History is the most complex and most generally inclusive of the various fields of knowledge. Nearly every other subject can be examined from a historical perspective, and history makes use of every other division of knowledge.
On this site, I have more or less arbitrarily divided the history of the world into periods which are called prehistory, antiquity, classical and medieval history, modern history, and the future.
These are marked by calendar dates, rather than major events. The organizing principle is to divide up history into sections in a manner analogous to the contour lines on a topographic map so that the most prominent peoples and developments of each period can be identified and changes can be followed.
Prehistory deals with human history before most written, recorded history. It is divided into three periods. Early prehistory deals with the period of human origins. Middle prehistory deals with the development of modern human culture and the peopling of the world. Late prehistory deals with the development of agriculture and civilization.
Antiquity deals with early civilizations. The early 3rd millennium BC includes the development of Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures. The late 3rd millennium BC includes further development of Middle Eastern people, as well as the Harappan civilization of India and Chinese civilization. The early 2nd millennium BC includes early development of Indo-European speaking peoples in the Middle east and Persia, and early recorded history in India and China. The late 2nd millennium BC includes Biblical cultures in the Middle East, and iron age civilization in India. The early 1st millennium BC includes early Greek and Roman cultures, the origins of the Persian empire, and developments in India and China.
Classical and medieval history is somewhat more familiar. During early classical history, the Greeks and Roman Republic became prominent and contested the Persian empire. In late classical times, the Roman republic was transformed into an empire. Christianity arose. In early medieval history, the Western Roman empire gave way to various feudal kingdoms, while the Eastern Roman empire became the Byzantine empire. Islam arose. Late medieval history includes largely the development of Western Civilization, although the Mongol conquests influenced Asian history.
In the 16th century there was a great expansion of Western Civilization and the Old world of Europe, Asia, and Africa was connected to the New world of the Americas. In the 17th century, the age of discovery continued and European colonial empires flourished. In the 18th century, European empires conquered large parts of Asia. In the 19th century, discoveries in science began to revolutionize communications and transportation and the industrial revolution changed society. In the 20th century, the European colonial empires were mostly abandoned and technological development continued. Current events are considered part of the early 21st century and are included along with the 20th century.
Investigations of the future consist mostly of extrapolations and projections, which may be wrong, since they depend on knowledge of the present which is incomplete and events which have not yet occurred. The near future through the next 5 years, the middle future through the next 2000 years, and the far future through the next 10,000 years can be investigated.
History depends heavily on peoples of the world, which are often used to organize its examination. There is much focus on the history of Western Civilization, which is useful in examining classical and medieval and modern history. Asiatic peoples are older and are useful in examining all periods of history. The records of African peoples are comparatively scanty until modern times. American Indian peoples are also not well documented until modern times.
Communities are more useful in examining the later periods of history. There is so far scant mention of them in prehistory, little mention in antiquity, more mention in classical and medieval history, and abundant mention of them in modern history. Social mechanics including social change, social types, and social structure can be used to examine all periods of history, but is so far most applied to modern history.
Institutions including economics, education, and families can be used to examine prehistory, antiquity, classical and medieval history, modern history, and the future. Religion including particular religions of the world, religious organization, religious practice, and religious belief can be used to examine history. Government including particular governments, government activity, government structure, and law can be connected.
Culture including behavioral culture, conceptual culture, and material culture can be used to examine prehistory, antiquity, classical and medieval history, modern history, and the future.
Anthropology including particular groups, human geography, human ecology, physical anthropology, demography, and social foundations can be used to examine prehistory, antiquity, classical and medieval history, modern history, and the future.
Personal studies including biography, psychology, and the human body can be used to examine prehistory, antiquity, classical and medieval history, modern history, and the future.
Physical and natural science including biology, earth science, astronomy, chemistry, and physics can be used to examine prehistory including early prehistory, middle prehistory, and late prehistory; antiquity including the early 3rd millennium BC, late 3rd millennium BC, early 2nd millennium BC, late 2nd millennium BC, and early 1st millennium BC; classical and medieval history including early classical, late classical, early medieval, and late medieval history; modern history including the 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, 19th century, and 20th century; and the future.
Created 23 Feb 2013 Last updated 17 May 2016