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Top 10 triumphs of Western civilization

Let’s face it: 2020 has been pretty miserable so far. The only thing that seems to throw a deadly pandemic out of the headlines of the world is rioting and looting amid protests against police brutality.

We need something positive now – a reminder of the countless achievements of Western civilization to counter our current difficult situation.

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Engineering, science, literature, trade. We did some amazing things, my friends. Hold your heads up and enjoy the following historical highlight role. Here are the brilliant men and women of history who created the greatest civilization the earth has ever known.


… is a strange way to start this list. Strange, but incredibly important. You cannot build cities without water supply and you cannot build livable cities without water supply and without the possibility of washing away human waste.

The first complex system of underground pipes was around the 18th century BC. Chr. Developed. from the Minoan civilization in today’s Crete. Their capital, Knossos, had a two-way plumbing system that provided water and sanitation, and built-in sewers to prevent flooding (and obnoxious backwater) in heavy rain.

Remarkably, given their early date, the Minoans also had the first known flush toilets[1] – latrines on the ground floor with overhead water tanks. Some palaces even had rudimentary reverse siphon systems[2] complete with glass-covered clay pipes that were found in perfect condition about 3,000 years later. How’s that for craftsmanship?

Other western cultures were also plumber pioneers. The ancient Greeks in Athens used an inner pipe system that, among other things, enabled pressure showers. Later, in the first century AD, the Greek inventor Heron used pressurized pipelines to fight fires in the city of Alexandria.

9 Coins as a common currency

A significant step in the history of world trade came when it was no longer necessary to trade or haggle over unofficial currency units that only a fraction of the population recognized as legitimate.

Although a single currency is such a clearly advantageous concept that many civilizations will undoubtedly ask for it to be introduced, including an acceptable currency unit is easier said than done. Stability is needed to get started: in order for the currency to be viewed generally as such, it must be issued by a recognized government agency to distinguish it from the various tokens, exchange chips, or other casual currencies that have been exchanged almost since the beginning of humanity.

The vehicle is just as important and here metal coins meet a number of requirements. Metal coins are not only difficult to counterfeit, but can be both representative (i.e. value supported by a governing body) and physical (i.e. through a certain percentage of precious metal such as gold or silver). Coins are also portable and not perishable.

While the promise of coins as the official currency has probably been obvious for millennia, the Lydian Stater was the first to tick all of these boxes.[3] They were discovered sometime in the late 7th century BC. Introduced and made for durability from an impressively consistent blend of 55% gold, 45% silver and a small amount of copper.

It was partly an invention of necessity: ancient Lydia was a trading center in what is now western Turkey, including the incredibly well-preserved port city of Ephesus.[4] Conquered by Alexander the Great, it was built in the 4th century BC. Chr. Admitted to the Seleucid Empire, although his contributions to human history remained intact despite the military defeat. 133 BC It was incorporated into the Roman Empire.

8th Spreading democracy

The practice of citizens playing a widespread role in determining their own governance has roots in ancient Greece. In fact, the word “democracy” is derived from the Greek words for people (demos) and rule (kratos).

While earlier civilizations probably gave citizens at least a say in the exercise of authority, Greece evolved around the late 6th or early 5th century BC. A formal, more mature form of self-government.[5] Ancient Greek democracy included ecclesia, which wrote laws and dictated foreign policy; the boule, representative of the ten tribes of Athens; and the Dikasteria, public courts where citizens debated before a group of lottery judges.

The boule in particular was refreshingly coincidental: every year 500 names were chosen from among the entire Athenian citizens to serve for a year. During this time, they proposed new laws and monitored various aspects of the political process. In contrast to modern representative democracies, the laws in ancient Greece were passed by the citizens themselves, which is known as “direct democracy”. When a new law was proposed, all citizens had the opportunity to vote by attending a meeting and using ceramic shards called Ostraka as a ballot.[6]

Although ancient Greek democracy had little logistical resemblance to today’s representative governments, the goals were similar: giving people a voice in the laws that they had to abide by was a stabilizing force that gave society a legitimate legitimacy. Regular elections satisfied those who had voted for adopted points and hoped for those who felt different. The process also restricted a person’s power and promoted the peaceful transfer of governance.

7 Old classic literature

A full explanation of the contributions of ancient classical literature would require 250 lists instead of 250 words. So let’s just go into what this means for us in the 21st century.

Ancient Greek and Roman literature not only makes an important contribution to various contemporary literary and cinematic motifs – dramas, heroic journeys, comedies – but also shows that the vast majority of today’s editions played a prominent role in life more than two millennia ago. If you ever feel tragically unique, try to pick up on a Greek tragedy.

Take Medea (not Tyler Perry’s,[7] the ancient greek[8]). It remains for readers to interpret whether the title character was a ruthless murderer who poisoned a king and slaughtered her own children in cold blood … or a despised fiancé who had taken the only viable option available to her. At its core, it is a story of female fainting with fatal consequences.

Berate the government? So did Sophocles’ Antigone, who buried her brother Polynices against the will of a king who regarded him as a traitor. When caught, Antigone claims the superiority of divine right over human right. Your reward is a sentence that must be buried alive.

No justice, no rest in peace – for no one. The king changes his mind too late when Antigone hangs himself before the sentence can be enforced. The king’s son, who had fallen in love with her, also commits suicide – just like his mother when she found out about her son’s fate. Antigone brings the house down with himself, an example of courage and admirable civil disobedience.

The list goes on. Browsing through the classics is a reassuring, humiliating reminder that today’s struggles were yesterday’s too. Oppression, love, betrayal, misogyny … all clear to read.

6 Scholastic & scientific method

Of course, nobody can claim to have invented the argument. However, at the top of western civilization was its formality – basic rules for scientific progress to disperse deeply established but unproven ideas and to stand on the shoulders of earlier breakthroughs.

scholasticism[9] Essentially, brainstorming was structured, emphasizing the use of reason in researching questions of both philosophy and theology. In the 13th century, a student of this practice, Saint Albert Magnus (Saint Albert the Great), required experimental science to distinguish the revealed truth (revelation of something unknown through a divine force). Although scholasticism itself was inextricably linked to the teaching of the Church, this helped to create a minimum of a healthy distance between reason and religion and was an essential part of the transition to the Renaissance.

Together with the student St. Thomas Aquinas, Magnus made many scientific observations in the fields of astronomy, chemistry, geography and physiology. Another 13th-century peer, Roger Bacon, called for an end to the blanket acceptance of preconceived notions, even widespread beliefs that have been handed down by influential old minds like Aristotle.

Three centuries later, in 1621, a distant relative of Bacon, Francis Bacon, published Novum Organum. The text advocated inductive thinking as a necessary basis for scientific thinking. Bacon’s approach consisted of three main steps:[10] Starting with a simple description of the facts examined. These facts are then divided into three categories – cases of his presence (or correctness), cases of her absence (or incorrectness) and cases of her presence to varying degrees (or cumbersome correctness).

From there, for example, a well-founded conclusion about cause and effect can be drawn. Bacon’s guidelines form the basis of the modern scientific method.[11] used to construct and test hypotheses to determine their validity.

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5 The printing house and mass competence

For the expansion of human knowledge, the year 1440 can be the most important line of demarcation in human history. This year, the German-born Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing machine with which books can be mass-produced. (While other printing presses existed as early as the 3rd century AD, Gutenbergs was the first to be dedicated to books.)

Before the Gutenberg press, making copies of books was a tedious and painstaking process by hand. Books were therefore both limited and expensive, and for this reason only 30% of adults in Europe could read until the mid-15th century. Some places were even worse off: Barely 10% of Italians could read Dante’s Divine Comedy when it was released in 1321. What use are the classics if only one in ten people can enjoy them?

The Gutenberg press changed both the profitability and the availability of books and flooded the market. Literacy rates increased significantly, and the European Renaissance, which started about a century earlier, was accelerating.

“What was a project to train only the few richest elites in this society could now become a project to set up a library in every medium-sized city,” explains historian Ada Palmer.[12]

It was equally important that the press accelerated the pace of the training.[13] Allow knowledge to be shared on a much broader scale than individual teachers could achieve. It has also changed the teaching process itself – especially with technical subjects. Suddenly, complex technical diagrams, mathematical diagrams and architectural work could be replicated with significantly higher accuracy and efficiency.

4th Circumnavigation

Research into the navy goes back tens of thousands of years. Many archaeologists consider the first large-scale seafarers to be Australians about 60,000 years ago.[14] It was followed by Polynesians who populated the Pacific Islands, distant waterways of the Roman Empire and, of course, the oceanic discovery of the New World – first by Nordic explorers and finally by Columbus.

But nobody in the recorded history had done anything that was vital to understanding world geography: he was sailing around the entire planet Earth.

That started to change exactly 501 years ago when Ferdinand Magellan[15] Sail with five ships from Spain to find a faster trade route to the East Indies.

He didn’t find it. What he finally discovered was a narrow waterway on the southern tip of South America that connected two oceans. The explorer who emerged from today’s Magellan Strait was amazed at the comparable calmness of the ocean and gave the Pacific or “peaceful” ocean its name.

Magellan never made it to Spain; in April 1521, he was killed in a fight with natives in the Philippines. In fact, only one of the original five ships – the Victoria[16] – returned to Spain the following year.

Though they hadn’t found a viable trade route, Magellan’s team had answered the riddle of an ancient cartographer: how big was the world exactly? Magellan’s journey is another line of demarcation of human knowledge that enables all transportation decisions made thereafter to be holistically informed.

3rd Aviation: To the moon and beyond

In 1784, a fascinated Benjamin Franklin and a stereotypically skeptical John Adams were present in Paris (they were there to sign the treaty that ended the American Revolution) to see two French make history: Marquis d’Arlandes and Pilatre de Rozier were the first courtesy of a hot air balloon to release the grumpy shackles of the earth.[17]

The delicate, 70-foot device, precariously made of linen and varnished paper with hot air from burning straw (risk of fire?), Rose up to 3,000 feet before touching down five miles away. “Aeronauts”, as they were called, immediately became heroes, with balloon motifs that adorn all fashions of furniture: inflated clothes,[18] Balloon fans, powder boxes, chandeliers, needle chairs.

Although it took more than a century, western civilization made the next big leap into the sky when Wilbur and Orville Wright built the first successful airplane in 1903.[19] Although initially rudimentary, western technology advanced aviation extremely quickly – fast enough so that in the First World War both sides could bombard and bomb each other a little more than a decade later.

And then, 50 years later, the unthinkable: a man on the moon. Aside from any cynicism, take a moment and let it sink. Only 66 years after the first plane flight, western civilization flew people to the moon, allowed them to get out and jump around, and brought them back alive. The performance was so historic that “Men Walk on Moon”[20] became the largest font size (96 pt.) ever to be seen on the front page of the conventionally reserved New York Times. The font has only been used three times since then, with:


2nd The factory production line

In December 1913, Henry Ford introduced the first moving assembly line in history. The rationalization exercise focused on the idea that a worker can repeatedly perform the same action more conveniently than a variety of different actions in a row.

The change resulted in one of the greatest exponential improvements in work efficiency ever: the time it took to build one of the typical Ford Model T automobiles was reduced from over 12 hours to two hours and 30 minutes, a factor of almost five Reduction corresponds.[22]

The key was that Ford’s production line significantly expanded middle-class access to cars, which quickly evolved from a wealthy status symbol to an indispensable means of transportation. By reducing the time, capital, and manpower required to build the Model T, Ford has reduced the price from $ 850 to below $ 300. In this way, mass production led to mass consumption – millions became drivers and Ford became a billionaire.

A decade later, the production line led to another innovation: the five-day 40-hour work week. The efficiency achieved through assembly lines and staff adjustments made manufacturing so quick and easy that longer hours and six days of work were no longer required to meet demand and generate attractive profits. This was true even when Ford more than doubled wages in 1914 to an impressive $ 5 a day at the time.[23] The production line herewith ushered in a new era of work-life balance, which is still a hallmark of a healthy middle-class lifestyle.

1 Christianity

Christianity: It is an old term that covers much of the western world (and some parts beyond). It is at the top of this list for a very good reason: Despite the fact that there have been some dark times in which Christianity, thanks to the efforts of the Middle Ages, has contributed to the western world as we know it today, monks and scholars and Christians of good will.[24] The so-called dark age was a time when monks were hidden in cold, scattered monasteries that worked tirelessly to preserve the wisdom of antiquity in the form of illuminated manuscripts.

In addition, thanks to the monasteries and sisters, the female voice was saved for posterity. In the 16th century, the Popes seemed to be the only defender of women who refused to allow King Henry to simply drop any woman he wanted. And without the astonishingly important contributions of people like the humble Saint Claire of Assisi, Polymath Saint Hildegard of Bingen and Doctor of the Church of Saint Teresa of Ávila, the world would be a different place today. The effects of Saint Hildegard on European society were immense at the time. It should be a household name. Some of their music can be seen in the video clip above.

Art, music, literature, social justice, manners and so many other parts of our society exist in the form we know today, thanks to the impact of Christianity on the governments of Western society. The world is changing now, so it seems appropriate to end this list with a quote from the Bible, which we should remember today above all: “All things men should do to you, whatever you would do , you make them too. “(Matthew 7:12)[25]

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About the author: Christopher Dale (@ ChrisDaleWriter) writes about politics, society and sobriety. His work has been published in Daily Beast, NY Daily News, NY Post and Parents.com, among others.

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