Wednesday, March 23, 2005


There are disadvantages as well as benefits from a timeline of world history. One of these is that it's all too easy to create an outline that is empty of content. It's usually better to make the organization fit the data, rather than making the data fit the organization.

Antiquity deals with the period from about 3000 BC to 500 BC. I have this divided into periods of 500 years each.
1) Early 3rd millennium BC
2) Late 3rd millennium BC
3) Early 2nd Millennium BC
4) Late 2nd Millennium BC
5) Early 1st Millennium BC

Although there was a fair amount of knowledge of nature and most people lived closer to it than in modern times, this knowledge was not as well organized as it is now. Information about the human body and psychology from this period is also mixed with other observations and ideas. It is possible to identify historical individuals; some of them with significant biographical information, and many that are legendary or semi-legendary. Hierarchical, formal organizations can be identified. Methods of protection from the weather and stable, year-round food supplies both influenced nature and resulted in an increase in human population, on all continents except Antarctica. Writing developed and came into greater use, specialized occupations, and an abundance of man-made artifacts are known from this period. Some families can be identified, methods of formal education, long-range trade and economic systems, methods of government, and a variety of religions can be described. Social changes and a variety of social types can be identified with more accuracy, numerous were founded, communities, a few of them still inhabited today, and the major peoples and cultures can be identified. These include the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Israelites, Greeks, Etruscans, early Romans, peoples of India and China. Few peoples in Africa were literate. In the Americas, the Olmecs of southern Mexico and Central America were the dominant civilization. These various peoples and civilizations had roots in prehistory, but older materials, as well as those of the non-literate peoples of the earth, still require the expertise of archaeologists and anthropologists. Much knowledge about these ancient peoples was lost in classical and medieval times, and has been rediscovered and reconstructed in the modern period.

This is also a period I have largely set aside in my own studies, although it is more useful than prehistory. As a suggested exercise, do some reading about each of the civilizations I have mentioned and give some detail to the sketchy time line. Especially take note of the landmark dates when major events occurred.

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