Knowledge and technology have advanced throughout history in uneven spasms. The Neolithic dawn (eighth to seventh millennia B.C.E.a) was one such time. The Italian Renaissance (14th century C.E.) was another.
Between these two spikes in the graph was the Hellenistic period (336–44 B.C.E.),b in many ways greater than both. The Italian Renaissance, for example, was distinguished by advances in knowledge (and a burst of extraordinary creativity in the arts), but this only laid the foundation for an industrial revolution 200 years later. By comparison, the Hellenistic period witnessed a full industrial flourishing. Only when we view the Hellenistic period in the light of what went before and what came after can we fully appreciate what a remarkable age it was.