The historian’s choice

Events which shaped the world as we know it:


1. c.3500 BC Invention of the wheel and plough in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq); invention of the sail in Egypt: three fundamental inventions for trade, agriculture and exploration.

2. c.3200 BC Invention of writing in Mesopotamia: the means to record and understand human history.
3. c.3000 BC Founding of the first cities in Sumeria (present-day Iraq): origin of modern social and administrative structures.
4. c.1600 BC Modern alphabet invented: the essential means of communication of complex concepts and culture.
5. c.1600 BC Beginning of Greek civilisation: essential to Western heritage and the root of mathematics, philosophy, political thinking and medicine.
6. 753 BC Foundation of Rome: the Roman Empire is a pillar of the modern age, producing ideas on justice, law, engineering and warfare.

7. c.670 BC Invention of ironworking: metallurgy is the key to further technical, economic and military developments.
8. c.551 BC Birth of Confucius, the founder of one of the world’s major philosophical systems.
9. 490 BC Battle of Marathon: the Greeks repel a Persian invasion, securing the survival of Greek culture and science.
10. 486 BC Birth of Buddha, founder of one of the world’s major religions.
11. 327 BC Empire of Alexander the Great reaches into India: the first example of a long-term and often violent interrelationship between Europe and Asia.
12. 202 BC Hannibal is defeated by Rome: the victory is essential to secure the survival and expansion of Roman civilisation.
13. 27 BC Founding of the Roman Empire: this is the start of the classic period of Roman domination in Europe and the Mediterranean.
14. c.5 BC Birth of Jesus Christ, founder of the many branches of Christianity. The exact date is disputed.
15. AD 105 First use of modern paper: this replaced stone, slate, papyrus and vellum as a cheap and convenient medium.
16. AD 280 Unification of China under the Western Chin dynasty creates the political shape of modern China.
17. AD 312 Roman Emperor Constantine converts to Christianity: this made it possible for Christianity to spread across Europe.
18. AD 476 Fall of the Roman Empire in the West ends 800 years of Roman hegemony. The creation of moderen Europe begins.
19. c.AD 570 Birth of Muhammad, founder of one of the world’s great religions.
20. c.AD 730 Printing invented in China: an essential step in mass communication/ administration/cultural dissemination.
21. AD 800 Charlemagne crowned Emperor of the new Western Empire. This marked the point at which Europe began to reintegrate. The Holy Roman Empire lasts for 1,000 years.
22. 1054 Schism of Greek and Latin Christian Churches divides Christianity permanently into two geographical and denominational halves.
23. 1088 First university founded in Bologna, Italy: the start of a modern conception of higher learning and universal knowledge.
24. 1206 Genghis Khan begins his conquest of Asia. This has a major impact on Asian development and the movement of peoples.
25. 1215 Magna Carta signed by King John at Runnymede: this is the origin of the modern concept of constitutional rule.
26. 1453 Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks: Almost 500 years of Turkish domination of the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East begins.
27. 1455 First book printed with moveable type: Johannes Gutenberg�s revolution in printing technology makes mass-market reading possible.
28. 1492 Christopher Columbus discovers the New World, bringing the Americas into a global trading/cultural system.
29. 1509 Invention of the watch: essential to a modern economy and administration, this introduces the concept of regular timekeeping.
30. 1517 Martin Luther launches the Reformation. It is the start of Protestant Christianity and the idea of religious individualism.
31. 1519 Cortes begins his conquest of South America, which becomes part of the wider world economic and political system.
32. 1564 William Shakespeare is born: his plays make fundamental statements about the human condition.
33. 1651 Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan is published: this is the origin of the modern idea of civil society, equality before the law and egoistic individualism]
34. 1687 Isaac Newton publishes Principia Mathematica, the foundation of modern physics.
35. 1776 American Declaration of Independence determines the political evolution of the New World and the rise of American power.
36. 1789 French Revolution marks a fundamental break with the tradition of monarchy; the rights of man are enshrined.
37. 1815 Battle of Waterloo: the Napoleonic Empire ends, and with it Napoleon’s ambition to rule and reform all of Europe.
38. 1825 Rocket steam locomotive built, marking the start of the railway age of cheap, fast land transport.
39. 1859 Publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. His theory of evolution transforms the view of Man and his environment, and belief in God.
40. 1885 Benz develops first petrol-driven car, starting the most profound technical and social revolution of the modern age.
41. 1893 New Zealand introduces unrestricted womens suffrage. At this point women win the principle of full political equality.
42. 1905 Einstein’s theory of special relativity published. It transforms the nature of modern physical knowledge.
43. 1917 Russian Revolution creates the first successful, long-term revolutionary state.
44. 1918 End of the First World War. The Habsburg and Ottoman empires collapse; maps of Europe and the Middle East are redrawn.
45. 1939 Outbreak of Second Worldd War: 50 million die worldwide from 1939-45 in the world’s largest and most deadly conflict, which ends the long age of imperialisms.
46. 1945 End of Second World War; when the first nuclear bomb is detonated, mankind develops the means to destroy itself.
47. 1949 Communist China founded: China is created as a single territorial unit with a common administration and a modernising economy.
48. 1959 Invention of the silicon chip is the major technical invention of the past century, making possible the computer age.
49. 1960 First contraceptive pill made available for women, who can now make their own biological choices about reproduction.
50. 1989-90 Collapse of Communist regimes in Europe: marks the end of the long communist experiment; Asian communism is also transformed.


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