The invention of a simple bone needle would prove more revolutionary than anything else in shaping human development. It heralded the arrival of Clothing.
It’s not an obvious thing to do. You gather the grains – the food that you’re hungry for and your family is hungry for – but instead of eating it, you keep some of it back!
Da Yu united the warring clans to construct an epic project to tame the flooding of the mighty Yellow River.
Yu is known to this day as Da Yu – the Great Yu – and it’s interesting that the first Chinese hero was a civil engineer and a civil servant.
Some of the earliest Egyptian writing used ostraca. pieces of limestone or pottery and soon spread around the Mediterranean.
Writing helped speed up the spread of ideas. Trade accelerated the growth of towns and cities, and civilisation was spreading. But the battle with nature never stopped.
Minoan culture seemed idyllic, bur a recent discovery has revealed a darker more blood-thirsty side to the Minoan people.
Now, on these stones, there was some kind of altar and on that the skeleton of a young man, about 18 years old, and across him was lying a bronze ceremonial dagger. He was a human sacrifice.
European settlers in Australia thrived at the cost of the native Aborigines. Prisoners transported caused Aboriginal assimilation.
The Australian aborigines were nomadic hunter-gatherers. In the 18th century, there were up to a million of them, with around 250 different languages.
The demand for sugar, coffee and tobacco fuelled the African Slave Trade costing the lives of millions.
The Enlightenment had taught that all men and women were brothers and sisters – noble ideals. But they were outpaced by the more immediate demands of money, power and luxury.
The Moghul Empire was ruled peacefully by Shah Jahan, but his son Aurangzeb was a very different breed of Muslim.
The temptation to shut people up, to ban things, is irresistible. Aurangzeb plunged India into a 26-year battle to destroy any rivals in the Hindu South. He built the most extensive empire so far in Indian history.
By introducing the Smallpox vaccination Dr Edward Jenner has saved more lives than any other human on the planet.
Almost 200 years later, in 1980, the world health organisation announced the complete eradication of smallpox. It’s still the only human disease to have been wiped off the face of the Earth.
As late as the 17th century, the Catholic Church were sticking to their entrenched opinion that the Earth was the centre of the Universe.
In 1633, the church finally lost patience with Galileo, too. He was arrested by the Catholic Inquisition.
The French Revolution sent King Louis XVI to the guillotine, only to be replace by another dictator in Napoleon Bonaparte.
The guillotine had only been at work here for nine months. It was itself a product of the ideals of the revolution – humane, efficient and fast. It was promoted, not invented, by Dr Joseph Guillotin.