Appendix B

World Leadership Civilizations - leaders and contributions

Start date

Civilization

Influential person*

Major contributions of civilization**

4300BC

Sumerian

Gilgamesh

Writing, wheel, city administration

2700

Egyptian

Ramses II

Pyramids, stable government

1075

Phoenician

Queen Dido of Carthage

Alphabet, maritime trade, colonies

745

Assyrian

Sargon II

Governing dissimilar groups

612

Babylonian

Nebuchadnezzer

Large, well-functioning capital city

539

Persian

Darius

Facilitating trade, roads

478

Greek

Aristotle

Philosophy, science, ethics

323

Hellenistic

Archimedes

Science experiments, libraries, widespread culture

197BC

Roman

Augustus Caesar

Organization, military power, civil engineering

378AD

Hindu (Gupta)

Chandragupta II

Decimal numbers, Hinduism revival, literature, art

467

Byzantine

Justinian

Hagia Sophia church, law code, Christian organization

589

Chinese (T'ang)

Empress Wu

Civil administration, canals, Buddhism state religion, arts

756

Islamic - Baghdad

Harun al-Rashid

Mathematics, medicine, Islamic culture

929

Islamic - Spain

Abd-ar-Rahman III

Science, medicine, literature

976

Byzantine

Basil II

Revival of classic Greek learning, culture to Russia

1071

Sung & Mongol

Kublai Kahn

Gunpowder, printing, paper money

1294

Venice

Marco Polo

Wealth from trade, republican government, ambassadors

1434

Florence

Cosimo de Medici

Modern finance, art, support of arts, cathedral dome

1508

Rome

Michelangelo

Art (like Sistine ceiling), architecture

1527

Spanish

Philip II

Ocean exploration, developing Americas

1588

English

Shakespeare

Drama, philosophy of science, settle America

1609

Dutch

Rembrandt

Art, corporate organizations, free trade, settle New York

1672

French

Napoleon

Versailles, rights of man, metric system, law code

1814

Austrian

Beethoven

Orchestral music, diplomacy

1830

British

Darwin

Railroads, factory production, parliament, spread English in world

1918

American

F.D. and Eleanor Roosevelt

Free/ mass markets, globalization, computers

*Religious leaders like Buddha and Jesus are not included in the list of influential people above because they speak to a timeless, often worldwide audience. See separate outline of the impact of religious thinking on history.

** While a large number of important technological and cultural achievements were made by the above leading civilizations, there were others developed elsewhere. One example is moveable type, probably the most influential achievement in history. It was demonstrated in 1456 by Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany. But most printing soon was being done in the leading Italian cities of the time. Many historians believe that moveable type and easy printing were major factors propelling Europe above Asia in technology. Major Asian countries like China and Japan had writing systems with over 10,000 characters, which could not easily use moveable type. Korea, with a new alphabet of less than 30 characters, could have easily done much printing as in Europe. But the Hangul alphabet, made the official writing system for the Korean language in the mid-1440s, was little used because of the influence of Confucianism and of Chinese culture. Thus the spread of knowledge by easy printing was not done in Asia. Hangul was not used by scholars or Koreans of the upper classes until after 1945.

When an area becomes a World Leadership Center (as above), it tends to produce some outstanding artists and scientists. In Human Accomplishment, Murray details this phenomenon and describes how it applies to Netherlands in the 1600's.

 

Go to: 10 most important/ influential people in world history

Go to: Cities, empires and dates of above civilizations

Go to: outline of this World Civilizations section of the website

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