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Centers of Progress: Florence (Art)

Historical Significance Of Florence, Italy

Historical Significance Of Florence, Italy

Known as the ‘Jewel Of Italian Renaissance’, the city of Florence has countless groundbreaking developments, seeing advances in politics, finance, business, engineering, philosophy, science, architecture, and artistic creativity. The 15th century CE, the golden age of Florence saw many historic art projects, even after a pandemic killed half of the city’s population.

Currently, Florence is the capital of Tuscany, Italy, and its most populous. The breathtaking scenery and long history make it one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

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Hangzhou in 12th century CE China
Hangzhou in 12th century CE China
  • During the late Song Dynasty, with the innovation of printing and manufacturing, the Song came closer to initiating an industrial revolution than any other premodern state.
Living during the Song era in Hangzhou
  • The average Chinese person had increased growth in their income level as the economy expanded.
  • The economy grew due to new technological and agricultural advances and efficient trade routes.
  • The era saw an increase in international trade, as Chinese merchants expanded their trade networks up to East Africa. Using paper money helped motivate people to deal with larger transactions than before.
  • During a visit in the 13th century CE, Italian explorer Marco Polo described Hangzhou as the most magnificent city in the world.
Innovations in Hangzhou
  • Hangzhou has been an important city since the 7th century CE, when its Grand Canal was built to connect the urban centre to Beijing. It is the world's longest artificial river.
  • Woodblock printing developed in Buddhist monasteries to reproduce spiritual texts. During the Song era, it was widely adopted for non-religious purposes and supercharged intellectual life in the Song dynasty.
  • Hangzhou was a place of great creativity. In the 11th century CE, polymath Shen Kuo (1031 - 1095 CE) invented the magnetic compass, drew the world's first topographical map, and recorded the process of sedimentation.
  • Other technological breakthroughs includes the compass, the first mechanical clocks, and the invention of forensic science.
  • The economic and technological advancements of the Song era translated into improving living conditions for the average person.
Urban sanitation
Urban sanitation

Mohenjo-Daro is a city in today's Pakistan that pioneered new standards of urban sanitation. Mohenjo-Daro was the earliest and largest urban center of the ancient Indus Valley civilization, con...

Advances in sanitation

Humanity has been vulnerable to rapidly spread illnesses because disease propagates more easily in concentrated populations without adequate sanitation.

Advances in sanitation have allowed people to live near one another in cities with less risk to their health, in particular, safe disposal of effluent to spare the water supply from contamination.

The public bathhouse

The Indus Valley civilization arose in the floodplains of the Indus and Sarasvati rivers around 5000 years ago.

In the largest structure in the city Mohenjo-Dar was an immense, elevated public bathhouse, measuring almost 900 square feet. The status of the bathhouse as the city's largest structure suggests that the people highly valued cleanliness.

Athens during the Classical era
Athens during the Classical era
  • The city-state of Athens (5th and 4th centuries BCE) valued intellectual pursuits and open inquiry. That lead to the development of philosophy (the love of wisdom).
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The Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis is a distinctive feature of today's Athens that was built in the 5th century BCE. It is a cluster of buildings on a rocky outcrop. The famous Parthenon temple on the Acropolis was built to honor Athena and to serve the city's treasury.

Athens during the 5th century BCE was lively. The heart of Athens was its marketplace, or Agora (a place where people gather.) The structures surrounding the Agora's market stalls included stone benches, various altars, and temples, a building named the Aiakeion where laws and legal decisions were displayed, and various stoas or covered porticos.

Athens: An open society

Athens was an unusually open society. It was open to foreign goods, foreigners that were able to attain high-status roles, and the exchange of strange ideas.

Athens borrowed many ideas, such as the Phoenician alphabet, Egyptian medicine and sculpture techniques, Babylonia mathematics, and Sumerian literature, and then improved upon it.