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This history by period summarizes significant eras in the history of the world, from the ancient world to the present day.
Ancient history (60,000 BC – 650 AD)
Ancient history refers to the time period in which scientists have found the earliest remains of human activity, approximately 60,000 BC. It ends with the fall of several significant empires, such as the Western Roman Empire in the Mediterranean, the Han Dynasty in China, and the Gupta Empire in India, collectively around 650 AD.
The Bronze Age is the time period in which humans around the world began to use bronze as a major metal in tools. It is generally accepted as starting around 3600 BC and ending with the advent of iron in 1000 BC.
The Iron Age is often called Antiquity or the Classical Era, but these periods more commonly refer to only one region. It begins around 1000 BC with the widespread use of iron in tools. It is often accepted to end at approximately 650 AD, with the fall of the aforementioned major civilizations.
Note that BC and BCE refer to the same time period. BCE is an abbreviation for Before Common Era, and BC for Before Christ. AD is Anno Domini, and CE is Common Era. This is done in order to standardize time periods across the world (ISO 8601).
- Stone Age Ended between 6,000 and 2,000 BC (depending on the area; until 1600s European contact in Australia)
- History of Mesopotamia 6000 BC - 1100 BC
- Indus Valley Civilization 3300 BC - 1300 BC
- Old Kingdom (Egypt, 3000 BC - 2000 BC)
- Middle Kingdom (Egypt, 2000 BC - 1300 BC)
- Vedic period India, (1750 - 500 BC)
- New Kingdom (Egypt, 1300 BC - 700 BC)
- Shang Dynasty (China 1800 BC - 1200 BC)
- Mediterranean Antiquity
- Zhou Dynasty (China, 1200 BC–500 BC)
- Ancient Greece, (circa 1000 BC–323 BC) (see Timeline of Ancient Greece)
- Mahajanapadas, (India 600 - 300 BC)
- Ancient Rome 753 BC - 476 AD)
- Classical India (230 BC - 500 AD)
- Six Dynasties (China, 220 AD–581 AD)
- Three Kingdoms (China, 220–280)
- Late Antiquity (Europe, circa 300 AD - circa 476 AD)
Postclassical Era (500 – 1500)
The Postclassical Era, also referred to as the Medieval period or, for Europe, the Middle Ages, begins around 500 CE after the fall of major civilizations, covering the advent of Islam. The period ends around 1450–1500, with events like the rise of moveable-type printing in Europe, the voyages of Christopher Columbus, and the Ottoman Empire's conquest of Constantinople.
- Middle Ages (Europe, 5th century - 15th century)
- Islamic Golden Age (Middle East, 750 – 1300)
- Viking Age (Scandinavia, Europe, 793 - 1066)
- Nara period (Japan, 709 - 795)
- Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (China, 907 - 960)
- Sengoku period (Japan, 1478–1605)
- Middle kingdoms of India, (500 - 1206)
Modern history (1500 – present)
The Modern Period covers human history from the creation of a more global network (i.e. the discovery of the Americas by Europeans) to present day.
Early Modern Period (1500 – 1750)
The Early Modern Period is the first third of the Modern Period and is often used with the parent categorization. It starts with the invention of the printing press, covering the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and, more generally, the establishment of a more global network. It ends in 1750 with the beginning of British industrialization.
- The Renaissance (Europe, 14th century - 17th century)
- Age of Discovery (or Exploration) (Europe, 16th century - 18th century)
- Age of Sail - referring to commercial and military impact of sailing technology, usually dated as 1571—1862.
- Elizabethan period (England, 1558–1603)
- The Protestant Reformation (Europe, 16th century)
- The Age of Enlightenment (Europe, 18th century)
Mid Modern Period (1750 – 1914)
The Age of Revolution is a less commonly used period, but appropriately covers the time between the early modern and contemporary. It begins around 1750 with European industrialization and is marked by several political revolutions. It ends around 1914, with the relative advancement of industrialization in Europe, the United States, Japan, and Russia, and the beginning of World War I.
- Industrial Revolution (Europe, United States, elsewhere 18th and 19th centuries)
- Napoleonic Era, 1799–1815
- Victorian era (United Kingdom, 1837–1901)
- Gilded Age (United States, 1870-1900)
- Machine Age (Europe, United States, elsewhere 19th and 20th centuries)
- Edwardian period (United Kingdom, 1901–1910)
- Meiji era (Japan, 1868–1912)
Contemporary Period (1914 – present)
The Contemporary Period generally covers history still in living memory, approximately 100 years behind the current year. However, for all intents and purposes, the period will be used here as spanning from the first world war in 1914 to present day, as it is considered separate from the past eras and the newest stage of world history.
- World War I (Much of Earth, 1914–1918)
- Interwar period (Earth, 1918 - 1939)
- The Roaring Twenties (United States, 1920-1929)
- The Great Depression (United States, 1929-1939)
- World War II (Earth, 1939–1945)
- Cold War (Soviet Union and United States, as well their allied states, 1945–1991)
- Space Age (after 1957)
- Information Age (1971–present)
- Post-communist period (Russia and other former Soviet states, after 1991) / Post-Cold War (Western world after 1991)
- Post 9/11 Era (after September 11, 2001)
- List of time periods – including paleoecological, paleogeological, archaeological, physical and cosmological groupings.
- For histories of places see Category:History by region, Category:History by country, and Category:History by city.
- For histories of other topics, see Category:History by topic