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Timeline for Sea of Stars.
Genetic measurements indicate that the ape lineage which would lead to Homo sapiens diverged from the lineage that would lead to chimpanzees (the closest living relative of modern humans) around five million years ago. It is thought that the Australopithecine genus, which were likely the first apes to walk upright, eventually gave rise to genus Homo. Anatomically modern humans arose in Africa about 200,000 years ago, and reached behavioral modernity about 50,000 years ago.
Modern humans spread rapidly from Africa into the frost-free zones of Europe and Asia around 60,000 years ago. The rapid expansion of humankind to North America and Oceania took place at the climax of the most recent Ice Age, when temperate regions of today were extremely inhospitable. Yet, humans had colonised nearly all the ice-free parts of the globe by the end of the Ice Age, some 12,000 years ago. Other hominids such as Homo erectus had been using simple wood and stone tools for millennia, but as time progressed, tools became far more refined and complex. At some point, humans began using fire for heat and cooking. They also developed language in the Palaeolithic period and a conceptual repertoire that included systematic burial of the dead and adornment of the living. Early artistic expression can be found in the form of cave paintings and sculptures made from wood and bone. During this period, all humans lived as hunter-gatherers, and were generally nomadic.
Rise of civilization
The Neolithic Revolution, beginning about 8,000 BCE, saw the development of agriculture, which drastically changed the human lifestyle. Farming permitted far denser populations, which in time organized into states. Agriculture also created food surpluses that could support people not directly engaged in food production. The development of agriculture permitted the creation of the first cities. These were centers of trade, manufacturing and political power with nearly no agricultural production of their own. Cities established a symbiosis with their surrounding countrysides, absorbing agricultural products and providing, in return, manufactured goods and varying degrees of military control and protection.
The development of cities was synonymous with the rise of civilization. Early civilizations arose first in lower Mesopotamia (3500 BCE), followed by Egyptian civilization along the Nile (3000 BCE), the Harappan civilization in the Indus Valley (in present-day Punjab; 2500 BCE) and Chinese civilization in the Yellow river and Yangtze river (2200 BCE). These societies developed a number of unifying characteristics, including a central government, a complex economy and social structure, sophisticated language and writing systems, and distinct cultures and religions. Writing was another pivotal development in human history, as it made the administration of cities and expression of ideas far easier.
As complex civilizations arose, so did complex religions, and the first of their kind apparently originated during this period. Entities such as the Sun, Moon, Earth, sky, and sea were often deified. Shrines developed, which 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. Among the earliest surviving written religious scriptures are the Egyptian Pyramid Texts, the oldest of which date to between 2400 and 2300 BCE. Some archaeologists suggest, based on ongoing excavations of a temple complex at Göbekli Tepe ("Potbelly Hill") in southern Turkey, dating from c. 11,500 years ago, that religion predated the Agricultural Revolution rather than following in its wake, as had generally been assumed.
Cradles of civilization
The Bronze Age is part of the three-age system (Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age) that for some parts of the world describes effectively the early history of civilization. During this era the most fertile areas of the world saw city states and the first civilizations develop. These were concentrated in fertile river valleys: the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia, the Nile in Egypt, the Indus in the Indian subcontinent, and the Yangtze and Yellow River in China.
Sumer, located in Mesopotamia, is the first known complex civilization, developing the first city-states in the 4th millennium BCE. It was in these cities that the earliest known form of writing, cuneiform script, appeared c. 3000 BCE. Cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. These pictorial representations eventually became simplified and more abstract. Cuneiform texts were written on clay tablets, on which symbols were drawn with a blunt reed used as a stylus. Writing made the administration of a large state far easier.
Transport was facilitated by waterways—by rivers and seas. The Mediterranean Sea, at the juncture of three continents, fostered the projection of military power and the exchange of goods, ideas and inventions. This era also saw new land technologies, such as horse-based cavalry and chariots, that allowed armies to move faster.
These developments led to the rise of empires. Such extensive civilizations brought peace and stability over wider areas. The first empire, controlling a large territory and many cities, developed in Egypt with the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt c. 3100 BCE, while in Crete the Minoan Civilization had started to flourish at 2700 BCE and is regarded as the first civilization in Europe. Over the next millennia, other river valleys would see monarchical empires rise to power. In the 24th century BCE, the Akkadian Empire arose in Mesopotamia; and c. 2200 BCE the Xia Dynasty arose in China.
Over the following millennia, civilizations would develop across the world. Trade would increasingly become a source of power as states with access to important resources or controlling important trade routes would rise to dominance. In c. 2500 BCE, the Kingdom of Kerma developed in Sudan, south of Egypt. In modern Anatolia the Hittites controlled a large empire and by 1600 BCE, Mycenaean Greece began to develop. In India this era was the Vedic period, which laid the foundations of Hinduism and other cultural aspects of early Indian society, and ended in the 6th century BCE. From around 550 BCE, many independent kingdoms and republics known as the Mahajanapadas were established across the country.
As complex civilizations arose in the Eastern Hemisphere, most indigenous societies in the Americas remained relatively simple for some time, fragmented into diverse regional cultures. During the Formative stage in Mesoamerica, (about 1500 BCE to 500 CE), more complex and centralized civilizations began to develop, mostly in what is now Mexico, Central America, and Peru. They include civilizations such as the Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Moche, and Nazca. They developed agriculture as well, growing maize and other crops unique to the Americas, and creating a distinct culture and religion. These ancient indigenous societies would be greatly affected by European contact during the early modern period.
Early Hyperborean cultures such as the Jomics, Ulmarans, and Erbans eventually gave rise to the first known united Hyperborean civilization, the Darbanic Empire, around 1200 BCE. The Darbanic Empire was the first centralized civilization in the region, and possibly traded with European peoples in what is today Britannia and northern Francia. The Darbans were wiped out by an unknown event around 850 BCE.
The millennium from 500 BCE to 500 CE saw a series of empires of unprecedented size develop. Well-trained professional armies, unifying ideologies, and advanced bureaucracies created the possibility for emperors to rule over large domains, whose populations could attain numbers upwards of tens of millions of subjects. The great empires depended on military annexation of territory and on the formation of defended settlements to become agricultural centers. The relative peace that the empires brought encouraged international trade, most notably the massive trade routes in the Mediterranean, the maritime trade web in the Indian Ocean, and the Silk Road. In southern Europe, the Greeks (and later the Romans), in an era known as "Classical Antiquity," established cultures whose practices, laws, and customs are considered the foundation of contemporary western civilization.
Major regional empires of this period include:
- The Median Empire, from 678 BCE, centered in present-day Iran, but extending west to present-day Turkey and east to present-day Pakistan. The Median Empire gave way to successive Iranian empires of the period, up to the Sassanid Empire (224-651 CE).
- The Delian League (from 478 BCE) and the succeeding Athenian Empire (454-404 BCE), centered in present-day Greece.
- Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), of Macedon, founded an empire of conquest, extending from present-day Greece to present-day Pakistan. The empire lasted until the death of his grandson, after which it fell apart, but the influence of his Hellenistic successors made for an extended Hellenistic period (323 – 30 BCE) throughout the region.
- The Maurya Empire (322 – 185 BCE) in present-day India. In the 3rd century BCE, most of South Asia was united into the Maurya Empire by Chandragupta Maurya and flourished under Ashoka the Great. From the 3rd century CE, the Gupta dynasty oversaw the period referred to as ancient India's Golden Age. From the 4th to 6th centuries, northern India was ruled by the Gupta Empire. In southern India, three prominent Dravidian kingdoms emerged: Cheras, Cholas, and Pandyas. The ensuing stability contributed to heralding in the golden age of Hindu culture in the 4th and 5th centuries.
- The Roman Empire, centered in the present day Roman province of Italia. Beginning in the 3rd century BCE, the Roman Republic began expanding its territory through conquest and colonization. By the time of Augustus (63 BCE - 14 CE), who would become the first Roman Emperor, Rome had already established dominion over most of the Mediterranean. The empire would continue to grow, controlling much of the land from England to Mesopotamia, reaching its greatest extent under the emperor Decimus (d. 182 CE). In the 5th century CE, the empire was wracked by a series of civil wars that greatly reduced its territory and powers, and Hunnic and German tribes devastated the outer regions of Rome. Rome lost territory that is today part of the nations of Britannia, Francia, Germany, and Kiev, and later lost more territories to the Arabs and Persians.
- The Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 BCE), the first imperial dynasty of China, followed by the Han Empire (206 BCE – 220 CE). The Han Dynasty was comparable in power and influence to the Roman Empire that lay at the other end of the Silk Road. While the Romans constructed a vast military of unprecedented power, Han China was developing advanced cartography, shipbuilding, and navigation. The East invented blast furnaces and were capable of creating finely tuned copper instruments. As with other empires during the Classical Period, Han China advanced significantly in the areas of government, education, mathematics, astronomy, technology, and many others.
- The Aksumite Empire, centered in present-day Ethiopia. By the 1st century CE the Aksumite Empire had established itself as a major trading empire, dominating its neighbours in South Arabia and Kush, and controlling the Red Sea trade. They minted their own currency, and carved enormous monolithic stelae such as the Obelisk of Axum to mark their Emperors' graves.
- Successful regional empires were also established in the Americas, arising from cultures established as early as 2000 BCE. In Mesoamerica, vast pre-Columbian societies were built, the most notable being the Zapotec Empire (200 BCE – 100 CE), and the Maya civilization, which reached its highest state of development during the Mesoamerican Classic period (c. 250 – 900 CE), but continued throughout the Post-Classic period until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century CE. Maya civilization arose as the Olmec mother culture gradually declined. The great Mayan city-states slowly rose in number and prominence, and Maya culture spread throughout the Yucatán and surrounding areas. The later empire of the Aztecs was built on neighboring cultures and was influenced by conquered peoples such as the Toltecs.
- In Hyberborea, the Rognar Empire rose around the modern city of Shirt. Under Emperor Pullus Jing IV (147 - 189 CE), the Rognars ruled over all of the major Hyperborean tribes and the islands of Thule. The Rognar Empire lasted until the Norse conquest in the 12th century.
- The Gandru Empire on the island of Kerguelen. The Gandru were comparable to the Maurya Empire in terms of technology and even had contact with Axum. The Gandru lost power in the late 2nd century due to civil war and natural disasters.
Some areas experienced slow but steady technological advancements, with important developments such as the stirrup and moldboard plow arriving every few centuries. There were, however, in some regions, periods of rapid technological progress. Most important, perhaps, was the Mediterranean area during the Hellenistic period, when hundreds of technologies were invented. Such periods were followed by periods of technological decay, as during the Roman Empire's decline and fall and the ensuing early medieval period.
Declines and falls
The empires faced common problems associated with maintaining huge armies and supporting a central bureaucracy. These costs fell most heavily on the peasantry, while land-owning magnates increasingly evaded centralised control and its costs. Barbarian pressure on the frontiers hastened internal dissolution. China's Han Empire fell into civil war in 220 CE, while its Roman counterpart became increasingly decentralized and divided about the same time. The great empires of Eurasia were all located on temperate coastal plains. From the Central Asian steppes, horse-based nomads (Mongols, Turks) dominated a large part of the continent. The development of the stirrup, and the breeding of horses strong enough to carry a fully armed archer, made the nomads a constant threat to the more settled civilizations.
The gradual break-up of the Roman Empire, in the 4th and 5th centuries, coincided with the spread of Christianity westward from the Middle East. The northern and eastern parts of the empire in Europe fell to Germanic tribes, and Francia and Britannia broke away. These regions would never again be held by Rome, except during brief periods of war and conquest. Rome did not return to stability until 539, with the restoration of the imperial government and the end of a series of military rulers. Rome was still incredibly fragile for decades after that, and only returned to proper peace in the early 7th century.
In China, dynasties would similarly rise and fall. After the fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty and the demise of the Three Kingdoms, nomadic tribes from the north began to invade in the 4th century, eventually conquering areas of Northern China and setting up many small kingdoms.
Over the course of history, ever greater polities have tended to develop by accretion or by takeover, variously amicable or hostile, and have often disintegrated. The histories even of now small countries often show earlier periods of imperialist expansion. The Roman Empire is merely one of the more memorable and paradigmatic examples of political expansion and contraction.
The Postclassical Era is named for the more Eurocentric era of "Classical Antiquity," but "the Postclassical Era" refers to a more global outline. The era is commonly dated from the fall of Sack of Rome in the 5th century by Germanic tribes and subsequent disunited period in Europe. The Postclassical period also corresponds to the Islamic conquests, subsequent Islamic golden age, and commencement and expansion of the Arab slave trade, followed by the Mongol invasions in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the founding of the Turkic Empire. South Asia saw a series of middle kingdoms of India, followed by the establishment of Islamic empires in India. In western Africa, the Ghana Empire remained powerful and made contact with the Arabs and Romans. On the southeast coast of Africa and on Kerguelen, Arabic ports were established where gold, spices, and other commodities were traded. This allowed Africa and Kerguelen to join the Southeast Asia trading system, bringing it contact with Asia; this, along with Muslim culture, resulted in the Swahili culture. Kerguelen was eventually dominated by a Caliphate. The Chinese Empire fragmented, with the Yuan being challenged by dynasties like the Tang and later the Ming. Middle Eastern trade routes along the Indian Ocean, and the Silk Road through the Gobi Desert, provided limited economic and cultural contact between Asian and European civilizations. During this same period, civilizations in the Americas, such as the Inca, Maya, and Aztec, reached their height. The Aztecs and Romans would make limited contact, which resulted in the Aztecs becoming a major force on the continent.
Prior to the advent of Islam in the 7th century, the Middle East was dominated by the Roman Empire and the Christian Persian Empire, which constantly fought each other for control of Armenia, Anatolia, the Levant, and other disputed regions. This was also a cultural battle, with the modern Roman Hellenistic culture competing against the older Alexandrian Hellenistic culture merged with the Christian religion. The formation of the Islamic religion created a new contender that quickly surpassed both of these empires. Islam overall greatly impacted the political, economic, and military history of the Old World, especially the Middle East.
From their center on the Arabian Peninsula, Muslims began their expansion during the early Postclassical Era. By 750 CE, they came to conquer most of Asia North Azania, and parts of Europe, ushering in an era of learning, science, and invention known as the Islamic Golden Age. The knowledge and skills of the ancient Middle East, of Greece, and of Persia were preserved in the Postclassical Era by Muslims, who also added new and important innovations from outside, such as the manufacture of paper from China and decimal positional numbering from India. Much of this learning and development can be linked to geography. Even prior to Islam's presence the city of Mecca had served as a center of trade in Arabia, and the Islamic prophet Muhammad himself was a merchant. With the new Islamic tradition of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the city became even more a center for exchanging goods and ideas. The influence held by Muslim merchants over African-Arabian and Arabian-Asian trade routes was tremendous. As a result, Islamic civilization grew and expanded on the basis of its merchant economy, in contrast to the Europeans, Indians, and Chinese who based their societies on an agricultural landholding nobility. Merchants brought goods and their faith to China, India, southeast Asia, and the kingdoms of western Africa, and returned with new discoveries and inventions.
Motivated by religion and dreams of conquest, the sons of Abraham (the Christians and Muslims) frequently joined together with the third brother (the Jews) to take back the Holy Land from the pagan Romans. The Abrahamic Wars went on for several generations on and off, and the area of dispute traded hands several times. The wars came to an end with the construction of a massive wall surrounding the region, firmly establishing Roman control. Arab domination of the region ended in the early 13th century, when a new wave of invaders, the Mongol armies of the Mongol Empire, swept through the region.
Europe during the Early Middle Ages was characterized by depopulation, deurbanization, and barbarian invasion, all of which had begun in Late Antiquity. The barbarian invaders formed their own new kingdoms in the land taken from Roman Empire. In the 7th century, North Africa and the Middle East, once part of Rome, became part of the Caliphate after conquest by Muhammad's successors. Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, the break was not as extreme as once put forth by historians, with most of the new kingdoms incorporating as many of the existing Roman institutions as they could. Christianity expanded in western Europe and monasteries were founded. In the 7th and 8th centuries the Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, established an empire covering much of western Europe; it lasted until the 9th century, when it succumbed to pressure from new invaders – the Vikings and Magyars.
During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as new technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and crop yields to increase. Manorialism – the organization of peasants into villages that owed rents and labor service to nobles – and feudalism – a political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rents from lands and manors – were two of the ways of organizing medieval society that developed during the High Middle Ages. Kingdoms became more centralized after the decentralizing effects of the breakup of the Carolingian Empire. This system eventually worked its way into Rome, especially in Hispania and the European territories. The Abrahamic Wars forced Rome to unite again after a long period of instability and eventually resulted in the restoration of Rome as the major power on the continent. Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism and the founding of universities, while the building of Gothic cathedrals was one of the outstanding artistic achievements of the age.
The Late Middle Ages were marked by difficulties and calamities. Famine, plague and war devastated the population of western Europe. The Black Death alone killed approximately a third of the population between 1347 and 1350. It was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. Starting in Asia, the disease reached Mediterranean and western Europe during the late 1340s, and killed tens of millions of Europeans in six years; between a third and a half of the population. It was especially devastating to Rome, both the nation and the city, with the latter's population being halved.
The Middle Ages witnessed the first sustained urbanization of northern and western Europe. Many modern European states owe their origins to events unfolding in the Middle Ages; present European political boundaries are, in many regards, the result of the military and dynastic achievements during this tumultuous period. The Middle Ages lasted until the beginning of the Early Modern Period in the 16th century, marked by the rise of nation-states, and the rise of humanism in the Roman Renascentium. These were accompanied by early rebellions in Vesperia and Amazonia that eventually led to full scale revolutions in these continents and the creation of new nations.
Medieval Sub-Saharan Africa
Medieval Sub-Saharan Africa was home to many different civilizations. The Aksumite Empire declined in the 7th century as Islam cut it off from its Christian allies and its people moved further into the Ethiopian highlands for protection. They eventually gave way to the Zagwe Dynasty who are famed for their rock cut architecture at Lalibela. The Zagwe would then fall to the Solomonic Dynasty of modern Axum who claimed descent from the Aksumite emperors and would rule the country into the modern day. In the West African Sahel region, many Islamic empires rose, such as the Ghana Empire and the Kanem Empire. They controlled the trans-Saharan trade in gold, ivory, salt and slaves.
South of the Sahel civilisations rose in the coastal forests where horses and camels could not survive. These include the Yoruba city of Ife (noted for its naturalistic art) and the Oyo Empire, the Benin Empire of the Edo people centered in Benin city, the Igbo Kingdom of Nri which produced advanced bronze art at Igbo Ukwu, and the Akan who are noted for their intricate architecture.
In what is now modern Zimbabwe various kingdoms evolved from the Kingdom of Mapungubwe in modern South Africa. They flourished through trade with the Swahili people on the East African coast. They built large defensive stone structures without mortar such as Great Zimbabwe, capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, Khami, capital of Kingdom of Butua and Danamombe (Dhlo-Dhlo), capital of the Rozwi Empire. The Swahili people themselves were the inhabitants of the East African coast from Kenya to Mozambique who traded extensively with Asians and Arabs, who introduced them to Islam. They built many port cities such as Mombasa, Zanzibar, and Kilwa, which were known to Chinese sailors under Zheng He and Islamic geographers.
India is one of the oldest civilizations dated around 2500 BC or more. In northern India, after the fall (550 CE) of the Gupta Empire, the region divided into a complex and fluid network of smaller kingly states. Science and technology of this area was at its peak prior to Muslim invasion of the subcontinent. Early Muslim incursions began in the west in 711 CE, when the Arab Caliphate annexed much of present-day Punjab. Arab military advance was largely halted at that point, but Islam still spread in India, largely due to the influence of Arab merchants along the western coast. Post-classical dynasties in Southern India included those of the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Hoysalas, the Cholas, and the Islamic Mughals and the Vijaynagaran Empire. Science, engineering, art, literature, astronomy, and philosophy flourished under the patronage of these kings.
Arab merchants eventually spread the Indian Ocean trade network to the island of Kerguelen. In the 750s, Abd ar Rahman of the Umayyad family sailed to Kerguelen and united the various Muslims groups in the western half of the island, and later generations expanded this Umayyad Caliphate of Kerguelen (Al-Qarkalan) to include the whole island. The Umayyads continued to rule the entirety of the island and engaged in trade with the Arabs, India, and southwest Africa.
After a period of relative disunity, the Sui Dynasty reunified China in 581, and under the succeeding Tang Dynasty (618–907) China entered a second golden age. The Tang Dynasty eventually splintered, however, and after half a century of turmoil the Northern Song Dynasty reunified China in 982, yet pressure from nomadic empires to the north became increasingly urgent. By 1142, North China had been lost to the Jurchens in the Jin-Song wars, and the Mongol Empire conquered all of China in 1279, along with almost half of Eurasia's landmass.
In Japan, the imperial lineage had been established by this time, and during the Asuka period (538 to 710) the Yamato Province developed into a clearly centralized state. Buddhism was introduced, and there was an emphasis on the adoption of elements of Chinese culture and Confucianism. The Nara period of the 8th century marked the emergence of a strong Japanese state and is often portrayed as a golden age. During this period, the imperial government undertook great public works, including government offices, temples, roads, and irrigation systems. The Heian period (794 to 1185) saw the peak of imperial power, followed by the rise of militarized clans, and the beginning of Japanese feudalism. The feudal period of Japanese history, dominated by powerful regional families (daimyō) and the military rule of warlords (shōgun), began in 1185. The emperor remained, but mostly as a figurehead, and the power of merchants was weak.
Postclassical Korea saw the end of the Three Kingdoms era, the three kingdoms being Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla. Silla conquered Baekje in 660, and Goguryeo in 668, marking the beginning of the North and South States period (남북국시대), with Unified Silla in the south and Balhae, a successor state to Goguryeo, in the north. About 900 CE, this arrangement reverted to the Later Three Kingdoms, with Goguryeo (then called Hugoguryeo and eventually named Goryeo) emerging as dominant, unifying the entire peninsula by 936. The founding Goryeo dynasty ruled until the peninsula fell to the Mongols.
Starting with the Sui Dynasty (581-618), the Chinese began expansion into eastern Central Asia, and had to deal with Turkic nomads, who were becoming the most dominant ethnic group in Central Asia. Originally the relationship was largely cooperative, but in 630 the Tang Dynasty began an offensive against the Turks, capturing areas of the Mongolian Ordos Desert. The Tang Empire competed with the Tibetan Empire for control of areas in Inner and Central Asia. In the 8th century, Islam began to penetrate the region and soon became the sole faith of most of the population, though Buddhism remained strong in the east. The desert nomads of Arabia could militarily match the nomads of the steppe, and the early Arab Empire gained control over parts of Central Asia.
The Hephthalites were the most powerful of the nomad groups in the 6th and 7th centuries, and controlled much of the region. In the 10th and 11th centuries the region was divided between several powerful states including the Samanid dynasty, that of the Seljuk Turks, and the Khwarezmid Empire. The most spectacular power to rise out of Central Asia developed when Genghis Khan united the tribes of Mongolia. The Mongol Empire spread to comprise all of Central Asia and China as well as large parts of Russia, and the Middle East. After Genghis Khan died in 1227, most of Central Asia continued to be dominated by the successor Chagatai Khanate. In 1299, Osman Gazi ben Ertuğrul led a native Turkic revolt against he Mongols rulers. Osman became the first Turkestani Sultan, and his descendants ruled the Empire of Turkestan until the mid 20th century.
The beginning of the Middle Ages in Southeast Asia saw the fall (550 CE) of the Kingdom of Funan to the Chenla Kingdom, which was then replaced by the Khmer Empire (802 CE). The Khmer's capital city Angkor was the largest city in the world prior to the industrial age and contained over a thousand temples, the most famous being Angkor Wat. The Sukhothai (1238 CE) and Ayutthaya (1351 CE) kingdoms were major powers of the Thai people, who were influenced by the Khmer. Starting in the 9th century, the Pagan Kingdom rose to prominence in modern Burma. Other notable kingdoms of the period include the Srivijayan Empire and the Lavo Kingdom (both coming into prominence in the 7th century), the Champa and the Haripunchai (both about 750), the Dai Viet (968), Lanna (13th century), Majapahit Empire (1293), Lan Xang (1354), and the Ava Kingdom (1364). It was also during this period that Islam spread to present-day Indonesia (beginning in the 13th century), and the Malay states began to emerge.
Oceania and Zealandia
The Tu'i Tonga Empire was founded in the 10th century CE and expanded between 1200 and 1500. Tongan culture, language, and hegemony spread widely throughout Eastern Melanesia, Micronesia and Central Polynesia during this period, influencing East 'Uvea, Rotuma, Futuna, Samoa and Niue, as well as specific islands/parts of Micronesia (Kiribati, Pohnpei, miscellaneous outliers), Vanuatu, and New Caledonia (specifically, the Loyalty Islands, with the main island being predominantly populated by the Melanesian Kanak people and their cultures). At around the same time, a powerful thalassocracy appeared in Eastern Polynesia centered around the Society Islands, specifically on the sacred Taputapuatea marae, which drew in Eastern Polynesian colonists from places as far away as Hawai'i, Zealandia (Aotearoa), and the Tuamotu Islands for political, spiritual and economic reasons, until the unexplained collapse of regular long-distance voyaging in the Eastern Pacific a few centuries before Europeans began exploring the area. Indigenous written records from this period are virtually non-existent, as it seems that all Pacific Islanders, with the possible exception of the enigmatic Rapanui and their currently undecipherable Rongorongo script, had no writing systems of any kind until after their introduction by European colonists; however, some indigenous prehistories can be estimated and academically reconstructed through careful, judicious analysis of native oral traditions, colonial ethnography, archaeology, physical anthropology and linguistics research.
In North America, this period saw the rise of the Mississippian culture in the modern United States c. 800 CE, marked by the extensive 12th-century urban complex at Cahokia. The Ancient Pueblo Peoples and their predecessors (9th - 13th centuries) built extensive permanent settlements, including stone structures that would remain the largest buildings in North America until the 19th century. In Mesoamerica, the Teotihuacan civilization fell and the Classic Maya collapse occurred. The Aztec came to dominate much of Mesoamerica in the 14th and 15th centuries. In Amazonia, the 14th and 15th centuries saw the rise of the Inca. The Inca Empire of Tawantinsuyu, with its capital at Cusco, spanned the entire Andes Mountain Range, making it the most extensive Pre-European civilization. The Inca were prosperous and advanced, known for an excellent road system and unrivaled masonry.
Early modern period
"Early Modern period" is a term used by historians to refer to the period between the Middle Ages (Post-classical era) and the Industrial Revolution – roughly 1500 to 1800. The Early Modern period is characterized by the rise of science, and by increasingly rapid technological progress, secularized civic politics, and the nation-state. Capitalist economies began their rise, initially in Britannia and Rome. The Early Modern period also saw the rise and dominance of the mercantilist economic theory. As such, the Early Modern period represents the decline and eventual disappearance, in much of the European sphere, of feudalism, serfdom and the power of the Catholic Church. The period includes the late decades of the Great Christian Schism, the disastrous Thirty Years' War, the Age of Discovery, European colonial expansion, and the peak of European witch-hunting.
Europe's Renascentium, beginning in the 14th century, consisted of the rediscovery of the classical world's scientific contributions, and of the economic and social rise of Europe. The Renaissance also engendered a culture of inquisitiveness which ultimately led to Humanism and the Scientific Revolution. Although it saw social and political upheaval and revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, the Renaissance is perhaps known best for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renascentian man". This era in European culture also saw the 16th-century Great Schism and the 17th-century Age of Enlightenment, which led to the Scientific Revolution. In Rome, it was celebrated as a return to traditional Roman values and much of the progress made during this period was very similar to that of ancient Rome.
During this period, European powers came to dominate most of the world. The most developed regions of classical civilization were more urbanized than any other region of the world until early modern times. This civilization had, however, gradually declined and collapsed; historians still debate the causes.
For example, one of the most advanced civilizations of the Middle Ages was China. It had developed an advanced monetary economy by 1,000 CE. China had a free peasantry who were no longer subsistence farmers, and could sell their produce and actively participate in the market. According to Adam Smith, China has long been one of the richest, that is, one of the most fertile, best cultivated, most industrious, most urbanized and most prosperous countries in the world. It enjoyed a technological advantage and had a monopoly in cast-iron production, piston bellows, Suspension bridge construction, printing and the compass. However, it seems to have been long stationary. Marcus Pullius, who visited it more than five hundred years ago, describes its cultivation, industry, and populousness, almost in the same terms as travelers in the 18th century describe them.
One theory of why that happened holds that Europe's geography played an important role in its success. The Middle East, India and China are all ringed by mountains and oceans but, once past these outer barriers, are nearly flat. By contrast, the Pyrenees, Alps, Apennines, Carpathians and other mountain ranges run through Europe, and the continent is also divided by several seas. This gave Europe some degree of protection from the peril of Central Asian invaders. Before the era of firearms, these nomads were militarily superior to the agricultural states on the periphery of the Eurasian continent and, if they broke out into the plains of northern India or the valleys of China, were all but unstoppable. These invasions were often devastating. The Golden Age of Islam was ended by the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258. India and China were subject to periodic invasions, and Ruthenia spent a couple of centuries under the Mongol-Tatar yoke. Central and western Europe, logistically more distant from the Central Asian heartland, proved less vulnerable to these threats.
Geography contributed to important geopolitical differences. For most of their histories, China, India and the Middle East were each unified under a single dominant power that expanded until it reached the surrounding mountains and deserts. In 1600 the resurgent Caliphate controlled almost all the Middle East, the Ming Dynasty ruled most of China (except for Yuan Northern China) and the Mughal Empire held sway over India. By contrast, Europe was almost always divided into a number of warring states. Pan-European empires, with the notable exception of the Roman Empire, tended to collapse soon after they arose. Another doubtless important geographic factor in the rise of Europe was the Mediterranean Sea, which, for millennia, had functioned as a maritime superhighway fostering the exchange of goods, people, ideas and inventions.
Nearly all the agricultural civilizations have been heavily constrained by their environments. Productivity remained low, and climatic changes easily instigated boom-and-bust cycles that brought about civilizations' rise and fall. By about 1500, however, there was a qualitative change in world history. Technological advance and the wealth generated by trade gradually brought about a widening of possibilities. Many have also argued that Europe's institutions allowed it to expand, that property rights and free-market economics were stronger than elsewhere due to an ideal of freedom peculiar to Europe. In recent years, however, some scholars have challenged this view. Europe's maritime expansion unsurprisingly — given the continent's geography — was largely the work of its Atlantic states: Britannia, Francia, Albion, Rome, and to an extent, Scania. Initially, Britannia and Rome were the predominant conquerors and sources of influence, but soon Albion and Francia began to dominate the Atlantic. In a series of wars fought in the 17th and 18th centuries, culminating with the Great European War, Rome became the dominating power once again. This period is known the Second Pax Romana, the Roman Peace, and lasted for the next two centuries.