Historical Eras

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Historians have always categorized historical events using chronological blocks with the purpose of understanding history and being able to easily communicate historical concepts. These blocks, known as historical eras, allow easy references for people to refer to a generic time period. Historians go about this by grouping time periods based on technological, political, religious and philosophical criteria. The issue with this is that the world did not progress as a single entity. The further back in time you go the more segregated the world is. Even today the world is progressing as varying paces. This has caused great difficulty in creating a single set of historical eras.

The broadest and most encompassing set of historical eras is an extremely simple three era system: ancient, middle, and modern.

The ancient era begins at the dawn of civilization. This can be roughly defined as being around the time written word was invented:  ~3200 BCE. The ancient era extends to around 500 CE. Other commonly used eras that are around or contained within this era include: bronze age, iron age, archaic, pre-classical, classical, and formative.

The middle era is defined as starting around 500 CE and ending around 1500 CE. Commonly used eras that are around or contained within the middle era include: early period, high period, late period, feudal, medieval, classic, pre-Columbian, early postclassic, and late postclassic.

The modern era is defined as starting around 1500 CE and extending to now. It includes the commonly used eras: late middle ages, renaissance, enlightenment, postclassic, colonial, imperial, contemporary, atomic, and global.

The problem with this three-era system is that it is too large and encompassing while also lacking specificity. Adding the high, middle, and late prefix’s makes the eras significantly more manageable in length of time but doesn’t clarify the time period and also makes them less friendly for every day usage. Thus, I have created my own universal historical eras.

The goals of this system:

– Clear start and end years

– Easily recognizable and memorable names

– Arbitrary start and end years to avoid regional bias

– Names are not referencing a specific region’s history

– More recent eras have smaller durations

– Between 5-8 eras inclusive

This is what I have come up with:

1. Ancient Era

– 4300 BCE to 1100 BCE

– 3200-year length

2. Classical Era

– 1100 BCE to 500 CE

– 1600-year length

3. Medieval Era

– 500 CE to 1300 CE

– 800-year length

4. Transition Era

– 1300 CE to 1700 CE

– 400-year length

5. National Era

– 1700 CE to 1900 CE

– 200-year length

6. Global Era

– 1900 CE to 2000 CE

– 100-year length

7. Modern Era

– 2000 CE onward

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