Weird History
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What Were The Best Times In History To Be Alive?

Updated September 23, 2021 4.5k votes 711 voters 23.6k views12 items

List RulesVote up the historical locations you would most want to live in.

If you weren't living in the 21st century, when and where would you live? There are many advantages to living in the 21st century, but there are also forgotten eras of history full of peace, rapid cultural building, and prosperity. Some people choose their favorite historical era based on their personality - but what was really the best time to be alive? And could the perks of a bygone era convince you to hop into a time machine? 

It is important to note that while an era might have brought amazing experiences to some people, those opportunities often came with pain and persecution for others. Still, there are surprising times and places where certain groups, like women, may have had even more rights than they do in Western society today.

So, what was the best time in history to live in?

  • Photo: Leave It To Beaver / NBCUniversal Television Distribution

    Postwar United States

    What Made This Era So Great

    In the years following WWII, the United States experienced unprecedented economic growth. Suddenly, blue-collar Americans could afford luxuries once considered “high-class.” Factory workers bought televisions, cars, and their own homes. Americans had higher salaries, more leisure time, and expendable income. The 40-hour work week became the norm. Most Americans also enjoyed paid vacations. At the beginning of WWII, there were eight large suburban shopping centers in the United States, but by 1960, there were 3,840

    What Made This Era Not So Great 

    Not everyone benefited from America’s rise to become the world’s leading economic superpower. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and other minorities fought against racial prejudice, disenfranchisement, and discriminatory laws. Women who were allowed to work during the war years were expected to return to their traditional roles in households.

    There were also existential threats hanging overhead. Rising tensions between the USA and Russia due to the Cold War left many Americans in fear of impending atomic annihilation. 

    Best time in history?
  • 2

    1100 BC Dynastic Egypt

    What Made This Era So Great

    Ancient Egypt was way ahead of its time in science, technology, architecture, and medicine. Archaeologists and historians believe that even ordinary people had access to education, medical care, sports, and other leisure activities. They also had access to technologies that might sound familiar to us, such as pens, medicines for depression and other mental health ailments, breath mints, toothpaste, board games, and makeup.

    Egypt was also a great place to be a woman, since women and men were seen as equals. Women pursued careers as priests, scribes, and doctors.

    Life could not have been too bad, since the Egyptian idea of the afterlife was simply a continuation of regular day-to-day life. 

    What Made This Era Not So Great 

    The lavish Egyptian lifestyle was made possible through slave labor. Egyptian slaves were usually either criminals or people captured in battle. They received little mercy from Egyptians, who believed social class was predestined. 

    Best time in history?
  • Photo: Leo von Klenze / Wikimedia Commons / Publlic Domain

    Fifth-Century BC Athens

    What Made This Era So Great

    In Athens, all male citizens had equal rights and freedoms, regardless of their wealth, education level, or class. Wealth was relatively well distributed throughout the population.

    As a male citizen of Athens, you might find yourself taking a public bath between the father of medicine and the father of philosophy, with the father of history in queue to take your place when you are finished. Athens' freedom and peace attracted a community of scholars, including Aristotle, Plato, and Hippocrates, whose ideas became the cornerstones of Western civilization.

    Theater, literature, architecture, and the arts thrived within the city. The food wasn’t bad either - a regular diet included fruit, cheese, and bread dipped in wine. Athenians drank wine with all their meals; it was the second most common beverage after water. 

    What Made This Era Not So Great 

    Slaves were common in Athens. Although valued slaves might have worked as tutors and officials, they had no legal rights.

    Athens was a patriarchal society, so while some women were allowed to receive an education, they were expected to use their knowledge to stay home, care for children, and entertain their husbands. 

    Best time in history?
  • 4

    Neolithic Europe

    What Made This Era So Great

    Anthropologists sometimes ponder the idea that modernity (with all its technologies, scientific discoveries, and material goods) has had a net negative impact on the quality of human life. Back in the hunter-gatherer days, humans lived in small egalitarian communities. Friends had to rely on each other for survival and developed strong bonds

    Life was simpler without the constant pressure to work and consume. A recent study found that life expectancy was much higher than previously thought. Stone monuments and cave paintings indicate that people still had time to pursue art and religion. Also, war, racism, misogyny, and class structure had not been invented yet

    What Made This Era Not So Great 

    While a world without rigid social structures might sound great at first, it also means that there can be no specialization. With each family spending the majority of their energy on collecting food, there was little time left over for developing specialized skills and crafts, exploring science and technology, or mastering music and other pleasures. 

    Best time in history?