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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 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).
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.
The Modern Period covers human history from the creation of a more global network (i.e. the colonization of the Americas by Europeans) to present day.
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 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 1945, with the relative advancement of industrialization in Europe, the United States, Japan, and Russia, and the end of World War II.
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 second world war in 1945 to present day, as it is considered separate from the past eras and the newest stage of world history.