In the history of humans, or let’s use a more scientific term, homo sapiens have existed for thousands of years. It encompasses many periods like the Jurassic, the Mesozoic, the Ice Age, the dawn of the humans, etc. And in all these years, there have been a lot of things that changed history—some for the better, and some for the worse.
But what are some significant events which have been recorded in history and have made a significant impact on the lives of humans?
Most Famous Things That Changed History
1. Discovery & Exploration of North America
Sure, if Columbus hadn’t discovered America, someone else would have in the coming decades. The Vikings were the first to settle the Northern tips of Newfoundland (North America).
The discovery of a new trade route to the East Indies was the plan that was initially sought for and funded by the crown of Castille, employing Columbus.
It is one of the things that changed history because it opened doors to the exploration of the ‘New World’ to colonist empires of Spain, France, Britain, and The Netherlands. Although the events transpired, the research can also bring to light the horrors of colonialism.
It involves but is not limited to the departure, mass killings, and cultural destruction of Natives in North America, Central, and South America.
2. The Establishment of the Roman Empire
The Roman Republic was primarily limited to the Italian Peninsula and was plagued with civil wars before Julius Caesar created an uprising giving birth to the Roman Empire.
Under the leadership of Julius’ adopted son, Octavian, the Roman Empire expanded from Rome to the stretches of Ptolemic Egypt after defeating Cleopatra.
Following this was 200 years of Roman peace or prosperity called Pax Romana, which saw the economic, cultural, and philosophical development and expansion of the Empire.
It will not be an exaggeration if we say that the culture of the Roman Empire is one of the things that changed history tremendously. It has given birth to the culture of modern Europe, particularly the embracing of Christianity and the evolution of the Latin language to various Romance languages.
3. The Invention of the Telephone
Although credit for the development of the first telephone has been a disputed topic, the first US patent for the invention of the phone was rewarded to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876.
Before the invention of the telephone, communication between medium to long distances was a tedious task. It involved writing letters, sending messengers, and using acoustic devices that weren’t well known.
The invention of the telephone was one of the main things that changed history. Bell’s first telephone call was made on 10 March 1876 to his assistant, Watson. His first words were, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you”.
Today the whole world uses high-tech smartphones. Some are even addicted to it. The credit, however, for this technology should be given to the efforts of all the innovators and scientists who were involved in the historic feat of the invention of the telephone.
4. The Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement during the early modern period that affected the European intellectual life. It influenced the transition from the Middle Ages of Greco-Roman Europe to the era of exploration and modernity.
The Renaissance delved deep into the various countries and cultures of Europe and brought out the embracement of curiosity. The influence of this movement can be felt in the art, philosophy, literature, music, science, religion, and political ideology of Europe.
The outstanding architecture of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci’s art is a prominent feature of the Renaissance.
It is one of the things that changed history because it challenged the ways and principles of the Middle and old ages, religion, and philosophy and encouraged discoveries in the realm of science and technology, the fruits of which have shaped the world today.
5. The Silk Road
Although the exact date of establishing the silk road/route is not known, there is evidence that the Han Chinese Empire carried out the lucrative silk trade from 200 BC.
The Silk Road connected the Eastern World to the Western World. The road extended from China, India, and Afghanistan, to the ends of East Africa, Southern Europe, and the Arabian Peninsula.
The Silk Road was one of the most important things that changed history. It influenced the trade and exchange of silk, spices, gunpowder, artifacts, culture, language, political, and economic ideas.
It opened up civilizations, kingdoms, and lands to be explored and conquered. The Plague was also spread along the Silk Road. How different do you think our world would have been today if it wasn’t for the silk road?
6. The Invention of the Telescope
Since the dawn of awareness, consciousness, and intelligence in homo sapiens, man has wondered what lies far out in the depths of the universe, what is the mystery of the shining objects in the sky, and what is earth exactly.
Although these questions had been answered previously, the invention of the telescope is one of the few things that changed history for astronomy, physics, and sciences.
A Dutch spectacle maker invented the first telescope, but it only had 3x magnification power. The Italian Polymath Galileo improved on it, creating the first real telescope and making observations that discovered the satellites of Jupiter, hills of the moon, and phases of Venus.
Based on his observations, he also pointed out the validity of the sun-centered Copernicus system over the much argued and believed the Earth-centered system.
7. The Rise of Communism
Communism is an ideology that aims for a society without the control of a state, joint ownership of the means of production, and the absence of social class. The doctrine of Communism, briefly explained and architected by Karl Marx, is called Marxism.
There was a prominent rise in the demand for communism and the dissolution of the state in Imperial Russia, which gave rise to the Bolsheviks and the October Revolution. The activities of leaders like Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, etc., gave rise to the Soviet Union, which played an essential part in WWII, the Cold War, and the Eastern Block.
Communism wasn’t just limited to the Soviet Union but gave rise to the new nations/states of PRC, DPRK, Communist Cuba, and the socialist countries of Vietnam and Laos.
Communism is one of the things that changed history and separated itself from Capitalism ideology.
8. The 13th Amendment
The 13th Amendment, passed in the United States Congress in 1865, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. It relieved thousands of enslaved African-Americans from their electric service to their “Masters.” A prolonged nightmare had finally ended.
But passing the amendment and getting the supporters for it wasn’t an easy task. It took multiple sessions with the Congress, which ended with most Congressmen voting ‘nay’ to the act.
Abe Lincoln’s revolutionary measures followed a bloody civil war divided between the Confederate and the Union, lasting four years.
Although African-Americans had to suffer segregation and inhumane treatment for many more years after the act was passed before things could get better (after the 1960s), the 13th Amendment is one of the many great things that changed history.
9. The Discovery of Penicillin
The discovery of Penicillin led to the development of the first broadly effective antibiotic drug. The discovery of Penicillin was an accidental occurrence that the Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming stumbled upon in 1928.
The discovery of Penicillin was proudly presented to treat incurable horrible diseases like Gonorrhea, Diphtheria, Meningitis, etc.
During WWI, as many as 20% died of bacterial infections, which disinfectants couldn’t treat. This percentage drastically decreased to 2% percent in WWII after discovering Penicillin.
It is one of the things that changed history and earned Alexander Fleming a Nobel prize in 1945 for Medicine. Fleming was also one of the first people who warned about antibiotic resistance, which bacteria can develop, something the world faces today.
10. The Emergence of Buddhism
Buddhism is called the fourth largest religion, but it is more about following the teachings, beliefs, spiritual practices, and philosophy taught by the Buddha. The goal of Buddhism is to overcome the pain and suffering and cycle of death and rebirth by attaining Nirvana.
Gautam Buddha, born as Siddhartha into a high aristocratic family, gave up his privileges and dedicated his life to penance. After being ‘awakened,’ now called achieving ‘Buddhahood,’ he dedicated his later life to teaching the secrets of Dhamma and spirituality to the needy.
Buddhism is one of the things that changed history and influenced the cultures of many ancient civilizations, namely the Ashokan era India, which spread to the Chinese empire, and the Indochina peninsula.
Buddhism is prevalent in Sri Lanka, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, China, India, etc. Buddhism in the West is generally equated with peace, awareness, and spirituality.
11. The Internet
The internet is the brainchild of several researchers from the United States, the UK, and other neighboring European countries.
The underlying protocol and system of the internet were derived from various other designs of networking policies that were utilized for military communication, business communication, and administrative communication following the 1950s.
Without the internet today, we would not have the worldwide web, we would not have an email facility to communicate with our clients, we would not be able to watch our favorite TV shows and movies on Netflix, and no more entertainment from Instagram, or YouTube and so many other platforms.
The internet has been of the significant things that changed history and our lives. The future of businesses, governments, security, and even basic food and shelter may revolve around the internet for all we know.
12. The Nuke and Bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki
The first thing which comes into the mind of anyone when talking about a nuclear weapon is a ‘HUGE Mushroom cloud’ and widespread destruction & death. The United States developed the atomic weapon and dropped it on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively.
After witnessing the destruction, Robert Oppenheimer, the principal physicist in charge of the Manhattan Project that developed the first nukes, quoted, “Now, I become Death, the destroyer of worlds” from the Holy Bhagwat Gita.
The development of nukes has since been achieved by many countries called nuclear states. Is it a good thing? The bad or perhaps worse thing? Maybe, because now any crazy leader will think a thousand times before starting a world war. If someone does start a world war, there will be no humans left to ponder upon their mistakes.
The development of nukes and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have easily been one of the things that changed history and shaped modern warfare.
13. The Industrial Revolution
If one thing separates us, humans in the 21st Century from the humans of the 16th or 17th Century, the Industrial Revolution happened and changed history as we know it.
It emerged in England around 1760 and brought with it unique minds and ideas that gave us machinery and technology like Trains and the railway route, vehicles (cars), airplanes, machinery that was made to mine and refine, iron ore, coal, heavy metals, oil and manipulation of hydro energy.
And it is not just limited to that; the Industrial Revolution brought the notion of Capitalism with it. And this ideology gave us the colonialist and imperialist nations like the British Empire, French Empire, Portuguese and Spanish crows, the Dutch East India Company, etc.
These empires dug their hands deep into the soils of Asian and African countries and benefitted from the vast reserves of natural resources. The perks and cons of the Industrial Revolution and capitalism can be debated for a long time. Still, the fact remains that the Industrial Revolution is one of the things that changed history forever.
There are so many more notable events/things that changed history like ‘The Fall of Constantinople,’ ‘The Emergence of Religions like Islam and Christianity’ & the Invention of electricity.
But we will limit our list to these 13 events.
Let us know which is one event you wish to have on this list and one you would not?
Also check out, Dos and Donts in Cuba