The history of the world is the history of humanity from prehistoric times to today, throughout the entire Earth, and generally beginning with the Paleolithic Era. Distinct from the history of Planet Earth (which includes early geologic history and pre-human biological eras), world history encompasses the study of archeological and written records, from ancient times forward. Ancient recorded history begins with the invention of writing. However, the roots of civilization reach back to the period before the invention of writing. Prehistory begins in the Paleolithic Era, or "Early Stone Age," which is followed by the Neolithic Era, or New Stone Age, and the Agricultural Revolution (between 8000 and 5000 BCE) in the Fertile Crescent. The Neolithic Revolution marked a change in human history, as humans began the systematic husbandry of plants and animals. Agriculture advanced, and most humans graduated from a nomadic to a settled lifestyle as farmers in permanent settlements. Nomadism continued in much of society, especially in isolated regions with few domesticable plant species; but the relative security and increased productivity provided by farming allowed human communities to expand into increasingly larger units, fostered by advances in transportation.
As farms developed, grain agriculture sophisticated, and prompted a division of labor to store food between growing seasons. Labour divisions then led to the rise of a leisured upper class and the development of cities. The growing complexity of human societies necessitated systems of writing and accounting. Many cities developed on the banks of lakes and rivers and by 3000 BCE, some of the first prominent, well-developed settlements had arisen in Mesopotamia, on the banks of Egypt's River Nile, and in the Indus River valley. Similar civilizations probably developed along major rivers in China, but the archaeological evidence for extensive urban construction is less conclusive.
The history of the Old World (Europe in particular, but also the Near East and North Africa) is commonly divided into Antiquity, up to 476 CE; the Middle Ages, from the 5th through the 15th centuries, including the Islamic Golden Age (c.750 CE – c.1258 CE) and the early European Renaissance (beginning around 1300 CE); the Early Modern period, from the 15th century to the late 18th, including the Age of Enlightenment; and the Late Modern period, from the Industrial Revolution to the present, including Contemporary History. In Western histories, the ostensible "Fall of Rome" in 476 CE is commonly taken as signaling the end of antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. By contrast, Eastern Europe saw a transition from the Roman Empire to the Byzantine Empire, which did not decline until much later. 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 the Scientific Revolution. By the 18th century, the accumulation of knowledge and technology, especially in Europe, had reached a critical mass that brought about the Industrial Revolution.
Elsewhere, including the ancient Near East, ancient China, and ancient India, historical timelines unfolded differently, as exemplified in China's Four Great Inventions, the Islamic Golden Age, and Indian mathematics. By the 18th century, however, due to extensive world trade and colonization, the histories of most world civilizations became increasingly globalized. In the last quarter-millennium, the growth of knowledge, technology, commerce, and destructive weaponry have accelerated at unprecedented rates. With the onset of the internet and the exponential trading of information, the current time period has oft been dubbed the information age.
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Famous quotes containing the words the world, world and/or history:
“And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if ... there werent any other people living in the world.”
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