Chronology Exercise

Historians are always looking for patterns that help make sense of large amounts of information. Breaking down historical time into periods or eras is perhaps the most basic of pattern recognition in human affairs. Some eras, centuries for example, are purely arbitrary because we like clean numbers and do not exactly make sense. The first years of the 20th century, for example, had more in common with the last years of the 19th than they do with the post-1914 era. Eras are more logically identified by certain common characteristics. Designation can be political (the Federalist Era) or cultural (the Enlightenment) or even technological (the Information Age). When the pattern changes appreciably, we often speak of entering a new era, even though it’s important to understand that those who lived through transitional periods might not have realized the change.

Creating chronological divisions is a way of breaking down and categorizing historical information into more manageable units. It facilitates discussion by establishing common referents. If I speak about religion in late antiquity, for example, fellow historians (any educated person) will immediately know that I mean the period between about 300-750. Understanding historical periods, therefore, is ground zero for carrying on an informed discussion about history.

Write in the dates that roughly correspond tot he following historical eras. Some of the eras may overlap. What explains the divisions? What do the eras share?

  • Agricultural Revolution
  • Sumerian City-States
  • Akkadian Empire
  • Third Dynasty of Ur
  • Old Babylonian Empire
  • Late Bronze Age
  • Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt
  • United Monarchy of Israel
  • Archaic Age
  • Neo-Assyrian Empire
  • Neo-Babylonian Empire
  • Persian Empire
  • Classical Age of Greece

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