7000 BT to 270 BT: The Agricultural Age

agricultural age
Image from Steve Bowers

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The formative period for civilized humanity on Old Earth, from about 7000 BT (4000 b.c.e.), when the first societies transformed by agricultural technologies appeared, to about 270 BT (1700 c.e.) when the first societies transformed by industrial technologies arose, bringing about the Industrial Age.

Agricultural technologies permitted humans to harness a significant fraction of the biosphere's output through the use of domesticated animal and plant species. The resulting energy subsidy supported unprecedented population densities and societal complexity. Cities, written records, organized religions, monetary systems, formal governments, armies, bureaucracies, and the other trappings of civilization were the result. These led in turn to the discovery of the more potent energy sources that permitted the Industrial Age.

Subdivisions of the Agricultural Age are sometimes named for notable technologies of the period (Iron Age, Bronze Age, Neolithic). The term "Agricultural Age" may also be used for the characteristic technologies of this period, for Terragens who live at a comparable level of technology, or for similar periods in the development of xenosophont species.

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Preterragen Era

~8500 b.c.e. - Agriculture invented in Southwest Asia, with independent invention in China and New Guinea at about this time and later independent inventions in the Sahel, Ethiopia, the Andes, Mesoamerica and other centres. Further domestication of animal and plant species by humans in other regions as the concept spreads. This will lead to large scale polities and the dawn of the Agricultural Age.

~8000 b.c.e. - first permanent towns, first boats, first walled cities.

~6000 b.c.e. - earliest known clay pottery, earliest known woven cloth.

~6000 b.c.e. - copper smelting develops; arsenical bronze is also accidentally made in limited quantities around this time.

~4500 b.c.e. - writing developed independently in Egypt and China.

~4241 b.c.e. - first precisely recorded date in history (Egyptian calendar); by some conventions the beginning of the Agricultural Age on Old Earth.

~4500 b.c.e. - beer, kiln-fired bricks and simple animal-drawn plows in use in parts of Eurasia.

~3800 b.c.e. - bronze alloy technology developed for use in tools and weapons.

~3500 b.c.e. - candles, harps, and wheeled animal-powered vehicles in use in Eurasia.

~4500 b.c.e. - first recorded legal code (Sumeria).

~2500 b.c.e. - iron smelting technology spreads; first recorded libraries; bows and arrows used in warfare.

~1900 b.c.e. - mathematicians discover Pythagorean Theorem (Mesopotamia).

~1750 b.c.e. - Mesopotamian mathematicians use multiplication tables.

~1700 b.c.e. - first evidence of solutions to simple equations (Egypt).

~1550 b.c.e. - bellows used in glass making and metallurgy; early metal plows (Vietnam).

~1500 b.c.e. - religious scriptures (India), dictionaries (China), water clocks (Egypt).

~1450 b.c.e. - distillation (Asia).

~1000 b.c.e. - mathematics textbooks (China), place value number system (India).

~600 to 500 b.c.e. - Confucius, Lao-tse, Zoroaster, Mahavira, the Jewish prophets, the Greek philosophers scientists and statesmen, and other key figures of Old Earth's early classical civilizations found beliefs and schools of thoughts that will endure for thousands of years.

~600 b.c.e. - stamped metal coins (Lydian) later widely emulated through the civilized world

~500 b.c.e. - steel (China), cataract operations (India).

~500 to 400 b.c.e. - Mo Tzu, Socrates, Hippocrates, Wu Chi, Plato, Dionysus the Elder, Epicurus and others continue to found new schools of thought that will influence civilization for millennia to come.

~450 b.c.e. - Pythagoras and Euclid develop geometry into a formalised branch of mathematics.

~400 b.c.e. - expansion of the iron age Ch'in empire is followed by that of the Guptan, Persian, Greek and Roman empires.

~400 to 300 b.c.e. - Shang Yang, Aristotle, Epicurus, Euclid, Chanakya, continue to explore and expound basic philosophical and scientific positions.

~400 b.c.e. - cast iron, kite (China).

~330 b.c.e. - Greek political and cultural influence reaches from northern India to the Western Mediterranean.

~330 b.c.e. - Chanakya writes a practical guide to gaining and maintaining political power, The Arthashastra ("The Science of Politics"), the first major work of this kind in the Indian tradition.

~230 b.c.e. - federal bureaucratic system (China).

~221 b.c.e. - Chinese empire united; Chinese begin regional domination.

~140 b.c.e. - paper clothing, packing material, and toilet paper (China).

~170 b.c.e. - Rome begins domination of Mediterranean region.

~1 c.e. - wheelbarrows, cast iron suspension bridges and rudders (China).

~30 c.e. - probable date of the death of Jesus Christ; first Christian churches within ten years; subsequent missionary activity converts most of the population western Eurasia and North Africa and parts of regions as far away as India and China within a few centuries.

~50 c.e. - first steam powered device built by Heron of Alexandria (Mediterranean).

~100 c.e. - paper in use for writing, first use of negative numbers (China).

~130 c.e. - seismographs, discovery of magnetic declination (China).

~190 c.e. - porcelain, exponents (China).

~400 c.e. - collapse of the Roman empire and later dissolution of its western half is at least partly caused by environmental degradation; much of the Eurasian civilized world suffers a dark age, a period of technological stagnation.

~500 c.e. - sine and other basic concepts underlying trigonometry (India).

~500 c.e. - Medieval tradition in European music, to ~1400 c.e.

622 c.e. - Mohammed's flight from Mecca to Medina; year one of the Moslem calendar; Moslem expansion begins within the decade; within a few centuries military and missionary activity converts the population in a band from North Africa through to northern India.

~650 c.e. — first organized news service (Moslem).

~700 c.e. - Islamic Renaissance leads to many advances in philosophy, science, technology, economics and other fields, to ~1200 c.e.

~800 c.e. - algebra described and developed by Al-Khwarizmi; vertical windmills in use (Persia).

~850 c.e. - earliest descriptions of gunpowder (China).

~975 c.e. - decimal notation comes to Europe from India via Arab scholars.

~1000 c.e. - useable gunpowder (China).

~1040 c.e. - moveable type (China).

~1150 c.e. - horizontal-shaft windmills in use (Europe).

~1080 c.e. - magnetic compasses used in navigation (China).

~1150 c.e. - first rockets, first explosives (China).

~1200 c.e. - Jewish cabalistic philosophy (southern Europe).

~1206 c.e. - first programmable analog computer, an astronomical clock (Middle East/Islamic).

~1221 c.e. - first bombs capable of doing structural damage (China).

~1228 c.e. - first gun, a miniature cannon (China).

~1300 c.e. - European Renaissance leads to many advances in philosophy, science, technology, economics and other fields, to ~1600 c.e.

~1400 c.e. - printing press (Europe).

~1400 c.e. - Renaissance period in European music, to ~1600 c.e.

1492 c.e. - Columbus initiates contact between Europe and the Americas; in following decades and centuries indigenous cultures experience severe setbacks to outright destruction due to the impact of Old World diseases, soldiers, missionaries, and colonists.

~1500 c.e. - first attempted rocket-propelled human flight (China).

1516 c.e. - Thomas More writes Utopia (Europe).

~1550 c.e. - first primitive impact steam turbine (Turkey).

~1600 c.e. - Baroque period in European music, to ~1760 c.e.

~1684 c.e. - Newton and Leibnitz discover calculus almost independently of each other (Europe).

1517 c.e. - Machiavelli writes a practical guide to gaining and maintaining political power, The Prince, the first major work of this kind in the European tradition.

1517 c.e. - beginnings of Protestant Reformation in Europe; many new subdivisions of Christianity will be established in the following decades and centuries.

1519 c.e. - circumnavigation of Old Earth commences (Spain).

~1530 c.e. - spinning wheels, matches in general use (Europe).

~1561 c.e. - primitive hand grenades (Europe).

~1580 c.e. - eyeglasses (Europe).

~1600 c.e. - Carnatic (Southern) and Hindustani (northern) traditions in Indian classical music are distinct; both continue into the Information Age.

1608 c.e. - early telescopic observations confirm heliocentric view of solar system (Europe).

1665 c.e. - differential calculus invented (Europe).

1683 c.e. - first observations of microbial organisms (Europe).

1687 c.e. - Newton's Principia; classical laws of motion.

~1700 c.e. - Papin, Savery, Newcomen contribute to the development of the cylinder steam engine (Europe).

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Industrial Age

  • Age of Exploration (Old Earth)  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The period following the invention of open-sea navigation on Old Earth.
  • Alexander the Great  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; some additions by Stephen Inniss
    In Old Earth's Agricultural Age (Western Civilization's Classical Age) the, king of Macedon, conqueror of much of Asia and responsible for the spread of Greek culture to regions as far away as India; lived 2325-2292 BT (356-323 BC).
  • Alexandria, Great Library of  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; some additions by Stephen Inniss
    Famed Old Earth classical era library, begun by Ptolemy Soter (2335?-2252 BT or 367?-283 b.c.e.), and zealously pursued by his successor Ptolemy Philadelphus. The two principal libraries were in the Bruchium and the Serapeum; the number of rolls or "books" is variously estimated between 400,000 and 700,000, but these rolls had not the contents of an Industrial Age printed volume.
  • Aristotle  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An Old Earth Agricultural Age philosopher who lived from 2353-2291 BT (384-322 BC). He contributed key ideas to Western civilization.
  • Athens, Greece  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; some additions by Stephen Inniss
    City State, Classical Era, Mediterranean Europe, Old Earth; a major influence on later Western civilizations, and so eventually the early Terragen civilizations of Solsys and the Inner Sphere.
  • Augustine  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth Agricultural Age (Western Civilization Classical Age), 1615-1539 BT (354 - 430 c.e.) Christian Theologian and Saint; one of the four Latin Fathers of the Old Catholic Church.
  • Brahe, Tycho  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Late Agricultural Age (1546 to 1601 AD; 423 to 368 BT) Old Earth Danish astronomer who made extensive and seminal calculations of the orbits of the planets.
  • Bruno, Giordano - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth Italian philosopher, poet, and priest who spread the ideas of Copernicus and also taught that there were an infinity of worlds in the universe, and that the stars were other suns. He was executed by the ecclesia of his time (the Catholic Church) for heresy, though whether this related to his cosmological speculations or his theological views is a matter of dispute.
  • Buddhism  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Anders Sandberg
    An belief system founded by Siddhartha Gautama in India on Old Earth, in the 25th century BT (5th century b.c.e.) A practical memetic and spiritual psychology and atheistic religion, it teaches the impermanence and unsatisfactoriness of samsaric (embodied, phenomenal) existence, the absence of a persisting self or soul, and the path to nirvana and enlightenment.
  • Christianity  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth religion based on belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ.
  • Christopher Columbus, The - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Sentient ship who saved 54 children from the breakup of Hagemas Orbital during the Technocalypse and then brought them to safety in the Belt, possibly an inspiration for Order of St. Christopher.
  • Copernicus, Nicolaus - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth amateur Polish astronomer who developed the Copernican system, a model of the solar system in which all the planets orbit the Sun, thus overturning the earlier Ptolemaic System. His seminal work was De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium ("On the Revolutions of the Celestial Orb"), published in 430 BT (1543 AD).
  • da Vinci, Leonardo  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, mathematician, scientist, and inventor, considered the ideal superior, and the supreme example of Renaissance genius.
  • Democritus of Abdera - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth Classical Age Greek philosopher (2429-2339 BT; 460-370 b.c.e.) who developed a mechanical model of universe based on the idea that all things are comprised of tiny identical particles (atomism), the interactions between which are explainable by rational laws. Forerunner of the scientific approach, considered among the great thinkers of Old Earth.
  • Galileo Galilei  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Italian mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, Old Earth 405-327 BT (1564-1642 AD); one of the creators of the scientific method of hypothesis, experiment and theory formation.
  • Islam  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth monotheistic religion based on belief in one God and Muhammad, circa 1399 to 1337 BT (570 to 632 c.e.) as the last of a series of Prophets of God.
  • Jesus Christ  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A human from the Agricultural Age of Old Earth, born somewhere between 1975 and 1971 BT (6-2 b.c.e.) and died 1939 BT (30 c.e.). Founder of Christianity, and still worshipped as God in human form in some parts of the Galaxy by Christians and by members of some derived faiths.
  • Kepler, Johannes  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth German mathematician (298-339 BT; 1671-1630 AD) who first postulated that the planets revolve around the sun in elliptical orbits, rather than (as had previously been believed) spherical ones.
  • Linne, Carl - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Swedish Old Earth Industrial Age botanist who formulated the binomial system of nomenclature as a means of classifying living organisms, a system that is still used across large portions of the Terragen Sphere.
  • Magellan, Ferdinand: - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A 5th century BT (16th century c.e./AD) human male, leader of the first maritime expedition to circumnavigate Old Earth.
  • Newton, Isaac  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth English mathematician and physicist (327-242 BT; 1642-1727 AD) who invented calculus (simultaneously, but independently of Leibniz), formulated the laws of gravitation, investigated the nature of light (he discovered that sunlight is made of light of different colors), and the laws of motion.
  • Plato  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth human baseline, 2397 - 2317 AT (428-348 b.c.e.). Often considered to be the most important of the ancient Old Earth philosophers in the Western tradition.
  • Pythagoras - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Presocratic philosopher, Old Earth, circa 2550/2540 to 2470 BT (580/570-500 b.c.e.). Founder of a major school of religious philosophy that emphasized the mystical interconnections in numbers, nature, and the human soul, on the basis of geometric ratios, musical chords, etc. He considered the natural and the ethical world to be inseparable. Pythagoras had a great influence on later thinkers, including Plato and Kepler. His vision of correspondences in the natural and spiritual world, albeit greatly modified, is still influential in parts of the Sophic League today.
  • Taoism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Old Earth quietist religion originating in China, based on contemplation, non-contending, cultivating the ch'i, and understanding the interplay of yin and yang. Also includes more dynamic magical, alchemical and martial arts elements and sects.
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 07 April 2007.