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China was not poorer than Europe throughout history!

This weekend’s Economist magazine had an article (“A not-so-golden age”) which I found odd. It questioned the claim that China had historically been a wealthy country. In recent years historians have come to believe that, until the late 18th century, China was wealthier than Europe. It was only then that a “Great Divergence” set in. […]

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Labels in world history

I have received quite a few comments over the years from folk who feel that organising history – especially world history – in terms of such labels as “Iron Age”, “Industrial Revolution” and so on, is misleading. They feel that they are all rough approximations of reality, and therefore can give an impression of simplicity which bears […]

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One civilization, or many?

Now here’s a question – what exactly is a civilization? This is a harder question than you might think, and I’ve tackled it before, both in a blog post and an encyclopedia article. However, my answers there do not take into account a further question I sometimes mull. Look at this map of Europe in […]

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How do you go about founding a city?

A few days ago (probably the 22nd May) the Library of Congress Map Division tweeted: “On 22nd May 1819 Andrew Jackson and a couple of others founded Memphis”.   Map of Tennessee from around the time of the founding of Memphis. Library ofCongress. This made me think: how do you go about founding a city? […]

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