hometeacherhistoryturning points

turning points

what we decide to call turning-points in history frames our view of the past. what was important? these are significant shifts in world history. i have specifically created this list to focus on events that had lasting impacts on large portions of the world and this doesn’t include many regionally-significant events. if you seek more location-focused lists, please let me know as i have those, too. this is aimed at those studying world history as a survey course. it also reflects my fundamental belief that culture is the driving force in human history, not necessarily conquest or battle, though they usually go hand-in-hand, especially in earlier periods. what i believe is significant is a matter of opinion but i am happy to provide my reasoning if you are curious. most of the dates in the pre-modern world are approximate. the dates given for longer events are beginnings, ends or significant moments in those events.

unit 1 – our beginnings (-550bce)

general early history

  • development of language
  • development of agriculture
  • mastery of fire
  • invention of writing
  • development of alphabets
  • beginning of literature
  • development of formal administration and leadership
  • rise of early civilizations
  • first extinctions

specific turning points

  • creation of sumerian and egyptian writing (-3200)
  • egyptian first dynasty (-3150)
  • jiroft culture (-3000)
  • beginning of papyrus writing (-3000)
  • beginning of iron production (-3000)
  • longshan culture (-2800)
  • egyptian old kingdom (-2700)
  • rise of mayan culture (-2600)
  • harappan era (-2600)
  • great pyramid of giza (-2560)
  • egyptian middle kingdom (-2055)
  • domestication of the horse (-2000)
  • creation of alphabets (-1800)
  • code of hammurabi (-1780)
  • rise of mycenae (-1600)
  • shang dynasty (-1600)
  • egyptian new kingdom (-1550)
  • rigvega (-1500)
  • rise of olmec civilization (-1400)
  • bronze age collapse (-1200)
  • phoenician alphabet (-1050)
  • zhou dynasty (-1046)
  • writing of iliad/odyssey (-900)
  • rise of kush (-800)
  • ancient olympic games (-776)
  • spring & autumn period (-771)
  • founding of rome (-753)
  • fall of the assyrian empire (-612)
  • rise of the great kingdoms in india (-600)
  • birth of the buddha (-553)
  • birth of confucius (-551)

unit 2 – age of empires (550bce-570ce)

  • achaemenid empire (-550)
  • athenian democracy (-508)
  • standardization of classical sanskrit (-500)
  • greco-persian wars (-499)
  • warring states period (-475)
  • parthenon (-447)
  • peloponnesian war (-431)
  • selucid empire (-321)
  • parthian empire (-250)
  • qin dynasty & great wall (-221)
  • invention of paper (-220)
  • maccabean revolt (-167)
  • roman conquest of greece (-146)
  • siege of jerusalem (-63)
  • roman civil war (-49)
  • roman empire (-27)
  • birth of jesus (-4)
  • destruction of the second jewish temple (70)
  • three kingdoms period (220)
  • split of the roman empire (285)
  • edict of milan (313)
  • first council of nicea (325)
  • battle of adrianople (378)
  • vulgate bible (405)
  • sack of rome (410)
  • rise of tik’al and teotihuacan (500)
  • code of civil lay (529)
  • gothic war (535)

unit 3 – spread of ideas (570-1054)

  • birth of mohammed (570)
  • reunification of china (581)
  • grand canal completed (604)
  • abu bakr becomes the first caliph (632)
  • siege of constantinople (674)
  • conquest of hispania (771)
  • iconoclasm (726)
  • abbasid caliphate (750)
  • carolingian empire (751)
  • heian period (794)
  • invention of gunpowder (800)
  • classical maya civilization collapses (900)
  • avicenna’s canon of medicine (1025)
  • great schism (1054)

unit 4 – interconnections (1054-1492)

  • collapse of the byzantine empire (1071)
  • crusades (1095)
  • translation of arabic literature to latin (1100)
  • hanseatic league (1158)
  • saladin captures jerusalem (1187)
  • magnetic compasses standardized (1200)
  • sack of constantinople (1204)
  • mongol empire (1206)
  • siege of baghdad (1258)
  • fall of the song dynasty to kublai khan (1279)
  • publication of marco polo’s the tales of china (1298)
  • ottoman empire (1299)
  • aztec empire (1325)
  • hundred years’ war (1337)
  • black death (1347)
  • battle of nicopolis and end of crusades (1396)
  • kalmar union (1397)
  • invention of movable type (1400)
  • ming treasure voyages (1405)
  • construction of the forbidden city (1420)
  • defeat of azcapotzalco (1428)
  • battle of orléans (1429)
  • inca empire (1438)
  • creation of hangul (1443)
  • construction of machu picchu (1450)
  • invention of the harpsichord (1450)
  • gutenberg press in europe (1455)
  • fall of constantinople (1453)
  • birth of guru nanak (1469)
  • rise of arthurian culture (1480)
  • spanish inquisition (1481)
  • war of the roses (1487)
  • european discovery of the new world (1492)

unit 5 – trade & exploration (1492-1765)

  • treaty of tordesillas (1494)
  • vasco da gama’s return voyage (1497)
  • fall of mississippian culture (1500)
  • rise of new-world slavery (1500)
  • safavid dynasty (1501)
  • smallpox reaches the new world (1507)
  • machiavelli writes the prince (1513)
  • battle of chaldiran (1514)
  • protestant reformation (1517)
  • treaty of london (1518)
  • magellan and elcano circumnavigate earth (1519)
  • introduction of cocoa to europe (1523)
  • sack of rome & end of renaissance in europe (1527)
  • siege of vienna (1529)
  • creation of the church of england (1531)
  • conquest of the inca empire (1532)
  • france claimed for canada (1534)
  • king james bible (1537)
  • battle of preveza (1538)
  • european exploration of north america (1539)
  • copernical heliocentrism (1543)
  • china bans all foreign trade (1548)
  • mongol invasion of china (1550)
  • elizabethan era (1558)
  • battle of djerba (1560)
  • wars of religion (1562)
  • eighty years war (1566)
  • publication of mercator’s world map (1569)
  • battle of lepanto (1571)
  • st bartholemew’s day massacre (1572)
  • gregorian calendar (1582)
  • defeat of the spanish armada (1588)
  • defeat of the mali empire (1599)
  • dutch east india company (1602)
  • publication of ricci’s map of the myriad countries of the world (1602)
  • edo period (1603)
  • peace of zsitvatorok (1606)
  • rise of aceh (1607)
  • catholic league (1609)
  • john napier’s logarithm tables (1614)
  • manchu invasion of china (1618)
  • st peter’s basilica (1626)
  • thirty years’ war (1629)
  • taj mahal (1632)
  • wars of the three kingdoms (1639)
  • peace of westphalia (1648)
  • northern wars (1655)
  • discovery of the cell (1663)
  • british conquest of new york (1664)
  • great turkish war (1667)
  • hudson’s bay company (1670)
  • maratha empire (1674)
  • treaty of nijmegen (1678)
  • pueblo revolt (1680)
  • glorious revolution (1688)
  • bill of rights (1689)
  • salem witch trials (1692)
  • steam engine adopted in the west (1699)
  • ashanti empire (1701)
  • war of the spanish succession (1701)
  • maratha empire (1707)
  • first copyrights (1710)
  • coffee first arrives in europe (1712)
  • south sea bubble (1720)
  • russia ends slavery (1723)
  • treaty of constantinople (1724)
  • first encyclopedia (1726)
  • methodism (1729)
  • first modern water-powered mill (1742)
  • little ice age (1750)
  • seven years’ war (1756)
  • stamp act (1765)

unit 6 – industrialization (1765-1894)

  • establishment of spanish missions in california (1769)
  • james cook’s explorations in the pacific (1769)
  • bengal famine (1770)
  • boston massacre, boston tea party & american revolution (1770)
  • xhosa war (1779)
  • rebellion in peru (1780)
  • american constitution (1787)
  • french revolution (1789)
  • creation of canada (1791)
  • smallpox vaccine (1796)
  • white lotus rebellion (1796)
  • barbary wars (1801)
  • napoleonic wars (1803)
  • first steam train (1804)
  • mexican war of independence (1810)
  • zulu kingdom (1816)
  • industrial revolution (1820)
  • monroe doctrine (1823)
  • internal combustion engine (1826)
  • electric motor (1829)
  • battle of the alamo (1836)
  • opium wars (1839)
  • oregon trail (1840)
  • treaty of nanking (1842)
  • telegraph (1844)
  • marx’ communist manifesto published (1848)
  • california gold rush (1848)
  • taiping rebellion (1850)
  • indian rebellion (1857)
  • publication of darwin’s on the origin of species (1859)
  • suez canal (1859)
  • american civil war (1861)
  • emancipation proclamation (1863)
  • red cross & first geneva convention (1863)
  • meiji restoration (1868)
  • discovery of cro-magnon man (1868)
  • first transcontinental railroad (1869)
  • franco-prussian war (1870)
  • phonograph (1877)
  • light bulb (1879)
  • boer wars (1880)
  • panama canal (1881)
  • scramble for africa (1884)
  • internal-combustion engine & automobile (1885)
  • wounded knee massacre (1890)
  • grammophone (1894)

unit 7 – modern war (1894-1945)

  • sino-japanese wars (1894)
  • cuban war of independence (1895)
  • boxer rebellion (1898)
  • first transatlantic radio signal (1901)
  • russo-japanese war (1904)
  • san francisco earthquake (1906)
  • invention of plastic (1907)
  • young turk revolution (1908)
  • annexation of korea (1910)
  • xinhai revolution (1911)
  • identification of atomic nucleus (1911)
  • moving assembly-line (1913)
  • world war i (1914)
  • russian revolution & ussr (1917)
  • spanish flu (1918)
  • league of nations (1920)
  • prohibition (1920)
  • washington naval treaty (1922)
  • founding of disney (1923)
  • kellogg-briand pact (1928)
  • great depression (1929)
  • invasion of manchuria (1931)
  • hitler becomes chancellor of germany (1933)
  • long march & foundation of the people’s republic of china (1934)
  • nanjing massacre (1937)
  • anschluss (1938)
  • world war ii (1939)
  • katyn massacre (1940)
  • battle of britain (1940)
  • attack on pearl harbor (1941)
  • yalta conference (1945)
  • atomic bombings of japan (1945)

unit 8 – nuclear age (1945-1989)

  • united nations (1945)
  • invention of the transistor (1947)
  • assassination of ghandi (1948)
  • marshall plan (1948)
  • world health organization (1948)
  • arab-israeli war (1948)
  • apartheid (1948)
  • berlin blockade (1948)
  • korean war (1948)
  • nato (1949)
  • treaty of san francisco & bonn-paris conventions (1951)
  • mau mau uprising (1952)
  • color television (1953)
  • warsaw pact (1955)
  • space age (1957)
  • oral contraceptive pill (1957)
  • vietnam war (1959)
  • first person in space (1961)
  • algerian war (1962)
  • second vatican council (1965)
  • six-day war (1967)
  • prague spring (1968)
  • my lai massacre (1968)
  • stonewall riots (1969)
  • moonwalk (1969)
  • sesame street (1969)
  • foundation of greenpeace (1971)
  • video games (1972)
  • yom kippur war (1973)
  • discovery of lucy (1974)
  • personal computers (1975)
  • vhs (1976)
  • war in afghanistan (1978)
  • iranian revolution & hostage crisis (1979)
  • killing fields (1979)
  • pac-man (1980)
  • space shuttle (1981)
  • compact disc (1982)
  • hiv/aids (1984)
  • macintosh & windows (1985)
  • challenger disaster (1986)
  • chernobyl disaster (1986)
  • first intifada (1987)
  • perestroika & glasnost (1988)
  • iran-iraq war (1988)

unit 9 – imperfect peace (1989-today)

  • tiananmen square (1989)
  • exxon valdez oil-spill (1989)
  • hubble space telescope (1990)
  • gulf war (1990)
  • german reunification (1990)
  • linux (1991)
  • european union (1992)
  • los angeles riots (1992)
  • bosnian war (1992)
  • world trade center bombing (1993)
  • oslo accords (1993)
  • nafta (1994)
  • three gorges dam (1994)
  • world trade organization (1995)
  • srebrenica massacre (1995)
  • dvd (1996)
  • death of princess diana (1997)
  • good friday agreement (1998)
  • google (1998)
  • euro (1999)
  • second intifada (2000)
  • wikipedia (2001)
  • 9/11 attacks (2001)
  • ipod (2001)
  • international criminal court (2002)
  • african union (2002)
  • sars outbreak (2002)
  • space shuttle columbia disaster (2003)
  • darfur war (2003)
  • human genome project (2003)
  • facebook (2004)
  • kyoto protocol (2005)
  • israeli withdrawal from gaza (2005)
  • youtube (2006)
  • iphone (2007)
  • first black president of the united states (2008)
  • large hadron collider (2008)
  • boko haram rebellion (2009)
  • arab spring (2010)
  • instagram (2010)
  • syrian civil war (2011)
  • higgs boson (2012)
  • isis (2014)
  • one-child policy (2015)
  • wikileaks (2015)
  • detection of gravitational-waves (2016)
  • panama papers leak (2016)
  • brexit (2016)
  • paris agreement (2016)
  • women’s march (2017)
  • yellow vests movement (2018)
  • chang’e 4 (2019)
  • event horizon telescope (2019)
  • impeachment of donald trump (2019)
  • indian citizenship act (2019)
  • united nations climate action summit (2019)
  • covid-19 pandemic (2020)
  • glasgow climate pact (2021)
  • russian invasion of ukraine (2022)
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thank you for reading. your eyes have done me a great honor today.