History can be divided into two very distinctive parts, the Ancient World and the Modern World. The Ancient World was represented by empires of the first civilizations — Babylonian, Assyrian, Hittite, Egyptian, Phoenician and Persian. The Modern World began with the conquests of Alexander the Great and is represented by classical Greek culture and Hellenism. Subsequent civilizations emerging from Alexander include Roman Empire, Medieval Europe, Byzantine Empire, Islamic Empire of the Middle Ages, and the Modern World. The Renaissance in Europe and the subsequent global exploration and colonization by European powers brought classical Greek culture into every corner of the world.
History’s tectonic shift occurred between 586 BC with the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and 323 BC with the death of Alexander the Great. During this 263-year period, the Ancient World was demolished and replaced with classical Greek culture and civilization. An intensive study of this period provides many rewarding theories as to how the world suddenly became so different.
Recent archeological discoveries are throwing new light on this dark period. Psamtik I, a lesser-known pharaoh who ruled Egypt from 664 to 610 BC has become the newest celebrity with the discovery of his huge statue in Cairo in March 2017. He was responsible for the renaissance of Egypt by defeating the Nubians and Assyrians using Greek mercenaries. His reign presided over a renewed prosperity and global trade with Greek traders. By defeating the Assyrians in battle, he might have weakened them and made them vulnerable to threats from Babylonian forces who destroyed Nineveh in 602 BC, thus opening Nebachudnezzar‘s way to the land of Israel where Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC.
It is interesting to compare and contrast the Ancient World and the Modern World. Competing ancient empires fought over borders and hegemony and their governments were autocratic and religious. In the Modern World, there are many non-religious governments where religious freedom has become one of the common denominators among enlightened nations. It is my thesis that religious freedom would not exist in the world today without the conquests and subsequent Hellenization of the Ancient World by Alexander the Great.