Interestingly enough these same things (sans the democracy part) were present 5,000 years ago in Indus basin civilization of that period. Few years ago BBC made a very interesting documentary series on 'Islam and Science' which characterized the scientific achievements of Muslim empires spanning over almost a 1,000 years. Incidentally before that series I didn't knew (amongst many other things) that Egyptian Hieroglyphs were first translated by someone called Ibne-ul-Wahshiya (I am not sure about spellings sorry), along with advances in astronomy, optics, medicines, algebra/algorithms etc. in fact the first ever hospital of the world was established by them as well. So in a way almost every empire do advance science/knowledge for the period they are on top, until some other nation rises and move things bit further. I think something similar (i.e. documentaries covering achievements of empires) should be in order for other great empires of their times. What do you say?