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The term 'Old World' is used commonly in the West to refer to Africa, Asia and Europe (Afro-Eurasia or the World Island), regarded collectively as the part of the world known to its population before contact with the 'New World' (the Americas and Oceania).
In the context of archaeology and world history, the term "Old World" includes those parts of the world which were in (indirect) cultural contact from the Bronze Age onwards, resulting in the parallel development of the early civilizations, mostly in the temperate zone between roughly the 45th and 25th parallels, in the area of the Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, Persian plateau, Indian subcontinent and China.
These regions were connected via the Silk Road trade route, and they have a pronounced Iron Age period following the Bronze Age. In cultural terms, the Iron Age was accompanied by the so-called Axial Age, referring to cultural, philosophical and religious developments eventually leading to the emergence of the historical Western (Hellenism, "classical"), Near Eastern (Zoroastrian and Abrahamic) and Far Eastern (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism) cultural spheres.
The concept of the three continents in the Old World, viz. Asia, Africa, and Europe, goes back to classical antiquity. Their boundaries as defined by Ptolemy and other geographers of antiquity were drawn along the Nile and Don rivers.[ citation needed ] This definition remained influential throughout the Middle Ages (see T and O map) and the Early Modern period.[ citation needed ]
The mainland of Afro-Eurasia (excluding islands such as the British Isles, Japan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and the Malay Archipelago) has been referred to as the "World Island". The term may have been coined by Sir Halford John Mackinder in The Geographical Pivot of History .
The equivalent of the Old World had names in some of its ancient cultures, including Midgard in Germanic cosmology, and Oikoumene among the Greeks.
The Bronze Age is a historical period characterized by the use of bronze, and in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the three-age Stone-Bronze-Iron system, as proposed in modern times by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen, for classifying and studying ancient societies.
The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. The concept has been mostly applied to Europe and the Ancient Near East, and, by analogy, also to other parts of the Old World.
The Americas comprise the totality of the continents of North and South America. Together, they make up most of the land in Earth's western hemisphere and comprise the New World.
Ethnic groups in Chinese history refer to various or presumed ethnicities of significance to the history of China, gathered through the study of Classical Chinese literature, Chinese and non-Chinese literary sources and inscriptions, historical linguistics, and archaeological research.
A lingua franca, also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect systematically used to make communication possible between groups of people who do not share a native language or dialect, particularly when it is a third language that is distinct from both of the speakers' native languages.
The Western Hemisphere is a geographical term for the half of Earth which lies west of the prime meridian and east of the antimeridian. The other half is called the Eastern Hemisphere.
Geopolitics is the study of the effects of Earth's geography on politics and international relations. While geopolitics usually refers to countries and relations between them, it may also focus on two other kinds of states: de facto independent states with limited international recognition and relations between sub-national geopolitical entities, such as the federated states that make up a federation, confederation or a quasi-federal system.
The Southern Levant is a geographical region encompassing the southern half of the Levant. It corresponds approximately to modern-day Israel, Palestine, and Jordan; some definitions also include southern Lebanon, southern Syria and/or the Sinai Peninsula. As a strictly geographical description, it is sometimes used by archaeologists and historians to avoid the religious and political connotations of other names for the area.
The Eastern Hemisphere is a geographical term for the half of Earth which is east of the prime meridian and west of the antimeridian. It is also used to refer to Afro-Eurasia and Australia, in contrast with the Western Hemisphere, which includes mainly North and South America. The Eastern Hemisphere may also be called the "Oriental Hemisphere". In addition, it may be used in a cultural or geopolitical sense as a synonym for the "Old World".
Geostrategy, a subfield of geopolitics, is a type of foreign policy guided principally by geographical factors as they inform, constrain, or affect political and military planning. As with all strategies, geostrategy is concerned with matching means to ends—in this case, a country's resources with its geopolitical objectives. Strategy is as intertwined with geography as geography is with nationhood, or as Gray and Sloan state it, "[geography is] the mother of strategy."
"The Geographical Pivot of History" is an article submitted by Halford John Mackinder in 1904 to the Royal Geographical Society that advances his heartland theory. In this article, Mackinder extended the scope of geopolitical analysis to encompass the entire globe.
In the prehistory of the Indian subcontinent, an "Iron Age" is recognized as succeeding the Late Harappan culture. The main Iron Age archaeological cultures of present-day northern India are the Painted Grey Ware culture and the Northern Black Polished Ware. This corresponds to the transition of the Janapadas or principalities of the Vedic period to the sixteen Mahajanapadas or region-states of the early historic period, culminating in the emergence of the Maurya Empire towards the end of the period.
Paleolithic migration prior to end of the Last Glacial Maximum spread anatomically modern humans throughout Afro-Eurasia and to the Americas. During the Holocene climatic optimum, formerly isolated populations began to move and merge, giving rise to the pre-modern distribution of the world's major language families.
The boundaries between the continents of Earth are generally a matter of geographical convention. Several slightly different conventions are in use. The number of continents is most commonly considered seven but may range as low as four when the Americas and Afro-Eurasia are each considered a single continent. According to the definition of a continent in the strict sense, an island cannot be part of any continent, but by convention and in practice most major islands are associated with a continent.
Human prehistory is the period between the use of the first stone tools c. 3.3 million years ago by hominins and the invention of writing systems. The earliest writing systems appeared c. 5,300 years ago, but it took thousands of years for writing to be widely adopted, and it was not used in some human cultures until the 19th century or even until the present. The end of prehistory therefore came at very different dates in different places, and the term is less often used in discussing societies where prehistory ended relatively recently.
Afro-Eurasia is a landmass comprising the continents of Africa and Eurasia. The terms are portmanteaus of the names of its constituent parts. Its mainland is the largest contiguous landmass on Earth.
A continent is one of several very large landmasses. Generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smallest, they are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.
Eurasia is the largest continent on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Located primarily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and by Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Indian Ocean to the south. The division between Europe and Asia as two different continents is a historical social construct, with no clear physical separation between them; thus, in some parts of the world, Eurasia is recognized as the largest of the six, five, or even four continents on Earth. In geology, Eurasia is often considered as a single rigid megablock. However, the rigidity of Eurasia is debated based on paleomagnetic data.