History of the World in Objects and Art

20 000BC      
1200BC 800 1455 1820
700BC 1070 1500 1840
350BC 1205 1530 1868
200BC 1260 1600 1890
100BC 1290 1685 1910
30 1350 1755 1920
600 1400 1800 1950
History of the World in Objects and Art Timeline

The scientific advances of the 20th century have enabled doctors to make significant breakthroughs in medicine. Research into the causes of disease and new machines that can see into the body have led to a medical revolution.
The effective treatment and prevention of disease over the past century has extended life expectancy and reduced disability more than was thought possible by early 20th-century doctors.

The injuries caused by two world wars accelerated research into treating and fighting infection. Hygiene improved, methods of surgery became more precise, and prosthetics and plastic surgery progressed significantly. Increased
efforts were also made to understand and treat mental illness. Advances in medical treatment have continued apace since then. The development of vaccines to provide immunity to diseases such as smallpox and polio saved lives and reduced disability. The use of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections has also saved millions of lives. X-rays, ultrasound, and other scanning methods have made diagnosis more accurate and led to a greater understanding of the body.

In 1917, Marxist revolutionaries seized power in Russia. They founded the Soviet Union, the first state ruled by a Communist Party. By the 1980s, almost one-third of the world's population was under Communist rule. Many became disillusioned when the better world promised by Communist ideology failed to materialize.
The Soviet Union established the model for a Communist state. The Communist Party held an absolute monopoly of political and economic power. Opposition to or criticism of the regime was ruthlessly repressed. Peasants were forced into collective farms at gunpoint. Millions of people were sent to prison camps. Belief in the revolutionary transformation of society—with an end to exploitation and the promise of future equality— ensured popular support for Communist regimes. Considerable support endured even when policies led to large-scale disasters, such as famines in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and in China in the 1950s.


The success of Soviet armies in World War II brought Communist rule to Central Europe and North Korea. China joined the Communist bloc after Mao Zedong's victory in a civil war in 1949. The Communist world later expanded to include Cuba and parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. But Communism began to falter. Party rule slid into personal
dictatorship, as during Joseph Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1953. The party and state officials became self-serving, privileged groups. Lack of freedom was resented.

Despite early success with rapid industrialization, state-run economies failed to keep pace with capitalism. Consumer goods were scarce and shoddy, shortages common, and living standards low. From the 1980s, the Communist project began to unravel. In most countries, Communist parties either lost power or, as happened in China, adopted some capitalist policies.

The Korean War
At the turn of the 20th century, old country houses and other rich households were staffed by large teams of domestic servants, but World War I changed this. Servants became harder to find as workers found better-paid employment in industry and other vital sectors, and more people bought their own homes. This meant the housewife, whether well-off or poor, had to do many things for herself, armed with a slew of labor-saving devices.

The modern housewife needed machines that did some of the work for her. The coming of electric-powered devices brought relief from domestic drudgery. New prosperity in the postwar 1950s brought with it a new consumerism. Mass-produced goods were more affordable and were seen as the solution to modern life—or, at least, that is how they were advertised.

The boom in housebuilding also fueled demand. As soon as new houses were built, people filled them with new things: furniture, serving dishes, and stylish decorative pieces. There was limitless demand, and limitless production. Family life was transformed by the development of new toys, extra leisure time, and comfortable fixtures and fittings.

In the 20th century, fashion entered a world of democracy. Class hierarchies were discarded as people chose to dress up, dress down, stand out from the crowd, or blend in. Throughout, fashion's ability to reinvent itself has remained constant.
During the 20th century, it became harder to tell the rich from the poor by how they dressed. Ready-to-wear clothing became available at affordable prices, and clothes lost their class associations. Those with limited means could create a personal style, and fashion became accessible to people from all social levels. Trends changed constantly, as technology, culture, and world events influenced style. Women's hems rose and fell, clothes
emphasized femininity, then became more masculine, and comfort replaced constriction. Fashion reflected the mood of the period, from wartime austerity to political rebellion.
In recent decades, advances in man-made fibers, mass-production techniques, and the major influence of postwar subcultural styles have transformed fashion, and the choice of apparel, into a global phenomenon.
Making Myths

She acted out her life under the devouring gaze of a gigantic audience, one that couldn't get enough of her: Marilyn, the enchanting child-woman, the breathtaking sex-symbol, the unattainable goddess of film. She was unforgettable in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like It Hot, and The Seven-Year Itch. She was wildly acclaimed, dominated the headlines, filled the gossip columns and incarnated the dreams of a decade. Behind the glitz, glamour and the luscious smile which enthralled the world was a vulnerable and immature woman. Did America know it all along? Was that the secret source of her mystique; She had a terrible childhood. She said that she was probably a mistake, that her mother hadn't wanted to have her at all. She never knew her father and was bounced between her mother's home and a series of adoptive families; her mother had a nervous breakdown and Marilyn spent two years in an orphanage. She never graduated from high school and married at sixteen, perhaps to avoid being sent back to an orphanage. She was later to comment that her marriage wasn't unhappy; but it wasn't happy either. She and her husband just didn't have much to say to each other.

Her discovery was all part of the war effort. While her husband was fighting in World War II Marilyn was in a factory checking parachutes. Ronald Reagan sent David Conover, a twenty-five-year-old army photographer, to photograph cheerful young munitions-factory workers. Conover took notice of this girl who could make more out of a pose than anyone he had ever seen. The publicists took his discovery and created "Marilyn Monroe", the icon of post-war Hollywood. She was oddly detached and alienated, saying she always had the feeling that she was not real, that she was something like a well-made counterfeit. She was sure that everyone had similar feelingsfrom time to time but in her case things had gone so far that she sometimes thought she was completely synthetic. She died on the night of 4 August 1962 under mysterious circumstances, but her legend lived on and even grew. 

Andy Warhol, the son of Czech immigrants, began his artistic career in advertising, moved on to film-making and became high-society's favourite portrait artist. He ended up a cult figure, probably the cult figure, of Pop Art. His Marilyn Monroe is a twentieth-century icon of art. He wrote of his work that, whether or not his loud colours made her into a symbol was irrelevant, and if the colours were beautiful, it was because she was; beauty calls for beautiful colours. Marilyn Monroe was commercialised beauty, quite artificial and quite misunderstood.

Andy Warhol
Turquoise Marilyn

Andy Warhol
Marilyn Monroe


The Kennedy Assassination

Until the second half of the 20th century our knowledge of space came mainly from peering through telescopes. Space travel has greatly enhanced our understanding of both the Universe and life on Earth.
The dawn of the Space Age came on October 4, 1957, when the USSR launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial object to enter Earth orbit. What followed was an extraordinary era of innovation that captured the public imagination, although it was also linked to military developments and tensions between the US and the USSR. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy pledged that the United States would be the first nation to land a man on the moon. With the Soviet Union equally determined to achieve further success, a "space race" began. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 made the first Moon landing, and American astronaut Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the lunar surface. The event was watched on television by one-fifth of the world's population. Since that historic moment, the latest technology has been harnessed to enable longer flights, larger crews, and spacecraft that can act as orbital laboratories.

In recent decades, unmanned missions have visited the outer reaches of the solar system, and thousands of satellites have been launched. Robotic spacecraft have explored inhospitable planets, and people spend months living and working in space.

The Vietnam War

The wars of the 20th century have led to many technological advances. Aircraft and weapons have become faster and deadlier, and enemy positions can be spotted by satellite or radar and eliminated with long-range missiles or drones.
World War I saw men shot down in unprecedented numbers due to the advent of the machine gun. In 1945, the terrible force unleashed by the atomic bombs dropped on Japan brought a close to World War II but led to decades of global uncertainty and fear of nuclear war.

The ensuing Cold War resulted in further development of missiles and launchers. When new challenges were faced in the Gulf War in 1990, the US unleashed an arsenal of "smart" technological weaponry, much of it never used before.

Among the new weapons were devastating cruise missiles equipped with computerized guidance systems. Meanwhile, stealth fighter aircraft reflected radar signals and night-vision gadgets sought out enemies through the dark.
The United Nations, formed in 1945, utilized military technology to keep peace, while in guerilla warfare improvised weapons have come up against more advanced firepower.

The Assassination of Martin Luther King
Terrorism in Germany

The Fall ofthe Berlin Wall

The Fall ofthe Berlin Wall

The latter part of the 20th century saw an astounding evolution in computers and communications technology. Built on powerful devices, the "communications age" transformed the way we communicate with and connect the entire globe.
The first technology that people used to communicate speedily over long distances was the telegraph. The first telephone networks opened in the 1880s, but uptake was slow until prices fell in the 1920s. It was not long after this that millions of people were also tuning in to radio broadcasts.

Electronic computers were first introduced in the 1950s, and from the late 1960s they gave businesses a new way to communicate, via computer networks. From the 1970s onwards, the miniaturisation of electronic components on small integrated circuits, or "chips," has enabled the development of electronic devices that were smaller and cheaper. The mobile phone and the personal computer became widespread in the 1990s, and access to the Internet — first via computers, then using smartphones and tablets — grew rapidly in the early years of the 21st century.

The Terrorist Attacks of 9/11