Explore the history of the world, starting with the beginning of civilization as humans began to domesticate animals and engage in agriculture in the Neolithic Era (8000–5000 BCE). The development of agriculture allowed humans to form communities and engage in trade. These communities grew into civilizations, with some of the earliest located in Sumer, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley (Harappa), Andes, China, and Mesoamerica.
Starting around 3100 BCE, empires began to form through military conquest and strengthened through trade, the first being established in Egypt. Major empires to follow included the Persian, Greek, Macedonian, Seleucid, Xiongnu, Han, and Roman empires. The collapse of the Roman Empire around 476 CE introduced the period known as the Middle Ages or Dark Ages in Europe, from which it would not emerge until the Renaissance in the 14th century. Also, in the 5th century, Chinese dynasties were weakened by invaders, while the Mayan civilization in Central America became prominent in that region.