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55 Periods of History

A period of history is a name that is commonly used to describe a timespan. These may be based on politics, technology, culture, nature, ideas or events that serve to characterize a time. The following periods of history are selected for being significant, useful or interesting.
2000 - Present

21st Century

The current century.
2000 - Present

3rd Millennium

The current thousand year period.
1995 - Present

Internet Age

The commercialization of the internet that represented the large scale connection of computers into a single network that rapidly transformed economies and societies.
1989 - 2019

Heisei Era

The reign of Emperor Akihito in Japan.
1970 - Present

Postmodern Era

The theory that the current period is being defined by the ideas of postmodernism.
1970 - Present

UNIX Epoch

The UNIX and Linux operating systems represent time as the number of milliseconds since 00:00:00 Thursday, 1 January 1970. This can be viewed as the start of the computer era.
1950 - Present

Third Industrial Revolution

The use of computers by business to automate work and improve decision making.
1946 - 1991

Cold War

A period of intense conflict between Capitalist and Communist societies that ended with the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991.
1945 - Present

Atomic Age

Defined by the existence of nuclear weapons such that the planet has been placed in a state of existential threat.
1945 - Present

Contemporary Age

Defined by the end of WWII. Requires future redefinition as contemporary refers to a period of history that currently living people have experienced.
1943 - Present

Information Age

The age of information technology defined here as beginning with the first electronic programmable computers such as Colossus introduced in the middle of WWII.
1929 - 1939

The Great Depression

The longest, deepest and most widespread economic downturn of the 20th century.
1926 - 1989

Showa Era

The reign of Emperor Hirohito in Japan. A turbulent period characterized by Japan's aggressive imperial expansion, WWII, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the occupation of Japan by the United States from 1945–1952.
1920 - 1933


An American constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. This largely backfired resulting in an explosion in the vibrancy of nightlife known as the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age.
1901 - 1914

Edwardian Era

The brief reign of King Edward VII of Britain.
1890 - 1920

Progressive Era

A period of political activism in the United States that resulted in major political change such as women's suffrage and prohibition.
1880 - 1914

Second Industrial Revolution

An economic and social revolution driven by advancements in technology such as interchangeable parts, electricity, telegraphs, railroads and automobiles.
1870 - 1900

Gilded Age

A period of rapid economic growth in the United States fueled by immigration and industrialization.
1868 - 1912

Meiji Period

The reign of Emperor Meiji in Japan.
1837 - 1901

Victorian Era

The era of British history corresponding to the long rein of Queen Victoria.
1800 - 1970

The Modern Age

The period between the French Revolution and the establishment of computer-based societies beginning around 1970. This is often defined with other dates that begin as early the Renaissance and end as early as 1950.
1799 - 1815

Napoleonic Era

An age defined by the rise of Napoleon and the subsequent Napoleonic wars in Europe.
1760 - 1840

First Industrial Revolution

The transition to semi-automated manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States.
1715 - 1800

Age of Enlightenment

Defined mostly by the French Revolution in 1789 and the lead up to this coinciding with the reign of Louis XV beginning in 1715. A time of revolutionary thinking and institutionalization of ideas such as liberty, progress, toleration, constitutional government and separation of church and state.
1714 - 1837

Georgian Era

The period of British history defined by the reins of George I, George II, George III and George IV.
1644 - 1911

Qing Dynasty

The last imperial dynasty of China.
1600 - 1868

Edo Era

A period of peace and stability in Japanese History defined by the movement of the capital to Tokyo. Ends with the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate triggered by the Americans forcing Japan to open to trade.
1558 - 1603

Elizabethan Era

The reign of Queen Elizabeth I of Britain.
1485 - 1603

Tudor Period

The dynasty of the House of Tudor in England.
1467 - 1600

Sengoku Period

The age of "warring states" in Japanese history characterized by constant conflict and political intrigue.
1368 – 1644

Ming Dynasty

A period in Chinese history defined by the rule of the the Great Ming dynasty.
1300 - 1600


A period of profound advancement in thinking and achievement in art, architecture and literature.
793 - 1066

Viking Age

A period of European history defined by exploration, conquest and colonization by Scandinavian Norsemen.
710 - 794

Nara Period

A period of Japanese history defined by the capital being Nara.
500 - 1500

Middle Ages

The middle ages began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and ends in 1500 for no authoritative reason around the time of Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the Americas in 1492.
500 - 1500

Dark Ages

Another term for the middle ages that implies that civilization slid backwards after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. This is largely viewed as a biased and exaggerated claim.
450 - 1066

Anglo-Saxon Period

A period of British history beginning with the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain and ending with the Norman Conquest of England.
220 - 280

Three Kingdoms

A period of Chinese history when China was divided into three states.
27 BC - 476

Roman Empire

A period of the classical age defined by the dominance of the Roman Empire. Begins with the rise of the first Roman emperor Augustus and ends with the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
476 BC – 221 BC

Warring States Period

A period of ancient Chinese history characterized by conflict, instability and warfare.
800 BC - 600 AD

Classical Age

The rise and decline of ancient Greece and Rome on the Mediterranean Sea that represented a large interlocked civilization that wielded significant influence throughout Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.
1200 BC - 600 BC

Iron Age

A historical period characterized by the use of iron.
3200 BC - Present


Starts with the invention of writing.
3200 BC - 800 BC

Ancient History

From the beginning of recorded history to the start of the classical age.
3200 BC - 600 BC

Bronze Age

A historical period characterized by the use of bronze.
3.3 Million BC - 3200 BC


Starts with the first stone tools used by early humans and ends with the invention of writing.
11,650 Years Ago - Present


The period since the last ice age.
3.3 Million Years Ago - 11,650 Years Ago


The earliest humans to the end of the last ice age. Comprises 99% of human history.
3.3 Million Years Ago - 3200 BC

Stone Age

A period characterized by the use of simple stone tools that ends with the earliest metalworking.
66 Million Years Ago - Present


The age of mammals.
252 - 66 Million Years Ago

Mesozoic Era

The age of the dinosaurs.
485 - 443 Million Years Ago


A period that starts and ends with major extinction events.
541 Million Years Ago - Present


The period in which abundant complex life has existed on the Earth.
541 - 485 Million Years Ago


A period where complex, multicellular organisms enter the geological record. Ends with a major extinction event.
4600 - 541 Million Years Ago


The earliest part of Earth's history that accounts for 88% of the Earth's geologic time. Begins with the formation of the Earth 4.6 billion years ago. Life existed in the Precambrian eon but little is known about it and it is unknown when it began. It is possible life began as early as 4.280 billion years ago.


The list above is not exhaustive as there are perhaps thousands of periods of history that can be identified using different events and criteria.
The timelines above may be variously defined as a period, age, era, eon or epoch.
The timelines above may be disputed as periods are often the topic of lively debate and are seldom standardized except where defined by hard events such as the transition of political power.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about society.
Broken Windows
Civic Duty
Consumer Society
Culture Lag
Economic Systems
Group Harmony
Herd Behavior
Herd Mentality
Media Freedom
Middle Class
Power Distance
Public Sector
Social Capital
Social Class
Social Constructs
Social Mobility
Social Status
Upper Class
Upward Mobility
Working Class
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