By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood
Timeline

The Book Timeline: 30 Philosophers, History

Every person and event in book from 2600 BCE to 1980.

HISTORY Edition: This timeline encapsulates the history discussed within “30 Philosophers: A New Look at Timeless Ideas.” The following historical tidbits were used to bring context to the story of human thought.

30 Philosophers Timeline
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Phenotype Variation: Blue Eyes
Photo of Woman With Blue Eyes and Black Hair
8000 BCE
Genetic Mutation from the Neolithic Era

Blue eyes emerged

stands out as a striking example of a genetic mutation that spread across populations. Traced back to a single individual living between 6,000 and 8,000 BCE in the region near the Black Sea, this genetic adaptation marks a notable divergence in the genetic makeup of modern humans. The mutation involved is a specific change in the OCA2 gene, which alters the way melanin is produced in the iris. Originally, all humans had brown eyes, but this mutation led to the reduction of melanin in the iris, resulting in blue eyes.

This change likely occurred during the Neolithic period, a time of significant human development and migration. As communities expanded and migrated from the Near East into Europe, the gene for blue eyes spread, becoming particularly prevalent among European populations. The spread of this trait exemplifies how a single genetic mutation can influence the physical characteristics of populations over thousands of years.

The occurrence of blue eyes in a single ancestor highlights the interconnectedness of human populations and the shared genetic heritage that links diverse groups back to common ancestors. This story not only reflects the complexity of human genetics but also the way in which our aesthetic and phenotypic diversity has evolved over millennia from relatively small genetic changes.

Sumerian Civilization
Sumerian Civilization
6500 BCE
2,000 Generations Ago

Human DNA today is the same as 50,000 BCE. There is no doubt there were many dozens and perhaps thousands of civilizations prior to the Sumer civilization, but Sumer is the earliest known, or at least the earliest well known. The Sumer civilization first established between 6500 and 4100 BCE. We know quite a bit about the Sumerians because they immortalized their writing in clay tablets which will be around long after all the paper books on Earth right now have deteriorated. Sadly, we know almost nothing about prior civilizations because very little evidence survived the test of time. The Sumerians spoke and wrote Sumer and starting several millennia into their civilization they started immortalizing their culture on clay. They had an advanced democracy with elected officials, religion, art, wheel, math, philosophy, and language. The Cuneiform script was in use until 100 CE.

Major Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion: Hinduism
2300 BCE
172 Generations Ago

Hinduism was founded sometime between 2300 and 1500 BCE, but does not have a founder so the exact date is difficult to specify. Like most ancient religions, it is a synthesis of various traditions. Hinduism today is generally centered around the Vedas, ancient sacred texts.

Some of my favorite Hindu sayings:

  • Every day you should sit quietly and affirm, with deep conviction.
  • You become that which you believe you can become.
  • The entire universe is to be looked upon as the Lord.
The Birth of Logic
The Birth of Logic
624 BCE
Circa 624-546 BCE

In the vibrant intellectual climate of Ancient Greece, the 6th century BCE marks the embryonic stage of formal logic, attributed to the philosopher Thales of Miletus (around 624-546 BCE). Thales, recognized as the first of the Seven Sages of Greece, embarked on a quest that laid the foundational stones of logical thought. He shifted the explanation of natural phenomena away from mythological interpretations towards rational principles.

Spherical Earth
Realistic Earth Planet against the the star sky
600 BCE

The Greeks knew the Earth is spherical. For example, Pythagoras (570-495 BCE), Aristotle (384-322 BCE), and Euclid (circa 450 BCE) wrote about the Earth as a sphere. Eratosthenes (276-194 BCE) even calculated the circumference of the Earth to within 1%. He also wrote about the idea that India could be reached by sailing westward from Spain.

Nearly 2,000 years later during the time Columbus sailed the ocean blue, most religious nuts believed the Earth was flat and he would fall off. What happened to truth? Although many educated people knew all along, the dogma of the brainwashed religious nuts over the centuries suppressed and terrorized the masses into believing things like the Earth is flat, the Earth is only a few thousand years old, women are property, and other such nonsense. The harm caused by formal religions over the eons is incalculable.

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