Read The Super Summary of World History Online

Authors: Alan Dale Daniel

Tags: #History, #Europe, #World History, #Western, #World

The Super Summary of World History (7 page)

BOOK: The Super Summary of World History
9.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Meanwhile, in Europe, prehistory went on except with a twist. Even though Europe seemed to lag behind in many skills of civilization—including writing—they managed to build massive stone structures about the same time as Mesopotamia and Egypt were constructing enormous structures. Erecting stone circle
megaliths
, such as Stonehenge, took place about 2,600 BC. The first signs of construction at Stonehenge are from nearly 8,000 BC. There are thousands of these stone structures with a geographic range from the Mediterranean through France, Spain, Denmark, England and Scandinavia. Discovering the purposes for these massive stone works has proved elusive, but they resemble nothing else from that period found anywhere else on earth. It is clear, or as clear as prehistory can be, that the idea for these stone monuments arose from inside Europe. Europe remained in the non-writing, or prehistoric, stage for many centuries after writing developed in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, China, and India. Why Europe beyond the Mediterranean took so long to enter the historic era is hard to explain, especially when the European tribes had shown themselves capable of constructing the colossal megaliths.

These large stone circles may have had ritual purposes or may have been solar calendars; however, it is very hard to discern the reasons for the construction because of the lack of written records. There is a wide “road” connecting Stonehenge to a nearby site; thus, these two sites may have a complex ritualistic connection. It is fair to say that whatever the purpose for the construction the effort involved was gigantic, and required an organization of community talent and creativity that was remarkable for the time.

Africa spent nearly all of its existence in the pre-writing or prehistoric “era,” with the notable exceptions of Egypt and Carthage in North Africa. This is difficult to imagine, since humanity itself is said to have originated in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa seems locked in the moment without the need to develop writing. Our history will largely ignore Africa, South America, the Pacific Ocean areas, and Central Asia (Siberia and the lands east of the Ural Mountains). No one recorded what happened in these vast areas; thus, there is no “history.” The final analysis involves
impact
on
history,
and the high civilizations developed in the Middle East, Egypt, India, China, Greece, Rome, and the nearby surrounding areas had the real historic impact. Africa, northern Europe, the interior of Asia from Mongolia to the Urals, the Pacific Ocean areas, and all of the Americas have little or no impact on history before AD 1000, and many of these areas (Africa, South America, the Pacific) had little impact right up to the modern era.

Differing
Views
of
History

Before we get too far in our story, we need to point out that we can view history in at least three fundamentally different ways. We will start with the
cyclic
view
. Modern historians and many great civilizations, such as India, support this idea. In the cyclic view history moves like a great wheel, constantly repeating itself. The cycles are not exactly the same each time, but much like the seasons they repeat consistently even though the details may differ. The second great idea is history moves like an
ascending
line
. In this view history is advancing somewhere, even though that somewhere may be unknown. Thus, history has a purpose. Christian theology sees history this way, as do the Jews, Muslims, and several philosophers such as Karl Marx. Under this way of thinking, history will reach a climactic moment after which all will stabilize or completely end. The Mayans of Central America also saw history this way, and thought it would all end in disaster in December of 2012. Many of these concepts about history purposefully advancing somewhere revolve around an end of the world scenario, such as the return of Jesus Christ or a cataclysmic end of everything like the Maya. Under the theories of Marx, the world was advancing to a worker’s utopia. Of course, there is also the Chaos (
Post-modern
) view shared by overburdened, coerced, history students and the indefatigable Homer Simpson who imagine history as a stack of irrelevant, unconnected, and meaningless events unworthy of notice—much less a grade. To quote Homer Simpson, “It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.” While Homer is making it sound funny, in fact the Post-modern view is quite prevalent. In this view, history has no turning points, shows no purpose, displays no repeating patterns, and there is really no such thing as progress. This is the Post-modernist view of no mega-narratives, that is, no over arching pattern or theme. History is a series of “fractured narratives” (
The
Times
History
of
the
World,
Overy, page xvii).

Arguing any of these theories presents little challenge. History, as we know it in 2010, fits none of the categories perfectly. Those claiming repetition have an endless number of past civilizations as proof, and those saying history is advancing to an end must await that event because there is no other way to know if they are right. Saying history is a bunch of stuff that happened, without patterns or themes, is another idea that will have to wait for a non-end. Hard to do.

Let
Us
Learn
From
History

What can we learn from Pre-history? Remember that unknown and unrecorded events have large impacts on history, thus your actions, even if unrecorded, will have an influence on the future for good or evil. Someone had to be the first farmer. Thank goodness for that ancestor. Because of that person we have enough food to avoid hunting every day of our lives. Be thankful for nice living accommodations. By nice, I mean anything better than a hole with dry grass for a floor. Even very small things in our lives, such as indoor running water and flushing toilets, would be magical to our prehistoric ancestors. Think upon how great we have it, and it is all because those unknown guys and gals so long ago never gave up trying to do better. (What did the gals do? Naturally, they nagged the guys for more stuff.)

Books and References:

http://www.txstate.edu/anthropology/cas/cas_projects.html
—or for photos of Acheulian hand axes and other Paleolithic artifacts.

Or see
http://www.txstate.edu/anthropology/cas/cas_projects.html
for similar stone age objects.

The
New
Penguin
History
of
the
World
, Roberts, J. M, Penguin Books, 2007. Foundational.

The
National
Geographic
Almanac
of
World
History,
Daniels and Hyslop, National Geographic, Washington, DC.

The
Times
Complete
History
of
the
World,
Richard Overy, Barnes and Noble, New York, 2007.

The
Outline
of
History
,
the
Whole
Story
of
Man,
Vol.
1
&
2,
by H.G. Wells, Doubleday and Company, 1956. These volumes have been brought up to date, at least to 1956, by Raymond Postgate. Even though dated, this is a wonderful read.

The
Oxford
Atlas
of
World
History
,
Concise
Edition,
O’Brien, Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 2007.

The
Oxford
Desk
Encyclopedia
of
World
History,
Oxford University Press, 2006.

National
Geographic
Almanac
of
World
History
, by P.S. Daniels and S.G. Hyslop, National Geographic, 2003.

The
Penguin
Atlas
of
World
History
, Vol 1 and 2, by Kinder & Hilgemann, Penguin Books, 1964, 2003.
This
is
the
BEST
two
volume
atlas
on
World
History.
Fantastically
illustrated;
this
is
a
must
read
for
anyone
interested
in
history.
These
two
volumes
cover
every
important
event
that
can
be
mapped
up
to
the
year
2002.
The
volumes
are
small,
but
well
worth
the
trouble
of
getting
a
magnifying
glass
to
look
at
them.
AD2

The
World,
An
Illustrated
History,
Edited by Geoffrey Parker, Harper and Row, New York, 1986.

Bones
of
Contention,
Lebenow, Baker Books, 2004

Icons
of
Evolution:
Science
or
Myth,
Why
Much
of
What
We
Teach
About
Evolution
Is
Wrong
, Wells, Regnery Publishing, 2002.

Darwin’s
Black
Box,
The
Biochemical
Challenge
to
Evolution,
Behe, Free Press, 2006

The
Times
History
of
the
World
, Overy, 2008, Times Books.

 
Chapter 2

Ancient History 8000 BC to AD 455

From
8000
BC
to
4000
BC,
anatomically modern humans began an
agricultural
revolution
in the Middle East that spread throughout the globe setting the foundation for cities and city-states. Eventually, these city states evolved into larger political entities which then developed ruling classes (elites—can’t get away from ’em), armies, priests, and bureaucrats (such as the ever present tax collectors). Along the way, the invention of writing led to what we now identify as history. In our short historical survey the terms Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, advanced civilizations and whatnot are often used. Please understand that while ancient Greece may be in the Bronze Age (using products made of Bronze, which is a metal made out of a mixture of tin and copper), Europe may still be in the Neolithic Stone Age and Central Asia in the Paleolithic Stone Age. The world did not develop in a uniform manner. For most of ancient history nearly the entire world was in the Stone Age era. Only a few places managed to achieve a written language and the other trappings of urban civilization. While many things were happening elsewhere, we will only concentrate on the most advanced areas of civilization.

Geography

Geography’s impact on the ancient world and its people was massive. The affect of land features goes unappreciated today because our modern world greatly reduces their impact. Ancient people lived in mud huts, caves, or just a hole in the ground with a grass roof. Imagine the smell of the village they occupied, especially with the trash piled a stone’s throw away (fish heads included). Fire was the only heat or light they enjoyed. Even today, the wilderness possesses a remarkable weight during its deepest nights.

What our primeval friends did have was wind, rain, snow, and sun hammering them 24/7. Geography determines how much, and what kind, of natural conditions people have to tackle each day. After all, when all that stands between you and an ice storm is a mammoth hide weather becomes extremely important. The first needs for a settled agricultural based community were water, open land to grow crops, and grass to feed the domesticated animals. When choosing a site people took patterns of weather into account, building materials, and probably thought about other tribes or clans lurking about. After evaluating an area, the folks might decide to settle down (or not) and then start to build houses, canals, corrals, and maybe a wall to keep out unwanted strangers. Once a good area was located and heavily invested in the residents wanted to keep others out. And why not? A good location, and the investment of time and labor, made it important to protect for themselves and their descendants.

BOOK: The Super Summary of World History
9.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Kraven Images by Alan Isler
Stay with Me by J. Lynn
Atonement by Michael Kerr
Ambient by Jack Womack
Have Mercy On Us All by Fred Vargas
Ticket to India by N. H. Senzai
I Thought It Was You by Shiloh Walker
Vanquish by Pam Godwin