I find it very useful to get people to do a time line on how we got here(our current moment in history). Very typically it goes
- Agricultural empires
With a stress on discontinuities.
An alternative, rarely considered is that across the changes is the underlying continity of elites ruling the situation, and that eleites were able to manage across boundaries, for example, going from land wealth to industrialization (see Raymond Willimas The Country and The City for that history).