Ages of the World Part II

Another post from our dear Katherine Jones:

This week I am going to finish up the post on the different time periods. Again, I want to remind you that I am looking at one area (e.g. European and Western History) and that for different cultures these developments took place at different times.

Columbus didn’t technically ‘discover’ the Americas. The Vikings did that, and the Native Americans before them.

Renaissance 1400-1600 C.E.:

This was a time of “rebirth” for the love and study of the classic Greek and Roman literature and values that were lost during the “Dark Ages.” It started in Italy and moved all over Europe; it was a time where great literature flourished and the designing of some of the greatest churches happened. The time was of individualism; artists were breaking away from the idea that one had to be creative in just one style. There were setbacks during this period though. It was during this age that the Black Death took place killing two-thirds of the European population. One point of interest is that the Black Death was introduced into Europe due to the exchange of goods from the Middle East into Italy. This expansion of trade was part of the Age of Discovery.

The Age of Discovery: 1500’s-1700’s:

This particular age overlaps not just one other time period but two different ones. Without the Age of Discovery the Renaissance would not have spread as far as it did; the impact of the particular time would have been far smaller. It during this period that the new printing press helps spread the thoughts of the day to a greater population. The spread of humanism took place and the interest of sciences, intellectual thoughts grew. This particular age is important to any world, although it might look different in your world than it does in our history. This age saw the mapping of the entire world (well, generally speaking), trade, and the shaping of cultures as new worlds were discovered. It was here that the Americas were discovered. During the Age of Discovery cultures discovered one another, and this was a time of great cultural exchanges. All of this is important when building a world.

Guttenburg’s printing press changed the way information was transmitted.

The Age of Reformation 1600’s-1700’s:

It was during this time period that those of Religious backgrounds felt that Europe needed a Spiritual awakening. Technically the Reformation started when Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-five Theses” in 1517 (on Halloween, actually); this is the age of the Pilgrims leaving for the New World (1620s). It is the time of great Roman Catholic persecution of the Protestants, and of Protestant persecution of the various Anabaptist groups. The Reformation was a time where the religious people started taking a stand and making a difference in Europe. Again, the Reformation is overlapped by the Industrious Revolution.

The Industrious Revolution 1600’s-1800’s:

This particular time period saw the decrease of homemade productions and the rise of machine made items. People started moving into the cities where items were now being made in mass production. This period changed the way families were spending their money. This is an extremely important time period to have if you are writing in a modern or postmodern world. The shift from small production to being able to produce for the masses is vital for the survival of an advanced civilization. After the peak of the Industrious Revolution there was a push once again to think and act according to reason.

The philosophers that dominated the enlightenment changed the way in which man looked at the universe around him, and at himself.

The Enlightenment or the Age of Reason 1650’s/1700’s to 1800’s

This particular time period is one of my favorites; here you get some of the greatest thinkers of all times. (I personally believe that some of their reasoning was deeply flawed, but how they reached some of their conclusions was brilliant.)  Philosophers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu from France, in England you have John Locke and Thomas Hobbes; Scotland you have Adam Smith and David Hume all highlight this period. All of these thinkers helped influence some of the founding fathers of the United States of America. It is important to have some kind of “enlightenment” period where someone or a particular group of people break away from the common ideas of the “day” and explore something different.

Industrial Revolution 1750-1850/Second Industrial Revolution 1850’s-1890’s:

It was during this period that you see the rise of different machinery. The Revolution spread and made its way the America where in 1793 Samuel Slater started his mills and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution came to America. This was the age of mill workers, which inevitably led to the introduction of child labor laws because of all the children working in the unsafe mills. When the First Revolution ended and the Second one began: steel and the production of it was the main focus. These both were needed to propel the world into the “modern” age.

And computers have made possible things that we never could have dreamed of two hundred years ago.

The Modern and Post-Modern Ages 1900’s-Present:

The Ages to follow the Industrial Revolutions are extremely hard to break up because some only last a few years and others are still going. So, I will do my best to sum it up. Once the industrial ages end it propelled the World into World War I which introduced the use of very basic flying machines. This was the last time that warfare included the significant use of trench-fighting. Thereafter a brief time of peace leads to the progression of airplanes technology. During World War II tanks and other “heavy” machinery are first introduced on the battlefield. Trains and communications start playing a more major role in the battles. The Atomic bomb was created during this time and used to end the Second World War. Historians often call this period the Machine Age.

The Post-Modern Age, which is generally considered to have started with the Cold War, is the age that many scholars would place us in today. However, it may be split into smaller sub-periods such as the Information Age (or Computer Age) and the Social Age, which basically means that we are using Social outlets in ways that were never available before. In another twenty years we may very well see the rise of a new age of the world, but that is for future historians to determine.

The Ages of the World: Part 1

This is another post from Katherine Jones! I think I forgot to mention that last Tuesday…

A few examples of stone age tools.

So, at Tobias’ request, I am going to do my best to provide some research on the different ages of civilization*. Now, what needs to be remembered is that first, I am not an expert in ancient civilizations. Second, there are several different views out there concerning how civilization started, and third (this is the most important, at least in my mind) that this is what scholars think took place in the progression in our world. However, you are writing your own world so you can do whatever you like with it.
One thing that does need to be remembered when you are creating your world is that first there have to be tools, then the domestication of plants and animals has to happen. Without food there is no life. From there you can take it however you want, but here are the classic Ages of ancient through medieval civilization that are commonly accepted (I’ll cover the renaissance through modern civilization in my next post).

According to scholarly consensus, civilization started in the Fertile Crescent which is what we call the Middle East, mostly Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Israel, and parts of Turkey (Cool, right? You hear of all of these ancient places, but don’t realize that they still exist…sorry that was a random side note). Remember that certain things have to happen, and that there will be some overlap between eras, and sometimes different cultures will effectively be in different eras.

The Paleolithic Period/ Old Stone Age: 600,000-10,000 B.C.E
These first humans made and used tools from materials that were easily available to them such as wood, bones, and stones, hence the name: Stone Age. It is believed that many of the most useful tools were made out of stones, and that they were generally nomadic living off of the land; moving wherever there was food to be found. It is also believed that by the end of the Old Stone Age humans populated what we know as Europe.

The seven great wonders of the ancient (Pre-Roman) world.

The Neolithic Period: The Beginning of Agriculture 10,000-3,000 B.C.E
This is what is known as the New Stone Age, but it is also known as the Pottery Age. Here is where we start to see the beginnings of civilizations as we generally think of them. People start to cultivate the land, and to domestic animals and plants. The development of agriculture and the domestication of animals made it possible for larger people groups to stay in one place permanently, or at least for a longer time. With the increase of food there is a need for storing it, and pottery is born.

Bronze Age: 3000-1200 B.C.E.
The Bronze Age was the first time that people started using metal for tools and weapons. It was here that both copper and Bronze were used. They also saw a growth in trade due to the fact that workers were now needed to mine the ore. If ore is being mined then there are probably going to be tradesmen who know how to smelt the ore and craftsmen who are needed to create the different items made with metals.

Iron Age: 1200-500 B.C.E.
This is the last of the three beginning stages of civilization. Around 1200 there was a scarcity of tin (which is used in the creation of bronze), it is largely assumed that this scarcity was due to widespread warfare at the time. Iron was, however, relatively common, but raw iron is not much stronger than copper. However, around this time metalworkers discovered that when it is heated in a charcoal furnace the carbon binds making carbon steel. This particular age continued some believe until The Roman Empire and the Early Middle Ages for Northern Europe.

I need to make a note here: up until this point the developments have been fairly (though not entirely) global (for instance, the Native Americans were still essentially living in the New Stone Age when the America’s were colonized by Europe, but across Eurasia these ages were nearly universal). If you want to fashion your world after a particular region I suggest that you do research for that area. I am going to look more at European and some North American history. Also, remember that Ages can overlap and also people differ on when certain ages ended.

So, focusing on Europe and the Ancient Near East:

Ancient Rome: A place of wonders.

The Roman Age: 600 B.C.E-476 C.E.
This is the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Here we see the Age of the Roman gods, and the birthh of Christ and the events following. The next few “Ages” get a little fuzzy with the date because what historians call the Middle Ages covers over a thousand years of history, but there are sub-ages.

The Dark Age: 450-800 C.E.
The reason that it is called the “Dark Age” is because of the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of ‘Barbarian’ tribes, which led to a significant loss of scientific, mathematic, and philosophical knowledge. It was a time where people were “ignorant” of things. Towards the end of the Dark Age you see the start of Feudalism in hopes that some sort of order would be restored.

Lacking other powerful structures, the church exercised a great amount of authority throughout the middle ages.

The High Middle Age: 1000-1300 C.E.
The dates are the peak points of this age. This is where you start to see feudalism dying and kings being to have enough money to have standing armies; where they are not so strongly relying on the serfs (or peasantry) to defend to the land. It is in the High Middle Ages that agriculture production increases to a point where cities begin to reappear as we would think of them today. Trade once again starts flourishing and trade guides are formed to regulate the commerce. They were also one of the first unions that helped to protect the rights of the workers. Trade becomes a multi-continental as goods from the Middle East begin to reappear. The development of coins starts to replace the long-standing barter system.

************************

*I need to give a disclaimer the dates that I am using are ones that secular historians use. I do not necessarily agree with the dates used here, but these are the ones commonly used.

Creating A World: Beginnings Part 2

Ok guys, so I was told that I did not seem to have many pointers about what the creation of your world should look like, and there was a reason. I think that if you cannot connect with the creation of your world, then you won’t be able connect with it once the world has been created. However, I want to help you guys, so the first part of this will be a recap of last week with hopefully some pointers and then continue to the next part. Now, when it comes to the creation of your world you have to keep in mind what kind of story you want to write. You do not want to have a world that is mainly water if you are planning to have epic land battles; just as you don’t want a world that contains mainly mountains if you plan to have your characters at sea for most of the story. Yes, the world needs to be a balance, but do keep in mind the main plot of the story. Remember that for the most part no one is going to read about the creation unless you put some of it into the story (side note: No matter what kind of story it is add bits of the creation into the plot. People will connect to the story a little better if they can believe that it is a real place. It can be a the form of a myth or legend.) So, you have in mind what your world is going to be and what your plot is.nnow it’s time to bring your world to life. Is it going to be sung into existence or is there going to be a god that says “bang”? Whatever it is make it big!!! This is your moment to do whatever you want. I personally would have my “god” be a dragon and he would sing the world into being. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I love the idea.

Cool!! The world now has life. So, what in the world is the next part? (Sorry that was a bad pun) ……RESEARCH!!!! YAY!!!! Oh wait maybe that is only my favorite part. Yes, research is an extremely important part when writing the history of your world. You have to understand the different stages of progress in a society. You have the Stone Age, bronze/Iron Age, Medieval Age, Renaissance Age. There has to be an age of enlightenment, and then an Age of Invention. All of this plays a part in how your world will look. Depending on the period that your story takes place in, you may need to do more or less research. You are probably thinking, ‘but I am writing a story that takes place in an imaginary world.’

Yes, I know this, but all cultures have the same general progressions. You just change it here and there depending on your world. If you are writing a sci fi piece that takes place 100 years in the future. Well, whatever your world looks like now something happened to bring the world to that point. What was it? There are so many different layers to the history of your world. Please take it a little bit at a time otherwise it is easy to get very overwhelmed. I know I have given a lot, and it might seem like not a lot of tips. So, I will try my best to sum up the first two layers. The first layer is the creation, and forming a general idea of the age in which your story is taking place. When you know that, you need to do some research and writing covering the times leading up to the time period in which your story takes place. How much you like research determine how in depth you are likely to go. Those are the first things that you need to worry about. There are several other layers that we will add, but for now, work on what you want as the creation of your world, and pick a time period for your story. Remember you won’t get better at writing unless you start writing somewhere. Good luck.

Creation Stories

So, now that you have been working on the writing challenges, I hope that some of you might be willing to try your hand at writing the history of a word all your own. Actually, I’m sure that a few of you have been writing for a while now, and have perhaps been trying to create a world, but you just aren’t sure where to begin. That is where I hope to help you. The next few posts are going to be looking at what it takes to write your own world into existence.

Let there be… a giant ying yang symbol… floating through the sky.. with a dragon… and a turtle… and a… what is that, a mermaid? Ok guys, this is getting ridiculous!

One of my favorite examples of someone writing a history of a world is the famous author and Linguist J.R.R. Tolkien. You want to talk about someone who wrote the history of his world just look to this man. Tolkien wrote several volumes of in depth and complete history of the world that we know as Middle Earth. Really, I could spend several blog posts writing about what he did, but I will get back to the topic at hand.

Now, please don’t think that I’m telling you that you have to go as deep as Tolkien, but if you want to then… Great!!!! It can take years to do that, and I’m sure this isn’t something that most of you want to dedicate that much time to do. I was a history major, so I love the idea. But… I’m sure you are thinking, “Ok… but what is the first step?” Well, if you don’t have a world or even if you do, then do have a creation story? Yes, every and I mean every civilization has a story about how they were created. Your world needs to be as real to you as the one of are living in.

So, how can you write a story if the world itself is just a two dimensional image in your mind. You, in a sense, are the over arcing god of your world. /you probably have a god/gods of your world, but you dictate what they do. So, how do you want the world to come into existence? Honestly one of my favorites is from Tolkien’s friend C.S. Lewis where Narnia was sung into existence. I mean how great is that? The god sang things into being! Be creative!

Two great authors!

There are so many different creation stories out there, use them to feed your imagination. Now, I know you are probably thinking, “I thought you were going to talk to us about the history of the world?” Well, I am this is part of the history. It might or might not play a part in the story itself, but many times characters tell bits and pieces of myths or legends within the story. These myths and legends come from the creation of your world, or the story of a hero that lived in another time. Now that I have you thinking about what you want to have your in your creation story, go sit down and start writing it. This is the foundation of the history of your world. Have fun with it, remember you are the one with the power. Bring it to life for everyone else to see. Also, remember that you will never get better at writing unless you start somewhere.

Introduction to Katherine Jones

So… like I said, Selanya has been swamped lately… you might have noticed the high number of missed posts.  However, a mutual friend is going to be covering for her for the next few weeks.  So, without further delay, Katherine Jones:

So it looks like I am going to be filling in for the next few weeks for one of the writers here on the blog. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I what to cover throughout the weeks; I do know there will be some different tips on what it takes to write the history of a world that you might be creating. Also, how you can take your sheet from your last RPG (Role playing game) and make it into your next character for your big story. Maybe I’ll cover some of the books that I have read of late. One thing that I want to make clear is that I do not consider myself a good writer by any standard. However, I do like to write and I think that everyone should write.

Even if you think you are bad you will never get better if you don’t try. This is something that has been told to me many, many times and I still have to remind myself all the time. I am not going to lie: there is something about seeing one’s thoughts and ideas on paper that makes one feel accomplished. It might be that school paper that you struggled over, or finally getting that character just the way you wanted.

I use to think that the world of imagination that writers seem to bring to life was only available to them. I found out differently when I was pushed to write a story. I would highly encourage you to take part in the different writing challenges that are posted. There is no time like the present to improve your writing skills. I originally started writing because of school; being a history major I quickly had to learn to write papers or change majors.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “This is a creative writing blog; why are you talking about school papers?” Professional and creative writing both play off of each other. When you learn to write one, you will have a better idea of how to write the other. Take the organization skills that you use to write those school papers and apply them to your creative writing projects. Suddenly you have a start; a way to make writing a little easier. I hope that you have enjoyed this post and look forward to the next one where we will start looking at what it takes to write the history of your would from the creation of civilization to a lasting government.