Thursday, March 24, 2005

Classical and Medieval History

I'm using a three-part format for my posts here. First, I have some general comment about self-directed education, links, or other introductory comments; second a discussion of the title topic and how it relates to other topics, and third, suggested exercises. I don't have much in the way of general comments, but it's been mentioned to me that my writing on factual subjects, such as these, tends to be a bit dry and technical. If you aren't interested in history today, ask me something else. I use CE (Common Era or Christian Era) for dates in this period, instead of the more usual AD.

Classical and medieval history is where many studies of history begin, after a brief nod to antiquity. I have divided this into 4 periods of 500 years. (If you don't like this division, make up your own!)

1) Early Classical. (500 BC - 1 BC) This period is best known in Western Civilization as the Classical age of the Greeks, and the Hellenistic age following the conquests of Alexander (the Great). It is also the period of the Roman Republic, and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

2) Late Classical. (1 CE - 500 CE) This is the period of the Roman Empire. It also is noted for the spread of Christianity, and ended with the division of the Roman empire into the Western portion, which collapsed, and the Eastern, which became the Byzantine empire.

3) Early Medieval (500 CE - 1000 CE) This is the early middle ages in Europe, sometimes referred to as the Dark ages. Islam originated in this period and began to spread over much of the world.

4) Late Medieval (1000 CE - 1500 CE) This is the late middle ages in Europe, beginning with the Crusades and ending with the discoveries of the New World by Columbus and a sea route to India by the Portuguese. The modern era follows this.

The Greeks made some significant advances and innovations in the study of nature that form the foundations of modern science, but erronious concepts persisted for centuries. The same can be said for studies of the human body and psychology. Biographies of prominent individuals were written. The earth's human population increased and techniques of civilization with impact on the earth became more widespread with each passing century. Alphabetic writing spread and many more peoples of the earth became literate; techniques of occupations and arts, and artifacts and constructions became increasingly numerous and widespread. More families and their genealogies can be identified, techniques of education improved, trade and commerce began to extend across the Old World, forms of government were refined, and several religions originated. Numerous communities and cities that still exist were founded, and various civilizations and empires that are still remembered flourished.

For exercises in this area, I suggest the same as in my last post. That is, create a time-line with major, landmark events in this period, and use it to write a brief, summary account.

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