Historischer Bibliothekssaal

Even though much knowledge was acquired already by humankind over the past millennia, it is sometimes hard to find the information which you are looking for. (© User:OberBibo / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Even though many books about history were written already, it is hard to find a narrative of Universal History – the history from the beginning of the Universe until today –, which reflects the current state of knowledge in a compact and coherent way. It is the goal of this website to provide such a narrative, to unearth knowledge buried in long and arcane books or in otherwise inaccessible materials, and to lay out accessible introductions to broad topics from different disciplines, ranging from particle physics, astronomy, geology and biology to the regional human histories of Southwest Asia, India, China and Europe, the history of science and technology and contemporary history.

One can generally call this summarizing approach into question, as during its course naturally details will get lost. However, I believe that everything – even Universal History – can be legitimately summarized at many different levels, be it in the form of a multistory library, a painting or a short poem. Clearly, however, you should rather turn to a multistory library (or its electronic version) if you seek an in-depth knowledge about various aspects of a specific time.

The narrative presented here follows the format of a somewhat 100-page book, at the loss of significant amounts of detail, but at the gain of compactness and clarity. While its content was influenced by books, lectures, discussions and own thoughts, it often simply represents my personal distillation of certain parts of Wikipedia, the non-profit and publicly editable online encyclopedia. Indeed there you will often find more detailed and possibly more accurate information. The narrative laid out here is not complete (and can never be): For example, the histories of the pre-Columbian Americas, of sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia were barely touched. Apart from that undoubtedly there will be errors: I can not check everything into the last detail, as my knowledge, time and intelligence are limited. For these errors I would like to apologize in advance.

The content presented here is subdivided into five chapters, each having eight sections:

  • The first chapter, History of the Universe, gives an outline of astrophysics from the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago via the nuclear enrichment of the Universe by dying stars and the large-scale structures in the observable Universe to the formation of our Solar System including Earth 4.6 billion years ago.
  • The second chapter, History of Earth and Life, then tells the story from the tumultuous beginning of our chemically rich planet via microorganisms causing a global climate change and the age of giant dinosaurs to the evolution of brainy humans.
  • The third chapter, Ancient Human History, covers the history from about 70,000 years ago to about 500 CE, from the spread of our human species Homo sapiens over the globe via the Agricultural Revolution to the four big ancient (Eurasian) empires: the Achaemenid Empire in Iran, the Maurya Empire in India, the Han Empire in China, and the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin.
  • The fourth chapter, Medieval Human History, covers the history from about 500 CE to about 1800 CE, from the rise of the world religions Buddhism, Islam and Christianity via the European discovery of the Americas to early modern states such as the Russian Empire.
  • The fifth and last chapter, Modern Human History, then covers the history from about 1800 CE until today, from the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent European global dominance in the 19th century via the World Wars of the 20th century to the ongoing Digital Revolution and the profound human impact on our planet.

The study of history can help us to better understand the past and the present, and it might enable us to better shape the future through our improved understanding. Overall, I hope that the read of the narrative outlaid on this website will be educational and enjoyable.

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