World History looks for common patterns that emerge across all cultures. World historians use a thematic approach, with two major focal points: integration (how processes of world history have drawn people of the world together) and difference (how patterns of world history reveal the diversity of the human experience).
The study of world history, as distinct from national history, has existed in many world cultures. However, early forms of world history were not truly global, and were limited to only the regions known by historian.
In Ancient China, Chinese world history, that of China and the surrounding people of East Asia, was based on the dynastic cycle articulated by Sima Qian in circa 100 BC. Sima Qian's model is based on the Mandate of Heaven. Rulers rise when they united China, then are overthrown when a ruling dynasty became corrupt. Each new dynasty begins virtuous and strong, but then decays, provoking the transfer of Heaven's mandate to a new ruler. The test of virtue in a new dynasty is success in being obeyed by China and neighboring barbarians. After 2000 years Sima Qian's model still dominates scholarship, although the dynastic cycle is no longer used for modern Chinese history.
In Ancient Greece, Herodotus (5th century BC), as founder of Greek historiography., presents insightful and lively discussions of the customs, geography, and history of Mediterranean peoples, particularly the Egyptians. However, his great rival Thucydides promptly discarded Herodotus's all-embracing approach to history, offering instead a more precise, sharply focused monograph, dealing not with vast empires over the centuries but with 27 years of war between Athens and Sparta. In Rome, the vast, patriotic history of Rome by Livy (59 BC-17 AD) approximated Herodotean inclusiveness; Polybius (c.200-c.118 BC) aspired to combine the logical rigor of Thucydides with the scope of Herodotus.
In Central Asia, The Secret History of Mongols is regarded as the single significant native Mongolian account of Genghis Khan. The Secret History is regarded as a piece of classic literature in both Mongolia and the rest of the world.
In the Middle East, Ala'iddin Ata-Malik Juvayni (1226–1283) was a Persian historian who wrote an account of the Mongol Empire entitled Ta' rīkh-i jahān-gushā (History of the World Conqueror). The standard edition of Juvayni is published under the title Ta' rīkh-i jahān-gushā, ed. Mirza Muhammad Qazwini, 3 vol, Gibb Memorial Series 16 (Leiden and London, 1912–37). An English translation by John Andrew Boyle "The History of the World-Conqueror" was republished in 1997.
Rashīd al-Dīn Fadhl-allāh Hamadānī (1247–1318), was a Persian physician of Jewish origin, polymathic writer and historian, who wrote an enormous Islamic history, the Jami al-Tawarikh, in the Persian language, often considered a landmark in intercultural historiography and a key document on the Ilkhanids (13th and 14th century). His encyclopedic knowledge of a wide range of cultures from Mongolia to China to the Steppes of Central Eurasia to Persia, the Arab lands, and Europe, provide the most direct access to information on the late Mongol era. His descriptions also highlight the manner in which the Mongol Empire and its emphasis on trade resulted in an atmosphere...