A Timeline of Western History

There is much more to the story of Western Civilization than just the history of Europe, or of the United States, or of any other country. Western civilization was the point of origin for many breakthroughs, accomplishments and forms of “progress” that were to have an enormous impact on the rest of the world. Technologies as diverse as the steam engine and antibiotics originated in the West, as did movements for religious toleration, women’s rights and a more global view of humanity.

This timeline of western history begins with the first ancient Olympic games, held in Greece for honor of the gods. It then moves on to the Roman Empire, which dominated most of western Europe. The Romans were expert administrators and engineers, able to build great roads, cities and military fortifications. They were also the founders of philosophy, theater, mathematics and science. This period is credited with the birth of Western culture in general, and with the development of democratic government and art.

The Greeks developed the concept of reason, which has had a major influence on human thought ever since. They created one of the first systems of writing, and founded philosophy, theater and science. The Greeks’ ideas spread to the Roman Empire, which was a great cultural and military power. The Romans grew into an empire that encompassed all of the lands around the Mediterranean Sea, and they viewed themselves as inheritors of the civilization of the Greeks.

By the end of the 19th century, Western armies and navies fought in a far greater proportion of the world’s surface than they had done during the course of the previous two world wars. Industrialization had given Western economies huge competitive advantages over those of other countries; the inventions of machine guns, barbed wire and dreadnought battleships gave Western militaries immense advantage in terms of sheer numbers and firepower; Christian missionary activity disrupted local religions and beliefs; and Western styles of education, clothing and architecture spread throughout the world.

During this time, the Mormon religion was founded by Joseph Smith, who claimed to have had visions of an angel who told him to find gold plates with inscriptions on them. These inscriptions were eventually published in 1830 as the Book of Mormon. American settlers continued to move into the Western portion of their country in large numbers, despite the Missouri Compromise and the Indian frontier that was established on the Great Plains.

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