What Are the 6 Periods of World History?

World history is a vast and complex subject that covers the entirety of human civilization. In order to organize this vast expanse of time, historians have divided world history into six broad periods.

These periods are defined by a variety of factors, including technological advancements, cultural developments, and major historical events. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each of these six periods and explore their significance.

The Prehistoric Period

The prehistoric period spans from the emergence of early humans around 5 million years ago to the development of writing systems around 3000 BCE. During this period, humans lived as hunter-gatherers in small groups and developed basic tools and weapons. The most significant development during this period was the evolution of Homo sapiens, which led to the rise of modern humans.

The Ancient Period

The ancient period began with the invention of writing systems around 3000 BCE and lasted until the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE. During this period, civilizations such as Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, and China emerged and flourished. It was during this period that many significant inventions were made including the wheel, paper, writing systems and philosophy.

The Medieval Period

The medieval period started after the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE and lasted until around 1500 CE. This was a time marked by political instability due to invasions from various cultures such as Vikings in Europe. The medieval period saw significant developments such as feudalism in Europe and Islam’s golden age.

The Early Modern Period

The early modern period began with the Renaissance in Europe around 1500 CE and ended with the French Revolution in 1789 CE. This was an age marked by significant changes in science such as discoveries made by Newton; politics through important events like colonization; exploration and discovery of the New World.

The Modern Period

The modern period is often considered to have started with the French Revolution in 1789 and continues to the present day. This period has seen significant changes in technology, such as the Industrial Revolution, political ideologies like socialism and capitalism, as well as major historical events like World War I and II.

The Contemporary Period

The contemporary period refers to the time from the end of World War II to the present day. It is characterized by globalization, rapid technological advancements, and major geopolitical shifts such as the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. This era has seen significant developments in science, politics, economics, and culture.


In conclusion, world history can be divided into six broad periods: prehistoric period, ancient period, medieval period, early modern period, modern period and contemporary period. Each of these periods is marked by distinct cultural developments and historical events that have shaped human civilization. Understanding these periods can help us gain a better understanding of our past and prepare for our future.