World 979 CE

Asia is home to brilliant civilizations of great scientific advance and technological progress. Europe, however, remains chaotic, backward and ignorant.

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World history in the year 979

The two most dynamic centers of cultural advance at this period of world history are the Middle East and China. The advances being made in these two great regions of the world mean that this period is seeing major steps forward in technology and science.

The Middle East

In the Middle East, Islamic civilization is flourishing. Influences from China, India and the West are mingling with Arab and Persian elements to form a brilliant cultural synthesis.

In the Muslim world of the Middle East, Baghdad became the capital of the Islamic empire (the Caliphate) in the mid-8th century, but that great empire is now slowly fragmenting. This does not hinder the Muslim faith from putting down strong roots in all the regions ruled by the Caliphate.

East Asia

In China, the great empire of the Tang dynasty has been replaced by the much smaller, but economically more dynamic, Song empire. The Song dynasty period will be one of great economic progress.

Korea and Japan are developing their own unique civilizations as Chinese influence declines.


Europe has sunk into chaos and ignorance. For Europe, this is a brutal and barbarous age. Under the hammer blows of VikingsMagyars and Arabs, royal power breaks down in much of western Europe. Anarchy reigns, but a new order slowly begins to emerge, based on the power of local lords.

Within Europe, illiteracy and ignorance are almost universal – except within the Church. This is doing its best to preserve Europe’s Classical heritage, and acts as a civilizing influence on a barbarous society. It is in fact expanding its influence into central and eastern Europe at this time.

Whilst the Viking raids have struck terror far and wide within Europe, they have also developed trade networks linking western Europe more closely with the lands to the north and east. They are even laying the foundations for the rise of a huge new extension of European civilization, in Russia.

South Asia and Africa

Southern India is now coming into its own as a major cultural and economic force. The powerful Chola empire has established it as a major center of South Asian civilization. The Indian Ocean trade is thriving, and it is drawing the east African coast into its orbit. Here, Muslim traders are establishing trading posts.

Elsewhere in Africa, the trans-Saharan trade routes continue to expand, and as a result, new states are appearing in West Africa.

South East Asia

In South East Asia, the Srivi Jaya empire is in decline, and the Khmer kingdom in Cambodia has begun its ascent to regional power.

The Steppes

On the steppes of central Asia, the decline of the Khazar confederacy allows lesser Turkic tribes to become more restless. The Magyars and Pechenegs move westward to attack more settled peoples in central and eastern Europe. On the eastern steppes, the Uyghurs have taken over from the Gok-turks.

The Americas

In the Western Hemisphere, the Mayan civilization of Central America is now in steep decline, while the Toltec people are now on the ascendant in Mexico. Elsewhere in North America, towns of the Mississippi culture are emerging as major centers of trans-continental trade.

A new state has emerged on the Pacific coast of South America. This is the Chimu empire, one of the most advanced states in pre-Columbian America.

Next map: the world in 1215

Dig Deeper

World history

The Steppe peoples of Central Asia

For details of the different civilizations, click on the relevant timeline above. 

More ‘Dig Deeper’ links may be found in the regional maps. To access, click on the markers in the world map.

Premium Units

China at the time of the Song empire

India at the time of the Chola empire

Medieval Europe under attack


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