Umair Jalali recollects an essential progress of Human evolution through ages
The human evolution through ages has evolved over time and has reached the current stage that is unprecedented in the annals of history. Curiously, what the human race has learnt that the path of evolution is powerful enough to goad it for going ahead and evolve further. Interestingly, human race became conscious enough to start recording the events it went through so that the posterity should learn what it is inheriting. It is now widely acknowledged that the recorded history is roughly 5,000 years old with the oldest coherent texts estimated to be written about 2600 BC. The advent of ancient period is though surrounded in mystery and its ending is also doubted but it is often mentioned that the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, death of the emperor Justinian I in 565 AD, the coming of Islam and the rise of Charlemagne are regarded as the end of ancient period. During the time period of ancient history roughly dating from 3000 BC the world population was already exponentially increasing. It is pointed out rather tentatively that world population was 45 million by this time. It is also pointed out that by the beginning of the Iron Age in 1000 BC the population was estimated at 72 million and by the end of 500 AD, the world population was thought to have stood at 209 million.
It is accordingly recognised that the medieval period also known as the Middle Ages began from 5th century and lasted through to 15th century. This period began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. This period is synonymous with population decline, counter-urbanisation, collapse of centralized authority, invasion and mass migration of tribes. In the 7th century, North Africa and the Middles East came under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate. The still-sizeable Byzantine Empire survived in the Eastern Mediterranean and remained a major power and in the West, most kingdoms incorporated the few extant Roman institutions. During the height of Middle Ages the population of Europe increased greatly as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and the climates allowed crop yields to increase. This age was synonymous with two things as the society started to organise and the first was organisation of peasants into villages that owed rent and labour services to the nobles and feudalism and the second was the emergence of a political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands.
The Crusades beginning in 1095 manifested military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the Holy Land for Muslims. Kings became the heads of centralised nation-states, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified Christendom more distant. Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism, a philosophy that emphasised joining faith to reason and by the founding of universities. The Late Middle Ages was marked by difficulties and calamities including famine, plague and war which significantly diminished the population. Controversy, heresy and the Western Schism within the Catholic Church paralleled the interstate conflict, civil strife and peasant revolts that occurred in the kingdoms. Cultural and technological developments transformed European society concluding the Late Middle Ages and beginning the early modern period. This period laid down the foundations of what was to come in future and opened ways for impending developments and started devising methods for implementing their ambitions.
Around 14th century the Modern Age is reputed to usher in and this era is marked by technological innovations, urbanisation, scientific discoveries and globalisation. The Modern Age is generally split into two parts: the early and the late modern periods. The early modern period began with Gutenberg’s invention of the movable type printing press in the late 15th century and ended in the late 18th century. This invention witnessed the European population of the early modern period gain literacy rates leading to educational reform. Printing breakthrough greatly enabled the spread of knowledge that in turn spurred the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation. This period also witnessed improved transportation, politics became more secularized, capitalism spread, nation-states grew more powerful and information became more widely accessible. Enlightenment ideals of reason, rationalism, and faith in scientific inquiry slowly began to replace the previously dominant authority of king and church. Huge political, social and economic changes marked the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the late modern period.
The most significant development of this age was the Industrial Revolution that began in England around 1750, combined with the American Revolution in 1776 and the French Revolution in 1789, indicated that the world was undergoing massive changes. There is hardly any need to point out that the Industrial Revolution had far-reaching consequences including changing the way goods were produced and fundamental changes took place in economic, social and cultural framework of its time. The Industrial Revolution gave rise to revolutionary innovations including internal combustion engine, steam-powered ships and railways. The outcome of the industrial revolution forever altered that working methods of human race as steam power and machine tools considerably changed the working environment thereby increasing means of production and distribution.
Though Industrial Revolution brought about massive technological advancement but the fundamental changes that ushered in were in the social field. Newly urbanised factory labourers no longer had the skill or time to produce their own food, clothing or supplies and instead turned to consumer goods. Increased production led to increases in wealth and increased wealth and non-rural lifestyles led to the development of entertainment industries. However life was also changing rapidly and perceptions were altering fast and therefore it is not surprising that the French and American Revolutions happened in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. The huge social changes initiated the revolutions that reflected rejection of the arbitrary monarchical system and growth of the sentiment of national sovereignty and representative democracy. Democracy was well-suited to the so-called Age of Reason with its ideals of individual rights and its belief in progress. Media were central to these revolutions as the printing revolution enabled the explosive expansion of books and newspapers and so did support for public participation in politics. More and more people lived in the urban areas and identified themselves as citizens of an industrialized nation.
The current period is defined as the Postmodern Age that began during the second half of the 20th century and was marked by skepticism, self-consciousness, celebration of difference, and the reappraisal of modern conventions. If the modern age valued order, reason, stability, and absolute truth, the postmodern age reveled in contingency, fragmentation, and instability. The aftermath of World War II, Cold War, digitisation of culture, rise of the Internet, and numerous other factors fed into the skepticism and self-consciousness of the postmodern era. Post-modern age differed from modernity as it rejected grand narratives and started revisiting history. Encompassing theoretical behemoths such as Marxism etc were seriously questioned and then rejected them and instead started exploring multiplicity of small, localized understandings of the world and still considers nothing as final. The current age is skeptical even of the concept of originality and aspires to break new grounds in every aspect of life. TW
Umair Jalali teaches in The Royal Colosseum and is an avid sports fan