Historical Top 10

10. Concept of Zero

The concept of zero was first used in the Gupta Empire; at the same time knowledge of mathematics, astronomy and medicine were increasing.  The concept of zero simplified mathematics and reduced the number of times things needed to be enumerated.  After this more people were able to understand and use mathematics, allowing the expansion of learning.  The concept of zero is still in use today in the math we learn and use, such as geometry and algebra, which are used in architecture and engineering.  Common payment scenarios use zero as well.

How it got its placement:

It was placed under the invention of the wheel because the wheel became a vital part of trade and technology but the concept of zero was part of technology that couldn't have been developed without the things the wheel did.

9. Invention of Wheel

The wheel first appeared in the Bronze Age in 3500 B.C.E. with it first being used to create pottery, irrigation, and milling. Once the wheel were added to carts it enabled merchants to be able to travel faster and over longer distances which led to the expansion of trade. Because of the invention of the wheel trade began to occur over long distances and the world was able to interact easier and more efficiently. Today, the wheel has many purposes such as tires and machinery. Transportation today requires the use of the wheel and people would not be able to travel as easily without the wheel and the lives of people would be completely different.

Placement: The wheel began interactions between different people but religion determined the result of many of those interactions, therefore religion has had a bigger effect on society today.

8. Religion

Religion first developed as polytheistic gods that helped to explain the universe.  Early river valley civilizations believed in gods such as these to explain things like the river flooding pattern and the sun.  Once science developed further people began to see that these are natural phenomena and not controlled by gods.  Eventually monotheistic religions developed such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Religion was an important unifying factor as well as a divisive power.  Christianity unified the Roman Empire but also split it between the Roman Catholic side and Eastern Orthodox side, eventually developing into two entirely different empires.  Islam also got divided by disagreeing opinions on leadership.  Today religion is still important to many people and still causes disagreements, many civil wars in the past hundred years have been caused by differences in religion.

Placement: Paper allowed interactions between people to grow big enough that organized religion could begin. Even the holy texts of the religions could not have been spread without paper. Paper was vital to the growth of religion.

7. Invention of Paper

Paper was developed in China around 100 B.C.E.  Before paper was developed different objects were used for writing such as bones, tortoise shells, and bamboo slips.  Chinese paper was first made out of the abundance of silk they had but it wasn't highly produced until 105 C.E.  By this time paper was developed from different materials that made costs lower and production higher such as worn fish net, bark, and cloth.  Paper helped spread civilizations and ideas.  With increasing empire sizes and interactions between people paper was necessary to record these interactions and keep records.  Paper aided in the increase of learning.  Paper is still widely used today and is vital to our lives; the paper industry has continued to expand even today, the first industry in North America was built as recently as 1690.

Placement: Domestication of animals was one of the steps in leading to settled communities, paper was only necessary in settled communities. Without the domestication of animals paper would probably not be needed. In addition, settled communities allowed the learning that was necessary to invent paper and use it.

6. Domestication of Animals

Domestication of animals came from the knowledge of the nomadic hunters in the Paleolithic age going into the Neolithic age.  This was done because people were becoming more settled as agriculture was developing; people were staying in one place rather than roaming, they could no longer follow the animals around.  The hunters tamed the animals to stay in one area.  This helped the development of agriculture and settled communities which led to the specialization of labor which led to surpluses which led to trade and the development of new technology.  Each of these steps may not have begun without the domestication of animals and trade and technology are vital to the lives of people today.

Placement: The domestication of animals led to the development of settled communities, these communities eventually interacted and became civilizations. Without the use of money, interactions between these communities would have been much less and civilizations may not have developed.

5. Use of money

Money was originally material goods that were valued and traded for other material goods. This process was tedious, difficult to agree upon, and difficult among long distances.  As empires expanded they developed standardized currency and coins that were easier to carry and trade.  Trade was able to expand once merchants were able to easily set values to their goods rather than trying to exchange pots for cows.  Eventually a system of credit developed where banks would loan out credit to people. This system was used as a way for people to pay for goods before they had gotten the money they needed.  This system eventually developed into the cash and credit system we currently have in place today.

Placement: Irrigation systems allowed people to be closer together and develop civilizations. Without irrigation systems fostering this settling in large groups, money may have been obsolete.

4. Irrigation Systems

Irrigation systems were one of the first solutions to problems with access to natural resources.  It was necessary in order for civilizations to grow.  Irrigation systems developed in multiple places independently so therefore we know it was necessary to have a prosperous civilization.  Having irrigation systems allowed farmers to water more crops and therefore farm production was increased. Increased farm production led to surpluses which then led to growing trade and cities.  Population growth was a result of irrigation systems because people could spread out further among land that was unlivable before.  Without irrigation systems people would be confined to just where there is water nearby.  Today there are massive civilizations that could not have been possible without irrigation systems, places such as the western United States would have been unlivable without irrigation.

Placement: The creation of massive irrigation systems would have required high levels of thinking and a lot of steps. These steps were most likely recorded down in order to make new irrigation systems quicker and more efficiently. Without the development of at least a rudimentary writing system every irrigation system would have had to been built by memory

3. Writing

As people interacted more writing was necessary to keep records.  The first writings were pictographs and were seen in Mesopotamia as cuneiform and in Egypt as hieroglyphics. Writing showed the diversity of different civilizations. As writing developed it moved from pictographs to symbols that represent sounds. This led to the development of alphabets as seen by the Phoenicians.  Writing allowed people to keep records when they traded to make interactions more efficient.  Writing allows us to look at history because without it there would be very few records.  We can see that writing was used for literature and poetry. The development of writing led to the creation of the printing press, a vital invention to today's society for its ability to spread knowledge.

Placement: One of the biggest reasons writing developed was because of the trading going on and the records that needed to be kept by merchants. The merchants needed to keep track of what they were bartering. Writing mainly developed, at first, because it was needed for trade.

2. Development of Trade

Trade developed first in a simple form in Ur, Sumer in bazaars where goods and services were traded without money, this system was known as bartering. When civilizations realized they were limited to a lot of natural resources due to differences in climate and geography, long-distance trade developed. It first occurred between Mesopotamia and Indus around 3000 B.C.E in waterways. Not long after, trade networks crisscrossed the entire Eurasian continent. As trade developed many things spread such as religion. goods, services, technology, natural resources, culture, social ideas, and political ideas like government. The development of trade allowed people and ideas to spread and economy to develop.

Placement: Trade would not have been possible or necessary without the development of agriculture. Agriculture led to trade through settled communities and surpluses, before agriculture, people weren't trading because they were in smaller groups that already shared the goods they had.

1. Development of Agriculture

The development of agriculture began when hunter-gatherers societies transitioned into permanent settlements.  Farmers began to develop crops and animals suited to their environment.  It started with knowledge of care for soil and growth of plants.  The development of agriculture led to permanent settlements and growth of civilizations.  Migrating clans in the Paleolithic Age were now able to stay in one place and begin the start of early civilizations in the Neolithic Age over 10,000 years ago. The possible reasons for this development include climate changes and social reasons.  These eventually affected the establishment of towns and cities and development of new technologies.  The development of agriculture led to surpluses of crops which allowed specialization of labor so trade became necessary for people to get what they needed.  Long-distance and high volume trade meant that technology was needed more frequently. The development of agriculture has led to the societies and cities that we know today and without agriculture we would not be where we are today.

Placement: Many of the things on this list would not have developed without the development of agriculture and settled communities. Agriculture led to producing goods that could be traded and the development of technology. Agriculture is what started the development of communities that started producing their own goods and showed a need to trade with other communities.

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