History Timeline : 1500-2000 AD
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Timeline: 1500-2000 AD

Sioux woman
Sioux woman

Beginning about 1500 AD, Europeans took advantage of new advances in sail technology to invade and take over most of the world beyond Europe, with disastrous effects for the people who were conquered.

They began by sailing down the Atlantic coast of Africa and around Africa to India, which they soon took control of. The Europeans began to buy spices and silk directly from India and China, instead of going through the old Silk Road and the Islamic empire's traders. So the Ottoman Empire and Russia became much poorer than they had been before.

Soon the Europeans also invaded South America, where they accidentally infected the Incas, Aztecs, and Maya with smallpox and measles. Most of the people of North and South America died, so the Europeans were able to take over as rulers in both continents. To replace the people who had died, the Europeans bought people in Africa and brought them over to North America as slaves.

In the last 150 years, more big changes came to the world. First, the invention of motorized machines meant that instead of most people working on farms, most people could live in cities while only a few people worked on farms. Second, the native people of most of the conquered countries got back control of their countries. They are just beginning to rebuild their countries, with the disadvantage that the Europeans are still writing most of the rules.

Bibliography and further reading for a world history timeline:

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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