What Are the Six Major Time Periods of World History?

World history is a vast subject that covers the events and developments of humanity since the beginning of time. The study of world history is essential to understand where we came from, and how we got to where we are today.

One way historians organize world history is by dividing it into six major time periods. These time periods have distinct characteristics and are crucial in understanding the evolution of human civilization.

Ancient History (Prehistoric Era-3000 BCE)

The first period in world history is ancient history, which covers the prehistoric era up until 3000 BCE. During this period, humans were still hunter-gatherers, and many societies were nomadic. The most notable development during this era was the invention of agriculture, which allowed humans to settle in one place and form complex societies.

Key Developments:

  • The invention of agriculture
  • The domestication of animals
  • The creation of permanent settlements
  • The development of early civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Indus Valley Civilization.

Classical Antiquity (600 BCE-476 CE)

Classical antiquity covers the period from 600 BCE to 476 CE and is characterized by the rise and fall of great empires such as Greece and Rome. This period was marked by advancements in philosophy, science, literature, art, architecture, and politics.

  • The emergence of democratic governments
  • The invention of writing systems such as Greek alphabet and Latin script
  • The development of monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Islam.

Post-Classical Era (500-1450 CE)

The post-classical era covers the period from 500 to 1450 CE and is marked by the rise of new empires such as the Byzantine Empire, Islamic Caliphate, and Mongol Empire. This period saw significant advancements in trade, technology, and cultural exchanges.

  • The development of the Silk Road trade network
  • The spread of world religions such as Buddhism and Islam
  • The invention of gunpowder and printing press.

Early Modern Era (1450-1750 CE)

The early modern era covers the period from 1450 to 1750 CE, which saw significant changes in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. This period marked the beginning of European exploration and colonization of the New World.

  • The Age of Exploration
  • The Protestant Reformation
  • The Scientific Revolution
  • The Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Modern Era (1750-1900 CE)

The modern era covers the period from 1750 to 1900 CE. This period saw significant changes in politics, economics, society, culture, and technology. The Industrial Revolution began in Europe during this time.

  • The Industrial Revolution
  • The French Revolution
  • The Age of Imperialism.

Contemporary Era (1900-Present)

The contemporary era covers the period from 1900 to present times. This period has seen rapid changes in all aspects of human life due to technological advancements, globalization, and the rise of new world powers.

  • The World Wars
  • The Cold War
  • The Information Age
  • The Global War on Terror.


In conclusion, understanding the six major time periods of world history is essential in comprehending how human civilization evolved over time. These time periods have distinct characteristics that shaped the course of human history. By studying these periods, we can gain a better understanding of our past and present and pave the way for a better future.