A Western History Timeline

Western culture is the most recognizable, widespread and influential form of civilization in history. It has roots in ancient Greece and Rome, has spread throughout Europe, North America, South America, Oceania and many other parts of the world and is the dominant cultural force today. Western history is the story of the development of this civilization and its interactions with other cultures.

A key aspect of the traditional story is a stark division between Western Civilization, where progress and advancement took place, and the rest of the world (still often referred to in textbooks as “the Orient,” which always lags behind) where there was stagnation and despotism. Those who study western history now understand this narrative to be flawed. Rather than seeing the West as an island of progress, it is better to view it as a part of a continuum of human history that is constantly evolving and changing.

The roots of Western civilization go back to the earliest known examples of human culture, from Mesopotamia, where writing and organized religion were invented, through ancient Egypt, Babylonia, Israel and Greece, the great civilizations of antiquity. From there, the story of western civilization carries on through ancient Roman society, the medieval period in Europe and the colonial era of modern times when European powers built empires throughout the globe.

Some of the most important events in the evolution of western culture and history occurred during this period. This includes the development of Renaissance art, the discovery of the printing press and new ideas and discoveries in mathematics, astronomy and philosophy. The period also included the rise of capitalism and democracy as middle class interests challenged the power of the aristocracy and monarchy and succeeded in bringing about reforms.

During the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Industrial Revolution occurred in England, giving rise to new modes of production and a new era of economic globalization. The Revolution was accompanied by the Enlightenment, which brought about ideas such as secularism and the scientific method that were to become cornerstones of a Western secular ideology. It was during this era that new ideas led to the development of a parliamentary system of government and universal suffrage (the right to vote) in countries such as France, England, Germany, Canada and the United States.

In more recent times, the saga of western civilization continues with a worldwide struggle for human rights, the dismantling of colonialism and the evolution of modern technology and social norms. This has been a period of great conflict, including two world wars, the Cold War and the invention of nuclear weapons. The Western world has also seen a dramatic shift in views of sexual morality with the sexual revolution spurred by the 1969 Stonewall riots leading to the modern gay rights movement. As with other periods of human history, it is impossible to predict where this story will end, but it certainly appears that the process of evolution continues as humans strive for a higher quality of life.

Similar Posts