The Major Millennia
A look at the years 10000 BCE, 9000 BCE, 8000 BCE, 7000 BCE, 6000 BCE, 5000 BCE, 4000 BCE, 3000 BCE, 2000 BCE, 1000 BCE, 1000 CE, 2000 CE, and 3000 CE
The 10th millennium BCE marked the beginning of the Epipaleolithic period of prehistory, which was the first part of the Holocene epoch. This was the time of the Younger Dryas near the end of the Ice Age when there was a period of sudden cooling and a return to glacial conditions. In the centuries and millennia to come, this would give rise to massive inland flooding that would take place in several regions of the world, making for subsequent sea level rises which could be relatively abrupt in many places worldwide. This gave rise to the myth of the “Great Flood”. At that point in prehistory, many parts of the world were still inhabited by cavemen. There were people living in caves in Asia near the Caspian Sea and in much of Europe, to name just a couple continents. For instance, the Azilian people occupied northern Spain and Southern France. Thus, the Magdalenian culture flourished at this time, leading to complex cave paintings in what is now France. This was when the first cave drawings of the Mesolithic period were being made, but it was also a critical time in human evolution when villagers started to become townsfolk in places like Jericho. 12,000 years ago, those animistic Natufian hunter-gatherers used microlith tools to accomplish a number of different important tasks. In certain parts of the world, the Agricultural Revolution was even underway, turning foragers into farmers. In Ancient Egypt, the first sickle blades and grain grinding stones appeared. As part of this burgeoning of contemporary living, at the beginning of the 100th century Before the Common Era, humans not only tamed themselves but also other animals as well, including both pets and livestock. For instance, some prehistoric people domesticated dogs and goats, becoming the first herdsmen in the world. As such, this served as a highly transformative time in the development of our species. Ultimately, this is when humans first began to conquer nature, and as a result of this, the population was able to grow to a million strong rather quickly in 10000 BCE.
Having experienced a fivefold growth by this point, the world population at this time was more or less stable, at roughly 5 million people in 9000 BCE. This is when the use of pottery began to become quite widespread among people. Then, as agriculture became increasingly more popular throughout the Fertile Cresent, more and more places like Jericho began to emerge along what became well-established trade routes for commodities like flint and salt. Plus, as the glaciers of the last glacial maximum retreated, parts of northern Eurasia were permanently resettled. Meanwhile, in what is now Turkey, once the animist priests developed polytheism, the temple complex at Gobekli Tepe had to be remodeled. This had become the first free-standing manmade sacred site on Earth, a few centuries earlier, but society changed after 25 generations, so the old church had to change to reflect the new deistic culture. The temple complex went through several manifestations which shrunk over time as interest waned and resources dwindled. One problem was that they just filled in the old temple with dirt and built a new one on top of it, every time they needed to rebuild. This way they wouldn’t dishonor their ancestors but could still respect their descendants at the same time. The point is that, around 11,000 years ago, the oldest known megaliths were created. Some of them weighed up to 20 tons. The builders wore primitive fox skin loincloths but they were doing very sophisticated stone masonry. More importantly, they built the site as a loose gathering of tribes, not as a modern governed society. In spite of this, they carved monoliths out of solid rock and then used levers and fulcrums to pry up the slabs. Then, they built sleds and maneuvered the blocks to the sacred site to be erected. This was a well-orchestrated project with engineering expertise being required. These were not simple-minded cavemen, not in the slightest.
The 8th millennium BCE is when the Upper Paleolithic ended and the Neolithic began. This was a time when clay and plaster statues were first being molded in Jericho and other early cities. Similarly, the earliest evidence of lentil cropping is in association with wheat and barley at Mureybet in what is now Syria. Meanwhile, in the New World, potatoes and beans were being cultivated in South America. To the north, chili peppers and corn were grown in the valley of Mexico. Back in the Old World, millet and rice were also being grown on large scales, in East Asia. At this time, 10,000 years ago, cows and oxen were also first being domesticated in various different parts of the world, like Ancient Egypt were cats became their preferred companion animals. The first shepherds also emerged along with ranchers. In line with this, settlements were established far and wide, including at Nevali Cori in present-day Turkey, at Akure in present-day southwest Nigeria, and at Ovre Eiker in present-day Norway, among many other places. This was also the time of the Plano cultures in the Great Plains of North America. At this point of prehistory, glaciers formed the rock formation in present-day New Hampshire, formerly known as the “Old Man of the Mountain”. This was important to tribes like the Abenaki, Malecite, and Pennacook, among others. Not long after this occurred, there was a series of seven massive volcanic eruptions that led to soot-filled skies elsewhere. This not only terrified the people living in around that area, but it also lowered temperatures for several centuries, which gave rise to famine in certain parts of the world, around which grew a great deal of superstitious folklore. People were still very much confused by natural disasters at this point in the evolution of the species, and they were eager to do whatever it took to make them stop, including performing ritual sacrifices.
Circa 9,000 years ago, the world population began to grow at an exponential rate due to the rather far-reaching ramifications of the Neolithic Revolution, reaching upwards of 10 million. This was the time of the Neolithic Subpluvial, or the Holocene Wet Phase, which was an extended period of rainy conditions in the climatic prehistory of northern Africa. During that period, agriculture spread from Anatolia to the Balkans and beyond. It was right around the time that the transition from foraging to farming began in Mesoamerica, as well. This was when pottery became commonplace in the Ancient Near East. In the year 7000 Before the Common Era, people were just learning how to work with precious ore, thus metallurgy was also born. This is when a great deal of wealth creation began to occur. After all, many of the first metal ornaments were made from gold. This was also the time when incised “counting tokens” were created in the Neolithic fertile crescent of Asia, in the Early Near East. These were clay symbols of multiple shapes used to count, store, and communicate economic data in oral preliterate societies. This was the first time money had ever been used. The town of Jericho even became a walled-in city as a result of the radical social paradigm shift that was occurring around the world. Another Neolithic economy was established on the island of Crete. The inhabitants exchanged sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle, along with grains of cultivated bread wheat. Specialized labor even resulted from an abundance of resources. This was because a surplus of goods like food from farmers allowed other people to do different things. So, everything was quickly becoming commercialized. In Sweden, during the 7th-millennium, a large-scale fish processing operation was established at Blekinge, as part of it all. Simply put, the markets were beginning to thrive in 7000 BCE. This was the point in human evolution when resource hoarding really started to become an issue.
This period of prehistory fell into the Holocene climatic optimum, being accompanied by rising sea levels. As part of this, the Torres Strait separated Australia from New Guinea. In 6000 BCE horses went extinct in the Americas. However, there was a huge population explosion of humans worldwide, when the number of people went up dramatically, perhaps quadrupling, from about 10 million to as many as 40 million over the course of several centuries. Around 8,000 years ago, the Halaf culture flourished in Mesopotamia. This was when copper was being used in the Near East for the very first time. Along with this, the first batches of wine were also being produced in Georgia for the first time as well. At that point of the Neolithic Revolution, agriculture made its way to Europe and Africa. In line with this, the Cycladic culture began to use a coarse local type of clay to make a variety of objects during the Bronze Age. Female figurines holding serpents were also fashioned on Crete. This was mythically associated with water, regenerative power, and protection of the home. In Ancient Australia, the oldest forms of Sydney rock engravings began to be carved by the Aborigines. Art was more or less pervasive among the species by the beginning of the 6th millennium BCE. Religion was rather ubiquitous among people as well. This primarily centered on regional polytheistic pantheons, at least in this point in the prehistory of humanity.
In the first year of the 5th millennium BCE, the farming practices of the Ancient Near East reached the Atlantic coast of Europe. In the year 5000 Before the Common Era, the sea also divided Britain from the rest of Europe. The rising sea level had covered the land bridge between the island and the mainland, thus isolating the Ancient Britons. Elsewhere, in the Ancient Armenian town of Metsamor, Neolithic stone circles were constructed for religious reasons. As prehistory progressed into history, the Ancient Sumerians began to build the first well-governed cities in the world, like that of the original port city Eridu, or the coastal Mesopotamian metropolis of Ur. These were primarily situated on early trade routes, which ran along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, as well as the Persian Gulf. Since Sumerian urbanization depended on irrigation, the proximity of cities to large bodies of water along with all the rainfall in that area made it possible to grow bushels of wheat and barley in record numbers. So, after the establishment of several settlements, Sumerian culture and customs spread north throughout Iraq, as well as out into what is now part of Iran, and also Syria. This was when and where the very first letters and numbers were just beginning to be used by the original bureaucrats. These were people who desperately needed to keep track of everything. Thus, prehistory ended and history began the moment the first word was written. This resulted in a waning oral tradition and a waxing written tradition. People became literate for the very first time. The problem was that only upper-class citizens were allowed to read and write, at least at first.
At this point in history, the global population was largely stable, at roughly 50 million, with a slow overall growth rate. These were exciting times for many of those people. For instance, in the 4th millennium BCE, the Ancient Sumerians were living in the Uruk period, theirs was a culture which made use of base-60 mathematics that brought about novel astronomical, hydrological, and political knowledge. They made use of canals and dams for the purpose of irrigation. The Ancient Sumerians even invented the wheel. More importantly, they had sailboats. The Mesopotamians were very sophisticated. Lots of people were creating new things all the time, back then. This is when fabrics became popular textiles, so clothing started to become fashionable. On the Persian plateau, Susa became a major center for the production of pottery. Civilization developed in different ways in different places, but it was still all very much the same in many ways. Around 6,000 years ago, the Yang-Shao rice farming culture emerged in Ancient China. Cultivation was catching on around the world, just like domestication. For instance, in the 4th millennium BCE, people in what is now Sudan were beginning to tame donkeys for the very first time in history. Elsewhere in the world, the Naqada culture arose along the Nile in Ancient Egypt. This was also the time of the rise and spread of Minoan culture. This is when the first Neolithic settlers colonized the island of Thera, in Ancient Greece, having migrated there from Minoan Crete. All around the world people were figuring out how to work together in all sorts of creative new ways. This is how humans adapted to their environment, generation after generation.
The beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE marked the end of the Neolithic period. The ancients were all developing novel societies, so nationalities and ethnicities are as different as they are similar. Just as one example, the Norte Chico civilization emerged in Ancient Peru, as a forerunner for societies in the New World, based on stepped pyramids. This was very different from the lives people were leading in Mesopotamia where tin was already in use. Every community developed at a different rate. At this point in human history, the Ancient Phoenicians were just beginning to settle along the eastern Mediterranean coast. This was also the period of history in which bricks began to be used in Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Assyrian buildings. This was the year that Djer, the third pharaoh of united Egypt, started his reign. This is also when the Middle Jomon period began in Ancient Japan. The culture was known for its elaborately ornamented hand-formed unglazed pottery. They would use bits of rope to create textured patterns on the surface of their earthenware. Meanwhile, in Ancient India the teachings of Krishna were being taught to more and more people, thus setting the stage for much of the major Eastern philosophy and theology that would follow. After only a few generations, Hinduism was already becoming a major world religion in the year 3000 BCE. Whereas, over in Europe, the Ancient Britons experienced the emergence of the Windmill Hill culture in the 3rd millennium Before the Common Era. The Celts had their own polytheistic pantheon and spiritual practices, as did the Pagans in mainland Europe, who were fairly similar, but still very much distinct.
About 4,000 years ago, the Bronze Age began in Northern Europe. Thus, in Ancient Greece, the palace complex Knossos became occupied in Crete. This was also the time of the arrival of the ancestors of the Latins in Ancient Italy. To the east, the Jomon culture was flourishing in Ancient Japan, at the beginning of the 20th century Before the Common Era. Also, on the mainland, the Bronze Age began in Ancient China. This is when the last woolly mammoth went extinct and horses were first being tamed. This was a pivotal point in the history of theology as well. Stonehenge was in use in Ancient Britain. More importantly, the year 2000 BCE was just a few generations after two major events in the development of religion. This consisted of the Aryan invasion of the Indus valley and even more significantly the migration of Abraham out of Ur in Mesopotamia. The former event had an influence on the direction that polytheism would take, especially in the East, while the latter laid the foundation for monotheism. Priests were taking on new roles in people’s daily lives, yet again. The spiritual landscape was taking on strange new forms all the time, and every time it did another conflict often occurred. Holy wars have gone on for millennia and unfortunately, they will continue to do so for centuries to come. At the same time, many nations were actually established as theocracies, so divine command morality has been legislated around the world, in one form or another, for ages on end. Spirituality is deeply ingrained in society.
The 10th century Before the Common Era started on the first day of 1000 BCE. 3,000 years ago there were about 115 million people in the world. As part of this expansion, indigenous settlers made it all the way to the tip of South America. This was an important time in religious history particularly in the East when the Rig Veda was being compiled in Ancient India during the Iron Age. This was a particular continuation of the Vedic period which brought about the Late Bronze Age collapse and the rise of the Early Iron Age in the Near East. It was also when the Ancient Iranians entered Persia and began spreading monotheism. Further east, in Ancient China, the great Zhou dynasty was in power. Zhou Mu Wang had been the king of China for about a year, at that point. Meanwhile, in the Jomon period of Ancient Japan, their society still consisted of fairly simple hunter-gatherers and earthenware artisans. Elsewhere in the world, the Bronze Age continued on in Europe with the Urnfield culture. Meanwhile, the Ancient Greek Dark Ages continued. In the year 1000 BCE, Priene, Western Anatolia was also founded. As this was happening, Hungarian separated from its closest linguistic relatives, the Ob-Ugric languages. This was right around the time that Saul was killed at the battle of Gilboa and the Ancient Israelite David, became the first king of Judah, as well. These things are all part of the patterns and themes regarding the bigger picture of the development of our species and the societies that it broke up into throughout the millennia.
The 1000th year of the Common Era was the end of the 1st millennium and the last year of the 10th century. Ten centuries ago, there were 300 million people worldwide. In the year 1000, many of the Christians in Europe expected the rapture to happen. This period of Old World history is conventionally considered to be the boundary date between the Early Middle Ages and the High Middle Ages. In contrast to this, the Muslims were in their Golden Age. The Arab slave trade was beginning to become an important factor in the formation of the Sahelian kingdoms. There were nearly half a million people living in the Caliphate of Cordoba, with only about 300,000 residents of Constantinople during the Byzantine Empire. Compare this with the 100,000 living in Patan, in Ancient India during the Chaulukya dynasty, at the same time, and it becomes easy to see how the world was really organized back then. Meanwhile, the Chinese were hard at work developing gunpowder during the Song dynasty. Then, across the ocean in the New World, Cholula flourished in Ancient Mexico, as did Tula, which had become the center of Toltec culture. Between Lake Michigan and the Gulf of Mexico, at the confluence of the Missouri, Illinois, and Mississippi rivers there used to be a city, now known as Cahokia. The Mississippi floodplain was very lush in the year 1000. This made it possible to grow thousands of tons of corn all year round, so the fertile land drew in Native Americans from far and wide. The plentiful supply of resources then led to sustained population growth for generations on end. It’s also important to understand that this is around the time that the Scandinavians discovered North America and the Polynesians discovered South America, thus beginning trade and travel expeditions with the indigenous Americans. In many ways, antiquity gave way to modernity, at that point.
In spite of what many seem to think, the year 2000 was the last year of the 20th century, not the first year of the 21st century. It was the 2000th year of the Common Era and the 1000th and last year of the 2nd millennium, being the 100th and final year of the 20th century. Regardless, a couple of decades ago, the global population was just over 6 billion. Plus, that year, the billionth living person in India was born. At that point, we were, and in fact still are, a lowly Type 0 civilization on the way to becoming Type 1. The World Wide Web was only a decade old in the year 2000. People even went through a rather serious bout of apocalyptic madness over the Y2K problem, fearing the “Millennium bug”. It was part of a class of computer glitches related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates beginning in the year 2000. Problems were anticipated and arose because many programs represented four-digit years with only the final two digits, making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. Not surprisingly, this brought out the “end of times” ilk, just as it had in the year 1000, only with the focus being on technology, not so much theology, but still being fixated on a specific, albeit arbitrary rollover date. The UN had protected everyone from another World War for a few decades by then, but people still thought Armageddon was on the way. Regardless, lots of exciting new things were happening as well. The year 2000 was designated as both the “International Year for the Culture of Peace” and the “World Mathematical Year”. In the year 2000, a brand new class of composite material was even fabricated. It was shown to have a combination of physical properties that were never before seen in any known product, be it natural or synthetic. That was also the year that the first resident crew entered ISS, the International Space Station. The Information Age was well under way by then. Humanity had really started moving out of the past and into the future.
By the end of the 3rd millennium, there will be more than 11 billion people in the Solar System. Every single one of them will have access to basic utilities like electricity and the internet. As a Type 2 civilization, the overall energy consumption of humanity at the end of the 30th century will be at a level of around 4×10²⁶ watts. In other words, the energy utilization in a world full of working-class consumers will be comparable to the luminosity of our parent star. So, the people of the future will inevitably need to fully harness the output of the Sun through the use of a vast array of satellite mega-structures that encircle the celestial body and capture the radiation it emits. In requiring everyone to work together, the inclusive attitude of the future will cause everyone to grow much closer to one another, improving interpersonal relationships in neighborhoods the world over. By the year 3000, most of humanity will become a sort of poly-amorous multicultural society of mono-ethnic global citizens, living in a complex egalitarian intercontinental cooperative. Everyone will necessarily support the global economy, as well as ecology, of the world. Humanity will progress to a point of collective compatibility as everyone sufficiently integrates and assimilates with each other. As part of this, from now until the year 3000, all of the several thousand languages that are currently spoken will be reduced down to only about a hundred. This will be dominated by Mandarin, English, and Spanish, to name but a few of the most popular. More importantly, the UN nation-state members of the international cashless economy will all use the same form of electronic currency. This will be required by the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly by then. Plus, as the countries of the world unify more and more, the metric system will also become the universal standard of measurement. In the end, most cultural memes will all eventually just blend together in the great melting pot that is the world. In the future, there will even be outpost colonies on the Moon, Mars, and Venus, among other places. This will help pave the way for future peace and prosperity through unrestricted intercontinental and interplanetary trade and travel, across and between the worlds of tomorrow.