The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ancient history:
Ancient history – study of recorded human history from the beginning of writing at about 3000 BC until the Early Middle Ages. The times before writing belong either to protohistory or to prehistory. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 – 5,500 years, beginning with Sumerian cuneiform, the oldest form of writing discovered so far. Although the ending date of ancient history is disputed, currently most Western scholars use the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD or the coming of Islam in 632 AD as the end of ancient history.
Ancient history can be described as all of the following:
Periods in the Ancient Western world
Ancient history as a term refers to the aggregate of past events from the beginning of writing and recorded human history and extending as far as the post-classical history. The phrase may be used either to refer to the period of time or the academic discipline.
The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, beginning with Sumerian Cuneiform script; the oldest discovered form of coherent writing from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC. Ancient History covers all continents inhabited by humans in the 3,000 BC – 500 AD period.
The broad term Ancient History is not to be confused with Classical Antiquity. The term classical antiquity is often used to refer to Western History in the Ancient Mediterranean from the beginning of recorded Greek history in 776 BC (First Olympiad). This roughly coincides with the traditional date of the Founding of Rome in 753 BC, the beginning of the history of ancient Rome, and the beginning of the Archaic period in Ancient Greece.
The academic term "history" is not to be confused with colloquial references to times past. History is fundamentally the study of the past through documents, and can be either scientific (archaeology) or humanistic (history through language).
Although the ending date of ancient history is disputed, some Western scholars use the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD (the most used), the closure of the Platonic Academy in 529 AD, the death of the emperor Justinian I in 565 AD, the coming of Islam or the rise of Charlemagne as the end of ancient and Classical European history. Outside of Europe the 450-500 time frame for the end of ancient times has had difficulty as a transition date from Ancient to Post-Classical times.
During the time period of 'Ancient History', starting roughly from 3000 BC world population was already exponentially increasing due to the Neolithic Revolution which was in full progress. According to HYDE estimates from the Netherlands world population increased exponentially in this period. In 10,000 BC in Prehistory world population had stood at 2 million, rising to 45 million by 3,000 BC. By the rise of the Iron Age in 1,000 BC that population had risen to 72 million. By the end of the period in 500 AD world population stood possibly at 209 million. In 3,500 years, world population increased by 100 times.