This timeline represents my understanding of our origins. It’s purpose is to bring some sense of perspective to the very long and complicated history of humanity on Earth. This timeline is intended to help me with the big picture. In this timeline I bring together various scientific disciplines including plate tectonics, evolution, anthropology, and genetics as well as a few significant scientific, religious, and mythical dates. I’ll update it as I learn new things and as new things are discovered. I hope you enjoy it and that it helps you too!
Quick Summary of Evolution: In 1859 Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species. In it he formulated his scientific theory of evolution by natural selection. The theory of Evolution states that changes in species occur through the process of natural selection. With each generation of creatures, more offspring are produced than can possibly survive. Those that survive long enough to pass their genes along dictate the future of the species. In general, the following three facts guide the evolution of future generations:
- Phenotypic Variations – traits vary among individuals with respect to morphology, physiology, and behavior.
- Biological Fitness – Some traits lead to longer survival and/or more reproductive success, some lead to shorter survival and less reproductive success.
- Heritability – A specific trait’s ability to be passed from generation to generation within a population. This higher heritability can come from a newly evolved trait that gives an advantage in the current environment, or it can come from a change in the environment giving long ago evolved traits an advantage.
Thus, in successive generations members of a population are replaced by progeny of parents better adapted to survive and reproduce in the biophysical environment in which natural selection takes place. This teleonomy is the quality whereby the process of natural selection creates and preserves traits that are seemingly fitted for the functional roles they perform.
The last universal common ancestor (LUCA) is estimated to have lived approximately 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. It is the organism from which all current life on Earth descended from. Your greatest grandparents. Although no LUCA fossils have yet been found, geneticists can study LUCA by analyzing the genetic information of its descendants. LUCA’s genetic legacy pervades all life on our planet, and the study of LUCA serves as a reminder of our intimate connection to the living world around us. As Carl Sagan once said, “We are all connected; to each other, biologically. To the Earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe, atomically.”
The earliest known life on Earth are fossilized microorganisms found in hydrothermal vent precipitates. Currently dated to about 3.42 billion BCE. These microorganisms were prokaryote cells. Single celled organisms with no nucleus and had early simple DNA. More complex DNA in a nucleus evolved about 1.5 billion years later in Eukaryotic cells, circa 2 billion BCE.
Eukaryotic cells are cells with internal organs, organelles and the DNA is in the nucleus. The predecessor prokaryote cells do not have a nucleus, but do have DNA. All cells in all animals, plants, and insects are eukaryotic, but all animals, plants, and insects host millions of critters based on both eukaryotic and prokaryote cells.
Eukaryote cells evolve into three separate lineages, the ancestors of modern plants, fungi and animals. Later animals evolve into the animal kingdom which includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, crustaceans, arachnids, echiniderms, worms, mollusks, and sponges.
By dating rocks and fossils scientists can document the movement of the continents over time.
To confirm and refine this science, geologists study rocks, paleontologists study fossils, and anthropologists study human societies, cultures, and relics. The location and dating of rocks, fossils, and relics allow us to understand the distant past.
- Cynognathus, circa 242 million BCE
- Lystrosaurus, circa 250 million BCE
- Glossopteris, circa 275 million BCE
- Mesosaurus, circa 285 million BCE
Over millions of years, the modern-day South America and Africa separated during the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea.
The appendix is a small, finger-shaped pouch attached to the large intestine. It has long been considered a vestigial organ, meaning that it has no function in the human body. However, recent research suggests that the appendix may actually serve as a reservoir for beneficial gut bacteria.
The appendix is an example of a Phenotype Variation — a trait that varies among individuals. In fact, something like 1 in 100,000 people are born without an appendix. The presence or absence of the appendix is one example of a variation in humans. However, the presence or absence of the appendix is not a typical example of phenotype variation, as it is not a continuous range of variation within a population. Nonetheless, it is an interesting variation that our descendants over the next eons will certainly observe.
Purgatorius is an extinct species believed to be the earliest primate or a proto-primate, a primatomorph precursor to the Plesiadapiformes. It lived in Eastern Montana about 66 million years ago during the very last years of the Cretaceous period. Although statistically unlikely, this little creature could be a direct ancestor of humans. It lived through the K-T extinction event and the extinction of dinosaurs.
North America splits from Europe. Over millions of years, the modern-day Europe (Eurasian plate) and North America (North American Plate) separated during the final breakup of Pangaea in the early Cenozoic Era. This split is a later part of that breakup and created the North Atlantic Ocean.
Humans and Chimpanzees had a common ancestor about 7 million BCE. Humans did not evolve from Chimpanzees, but both are the current evolution of a common ancestor. That common ancestor has yet to be identified and is sometimes referred to as the Chimpanzee–Human Last Common Ancestor (CHLCA). That common ancestor lived sometime between 5 and 25 million BCE with 7 million BCE being a common “best guess”. The living species that evolved from this common ancestor are gathered together in the Hominini family — the scientific taxonomic tribe. The only living species on Earth that are part of the Hominini family today are humans and two types of Chimpanzees: common and bonobo. All the other species that evolved from our common ancestor are now extinct.
Sahelanthropus tchadensis has two human anatomical traits: small canine teeth, and walking upright on two legs. We believe it walked on two legs because the large opening where the spinal cord exits out of the cranium from the brain is located further forward (on the underside of the cranium) than in apes or any other primate except humans.
The earliest known stone tools date back to at least 2.6 million years ago. These basic stone tools were made and used by early humans–hominids. Did they also use wood tools? Sure, or at least very likely, but we have yet to find any preserved back as far as stone tools which hold up to the test of time much better than wood.
The stone tools include hammerstones, stone cores, and sharp stone flakes. By about 1.76 million years ago, early humans began to make Acheulean handaxes and other large cutting tools.
Homo Habilis lived about 2.3 to 1.65 million BCE. They had larger brains than predecessors and used stone tools as well as used and controlled fire. They were likely the first hominids to explore most of the Earth. We know these hominids evolved into at least 20 known species of which only Homo Sapiens survive today.
Some of our extinct distant cousins but NOT* our ancestors:
- Homo antecessor: 1.2 million to 800,000 BCE (Spain; maybe England and France)
- Homo erectus**: 2 million to 108,000 BCE (Eurasia)
- Homo floresiensis: 60,000 to 50,000 BCE (Indonesian island of Flores)
- Homo luzonensis: 67,000 to 50,000 BCE (Philippines)
- Homo naledi: 335,000 to 236,000 BCE (Africa, along side our direct ancestors)
Our distant cousins exhibited some human traits including cave dwelling, controlled fire, team hunting, and butchering of prey with tools. The surviving tools found are made of stone and bone but it is very likely they used other less durable types of materials like wood, vines, feathers, sticks, etc. For example, the hand axe dates back to before 2 million BCE. All this evidence indicates these human traits likely evolved before 2 million BCE.
*No valid evidence, and not currently thought to be an ancestor.
**There is a debatable hypothesis that homo erectus explored the world, returned to Africa, and those that returned evolved into homo ergaster and are our direct line ancestors.
Oldest undisputed evidence of hominins walking upright efficiently, probably Homo erectus. Our style of upright walking is energetic and efficient. We use a long stride with a spring-like mechanism in the arch of our foot. These footprints found in Kenya are dated to 1.52 million BCE. They show evidence of a well-developed arch and a long stride ending in a propulsive toe-off of modern people.
Homo Heidelbergensis lived from about 700,000 to 200,000 BCE. Several species evolved from this common ancestor and the last known species identified as Heidelbergensis species became extinct about 28,000 BCE. Homo heidelbergensis lived in Africa, Europe, and possibly Asia. They had some of our human characteristics including large brains, small teeth, bipedality, and used tools.
Could Heidelbergensis speak? We believe they had the physical ability to speak (a Hyoid bone), and a complex lifestyle that would require at least simple conversations. For more information, explore archaeological research into the Hyoid bone which is unique to humans today and is required to duplicate our speech.
|Avg. Weight||136 lbs||112 lbs|
Humans and Neanderthals had a common ancestor about 400,000 BCE (current estimates range from 320,000 to 800,000 BCE). Humans did not evolve from Neanderthals, but both are the current evolution of a common ancestor tentatively identified as Homo Heidelbergensis. After the split, Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals interbred up to and as recently as 40,000 BCE. Through DNA testing we can identify DNA that came from interbreeding with Neanderthals. Neanderthals became extinct about 40,000 BCE. They built shelters, wore clothes, used tools, and spoke. We know that about .03% to 4% of the genes in non-African modern humans is from Neanderthals. Neanderthal DNA in modern humans is the highest in East Asians, intermediate in Europeans, and lower in Southeast Asians.
The common ancestor tentatively identified as Homo Heidelbergensis lived from about 600,000 to 200,000 BCE. The 400,000 BCE documented here is just a reasonable guess.
Long spears made hunting large animals more safe. The oldest wooden spears found so far were found in Germany and dates to circa 400,000 BCE. In fact, they are currently the oldest known wooden artifacts. The find included 3 wooden spears, stone tools, and the butchered remains of more than 10 horses.
These spears have the same qualities as modern tournament javelins and can be thrown over 200 feet. The workmanlike qualities of the heavily worked wood were similar to modern javelins where the heaviest thickest part of the spear, the center of gravity, is in the front third.
The first humans evolved in Africa about 315,000 BCE. These first humans had most of the traits we identify as human including looking and thinking much as we do. They used brain power, innovation, and teamwork. They spoke and controlled fire. Their lives were complex. Over the next 250,000 years they evolved into us. By about 150,000 BCE our current capabilities were mostly evolved. Today’s humans have essentially the same DNA as humans from circa 60,000 BCE.
Neanderthals and Denisovans had a common ancestor about 300,000 BCE (current estimates range from 250,000 to 500,000 BCE and possibly as far back as 1.3 million BCE). Humans did not evolve from Denisovans nor Neanderthals, but both were the evolution descendant of a common ancestor with Homo Sapiens tentatively identified as Homo Heidelbergensis. After Denisovans and Neanderthals split, Homo Sapiens and Denisovans interbred up to and as recently as 30,000 BCE. Through DNA testing we can identify DNA that came from interbreeding with Denisovans. Denisovans became extinct about 30,000 BCE. They built shelters, wore clothes, used tools, and spoke. Denisovans likely had dark skin, brown hair, and brown eyes.
The highest percent of Denisovan DNA in modern humans is in Melanesian population ranges; it ranges from 4 to 6 percent, lower in other Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander populations, and nearly undetectable elsewhere in the world.
The common ancestor with Homo Sapiens is tentatively identified as Homo Heidelbergensis which lived from about 600,000 to 200,000 BCE.
All humans today share a single grandpa, circa 275,000 BCE. We know this because all humans alive today share our ancestor’s haplogroup A genes — from our Y chromosome. He was one of many thousands of men living in eastern Africa. Many paternal lines survived for many generations but ultimately over time all the other male lineages died out. Adam’s descendants met our Eve about 100,000 years later–about 4,000 generations later.
All humans today share a single grandma, circa 175,000 BCE. We know this because all humans alive today share our ancestor’s haplogroup L genes — from our X chromosome. She was one of many thousands of women living in eastern Africa. Many maternal lines survived for many generations but ultimately over time all the other female lineages died out.
By circa 150,000 BCE, the size of our brain and it’s capabilities matured. Think about this. A human born today and a human born in 150,000 BCE had roughly the same mental and physical capacities. This includes all of our traits including our need for attention and power, our ingenuity, our gullibility to believe things, and our intolerance of the unknown and different. If a human from this time landed in a modern morgue, the doctor performing yet another autopsy would most likely think it was a modern human.
How many times since 150,000 BCE did humans create new religions and Gods? How many times did they discover or invent things that were then lost for thousands of years? Human knowledge builds on previous knowledge, but only if it can be passed down, and survive the test of time. It’s reasonable to believe that various forms of writing and labels were developed and lost countless times. Many interesting advances developed, and lost. No doubt, the stubborn belief in myth or dogma has led directly to the suppression of various human advances countless times. Many times through the use of war and genocide.
Let’s look at just one modern human example. We know the Greeks several thousand years ago knew the Earth was a globe. Over time, the information, the advance, was lost because of the belief in myth and a desire to control others.
The “out of Africa” migration took place in many waves of which two are widely recognized: 130,000 to 100,000 BCE, and the Southern Dispersal around 70,000 to 50,000 BCE. Through genetic DNA testing we know that none of the genetic differences prior to circa 70,000 BCE exist in today’s humans.
Circa 76,000 BCE someone, perhaps the child’s parents, carefully prepared a human child aged about three years old for burial. They dug a circular pit at the entrance to a cave (likely their cave), placed the child in the hole on his or her right side with knees drawn toward the chest.
After proper analysis of the surrounding soil and the decomposition that has taken place in the pit over the years, the archaeologists believe the child, now nicknamed Mtoto, was intentionally buried shortly after death.
This bracelet dates from 70,000 to 40,000 BCE. It was discovered inside the Denisova Cave beside ancient human remains. The Denisova Cave is a cave located in Siberia, Russia. Other cave finds include woolly mammoth and woolly rhino bones. Scientists say there is evidence that the bracelet’s maker used a drill. This is the earliest known example of advanced drilling in the world.
Head of the museum Irina Salnikova said: ‘The skills of its creator were perfect. Initially we thought that it was made by Neanderthals or modern humans, but it turned out that the master was Denisovan.” This has led to speculation that these earliest humans, Denisovans, were more technologically advanced than previously thought. If true, it might be that the Denisovans were more skilled than Homo sapiens and Neanderthals of the time.
Like Neanderthal DNA, Denisovan DNA exists in modern humans. Non-African East Asians and Europeans have about 2% Neanderthal DNA. Modern Melanesians derived about 5% of their DNA from Denisovans.
The modern human DNA evolved sometime between 71,000 and 51,000 BCE. Imagine that. A human baby born today, and a human baby born in 60,000 BCE have nearly indistinguishable DNA. There are differences but essentially humans are the same now as they were then. The popular website 23andme.com focuses on 23 changes in DNA that signify your ancestors recent migration. 23andMe.com, ancestry.com, and many others identify differences for their customers. Finally, the medical community is currently in an intense wave of identifying genetic differences that lead to medical problems with the idea of early diagnosis, prevention, and through the use of mRNA correction.
Through mtDNA sequencing, we currently believe the most recent common ancestor of all the Eurasian, American, Australian, Papua New Guinean, and African lineages dates to between 73,000 and 57,000 years ago.
Through minor DNA changes, we know which early humans have descendants alive today. This successful “out of Africa” migration, the Southern Dispersal, took place around 70,000 to 50,000 BCE. Our ancestors proceeded to colonize all the continents and larger islands, arriving in…
The Venus of Hohle Fels is a 2.4″ figurine made of wooly mammoth ivory that was unearthed in 2008 in Hohle Fels, a cave near Schelklingen, Germany. It was pieced together from six pieces found in a cluster, about 10 feet below ground, and about 60 feet from the cave entrance. The left arm and shoulder are still missing. In place of a head, a carved ring protrudes indicating the sculpture was likely worn as a pendant. Using radiocarbon dating, the figurine is dated to between 38,000 and 33,000 BCE.
The Neolithic Revolution is the earliest known Agricultural Revolution. It is very likely that humans practiced forms of agriculture earlier. How much earlier? Well, without evidence, we are guessing. For convenience, anthropologists label humans as hunter-gatherers prior to the Neolithic Revolution. The fact is that the current theory states that agriculture started magically all around the world circa 9,700 BCE. I think it is much more likely this is simply the earliest farming we have yet to discover and will likely push this date back further and further over time.
The Neolithic revolution is the belief in a wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making an increasingly large population possible. These settled communities permitted humans to observe and experiment with plants, learning how they grew and developed. This new knowledge led to the domestication of plants. A stable lifestyle led to more leisure time and more time to think about things which led to what we would call civilization today. Only the most sturdy of structures from this time period survived the test of time.
The city of Çatalhöyük was a very large Neolithic city in the southern Anatolia peninsula in modern day Turkey. The population of 5,000 to 10,000 lived in mudbrick buildings. Some of the larger buildings have ornate murals. A painting of the village, with the twin mountain peaks in the background is frequently cited as the world’s oldest map, and the first landscape painting.
No sidewalks nor streets were used between the dwellings. The clustered honeycomb-like maze of dwellings were accessed by holes in the ceiling and by doors on the side of houses. The doors were accessed by ladders and stairs. The rooftops were effectively streets. I can imagine on good whether days the rooftop of the massive honeycomb building was similar to a Roman forum some 5,000 years in the future–a place to meet, socialize, and perform business.
From 6500 to 4000 BCE, the Sumer civilization increased in social polarization. For example, central houses in the settlements became bigger. This early Sumer culture is characterized by large unwalled villages with multi-roomed rectangular mud-brick houses. The village featured public buildings including temples and centralized government. They had fine quality greenish colored pottery decorated with geometric designs in brown or black paint. Their known tools that survived the test of time included sickles made of hard fired clay, stone, and metal and the use of ploughs. Villages included craftspeople, potters, weavers and metalworkers, but the bulk of the population were farm workers.
The known Sumerian city-states written history goes back to before 2700 BCE, and starting about 2300 BCE the records are fairly complete.
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.
Interpreting the date God created the Earth by reading and interpreting the Bible is very difficult. You can put dates on events, time between events, etc. then convert it to the modern Julian calendar. One popular interpretation is Sunday, October 23, 4004 BCE. Generating this date, and similar, rely on the Ussher chronology technique. The Ussher chronology technique comes from the 17th-century Archbishop James Ussher. Ussher created a chronology of the history of the world formulated from a literal reading of the Old Testament. Updates and various interpretations along the same lines are frequently lumped under Ussher chronology.
Skara Brae is a stone-built Neolithic settlement, located on the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of the largest island of Scotland. It consists of ten houses made of flagstones within earthen dams that provided support for the walls; the houses included stone hearths, beds, and cupboards. A primitive sewer system, with “toilets” and drains in each house which carried waste to the ocean using water to flush waste into a drain.
The Xia Dynasty is the first documented government of ancient China. The first to adopt dynastic succession. In modern times, it was regarded as a myth created later by Chinese historians, but 20th-century excavations uncovered sites which corresponded to descriptions in earlier historians’ accounts. This fact is an important lesson on understanding how little survived the test of time. How much we will never know about the true progress of humans over our first 100,000 years.
The legendary story of Noah’s flood occurred in the year 2348 BCE if you believe Ussher’s biblical timeline he made up in 1654. However, this flood myth is clearly based on the Sumerian flood story documented in the Epoch of Gilgamesh circa 2100 BCE.
The Epoch of Gilgamesh is regarded as one of the earliest surviving notable literature. I think it is interesting to note that the first section of the Epoch of Gilgamesh refers to a time span of 241,200 years prior to the great flood. To me, it is interesting that around the proposed date of the great flood, the people authoring it thought the Earth was at least 241,200 years old. The first section of the Epoch of Gilgamesh lists eight kings who ruled over the five cities of Eridu, Bad-tibiru, Larag, Zimbir and Shuruppag. The section ends with the line “Then the flood swept over.”
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 Proto-Sinaitic alphabet is considered the earliest trace of alphabetic writing and the common ancestor of both Ancient South Arabian script and the Phoenician alphabet. The ancient South Arabian script evolved about 900 BCE which continued to evolve into today’s Modern South Arabian languages. The Phoenician alphabet evolved into the Greek alphabet and all of today’s Western alphabets.
A set of about 300 legal laws written in stone from ancient Near East that withstood the test of time. Hammurabi, the sixth king of the First Dynasty of Babylonian, wrote it in cuneiform in the Old Babylonion dialect of Akkadian. The text itself was copied and studied by Mesopotamian scribes for over a millennium.
- If a man should blind the eye of another man, they shall blind his eye.
- If a man bears false witness in a case, or does not establish the testimony that he has given, if that case is case involving life, that man shall be put to death.
- If a man bears false witness concerning grain or money, he shall himself bear the penalty imposed in the case.
The Rigveda, Sanskrit for “praise knowledge”, is a collection of sacred texts of Hinduism first written down between 1700 and 1100 BCE. The sounds and texts of Rigveda have been orally transmitted since at least circa 2000 BCE. It discusses cosmology, praises deities, and covers philosophical questions including…
- 1.164.34: “What is the ultimate limit of the earth?”, “What is the center of the universe?”, “What is the semen of the cosmic horse?”, “What is the ultimate source of human speech?”;
- 1.164.34: “Who gave blood, soul, spirit to the earth?”, “How could the unstructured universe give origin to this structured world?”;
- 1.164.5: “Where does the sun hide in the night?”, “Where do gods live?”;
- 1.164.6: “What, where is the unborn support for the born universe?”;
- 1.164.20 is a parable of the Body and the Soul.
The other three books of the Veda were written centuries later:
- Yajurveda, circa 1000 BCE
- Samaveda, circa 1000 BCE
- Atharvaveda, circa 700 BCE
In the ninth year of the reign of Akhenaten, he declared the traditional supreme God Aten to be the only God of Egypt with himself as the sole communicator to Aten, kind of like an early Pope. This early attempt at monotheism failed after about 20 years and Egypt returned to their traditional polytheistic religion.
About the image: Akhenaton and Nefertiti seated, holding 3 of their daughters, under the rays of the sun god Aten giving Ankh-symbols to them (Picture provided by ArchaiOptix).
The Phoenician alphabet is a direct continuation of the Proto-Canaanite script circa 1300 BCE. Starting about 900 BCE, the Phoenician alphabet thrived and was adapted by others. It evolved into use by many languages including Greek, Old Italic and Anatolian scripts. These early uses of the alphabet evolved into the alphanumeric alphabet.
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.
The Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras was born in Ancient Greece on the island Samos which is about a mile off the coast of modern Turkey. History looks at Pythagoras as an educator and philosopher as well as a cult leader. He discovered the musical octave, used deductive reasoning, and embraced an early version of forms which was a stepping stone to Plato’s forms. His early theories on math as the answer to the universe are elementary and off course, but these first attempts led the path for future mathematicians to explore. He is most remembered for his Pythagorean theorem which states the square of the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle equals the sum of the squares of the lengths of the other two sides
As a cult leader, he spent his life brainwashing anyone who would follow him. Like Jesus, he said he was the son of God. His cult had strange rules including that you had to be silent for five years before you could join. A clever trick that meant only true believers who would not tell others of the crazy could get in. The crazy ran deep. You must spit on your finger clippings. You cannot urinate toward the sun. They sacrificed an ox whenever they proved a mathematical formula.
Pythagoras never wrote anything down or at least none of his writings survived so we have to rely on what others say he said and did, but we’re likely never to know what was Pythagoras’ pure ideas from the evolved or altered ideas of later writers.
Some of my favorite translated sayings attributed to Pythagoras:
- Reason is immortal, all else mortal.
- There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.
- As soon as laws are necessary for men, they are no longer fit for freedom.
- Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.
Confucius is remembered for his practical applied philosophy. His sayings are a reflection of many centuries of common sense sayings making his philosophy deeply Chinese.
Some of my favorite translated sayings are:
The man who knows he can, and the man who knows he cannot, are both correct.
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.
You are what you think.
All people are the same; only their habits differ.
Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.
Respect yourself, and others will respect you.
Socrates was a Greek philosopher and is frequently credited as the founder of Western philosophy. He left no writings, but his student Plato documented his philosophy.
Some of my favorite translated sayings attributed to Socrates:
- Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think.
- He who is not content with what they have will not be content with more.
- Do not praise someone wealthy until you known how they employ it.
- We should hear and see more than we speak.
- False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.
- He is rich who is content with the least.
- Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.
The Twelve Tables were rules citizens had to follow, and limits on the powers of the government. This idea was used several times during Roman history to force the Patricians, aristocrats, to consider the views of the plebeian citizens, commoners. In 451 BCE, plebeians went on strike to protest the tyranny of magistrates. The Twelve Tables came out of that strike. These bronze tablets were set up in the Forum of Rome for all citizens to see and students to study.
- Table I – when a person is accused of something, both accused and accuser must be present at a trial. If only one party shows up, the judge is free to rule in their favor.
- Table III – debtors have 30 days to pay off a debt. After that, a creditor is free to imprison them.
- Table IV – approval to put to death a dreadfully deformed child.
- Table V – all women, except Vestals (virgin priestesses), must have a guardian regardless of age. The guardian had no say in her private matters, but did guide her public matters especially matters of money.
- Table VI – a man’s will is binding.
- Table VIII – lists specific punishments for specific crimes. And, a person who fails to show up as a trial witness, can never again be a witness. And, a person shown to have lied in court will be put to death.
- Table IX – judges who have taken a bribe as well as anyone committed of treason will be put to death.
- Table XI – prohibits marriages between plebeian (aristocrats) and patrician (commoners).
The earliest known magnification dates back to the first century. These simple early magnification devices consisted of using natural crystals or a glass globe filled with water. It is reasonable to assume the use of natural crystals for magnification was around for many thousands of years. One possible specimen is the Nimrud lens dating back to 750 BCE.
Although man-made glass was in common use about 3500 BCE, eye glasses would have to wait about 4,500 years later. Eye glasses were invented in the 13th century. A few centuries earlier, a reading glass was in common use. A piece of glass you set on a page of text to magnify the letters well enough to read easily.
These early devices provided a max of about 2x, or perhaps 3x, magnification. The microworld of cells and large bacteria would have to wait for the invention of good quality microscopes about 1630. The nanoworld of smaller bacteria, viruses, proteins, and molecules would have to wait for the invention of the electron microscope in 1931.
- The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
- Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.
- There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.
Uppercase and lowercase started circa 800 CE. Notice in the image above of an actual book from 460 CE that although it is missing word-spacing, punctuation, paragraphs, and lowercase it does make use of two colored text as well as margin notes to orient the reader. Many pre-printing press books very well made and gorgeous with very creative pages.
Spaces between words started circa 1000 CE because those copying texts found it easier and faster to copy if they introduced spaces between words. The 1215 Magna Carta is a good example of this quality of writing which included word-spacing, uppercase, and lowercase, but no punctuation, nor paragraphs.
With the invention of the microscope, humanity became aware of the microworld which is defined as 1 to 1000 microns. A micron is equal to one thousands of a millimeter. A cell is about 10 microns wide. Paper is about 100 microns thick. The unaided human eye can see items as small as 50 microns, or about half the width of a piece of paper.
Scientists use three scales when talking about the biological world: the milliworld, microworld, and the nanoworld. The milliworld contains all visible items down to 1 millimeter and includes very small things such as ants, fleas, and grains of sand.
By 1640, the microscope was perfected to the point that allowed the introduction of the microworld to humanity. The microworld contains items with a diameter from 1 millimeter to 1 micrometer, or 1 micron. The microworld contains things like single celled organisms as well as the largest bacteria. By 1640, humanity started it’s introduction to trillions of organisms living everywhere including nearly everything you touch, in the ground, inside plants, and even inside humans. Humans host over 10,000 species of organisms in, on, and through the human body — known as the human microbiome. Every human no matter how clean you think you are is playing host to 10-100 trillion organisms. This fact gradually changed how every human on Earth views life.
The nanoworld which includes smaller bacteria as well as viruses, proteins, and molecules would have to wait for the invention of the electron microscope in 1931.
Note: The micron and micrometer are the same size, but you use microns (μ) when measuring thickness, and micrometers (μm) when measuring the distance between things. So you can say a cell is 10 microns wide, or you can say the diameter of a cell is 10 micrometers. The term nanomicron, which would be equal to a nanometer, is not currently in regular use.
Roger was about 9 years old when the King James Bible was published in 1611 under the auspices of King James I of England. The King James Bible was the accepted standard from about 1650 through the early 1900s.
This interpretation of the Bible was evolved from earlier versions but is a reflection of its times. It was still created during a very primitive time in human understanding. Albert Einstein summed it up this way, “…the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.” Although the telescope was invented in 1609, nearly all believed the Earth was the center of the universe. Blood circulating in our bodies was discovered 17 years later in 1628. One has to wonder how different this version of the bible would have been if the authors knew what we know now.
Change continues to influence Roger. Changes to religious doctrine is difficult even when dictated by a King. While Roger was growing up, there was much debate and interpretation of the Bible as well as the role of government in dictating religious doctrine. This debate likely leads to his openness to various viewpoints on religion.
In 1905, radiometric dating was discovered. It is a method used to date rocks and other objects based on the known decay rate of radioactive isotopes. This technique is used to date rocks. Paleontologists regularly order discoveries in chronological order and estimate their age. Knowing the age of rocks allows paleontologists to assign known values to rocks and fossils to firm up the known historical calendar.
Starting in 1931 with the invention of the electron microscope, the nanoworld became visible to us. The nanoworld contains items as small in diameter as 1 micrometer (1 micron) to a diameter 1,000 times smaller, a diameter of 1 nanometer. The nanoworld includes the smallest single celled organisms, the smallest bacteria as well as viruses, proteins, and molecules.
Note: The virus was discovered in 1892 through scientific experiments and first seen in the 1930s.
In 1946, Willard Libby created the method for dating organic materials by measuring their content of carbon-14, a newly discovered radioactive isotope of carbon. This dating technique provides objective age estimates within a few decades for carbon-based objects that originated from living organisms.