Throughout human history, many events have shaped our world into the complex mesh of ethnicities, cultures and civilizations it is today. With that said, let’s dive into some of the most influential and paramount events in our species history on earth.
1: The Roman Empire
The Roman civilization arose from the fog around 753 BCE as the ‘Roman Kingdom’, until 509 BCE where it became a Republic. It finally transformed into an Empire in 27 BCE, reaching its height under Trajan in 117 CE, when it stretched from Britain all the way to the Persian Gulf. Rome’s conquest of much, if not most, of the developed world made it the apex civilization, having the Persian and Chinese Dynasties as close contenders.
The Romans achieved a lot in their 1484 year existence as a sovereign entity, from technologies like sewage systems and advanced sanitation techs, roads, and aqueducts.
While the Romans assured their place in history as inventors as much as conquerors, they also had a profound impact on the western world of today. Many of the ideals held by western nations is essentially Roman in origin.
During the first century CE, Christianity was born; a religion based around the sacrifice of the deity Yahweh’s son was birthed in what is now modern Israel. Christianity is one of the few religions to have a massive effect on the course of human history, from inspiring rebellion and reformation in the Roman Empire, to the Crusades. With the rise of the Christian religion came many changes, thanks to that of the Roman Empire. In fact, the religion would not be so popular if it weren’t for the structure of the Roman Empire.
Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire by Constantine I ‘The Great’ in 313 CE, naming the law the ‘Edict of Milan’ Many of his successors continued to expand on laws regarding Christians with new freedoms and privileges. However, some emperors like Theodosius I began a trend to not only raise Christianity’s standing in the empire, but lower the standards of Pagans and other non-Christian faiths.
3: The Arab Conquests (Specifically the Rashidun invasion of Sassanid Iran and Byzantine Syria, Africa and Anatolia)
By the end of the last Byzantine-Sassanid War, both empires were in chaos or near anarchy. The Sasanians, who originally were winning the war, lost, and experienced a civil war. The civil war would only subside after the ascension of Yazdegerd III to the throne. Following the war, the Sassanids felt the brunt of multiple rebellions and revolts. At this time, starvation and disease became rampant, all while the army was depleted of all its veterans and elite troops, and the empire’s coffers were either limited or entirely empty.
The Byzantine (Roman) Empire despite being the de-facto victor, had it just as bad, struggling with an empty treasury and the loss of infrastructure at the hands of the Sassanids and their Avar allies. An increase in Arab Bedouin raids were seen by both empires on their southern borders. The raiding was a prelude to the eventual invasion by the newly formed Rashidun Caliphate in the Arabian peninsular. Under the Islamic Prophet Mohammad, and later Omar, the Arabs would push far into Sassanid Mesopotamia and Roman Syria. Eventually the Sassanid Empire would be completely conquered, and all of Roman Syria, Egypt and parts of Anatolia would be annexed by the Rashidun Caliphate.
While the feat may sound amazing, it was not surprising. The last Byzantine-Sassanid war sent shockwaves of chaos and disorder across both main belligerents, and essentially destroyed both empires. However, under the leadership of Heraclius, the Romans would still hold much of Anatolia, as well as Cyprus and Greece. The Sasanian dynasty lacked good leadership, being ruled by a young boy. This would have a part in the Sasanian downfall in 651, at the hands of the Arabs. However, it is worth noting that resistance was seen in Mazandaran and Central Asia well into the next century, by either Yazdgerd’s successors or newly established Iranian Kingdoms.
A status-quo, of which had lasted arguably for a whole millennium, was removed and replaced by a series of Arab-Muslim Caliphates followed by the Iranian Intermezzo and a now struggling Byzantine Empire. One of the many impactful elements of the conquest was the spread of Islam, which reached from Iberia in Europe all the way to India through conquest. The Persian-Arab Culture would also be transported throughout the Muslim world as a result.