Rise of civilization
The Neolithic Revolution, beginning around 10,000 BCE, saw the development of agriculture, which fundamentally changed the human lifestyle. Farming developed around 10,000 BCE in the Middle East, around 7000 BCE in what is now China, around 6000 BCE in the Indus Valley and Europe, and around 4000 BCE in the Americas. Cultivation of cereal crops and the domestication of animals occurred around 8500 BCE in the Middle East, where wheat and barley were the first crops and sheep and goats were domesticated. In the Indus Valley, crops were cultivated by 6000 BCE, along with domesticated cattle. The Yellow River valley in China cultivated millet and other cereal crops by about 7000 BCE, but the Yangtze valley domesticated rice earlier, by at least 8000 BCE. In the Americas, sunflowers were cultivated by about 4000 BCE, and maize and beans were domesticated in Central America by 3500 BCE. Potatoes were first cultivated in the Andes Mountains of South America, where the llama was also domesticated.Metal-working, starting with copper around 6000 BCE, was first used for tools and ornaments. Gold soon followed, with its main use being for ornaments. The need for metal ores stimulated trade, as many of the areas of early human settlement were lacking in ores. Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, was first known from around 2500 BCE, but did not become widely used until much later.
Farming permitted far denser populations, which in time organized into states. Agriculture also created food surpluses that could support people not directly engaged in food production. The development of agriculture permitted the creation of the first cities. These were centres of trade, manufacturing and political power. Cities established a symbiosis with their surrounding countrysides, absorbing agricultural products and providing, in return, manufactured goods and varying degrees of military control and protection.
Entities such as the Sun, Moon, Earth, sky, and sea were often deified.Shrines developed, which evolved into temple establishments, complete with a complex hierarchy of priests and priestesses and other functionaries. Typical of the Neolithic was a tendency to worship anthropomorphicdeities. Among the earliest surviving written religious scriptures are the Egyptian Pyramid Texts, the oldest of which date to between 2400 and 2300 BCE.
Sumer, located in Mesopotamia, is the first known complex civilization, developing the first city-states in the 4th millennium BCE. It was in these cities that the earliest known form of writing, cuneiform script, appeared around 3000 BCE. Cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. These pictorial representations eventually became simplified and more abstract. Cuneiform texts were written on clay tablets, on which symbols were drawn with a blunt reed used as a stylus. Writing made the administration of a large state far easier.
Transport was facilitated by waterways—by rivers and seas. The Mediterranean Sea, at the juncture of three continents, fostered the projection of military power and the exchange of goods, ideas, and inventions. This era also saw new land technologies, such as horse-based cavalry and chariots, that allowed armies to move faster.
These developments led to the rise of territorial states and empires. In Mesopotamia there prevailed a pattern of independent warring city-states and of a loose hegemony shifting from one city to another. In Egypt, by contrast, first there was a dual division into Upper and Lower Egypt which was shortly followed by unification of all the valley around 3100 BCE, followed by permanent pacification. In Crete the Minoan civilization had entered the Bronze Age by 2700 BCE and is regarded as the first civilization in Europe. Over the next millennia, other river valleys saw monarchical empires rise to power. In the 25th – 21st centuries BCE, the empires of Akkad and Sumer arose in Mesopotamia.
Over the following millennia, civilizations developed across the world. Trade increasingly became a source of power as states with access to important resources or controlling important trade routes rose to dominance. By 1400 BCE, Mycenaean Greece began to develop. In India this era was the Vedic period, which laid the foundations of Hinduism and other cultural aspects of early Indian society, and ended in the 6th century BCE. From around 550 BCE, many independent kingdoms and republics known as the Mahajanapadas were established across the subcontinent.
As complex civilizations arose in the Eastern Hemisphere, the indigenous societies in the Americas remained relatively simple and fragmented into diverse regional cultures. During the formative stage in Mesoamerica (about 1500 BCE to 500 CE), more complex and centralized civilizations began to develop, mostly in what is now Mexico, Central America, and Peru. They included civilizations such as the Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Moche, and Nazca. They developed agriculture, growing maize, chili peppers, cocoa, tomatoes, and potatoes, crops unique to the Americas, and creating distinct cultures and religions. These ancient indigenous societies would be greatly affected, for good and ill, by European contact during the early modern period.
In the East, three schools of thought would dominate Chinese thinking well into the 20th century. These were Taoism, Legalism, and Confucianism. The Confucian tradition, which would become particularly dominant, looked for politicalmorality not to the force of law but to the power and example of tradition. Confucianism would later spread to the Korean Peninsula and toward Japan.
The millennium from 500 BCE to 500 CE saw a series of empires of unprecedented size develop. Well-trained professional armies, unifying ideologies, and advanced bureaucracies created the possibility for emperors to rule over large domains whose populations could attain numbers upwards of tens of millions of subjects.The great empires depended on militaryannexation of territory and on the formation of defended settlements to become agricultural centres. The relative peace that the empires brought encouraged international trade, most notably the massive trade routes in the Mediterranean, the maritime trade web in the Indian Ocean, and the Silk Road. In southern Europe, the Greeks (and later the Romans), in an era known as "classical antiquity," established cultures whose practices, laws, and customs are considered the foundation of contemporary Western culture.
In Europe, the Roman Empire, centered in present-day Italy, began in the 7th century BCE. In the 3rd century BCE the Roman Republic began expanding its territory through conquest and alliances. By the time of Augustus (63 BCE – 14 CE), the first Roman Emperor, Rome had already established dominion over most of the Mediterranean. The empire would continue to grow, controlling much of the land from England to Mesopotamia, reaching its greatest extent under the emperor Trajan (died 117 CE). In the 3rd century CE, the empire split into western and eastern regions, with (usually) separate emperors. The Western empire would fall, in 476 CE, to German influence under Odoacer. The eastern empire, now known as the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, would continue for another thousand years, until Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.
In China, the Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE), the first imperial dynasty of China, was followed by the Han Empire (206 BCE – 220 CE). The Han Dynasty was comparable in power and influence to the Roman Empire that lay at the other end of the Silk Road. Han China developed advanced cartography, shipbuilding, and navigation. The Chinese invented blast furnaces, and created finely tuned copper instruments. As with other empires during the Classical Period, Han China advanced significantly in the areas of government, education, mathematics, astronomy, technology, and many others.
In Africa, the Kingdom of Aksum, centred in present-day Ethiopia, established itself by the 1st century CE as a major trading empire, dominating its neighbours in South Arabia and Kush and controlling the Red Sea trade. It minted its own currency and carved enormous monolithic steles such as the Obelisk of Axum to mark their emperors' graves.
Successful regional empires were also established in the Americas, arising from cultures established as early as 2500 BCE. In Mesoamerica, vast pre-Columbian societies were built, the most notable being the Zapotec Empire (700 BCE – 1521 CE), and the Maya civilization, which reached its highest state of development during the Mesoamerican Classic period (c. 250–900 CE), but continued throughout the Post-Classic period until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century CE. Maya civilization arose as the Olmecmother culture gradually declined. The great Mayan city-states slowly rose in number and prominence, and Maya culture spread throughout the Yucatán and surrounding areas. The later empire of the Aztecs was built on neighbouring cultures and was influenced by conquered peoples such as the Toltecs.
Some areas experienced slow but steady technological advances, with important developments such as the stirrup and moldboard plough arriving every few centuries. There were, however, in some regions, periods of rapid technological progress. Most important, perhaps, was the Hellenistic period in the region of the Mediterranean, during which hundreds of technologies were invented. Such periods were followed by periods of technological decay, as during the Roman Empire's decline and fall and the ensuing early medieval period.
Declines, falls, and resurgence
The ancient empires faced common problems associated with maintaining huge armies and supporting a central bureaucracy. These costs fell most heavily on the peasantry, while land-owning magnates increasingly evaded centralized control and its costs. Barbarian pressure on the frontiers hastened internal dissolution. China's Han dynasty fell into civil war in 220 CE, beginning the Three Kingdoms period, while its Roman counterpart became increasingly decentralized and divided about the same time in what is known as the Crisis of the Third Century. The great empires of Eurasia were all located on temperate and subtropical coastal plains. From the Central Asian steppes, horse-based nomads, mainly Mongols and Turks, dominated a large part of the continent. The development of the stirrup and the breeding of horses strong enough to carry a fully armed archer made the nomads a constant threat to the more settled civilizations.
The gradual break-up of the Roman Empire, spanning several centuries after the 2nd century CE, coincided with the spread of Christianity outward from the Middle East. The Western Roman Empire fell under the domination of Germanic tribes in the 5th century, and these polities gradually developed into a number of warring states, all associated in one way or another with the Catholic Church. The remaining part of the Roman Empire, in the eastern Mediterranean, continued as what came to be called the Byzantine Empire. Centuries later, a limited unity would be restored to western Europe through the establishment in 962 of a revived "Roman Empire", later called the Holy Roman Empire, comprising a number of states in what is now Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Italy, and parts of France.
In China, dynasties would rise and fall, but, by sharp contrast to the Mediterranean-European world, dynastic unity would be restored. After the fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty and the demise of the Three Kingdoms, nomadic tribes from the north began to invade in the 4th century, eventually conquering areas of northern China and setting up many small kingdoms. The Sui Dynasty successfully reunified the whole of China in 581, and laid the foundations for a Chinese golden age under the Tang dynasty (618–907).
The term "Post-classical Era", though derived from the Eurocentric name of the era of "Classical antiquity", takes in a broader geographic sweep. The era is commonly dated from the 5th-century fall of the Western Roman Empire, which fragmented into many separate kingdoms, some of which would later be confederated under the Holy Roman Empire.
The Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire survived until late in the Post-classical, or Medieval, period.
In western Africa, the Mali Empire and the Songhai Empire developed. On the southeast coast of Africa, Arabic ports were established where gold, spices, and other commodities were traded. This allowed Africa to join the Southeast Asia trading system, bringing it contact with Asia; this, along with Muslim culture, resulted in the Swahili culture.
China experienced the successive Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, and early Ming dynasties. Middle Eastern trade routes along the Indian Ocean, and the Silk Road through the Gobi Desert, provided limited economic and cultural contact between Asian and European civilizations.
From their centre on the Arabian Peninsula, Muslims began their expansion during the early Postclassical Era. By 750 CE, they came to conquer most of the Near East, North Africa, and parts of Europe, ushering in an era of learning, science, and invention known as the Islamic Golden Age. The knowledge and skills of the ancient Near East, Greece, and Persia were preserved in the Postclassical Era by Muslims, who also added new and important innovations from outside, such as the manufacture of paper from China and decimal positional numbering from India.
Much of this learning and development can be linked to geography. Even prior to Islam's presence, the city of Mecca had served as a centre of trade in Arabia, and the Islamic prophet Muhammad himself was a merchant. With the new Islamic tradition of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the city became even more a centre for exchanging goods and ideas. The influence held by Muslim merchants over African-Arabian and Arabian-Asian trade routes was tremendous. As a result, Islamic civilization grew and expanded on the basis of its merchant economy, in contrast to the Europeans, Indians, and Chinese, who based their societies on an agricultural landholding nobility. Merchants brought goods and their Islamic faith to China, India, Southeast Asia, and the kingdoms of western Africa, and returned with new discoveries and inventions.
Motivated by religion and dreams of conquest, European leaders launched a number of Crusades to try to roll back Muslim power and retake the Holy Land. The Crusades were ultimately unsuccessful and served more to weaken the Byzantine Empire, especially with the 1204 sack of Constantinople. The Byzantine Empire began to lose increasing amounts of territory to the Ottoman Turks. Arab domination of the region ended in the mid-11th century with the arrival of the Seljuq Turks, migrating south from the Turkic homelands in Central Asia. In the early 13th century, a new wave of invaders, the Mongol Empire, swept through the region but were eventually eclipsed by the Turks and the founding of the Ottoman Empire in modern-day Turkey around 1280.
Starting with the Sui dynasty (581–618), the Chinese began expanding into eastern Central Asia, and confronted Turkic nomads, who were becoming the most dominant ethnic group in Central Asia. Originally the relationship was largely cooperative, but in 630 the Tang dynasty began an offensive against the Turks, capturing areas of the Mongolian Ordos Desert. In the 8th century, Islam began to penetrate the region and soon became the sole faith of most of the population, though Buddhism remained strong in the east.[weasel words] The desert nomads of Arabia could militarily match the nomads of the steppe, and the early Arab Empire gained control over parts of Central Asia. The Hephthalites were the most powerful of the nomad groups in the 6th and 7th centuries, and controlled much of the region. In the 9th through 13th centuries the region was divided among several powerful states, including the Samanid Empire the Seljuk Empire, and the Khwarezmid Empire. The largest empire to rise out of Central Asia developed when Genghis Khan united the tribes of Mongolia. The Mongol Empire spread to comprise all of Central Asia and China as well as large parts of Russia and the Middle East. After Genghis Khan died in 1227, most of Central Asia continued to be dominated by a successor state, Chagatai Khanate. In 1369, Timur, a Turkic leader in the Mongol military tradition, conquered most of the region and founded the Timurid Empire. Timur's large empire collapsed soon after his death, however. The region then became divided into a series of smaller khanates that were created by the Uzbeks. These included the Khanate of Khiva, the Khanate of Bukhara, and the Khanate of Kokand, all of whose capitals are located in present-day Uzbekistan.
In the aftermath of the Byzantine–Sasanian wars, the Caucasus saw Armenia and Georgia flourish as independent realms free from foreign suzerainty. However, with the Byzantine and Sasanian empires exhausted from war, the Arabs were given the opportunity to proceed to the Caucasus during the early Muslim conquests. By the 13th century, the arrival of the Mongols saw the region invaded and subjugated once again.
Europe during the Early Middle Ages was characterized by depopulation, deurbanization, and barbarian invasion, all of which had begun in Late Antiquity. The barbarian invaders formed their own new kingdoms in the remains of the Western Roman Empire. In the 7th century, North Africa and the Middle East, once part of the Eastern Roman Empire, became part of the Caliphate after conquest by Muhammad's successors. Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, most of the new kingdoms incorporated as many of the existing Roman institutions as they could. Christianity expanded in western Europe, and monasteries were founded. In the 7th and 8th centuries the Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, established an empire covering much of western Europe; it lasted until the 9th century, when it succumbed to pressure from new invaders—the Vikings,Magyars, and Saracens.
During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and crop yields to increase. Manorialism—the organization of peasants into villages that owed rents and labour service to nobles—and feudalism—a political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rents from lands and manors—were two of the ways of organizing medieval society that developed during the High Middle Ages. Kingdoms became more centralized after the decentralizing effects of the break-up of the Carolingian Empire. The Crusades, first preached in 1095, were an attempt by western Christians from nations such as the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire to regain control of the Holy Land from the Muslims and succeeded for long enough to establish some Christian states in the Near East. Italian merchants imported slaves to work in households or in sugar processing. Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism and the founding of universities, while the building of Gothic cathedrals was one of the outstanding artistic achievements of the age.
The Late Middle Ages were marked by difficulties and calamities. Famine, plague, and war devastated the population of western Europe. The Black Death alone killed approximately 75 to 200 million people between 1347 and 1350. It was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. Starting in Asia, the disease reached Mediterranean and western Europe during the late 1340s, and killed tens of millions of Europeans in six years; between a third and a half of the population perished.
In northern India, after the fall (550 CE) of the Gupta Empire, the region was divided into a complex and fluid network of smaller kingly states.
Early Muslim incursions began in the west in 712 CE, when the Arab Umayyad Caliphate annexed much of present-day Pakistan. Arab military advance was largely halted at that point, but Islam still spread in India, largely due to the influence of Arab merchants along the western coast.
In Japan, the imperial lineage had been established by this time, and during the Asuka period (538–710) the Yamato Province developed into a clearly centralized state.Buddhism was introduced, and there was an emphasis on the adoption of elements of Chinese culture and Confucianism. The Nara period of the 8th century marked the emergence of a strong Japanese state and is often portrayed as a golden age. During this period, the imperial government undertook great public works, including government offices, temples, roads, and irrigation systems. The Heian period (794 to 1185) saw the peak of imperial power, followed by the rise of militarized clans, and the beginning of Japanese feudalism. The feudal period of Japanese history, dominated by powerful regional lords (daimyōs) and the military rule of warlords (shōguns) such as the Ashikaga shogunate and Tokugawa shogunate, stretched from 1185 to 1868. The emperor remained, but mostly as a figurehead, and the power of merchants was weak.
Starting in the 9th century, the Pagan Kingdom rose to prominence in modern Myanmar. Its collapse brought about political fragmention that ended with the rise of the Toungoo Empire in the 16th century.
In the region of Oceania, the Tuʻi Tonga Empire was founded in the 10th century CE and expanded between 1200 and 1500. Tongan culture, language, and hegemony spread widely throughout Eastern Melanesia, Micronesia, and Central Polynesia during this period, influencing East 'Uvea, Rotuma, Futuna, Samoa, and Niue, as well as specific islands and parts of Micronesia (Kiribati, Pohnpei, and miscellaneous outliers), Vanuatu, and New Caledonia (specifically, the Loyalty Islands, with the main island being predominantly populated by the Melanesian Kanak people and their cultures).
At around the same time, a powerful thalassocracy appeared in Eastern Polynesia, centered around the Society Islands, specifically on the sacred Taputapuatea marae, which drew in Eastern Polynesian colonists from places as far away as Hawaii, New Zealand (Aotearoa), and the Tuamotu Islands for political, spiritual and economic reasons, until the unexplained collapse of regular long-distance voyaging in the Eastern Pacific a few centuries before Europeans began exploring the area.
Indigenous written records from this period are virtually nonexistent, as it seems that all Pacific Islanders, with the possible exception of the enigmatic Rapa Nui and their currently undecipherable Rongorongo script, had no writing systems of any kind until after their introduction by European colonists. However, some indigenous prehistories can be estimated and academically reconstructed through careful, judicious analysis of native oral traditions, colonial ethnography, archeology, physical anthropology, and linguistics research.
In North America, this period saw the rise of the Mississippian culture in the modern-day United States c. 800 CE, marked by the extensive 12th-century urban complex at Cahokia. The Ancestral Puebloans and their predecessors (9th – 13th centuries) built extensive permanent settlements, including stone structures that would remain the largest buildings in North America until the 19th century.
In the linear, global, historiographical approach, modern history (the "modern period," the "modern era," "modern times") is the history of the period following post-classical history (in Europe known as the "Middle Ages"), spanning from about 1500 to the present. "Contemporary history" includes events from around 1945 to the present. (The definitions of both terms, "modern history" and "contemporary history", have changed over time, as more history has occurred, and so have their start dates.) Modern history can be further broken down into periods:
The defining features of the modern era developed predominantly in Europe, and so different periodizations are sometimes applied to other parts of the world. When the European periods are used globally, this is often in the context of contact with European culture in the Age of Discovery.
Europe's Renaissance – the "rebirth" of classical culture, beginning in the 14th century and extending into the 16th – comprised the rediscovery of the classical world's cultural, scientific, and technological achievements, and the economic and social rise of Europe.
During this period, European powers came to dominate most of the world. Although the most developed regions of European classical civilization were more urbanized than any other region of the world, European civilization had undergone a lengthy period of gradual decline and collapse. During the Early Modern Period, Europe was able to regain its dominance; historians still debate the causes.
Europe's success in this period stands in contrast to other regions. For example, one of the most advanced civilizations of the Middle Ages was China. It had developed an advanced monetary economy by 1000 CE. China had a free peasantry who were no longer subsistence farmers, and could sell their produce and actively participate in the market. According to Adam Smith, writing in the 18th century, China had long been one of the richest, most fertile, best cultivated, most industrious, most urbanized, and most prosperous countries in the world. It enjoyed a technological advantage and had a monopoly in cast iron production, piston bellows, suspension bridge construction, printing, and the compass. However, it seemed to have long since stopped progressing. Marco Polo, who visited China in the 13th century, describes its cultivation, industry, and populousness almost in the same terms as travellers would in the 18th century.
One theory of Europe's rise holds that Europe's geography played an important role in its success. The Middle East, India and China are all ringed by mountains and oceans but, once past these outer barriers, are nearly flat. By contrast, the Pyrenees, Alps, Apennines, Carpathians and other mountain ranges run through Europe, and the continent is also divided by several seas. This gave Europe some degree of protection from the peril of Central Asian invaders. Before the era of firearms, these nomads were militarily superior to the agricultural states on the periphery of the Eurasian continent and, as they broke out into the plains of northern India or the valleys of China, were all but unstoppable. These invasions were often devastating. The Golden Age of Islam was ended by the Mongolsack of Baghdad in 1258. India and China were subject to periodic invasions, and Russia spent a couple of centuries under the Mongol-Tatar yoke. Central and western Europe, logistically more distant from the Central Asian heartland, proved less vulnerable to these threats.
Geography contributed to important geopolitical differences. For most of their histories, China, India, and the Middle East were each unified under a single dominant power that expanded until it reached the surrounding mountains and deserts. In 1600 the Ottoman Empire controlled almost all the Middle East, the Ming dynasty ruled China, and the Mughal Empire held sway over India. By contrast, Europe was almost always divided into a number of warring states. Pan-European empires, with the notable exception of the Roman Empire, tended to collapse soon after they arose. Another doubtless important geographic factor in the rise of Europe was the Mediterranean Sea, which, for millennia, had functioned as a maritime superhighway fostering the exchange of goods, people, ideas and inventions.
Many have also argued that Europe's institutions allowed it to expand, that property rights and free-market economics were stronger than elsewhere due to an ideal of freedom peculiar to Europe. In recent years, however, scholars such as Kenneth Pomeranz have challenged this view. Europe's maritime expansion unsurprisingly—given the continent's geography—was largely the work of its Atlantic states: Portugal, Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands. Initially the Portuguese and Spanish Empires were the predominant conquerors and sources of influence, and their union resulted in the Iberian Union, the first global empire on which the "sun never set". Soon the more northern English, French and Dutch began to dominate the Atlantic. In a series of wars fought in the 17th and 18th centuries, culminating with the Napoleonic Wars, Britain emerged as the new world power.
In China, the Ming gave way in 1644 to the Qing, the last Chinese imperial dynasty, which would rule until 1912. Japan experienced its Azuchi–Momoyama period (1568–1603), followed by the Edo period (1603–1868). The KoreanJoseon dynasty (1392–1910) ruled throughout this period, successfully repelling 16th- and 17th-century invasions from Japan and China. Japan and China were significantly affected during this period by expanded maritime trade with Europe, particularly the Portuguese in Japan. During the Edo period, Japan would pursue isolationist policies, to eliminate foreign influences.
On the Indian subcontinent, the Delhi Sultanate and the Deccan sultanates would give way, beginning in the 16th century, to the Mughal Empire. Starting in the northwest, the Mughal Empire would by the late 17th century come to rule the entire subcontinent, except for the southernmost Indian provinces, which would remain independent. Against the Muslim Mughal Empire, the Hindu Maratha Empire was founded on the west coast in 1674, gradually gaining territory—a majority of present-day India—from the Mughals over several decades, particularly in the Mughal–Maratha Wars (1681–1701). The Maratha Empire would in 1818 fall under the control of the British East India Company, with all former Maratha and Mughal authority devolving in 1858 to the British Raj.
In 1511 the Portuguese overthrew the Malacca Sultanate in present-day Malaysia and Indonesian Sumatra. The Portuguese held this important trading territory (and the valuable associated navigational strait) until overthrown by the Dutch in 1641. The Johor Sultanate, centred on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, became the dominant trading power in the region. European colonization expanded with the Dutch in the Netherlands East Indies, the Portuguese in East Timor, and the Spanish in the Philippines. Into the 19th century, European expansion would affect the whole of Southeast Asia, with the British in Myanmar and Malaysia and the French in Indochina. Only Thailand would successfully resist colonization.
The Pacific islands of Oceania would also be affected by European contact, starting with the circumnavigational voyage of Ferdinand Magellan, who landed on the Marianas and other islands in 1521. Also notable were the voyages (1642–44) of Abel Tasman to present-day Australia, New Zealand and nearby islands, and the voyages (1768–1779) of Captain James Cook, who made the first recorded European contact with Hawaii. Britain would found its first colony on Australia in 1788.
In Russia, Ivan the Terrible was crowned in 1547 as the first Tsar of Russia, and by annexing the Turkic khanates in the east, transformed Russia into a regional power. The countries of western Europe, while expanding prodigiously through technological advancement and colonial conquest, competed with each other economically and militarily in a state of almost constant war. Often the wars had a religious dimension, either Catholic versus Protestant, or (primarily in eastern Europe) Christian versus Muslim. Wars of particular note include the Thirty Years' War, the War of the Spanish Succession, the Seven Years' War, and the French Revolutionary Wars. Napoleon came to power in France in 1799, an event foreshadowing the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century.
After Europeans had achieved influence and control over the Americas, imperial activities turned to the lands of Asia and Oceania. In the 19th century the European states had social and technological advantage over Eastern lands. Britain gained control of the Indian subcontinent, Egypt and the Malay Peninsula; the French took Indochina; while the Dutch cemented their control over the Dutch East Indies. The British also colonized Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with large numbers of British colonists emigrating to these colonies. Russia colonized large pre-agricultural areas of Siberia. In the late 19th century, the European powers divided the remaining areas of Africa. Within Europe, economic and military challenges created a system of nation states, and ethno-linguistic groupings began to identify themselves as distinctive nations with aspirations for cultural and political autonomy. This nationalism would become important to peoples across the world in the 20th century.
The 20th century opened with Europe at an apex of wealth and power, and with much of the world under its direct colonial control or its indirect domination. Much of the rest of the world was influenced by heavily Europeanized nations: the United States and Japan.
As the century unfolded, however, the global system dominated by rival powers was subjected to severe strains, and ultimately yielded to a more fluid structure of independent nations organized on Western models.
In the war's aftermath, powerful ideologies rose to prominence. The Russian Revolution of 1917 created the first communist state, while the 1920s and 1930s saw militaristicfascist dictatorships gain control in Italy, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere.
Civilians (here, Mỹ Lai, Việt Nam, 1968) suffered greatly in 20th-century wars.
When World War II ended in 1945, the United Nations was founded in the hope of preventing future wars, as the League of Nations had been formed following World War I. The war had left two countries, the United States and the Soviet Union, with principal power to influence international affairs. Each was suspicious of the other and feared a global spread of the other's, respectively capitalist and communist, political-economic model. This led to the Cold War, a forty-five-year stand-off and arms race between the United States and its allies, on one hand, and the Soviet Union and its allies on the other.
The Cold War ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union disintegrated, in part due to inability to compete economically with the United States and western Europe. However, the United States likewise began to show signs of slippage in its geopolitical influence,[f] even as its private sector, now less inhibited by the claims of the public sector, increasingly sought private advantage to the prejudice of the public weal.[g][h][i]
In the early postwar decades, the colonies in Asia and Africa of the Belgian, British, Dutch, French, and other west European empires won their formal independence. But the newly independent countries faced challenges in the form of neocolonialism, sociopolitical disarray, poverty, illiteracy, and endemictropical diseases.[j][k]
Most Western European and Central European countries gradually formed a political and economic community, the European Union, which expanded eastward to include former Soviet-satellite countries. The European Union's effectiveness was handicapped by the immaturity of its common economic and political institutions,[l] somewhat comparable to the inadequacy of United States institutions under the Articles of Confederation prior to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution that came into force in 1789. Asian, African, and South American countries followed suit and began taking tentative steps toward forming their own respective continental associations.
The early 21st century saw escalating intra- and international strife in the Near East and Afghanistan, stimulated by vast economic disparities, by dissatisfaction with governments dominated by Western interests, by inter-ethnic and inter-sectarian feuds, and by the longest war in the history of the United States, the proximate cause for which was Osama bin Laden's provocative 2001 destruction of New York City's World Trade Center. The Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of uprisings in North Africa and the Near East in the early 2010s, produced power vacuums that led to a resurgence of authoritarianism and the advent of reactionary groups like the Islamic State.
The skylines in Shanghai (pictured) and other major Chinese cities have grown rapidly in the 21st century as the country has urbanized.
U.S. military involvements in the Near East and Afghanistan, along with a financial crisis and resultant recession, have drained U.S. economic resources at a time when the U.S. and other Western countries are experiencing mounting socioeconomic dislocations aggravated by the robotization of work and the export of industries to cheaper-workforce countries.[m][n] Meanwhile, ancient and populous Asian civilizations – India and especially China – have been emerging from centuries of relative scientific, technological, and economic dormancy to become potential economic and political rivals for Western powers.
^The very word "civilization" comes from the Latincivilis, meaning "civil," related to civis ("citizen") and civitas ("city" or "city-state").
^However, the Green Revolution has brought unintended consequences: "India originally possessed some 110,000 landraces of rice with diverse and valuable properties. These include enrichment in vital nutrients and the ability to withstand flood, drought, salinity or pest infestations. The Green Revolution covered fields with a few high-yielding varieties, so that roughly 90 percent of the landraces vanished from farmers' collections. High-yielding varieties require expensive inputs. They perform abysmally on marginal farms or in adverse environmental conditions, forcing poor farmers into debt."
^"Early Modern," historically speaking, refers to Western European history from 1501 (after the widely accepted end of the Late Middle Ages; the transition period was the 15th century) to either 1750 or c. 1790–1800, by whichever epoch is favoured by a school of scholars defining the period—which, in many cases of periodization, differs as well within a discipline such as art, philosophy or history.
^The Age of Enlightenment has also been referred to as the Age of Reason. Historians also include the late 17th century, which is typically known as the Age of Reason or Age of Rationalism, as part of the Enlightenment; however, contemporary historians have considered the Age of Reason distinct to the ideas developed in the Enlightenment. The use of the term here includes both Ages under a single all-inclusive time-frame.
^"In the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union..." writes Graham Allison, "Americans were... caught up in a surge of triumphalism." Francis Fukuyama, in a 1992 best-selling book, proclaimed The End of History, the victory of free-market economics, and the permanent ascendancy of Western liberal democracy. But it soon became evident, writes Allison, that "the end of the Cold War [had] produced a unipolar moment, not a unipolar era. [T]he U.S. economy, which [had] accounted for half of the world's GDP after World War II, had fallen to less than a quarter of global GDP by the end of the Cold War and stands at just one-seventh today. For a nation whose core strategy has been to overwhelm challenges with resources, this decline calls into question the terms of U.S. leadership."
^"In the advanced economies of the West, from 1945 to around 1975," writes Robin Varghese in Foreign Affairs, "voters showed how politics could tame markets, putting officials in power who pursued a range of social democratic policies without damaging the economy. This period... saw a historically unique combination of high growth, increasing productivity, rising real wages, technological innovation, and expanding systems of social insurance in Western Europe, North America, and Japan.... Since the 1970s, businesses across the developed world have been cutting their wage bills not only through labor-saving technological innovations but also by pushing for regulatory changes and developing new forms of employment. These include just-in-time contracts, which shift risks to workers; noncompete clauses, which reduce bargaining power; and freelance arrangements, which exempt businesses from providing employees with benefits such as health insurance. The result has been that since the beginning of the twenty-first century, labor's share of GDP has fallen steadily in many developed economies.... The challenge today is to identify... a mixed economy that can successfully deliver what the [1945–75] golden age did, this time with greater gender and racial equality to boot."
^Historian Christopher R. Browning writes: "In the first three postwar decades, workers and management effectively shared the increased wealth produced by the growth in productivity. Since the 1970s that social contract has collapsed, union membership and influence have declined, wage growth has stagnated, and inequality in wealth has grown sharply."
^Economics Nobel laureateJoseph E. Stiglitz writes in Scientific American, in part: "[T]he U.S. has the highest level of economic inequality among developed countries.... Since the mid-1970s the rules of the economic game have been rewritten... globally and nationally [to] advantage the rich... in a political system that is itself rigged through gerrymandering, voter suppression and the influence of money.... [Enforcement of] antitrust laws, first enacted [in 1890] in the U.S. to prevent the agglomeration of market power, has weakened... Technological changes have concentrated market power in the hands of a few global players... part[ly] because of "network effects"... [E]stablished firms with deep war chests have enormous power to crush competitors and ultimately raise prices.... A concerted attack on unions has almost halved the fraction of unionized workers in the [U.S.], to about 11 percent.... U.S. investment treaties such as NAFTA protect investors against a tightening of environmental and health regulations abroad. [Such] provisions... enhance the credibility of a company's threat to move abroad if workers do not temper their demands.... [I]t is hard to imagine meaningful change without a concerted effort to take money out of politics..."
^William Hardy McNeill, in his 1963 book The Rise of the West, appears to have interpreted the decline of the European empires as paradoxically being due to Westernization itself, writing that "Although European empires have decayed since 1945, and the separate nation-states of Europe have been eclipsed as centers of political power by the melding of peoples and nations occurring under the aegis of both the American and Russian governments, it remains true that, since the end of World War II, the scramble to imitate and appropriate science, technology, and other aspects of Western culture has accelerated enormously all round the world. Thus the dethronement of western Europe from its brief mastery of the globe coincided with (and was caused by) an unprecedented, rapid Westernization of all the peoples of the earth.":566 McNeill further writes that "The rise of the West, as intended by the title and meaning of this book, is only accelerated when one or another Asian or African people throws off European administration by making Western techniques, attitudes, and ideas sufficiently their own to permit them to do so".:807
^James McAuley writes in The New York Review of Books, 15 August 2019, pp. 47–48: "There was never a single moment that marked the definitive establishment of the European Union, which... has continued to define itself since World War II. [T]he major turning points have all been quiet steps on the way to further economic integration while preserving national sovereignty. Today there is only an incomplete monetary union without a real political contract to manage it... [Nevertheless, the Union's] various peoples have grown remarkably closer... The European Union now has open borders, a single market from Portugal to the Baltics, and more or less monthly meetings of member state leaders [the European Council]. What's more, those member states are now closer to each other than they are to the United States... [T]his transformation has occurred informally and organically... [R]obust supranational politics are taking root in Europe... Luuk van Middelaar writes: '[W]hat unites us as Europeans on this continent is bigger and stronger than anything that divides us.'"
^Liaquat Ahamed writes in The New Yorker, 2 September 2019, p. 28: "As the world economy opened up in the nineteen-eighties, newly mobile capital tended to flow to places that offered the highest return, and very often these were countries with the lowest taxes and the least onerous regulation. To hold on to capital, countries found themselves forced to match the free-market policies of their trading partners. [T]his shift, in turn, led to more uneven income distributions. Countries with larger tax cuts experienced bigger increases in inequality."
^Liaquat Ahamed writes in The New Yorker, 2 September 2019, p. 28: "[T]here seems to [be] some sort of cap on inequality – a limit to the economic divisions a country can ultimately cope with."
^"[I]n 1951 the average Indian [inhabitant of India] had access annually to 5,200 cubic meters of water. The figure today is 1,400... and will probably fall below 1,000 cubic meters – the UN's definition of 'water scarcity' – at some point in the next few decades. Compounding the problem of lower summer rainfall... India's water table is in freefall [due] to an increase in the number of tube wells... Other contributors to India's seasonal dearth of water are canal leaks [and] the continued sowing of thirsty crops..."
^Zapotec civilization has its beginnings in 700 BCE: see Flannery, Kent V.; Marcus, Joyce (1996). Zapotec Civilization: How Urban Society Evolved in Mexico's Oaxaca Valley. New York: Thames & Hudson. p. 146. ISBN978-0-500-05078-1. Zapotec civilization ended in 1521 according to the five archaeological stages presented in Whitecotton, Joseph W. (1977). The Zapotecs: Princes, Priests, and Peasants. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 26, LI.1–3.
^The Association of Korean History Teachers (2005). Korea through the ages; Volume One: Ancient. Seongnam-si: The Center for Information on Korean Culture, The Academy of Korean Studies. p. 113. ISBN978-89-7105-545-8.
^Intrinsic to the English language, "modern" denotes (in reference to history) a period that is opposed to either ancient or medieval; modern history is the history of the world since the end of the Middle Ages.
^Miller, Edward; Postan, Cynthia; Postan, Michael Moissey, eds. (1987). The Cambridge economic history of Europe: Volume 2, Trade and Industry in the Middle Ages (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN978-0-521-08709-4.
^La l, Vinay (2001). "The Mughal Empire". Manas: India and its Neighbors. University of California, Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 30 April 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
^"Fort Ross". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
^Graham Allison, "The Myth of the Liberal Order: From Historical Accident to Conventional Wisdom", Foreign Affairs, vol. 97, no. 4 (July–August 2018), p. 126.
^Graham Allison, "The Myth of the Liberal Order: From Historical Accident to Conventional Wisdom", Foreign Affairs, vol. 97, no. 4 (July–August 2018), pp. 127–28.
^James Gleick, "Moon Fever" [review of Oliver Morton, The Moon: A History of the Future; Apollo's Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography, an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, 3 July – 22 September 2019; Douglas Brinkley,American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race; Brandon R. Brown, The Apollo Chronicles: Engineering America's First Moon Missions; Roger D. Launius, Reaching for the Moon: A Short History of the Space Race; Apollo 11, a documentary film directed by Todd Douglas Miller; and Michael Collins, Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys (50th Anniversary Edition)], The New York Review of Books, vol. LXVI, no. 13 (15 August 2019), pp. 54–58. (pp. 57–58.)
^James McAuley, "A More Perfect Union?" (review of Luuk van Middelaar, Alarums and Excursions: Improving Politics on the European Stage, translated from the Dutch by Liz Waters, Agenda, 2019, 301 pp.; and Stéphanie Hennette, Thomas Piketty, Guillaume Sacriste, and Antoine Vauchez, How to Democratize Europe, translated from the French by Paul Dermine, Marc LePain, and Patrick Camiller, Harvard University Press, 2019, 209 pp.), The New York Review of Books, vol. LXVI, no. 13 (15 August 2019), pp. 46–48.
^Christopher de Bellaigue, "The River" (the Ganges; review of Sunil Amrith, Unruly Waters: How Rains, Rivers, Coasts, and Seas Have Shaped Asia's History; Sudipta Sen, Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River; and Victor Mallet, River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India's Future), The New York Review of Books, vol. LXVI, no. 15 (10 October 2019), pp.34–36. (p. 35.)
Christopher Clark, "'This Is a Reality, Not a Threat'" (review of Lawrence Freedman, The Future of War: A History, Public Affairs, 2018, 376 pp.; and Robert H. Latiff, Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield, Knopf, 2018, 192 pp.), The New York Review of Books, vol. LXV, no. 18 (22 November 2018), pp. 53–54.
Cockburn, Andrew, "How to Start a Nuclear War: The increasingly direct road to ruin", Harper's, vol. 337, no. 2019 (August 2018), pp. 51–58.
McKibben, Bill, "Life on a Shrinking Planet: With wildfires, heat waves, and rising sea levels, large tracts of the earth are at risk of becoming uninhabitable", The New Yorker, 26 November 2018, pp. 46–55.
Ṭabīb, Rashīd al-Dīn; Faḍlallāh, Rašīd-ad-Dīn; Nishapuri, Zahir al-Din; Nīšāpūrī, Ẓahīr-ad-Dīn (2001). Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (ed.). The History of the Seljuq Turks from the Jāmiʻ Al-tawārīkh: An Ilkhanid Adaptation of the Saljūq-nāma of Ẓahīr Al-Dīn Nīshāpūrī. Translated by Luther, Kenneth Allin. Psychology Press. p. 9. ISBN0-7007-1342-5. [T]he Turks were illiterate and uncultivated when they arrived in Khurasan and depended on Iranian scribes, poets, jurists, and theologians to man the institution of the Empire.