Epilogue: Historical Competition Among Civilizations: An Essay on Transportation Technology, Demographics and the Race of Innovation

The key ingredients of an innovative and progressive civilization are a large market for the exchange of goods and a large number of minds to facilitate the exchange of ideas. For this reason, the centers of innovation lie at the hubs for the movement of goods and people. Throughout history, the locations of such hubs have changed as a result of technological advancements in transportation and communication. The change of hub locations caused by technological change can explain the rise and fall of major civilizations, including the rise of the West.

Three thousand years ago, when sea navigation technology was still primitive, the geographic center of the Eurasian and African continents was Egypt and the Middle East. Both places became the homes of the most advanced civilizations and the centers for innovation. They were also the birthplace of the world's major religions. Later, when sea navigation technology progressed, the Mediterranean Sea became a freeway for goods and people. Greece and Rome, located at the center of the Mediterranean Sea, became the center of traffic for goods and people, and thus the center of global innovation.

Later, both the Roman Empire and the Han dynasty collapsed into smaller countries, each of which had a much smaller population and trade volume. Europe remained divided during the Dark Ages. China, after a period ...

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