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Major Periods of World History

Period Major



Era of First Civilizations



Era of First Major Religions



Christian Era



Islamic Era



Age of Discovery



Age of Enlightenment



Age of Global Civilization











Christian Era

"They're different from us because they value different things from us. And they value different things from us, these Romans, because they precede the single most important thing that formed our world, which is the Judeo-Christian ethic. They come before it, and they exist outside of it." [Jonathan Stamp, historical consultant, in Season 1: Disc VI: "When in Rome."] "It was not just a history of persecution: it also embodied the English national-religious myth, which had been growing in power in the later Middle Ages and came to maturity during the Reformation decades—the myth that the English had replaced the Jews as the Elect Nation, and were divinely appointed to do God’s will on earth. This belief in divine appointment was to become an important factor in American as well as English history, because it was transmitted to the western side of the Atlantic when the English eventually established themselves there. At the origin of the myth was the widely held belief that the Christian faith had been brought to Britain directly by Joseph of Arimathea, on the express instructions of the Apostles." [Johnson, Paul. A History of the American People, p. 19-20]


Islamic Era

"In the early ages of Islam the peoples of Europe acquired the sciences and arts of civilization from Islam as practiced by the inhabitants of Andalusia [Muslim Spain]. A careful and thorough investigation of the historical record will establish the fact that the major part of the civilization of Europe is derived from Islam; for all the writings of Muslim scholars and divines and philosophers were gradually collected in Europe and were with the most painstaking care weighed and debated at academic gatherings and in the centers of learning, after which their valued contents would be put to use. . . . To sum up, from 490 A.H. until 693 [1097-1294 A.D.], kings, commanders and other European leaders continually came and went between Egypt, Syria and the West, and when in the end they all returned home, they introduced into Europe whatever they had observed over two hundred and odd years in Muslim countries as to government, social development and learning, colleges, schools and the refinements of living. The civilization of Europe dates from that time." [Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 89-91]


Age of Enlightenment

For the radical and theologian Carl Friedrich Bahrdt it meant the “holiest, most important, most inviolable right of man,” to “think for oneself.” It was a “pure insight,” in the words of the nineteenth-century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, that seeped into men’s thoughts like a “perfume” or—since Hegel was at best uncertain about its benefits—an “infection.” [Pagden, Anthony. The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters, p. 6] "The 18th-century 'enlightened' writers, or philosophes, such as Voltaire and Diderot, appealed to human reason to challenge traditional assumptions about the Church, state, monarchy, education, and social institutions. 'Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains,' wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his Social Contract (1762), in which he sought to show how a democratic society could work." [DK Timelines, p. 326] "In Germany, classicism took the form of music. With the death of Bach and Handel, the complex polyphony of the baroque and rococo styles gave way to simplicity, balance, and restraint. Mozart, Haydn, Gluck, and Beethoven (in his early works) wrote music that emphasized a melodic line over a supporting harmony, with a wider range of dynamics. The piano was introduced during this era, as was the modern symphony orchestra and the standardized sonata form." [National Geographic Almanac, p. 21] "Imbued by the humanist and libertarian ideas of the Enlightenment, Romanticism found  expression in all art forms from c. 1775-1850." [DK Timelines, p. 346] "They struggle, too, over what was the most important of all the claims of the Enlightenment, and the one from which so many of these other concerns derived: that all humans not only belong to a single “race” but also share a common identity and thus belong ultimately to a single global community—a “cosmopolis.” [Pagden, Anthony. The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters, p. 36]  "At the same time rationalist philosophers of the 'Enlightenment' increasingly held that individuals and nations should be able to live free from the tyranny of unjust rulers. It was this desire for liberty that drove the American War of Independence, as well as the French Revolution in 1789." [DK Timelines, p. 296-7]


Age of Global Civilization

"Perhaps the most compelling argument for the 'oneness' of humankind, however, comes from looking at satellite photographs. . . . An engineer by training, Armstrong is not known to wax philosophical. But when I asked him what surprised him about being on the moon he grew excited. 'Just seeing Earth,' he said. 'Its colors are working together.  It was magnificent.' . . . What is striking about Armstrong's comment is the notion that, from a 'solar system perspective,' we citizens of the world are a united entity."  [National Geographic Almanac, p. 10] "The invention of the internal combustion engine truly revolutionized personal travel. . . In 1883 German engineer Gottlieb Daimler created a portable engine that injected vaporized light oil into a cylinder to drive a crankshaft. Two years later, his engine drove a motor car, and the age of the automobile was born. . . . By the 1830s, inventors were exploring electrical methods of sending signals. . . . In 1844 Morse sent the first message--'What hath God wrought!'--from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland, by wire. . . In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell, an American, invented the telephone. . . Wireless communication began when Italian physicist Guglielmo Marconi perfected his radio. . . For better or for worse, the world was a much smaller, and speedier, place." [National Geographic Almanac, p. 32-3]