History of the world

The history of the world, by convention, is human history, from the first appearance of Homo sapiens to the present. Human history is marked both by a gradual accretion of discoveries and inventions, as well as by quantum leaps — revolutions — that comprise epochs in the material and spiritual evolution of humankind. Human history, as opposed to prehistory, has in the past been said to begin with the invention, independently at several sites on Earth, of writing, which created the infrastructure for lasting, accurately transmitted memories and thus for the diffusion and growth of knowledge.[citation needed] Writing, in its turn, had been made necessary in the wake of the Agricultural Revolution, which had given rise to civilization, i.e., to permanent settled communities, which fostered a growing diversity of trades. Such scattered habitations, centered about life-sustaining bodies of water — rivers and lakes — coalesced over time into ever larger units, in parallel with the evolution of ever more efficient means of transport. These processes of coalescence, spurred by rivalries and conflicts between adjacent communities, gave rise over millenia to ever larger states, and then to superstates (empires). The fall of the Roman Empire in Europe at the end of antiquity signalled the beginning of the Middle Ages. In the mid-15th century, Johannes Gutenberg's invention of modern printing, employing movable type, revolutionized communication, helping end the Middle Ages and usher in modern times, the European Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. By the 18th century, the accumulation of knowledge and technology, especially in Europe, had reached a critical mass that sparked into existence the Industrial Revolution. Over the quarter-millennium since, knowledge, technology, commerce, and — concomitantly with these — war have accelerated at a geometric rate, creating the opportunities and perils that now confront the human communities that together inhabit a finite planet. Numbers are millennia before the present."Paleolithic" means "Old Stone Age." This was the earliest period of the Stone Age. Scientific evidence based on genetics and the study of fossils, places the origin of modern Homo sapiens in Africa [1]. This occurred about 200,000 BP during the Palaeolithic period, after a long period of evolution. Ancestors of humans, such as Homo erectus, had been using simple tools for over a thousand millennia, but as time progressed, tools became far more refined and complex. Humans also developed language sometime during the Paleolithic period, as well as a conceptual repertoire that included systematic burial of the dead. The latter suggests a development of foresight after consistent exposure to rotting bodies.

The first signs of pre-historic art also appear during this period. During the Paleolithic, all humans lived as hunter-gatherers, who were generally nomadic. Some 75,000 years ago, a huge population bottleneck occurred after the Lake Toba supereruption, which may have killed off as many as 59 million people.Modern humans spread rapidly over the globe from Africa and the frost-free zones of Europe and Asia. The rapid expansion of humankind to North America and Oceania took place at the climax of the most recent Ice Age, when today's temperate regions were extremely inhospitable. Yet, by the end of the Ice Age some 12,000 BP, humans had colonised nearly all the ice-free parts of the globe. Hunter-gatherer societies have tended to be very small, though in some cases they have developed social stratification; and long-distance contacts may be possible, as in the case of Indigenous Australian "highways."Eventually most hunter-gatherer societies have either developed into, or have been absorbed into, larger agricultural states. Those that have not, have either perished or have remained in isolation, as is the case with the small hunter-gatherer societies that are still present in remote regions today. The Mesolithic period began at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, some 10,000 BP, and ended with the introduction of agriculture, the date of which varied by geographic region. In some areas, such as the Near East, agriculture was already underway by the end of the Pleistocene, and there the Mesolithic is short and poorly defined. In areas with limited glacial impact, the term "Epipaleolithic" is sometimes preferred. Regions that experienced greater environmental effects as the last ice age ended have a much more evident Mesolithic era, lasting millennia. In Northern Europe, societies were able to live well on rich food supplies from the marshlands fostered by the warmer climate. Such conditions produced distinctive human behaviours which are preserved in the material record, such as the Maglemosian and Azilian cultures. These conditions also delayed the coming of the Neolithic until as late as 4000 BCE in northern Europe. Remains from this period are few and far between, often limited to middens. In forested areas, the first signs of deforestation have been found, although this would only begin in earnest during the Neolithic, when more space was needed for agriculture.The Mesolithic is characterized in most areas by small composite flint tools — microliths and microburins. Fishing tackle, stone adzes and wooden objects, e.g. canoes and bows, have been found at some sites. These technologies first occur in Africa, associated with the Azilian cultures, before spreading to Europe through the Ibero-Maurusian culture of Spain and Portugal, and the Kebaran culture of Palestine. Independent discovery is not always ruled out.

A major change, described by prehistorian Vere Gordon Childe as the "Agricultural Revolution," occurred about the 10th millennium BCE with the adoption of agriculture. The Sumerians first began farming ca. 9500 BCE. By 7000 BCE, agriculture had spread to India; by 6000 BCE, to Egypt; by 5000 BCE, to China. About 2700 BCE, agriculture had come to Mesoamerica.Although attention has tended to concentrate on the Middle East's Fertile Crescent, archaeology in the Americas, East Asia and Southeast Asia indicates that agricultural systems, using different crops and animals, may in some cases have developed there nearly as early. A further advance in Middle Eastern agriculture occurred with the development of organised irrigation, and the use of a specialised workforce, by the Sumerians, beginning about 5500 BCE. Stone was supplanted by bronze and iron in implements of agriculture and warfare. Agricultural settlements had until then been almost completely dependent on stone tools. In Eurasia, copper and bronze tools, decorations and weapons began to be commonplace about 3000 BCE. After bronze, the Eastern Mediterranean region, Middle East and China saw the introduction of iron tools and weapons. The Americas may not have had metal tools until the Chavín horizon (900 BCE). The Moche did have metal armor, knives and tableware. Even the metal-poor Inca had metal-tipped plows, at least after the conquest of Chimor. However, little archaeological research has so far been done in Peru, and nearly all the khipus (recording devices, in the form of knots, used by the Incas) were burned in the Spanish conquest of Peru. As late as 2004, entire cities were still being unearthed. Some digs suggest that steel may have been produced there before it was developed in Europe. The cradles of early civilizations were river valleys , such as the Yellow River valley in China, the Nile valley in Egypt, and the Indus Valley in the Indian subcontinent. Some nomadic peoples, such as the Indigenous Australians and the Bushmen of southern Africa, did not practice agriculture until relatively recent times. Before 1800, many populations did not belong to states. Scientists disagree as to whether the term "tribe" should be applied to the kinds of societies that these people lived in. Large parts of the world were "tribal" territories before Europeans began colonizing them[citation needed]. Many tribal societies, in Europe and elsewhere, transformed into states when they were threatened, or otherwise impinged on, by existing states. Examples are the Marcomanni, Poland and Lithuania. Some "tribes," such as the Kassites and the Manchus, conquered states and were absorbed by them.

It is to the Neolithic that most historians trace the beginnings of complex religion. Religious belief in this period commonly consisted in the worship of a Mother Goddess, a Sky Father, and of the Sun and Moon as deities. (see also Sun worship). Shrines developed, which over time 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 anthropomorphic deities. The Agricultural Revolution led to several major changes. It permitted far denser populations, which in time organised into states. There are several definitions for the term, "state." Max Weber and Norbert Elias defined a state as an organization of people that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a particular geographic area.Borders delineate states — a prominent example is the Great Wall of China, which stretches over 6,700 km, and was first erected in the 3rd century BCE to protect the north from nomadic invaders. It has since been rebuilt and augmented several times.The first states appeared in western Iran, Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt and ancient India in the late 4th and early 3rd millennia BCE. In Mesopotamia and Iran, there were several city-states. Ancient Egypt began as a state without cities, but soon developed them. A state ordinarily needs an army for the legitimate exercise of force. An army needs a bureaucracy to maintain it. The only exception to this appears to have been the Indus Valley civilization, for which there is no evidence of the existence of a military force.Major wars were waged among states in the Middle East. About 1275 BCE, the Hittites and Egyptians concluded the treaty of Kadesh, the world's oldest recorded peace treaty.Empires came into being, with conquered areas ruled by central tribes, as in Persia (6th century BCE), the Mauryan Empire (4th century BCE), China (3rd century BCE), and the Roman Empire (1st century BCE). Clashes among empires included those that took place in the 8th century, when the Islamic Caliphate of Arabia (ruling from Spain to Iran) and China's Tang dynasty (ruling from Xinjiang to Korea) fought for decades for control of Central Asia.The largest contiguous land empire was the 13th-century Mongolian Empire. By then, most people in Europe, Asia and North Africa belonged to states. There were states as well in Mexico and western South America. States controlled more and more of the world's territory and population; the last "empty" territories, with the exception of uninhabited Antarctica, would be divided up among states by the Treaty of Berlin (1878).

Twentieth Century onward
The century had given rise to powerful secular ideologies. The first, after 1917 in the Soviet Union, was communism, which after 1945 spread to Central Europe, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, North Vietnam and North Korea; in 1949, to China; and during the 1950s and '60s, elsewhere in the Third World. The 1920s and '30s saw militaristic fascist dictatorships gain control of Italy, Germany, Japan and Spain. The last exploration of the Moon — Apollo 17 (1972).The latter half of the century saw the rise of the information age and globalization dramatically increase trade and cultural exchange. Space exploration reached throughout the solar system. The structure of DNA, the very template of life, was discovered, and the human genome was sequenced, promising to eventually change the face of human disease. The number of scientific papers published each year now far surpasses the total number published prior to 1900[3], and doubles approximately every 15 years.[4] Global literacy rates have continued to increase, and the percentage of the global society's labor pool needed to produce society's food has continued to decrease substantially (Kurzweil 1999). As the 20th century closed and the 21st opened, an increasingly interdependent world faced common hazards that could be averted only by common effort. Some scientists referred to this as a shift to a Planetary Phase of Civilization. It more and more seemed that the world must either perish or survive as a whole. This was brought home on October 30, 2006, by the Stern Review, warning of the threat of global warming and rapid climate change. In the historic escalation of human perils, localized internecine and international conflicts began to be edged out, as a focus of dread, by common threats to all mankind — by mankind's global conflict with the natural environment. The global threats posed by environmental degradation and by the exhaustion of material and energy resources were not the first "matergetic crisis" that the world had faced. One of many earlier ones had been triggered by Britain's deforestation to supply charcoal needed for the production of iron, and had led to the invention of coking by the Abraham Darbys, father and son, which helped spark the 18th-century Industrial Revolution. Similarly, as the 20th century yielded to the 21st, the world seemed again to be lodged at a historic bottleneck which might be opened up by new technological innovations — including research into fusion power (ITER), and greatly increased exploitation of solar-based renewable resources in the form of wind, tides, hydroelectric power and direct solar energy .

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