China Zhou Dynasty (1029 – 258 B. C. E.)

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A Time to Review Classical Civilizations


  1. The Rise of Classical Civilizations

  1. China

  1. Zhou Dynasty (1029 – 258 B.C.E.)

  1. Claimed the Mandate of Heaven (the right to rule or the approval of the gods to rule)

  1. The Mandate of Heaven would be claimed by subsequent Chinese dynasties as a rationalization for their authority to rule

  1. Dominated China after the fall of the Shang Dynasty

  2. Took steps to further centralize the Chinese government

  3. Expanded Chinese territory to include the Yangtze River Valley

  1. This Southern river valley added a fertile rice-growing region to the already rich wheat-producing regions of northern China

  1. Emperors called themselves “Sons of Heaven” and lived in luxury

  1. As “Sons of Heaven,” Emperors played a key role in linking the human social order to other domains of the cosmic order

  1. Therefore, the emperor could be held fully responsible for disturbances in that order

  1. Experienced a period civil disorder known as the Era of Warring States

  1. During this period of civil disorder, new philosophies such as Confucianism and Daoism emerged in attempt to restore harmony

  1. Qin Dynasty (221 – 202 B.C.E.)

  1. The name of the dynasty, Qin, was applied to the country of China

  2. Chinese territory expanded southward as far as northern Vietnam

  3. A defensive wall that became the nucleus of the Great Wall was constructed

  4. Shi Huangdi (“First Emperor”) ruled and adopted Legalism

  1.  Shi Huangdi lays the foundation for China’s imperial structure

  2. At his death, an army of life-sized terra cotta warriors is buried near his tomb

  3. The advice Shi Huangdi’s Legalists advisors gave tended in the direction of regulating every aspect of people’s lives so that they would have the discipline to work hard in the fields and fight hard on the battlefields

  1. Many of the laws they recommended were extremely harsh

  1. Weights, measures, and coins were standardized

  2. The manufacture of silk cloth was encouraged

  3. New roads were constructed

  1. Han Dynasty (200 B.C.E. – 220 C.E.)

  1. The governmental bureaucracy (a large group of people who are involved in running a government but who are not elected) grew stronger

  2. Chinese territory expanded into Central Asia, Korea, and Indochina

  3. Adopted a civil service exam [the examination system] for government service

  1. Theoretically, the examination system was open to all men; however, wealthy men had the advantage of hiring private tutors in preparation for the examination yet sometimes a village would support the efforts of a particularly talented youth

  1. Thus, the examination system provided some measure of social mobility

  2. The exam was Confucian-based

  3. Created a bureaucracy that was a meritocracy (a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement)

  1. Trade along the Silk Roads (overland trade routes) increased

  2. A strengthening of patriarchy occurred

  3. The government oversaw iron production

  4. The government sponsored and maintained canals and irrigation systems

  5. Society was further stratified, consisting of an elite class (including the scholar-gentry class or the educated government officials), peasants, artisans, unskilled laborers and a very small number of slaves

  6. Agriculture was improved by the invention of ox-draw plows and a collar that prevented chocking in draft animals

  7. Paper was manufactured for the first time

  8. Water-mills were invented

  9. Under the Han, the people of China enjoyed a level of culture significantly more advanced than that of other civilizations at that time, a distinction it would maintain until the fifteenth century

  1. So vital were the accomplishments of the Han to Chinese culture that even today the Chinese call themselves the “People of the Han”

  1. Classical India

  1. Background

  1. The roots of classical India began during the Aryan invasions about 1500 B.C.E.

  1. Aryans brought a tradition of hunting and cattle-herding but adapted the agricultural methods of native peoples

  1. Aryan iron tools facilitated their success in agriculture

  1. Unlike the people of Harappan civilization, the Aryans did not possess written language

  1. Much of our knowledge of the Aryans comes from their oral epics, called Vedas

  1. The Vedas were later written down in the Sanskrit language

  2. The influence of the Vedas is evident in the term applied to the early classical period of Indian culture, the Vedic Age (1500 – 1000 B.C.E.)

  3. The first Aryan epic, the Rig-Veda, is a collection of hymns in honor of the Aryan gods

  4. Other epic literature includes the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (considered the greatest epic poem of India) and the Upanishads, a collection of religious epic poems

  1. Aryan Society

  1. Based on a village organization composed of families with patriarchal control

  2. Society was further organized along a fixed class system that lacked social mobility

  1. When they invaded the Indus valley, the Aryans, who were fair-complexioned compared to the native people they conquered, perceived the people of the Indus valley as inferior

  1. Therefore, they modified the class system with which they were already familiar in their society to define the new relationship between the conquered and the conqueror

  1. Society was divided into four distinct classes or varnas, based on skin color:

  • Kshatriyas, or warriors and rulers

  • Brahmins, or priests

  • Vaisyas, or merchants and farmers

  • Sudras, or common workers

  1. The first three classes were composed of Aryans, the fourth of the Dravidians, or the native people of India whom the Aryans encountered at the time of their invasion

  2. During the Epic Age, the first two classes were reversed in order of importance

The Hindu Caste System

  • Brahmins, or priests,

  • Kshatriyas, or warriors and rulers

  • Vaisyas, or merchants and farmers

  • Sudras, or common workers

  1. At the very bottom of the social structure was a classless group of Untouchables

  • Members of this group were involved in occupations perceived as distasteful, such as handling waste products, carrying out the dead, or butchering animals

  1. As the classes became hereditary they became castes or rigid social classes that seldom permitted social mobility

  • Within each caste were numerous subcastes, or jati, that further defined Indian society

  1. The Aryans also introduced to Indian culture their own array of gods and goddesses

  • Part of their belief system was the veneration of some animals, particularly cattle

  1. Classical India

  1. The cultural and social structures of the Vedic and Epic ages formed the basis of the classical civilization of India

  2. About 600 B.C.E., northern India was divided into sixteen states; one state, Magadha, became prominent

  3. In 327 B.C.E., Alexander the Great of Macedonia reached into the Indian subcontinent as far as the Indus River, where he set up a border state, which he called Bactria

  4. Five years later the Mauryan dynasty was founded by Chandragupta, an autocratic ruler who developed a large bureaucracy and army in addition to promoting trade

  1. Mauryan Dynasty

  1. Mauryan rulers were the first to unify most of the Indian subcontinent

  2. The most prominent of the Mauryan rulers was Ashoka (269 – 232 B.C.E.), the grandson of Chandragupta

  1. Under Ashoka, all of the Indian subcontinent except for the southern tip came under Mauryan control

  2. Known by the brutality of his conquests, Ashoka later moderated his behavior and values after the Battle of Kalinga

  3. Ashoka embraced religious tolerance and nonviolence

  4. Converted to Buddhism while also respecting the values of Hinduism

  5. Encouraged trade and constructed an extensive system of roads complete with rest areas for travelers

  6. Along these roads, which connected with the Silk Roads, Ashoka spread the ideas of Buddhism

  7. Ashoka’s influence was insufficient to prevent India from dividing into a number of states [fragmentation] once again after his death

  8. Invaders from the northwest, the Kushans, ruled India until 220 C.E.

  9. Their rule was followed in 320 C.E. by the Guptas, who ushered in the golden age of Indian history

  1. The Gupta Empire

  1. In contrast to Ashoka, the Gupta rulers were Hindus

  2. As a result, during Gupta rule, the caste system and the influence of the Brahmins were reinforced

  1. Because of the strict divisions of the caste system, slavery was not widespread

  1. Although Hinduism was the religion of the ruling dynasty, Buddhism was tolerated and Buddhist monks and nuns spread their influence through urban monasteries

  2. The Gupta style of rule was not as centralized as that of the Mauryan Empire, and local rulers were permitted to maintain authority in their respective territories if they submitted to the ultimate rule of the Guptas

  3. Accomplishments – Considered a Golden Age of Sanskrit Culture

  1. Lavish wall paintings in caves dedicated to the gods; a key example was the Caves of Ajanta in central India

  2. The growth of Sanskrit as the language of the educated

  3. High-towered temples in honor of the Hindu gods

  4. Advances in mathematics and science

  • The discovery of zero as a place holder and the development of “Arabic” numerals, the number system used throughout most of the world today
    [An innovation of Gupta India, Arabic numerals were so called by the Western world because they were carried from India to the West by means of Arabic caravans]

  • The development of the decimal system

  1. Increased trade, especially between East and Southeast Asia

  2. The deterioration in the status of women, strengthening of patriarchy

  • Women gradually lost their right to inherit or own property and were married at a younger age

  • The custom of sati was practiced in some parts of India; Sati involved the practice of a widow throwing herself on her husband’s funeral pyre to bestow honor and purity upon the widow

  1. Inoculation against smallpox and sterilization during surgery and in the treatment of wounds

  2. Knowledge of plastic surgery and the setting of bones

  3. Advances in astronomy such as the prediction of eclipses and the identification of planets

  1. Classical Persia

  1. The Persians (inhabiting a territory approximate to present-day Iran) counted among the heirs of ancient Mesopotamian civilization

  2. In 550 B.C.E., the Persian conqueror Cyrus the Great had established an empire that encompassed the northern part of Southwest Asia and a portion of northwestern India

  3. The Persian empire was noted for its tolerance toward the customs of conquered peoples

  4. The Persians introduced a new religion called Zoroastrianism

  1. Zoroastrianism taught a belief in a system of rewards and punishments in the afterlife

  2. Individuals who followed Ahura Mazda (the God of good and light) were rewarded with Heaven while those who followed evil were punished in Hell

  1. The Persians spread the knowledge of iron metallurgy throughout their empire and engaged in active long-distance trade that linked India, Southwest Asia, and Egypt

  2. The Persian Royal Road, complete with relay stations, was a 1,600-mile highway linking remote portions of the empire

  3. The empire was divided into provinces

  4. A satrap was a provincial governor

  5. Persian trade contacts with Greece encouraged artistic and philosophical exchanges as well

  1. Classical Greece

  1. The culture of a number of societies in the Mediterranean blended to bring about Greek civilization

  1. The island of Crete southeast of the Greek mainland was in contact with Egyptian civilization by 2000 B.C.E.

  2. Early Greek civilization, known as Mycenae, was influenced by that of Crete through contacts with traders in the region

  1. The Greeks were an Indo-European people who migrated to the southern portion of the Greek peninsula about 1700 B.C.E.

  1. A second wave of Indo-Europeans called the Dorians invaded about 1100 B.C.E., destroying the Mycenaean culture

  2. About 800 B.C.E., the Phoenicians [invented an alphabet] sailed into the Aegean Sea to the east of the Greek mainland

  1. The Phoenicians were a seafaring people whose need for accurate recordkeeping in their commercial transactions led them to develop an alphabet of 22 letters representing consonants

  2. The Geeks adapted the Phoenician alphabet, adding symbols for vowel sounds to give the people of the Greek peninsula a common language

  1. Geography

  1. Separated by mountains and hills, the Greek peninsula was left with little available farmland and thus, the Greeks used the seas for trade

  1. The mountains also separated the Greek city-states

  1. At the same time, the peninsula’s irregular coastline provided easy access to the sea for Greek settlements

  1. Fishing and trading in the waters of the Aegean became another source to increase the food supply and other products the Greeks could not provide for themselves

  2. Through trade, cultural diffusion or the spreading of cultural ideas and objects occurred

  1. The Greek City-State

  1. The rugged terrain also prevented centralization of government

  2. Greek political organization was based on the city-state, or polis, consisting of a city and the surrounding countryside, both under the influence of one government

  3. The two most prominent city-states were Sparta and Athens

  1. Sparta

  • Aristocratic government (government by a small privileged class, especially the hereditary nobility) focused on creating a strong military state dependent on slave (helot) labor

  • Sparta’s economic life relied on agriculture and the labor of enslaved helots

  • All Spartan males served in the military (militaristic society)

  1. Athens

  • Was initially an aristocracy but gradually allowed its male citizens self-rule

  • Only men born in Athens voted; women, slaves, and foreigners could not vote

  • The height of Athenian democracy occurred during the rule of the aristocrat Pericles (443 – 429 B.C.E.), also considered the golden age of Athens for its achievements in science, philosophy, and the arts

  • Athenians relied on the sea for their livelihood and engaged in an active trade across the Aegean

  • The Athenians also depended heavily on slaves

  • From 500 to 449 B.C.E., Athens and Sparta joined forces to defeat a series of Persian invasions

  • After the Persian Wars, Athens grew from a polis to an empire

  • Its dominant status aroused distrust among other poleis, including Sparta

  • From 431 to 404 B.C.E., Athens and Sparta and their allies fought each other for dominance in the Peloponnesian Wars

  • When Athens suffered a devastating plague during the course of the war, the once proud and flourishing polis questioned why its gods had allowed such a great tragedy

  • The weakened Athens saw defeat at the hands of Sparta

  1. Expansion

  • During the eighth century B.C.E., the population of the Greek city-states increased tremendously, leading the Greeks to seek additional territory

  • As a result, the Greeks established a number of colonies in Sicily, southern Italy, the eastern Mediterranean, and the Black Sea

  • These new settlements allowed the Greeks the opportunity to trade grapes and olive oil for products that their rugged terrain could not produce in sufficient quantities, including fish, grain, and honey

  • Colonies not only served as outlets for population; they also transmitted Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean world

  1. Culture

  • Though the Greek city-states were often rivals, they shared a common culture

  • Numerous gods and goddesses, who often displayed human characteristics, formed the basis of Greek religion

  • The Olympic Games, first held in 776 B.C.E., brought together athletes from across the Greek peninsula to honor their gods

  • Drama was an integral feature of Greek culture; tragedies explored the relationship between the limitations of humans and the expectations of the gods, whereas comedies often satirized public officials

  1. Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age

  1. When the Greek city-states, or poleis, weakened because of their internal conflict in the Peloponnesian War, they captured the attention of Philip, the ruler of the kingdom of Macedon to the north of Greece

  1. When Philip’s plans to conquer the Greek poleis were cut short by his death, however, his son Alexander stepped in to carry out his father’s ambitions

  2. By the time of his death in 323 B.C.E., at the age of 33, Alexander (known as “The Great”) had conquered not only the Greek poleis but also Egypt, Syria, and Palestine as well as Persia

  3. In South Asia, Alexander proceeded as far as the Punjab across the Indus River when his troops refused to proceed any farther

  4. Throughout the territories he controlled, Alexander established cities, many named Alexandria in his honor

  5. In order to blend the cultures of Persia and Greece, he married a Persian woman and encouraged his officers to do the same

  6. On his death, however, Alexander’s empire was divided among his generals

  7. In spite of these divisions, a relative balance of power was maintained among the remnants of Alexander’s former empire as the Greek culture served as its unifying force

  8. The period of Alexander’s rule and that of his generals has been termed the Hellenistic Age, named after the influence of the Hellenes, as the Greeks called themselves

  • The Hellenistic Age was characterized by a blend of cultures of Greece and the Middle East, particularly Persia

  • Long-distance trade flourished, establishing communications from the Greek homeland to parts of South Asia and North Africa

  • Hellenistic philosophy sought personal satisfaction and tranquility

  • The most popular philosophy was Stoicism

  • Stoicism taught that men and women should use their powers of reason to lead virtuous lives and to assist others

  • Mystery religions taught that believers who followed their practices would be rewarded with a blissful life in the afterworld

  • The culture of the Hellenistic world would be adopted by another classical Mediterranean culture, that of the Romans

  • Among the achievements of the Hellenistic world were:

  • Euclidean geometry

  • The Pythagorean Theorem

  • Studies of human anatomy and physiology by Galen

  • The calculation of the circumference of the earth by Eratosthenes

  • However, one significant error was promoted during the same era

  • Contrary to the traditions of Southwest Asia, the Hellenistic astronomer Ptolemy expounded a theory of the nature of the universe which placed the earth at its center

  • His geocentric theory, although the incorrect, was widely accepted as truth by the West until the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century

  1. Rome

  1. Geography

  • The Alps to the north provided protection from invasion by land

  • The sea surrounding the Italian peninsula limited the possibility of a naval attack

  • Yet although somewhat isolated, Rome was also at a crossroad

  • Easy access to North Africa, Palestine, Greece, and the Iberian Peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal)

  1. Religion

  • Like the Greeks, the Romans were polytheistic

  • Many of their gods were of Greek origin, though appropriately renamed to suit their culture and language

  1. Social Structure

  • The social and political structure in the Roman Republic consisted of patricians (land-owning noblemen), plebeians (all other free men), and slaves

  • Roman government was organized as a representative republic

  • The main government body was made up of two distinct groups: the Senate, which comprised patrician families, and the Assembly, which was initially made up of patricians, but later was opened to plebeians

  • Two consuls were annually elected by the Assembly

  • The consuls had veto power over decisions made by the Assembly

  • This structure was more stable than the direct democracies of the Greek polis, in which every male citizen was expected to participate on a regular basis

  • In a republic, the people have representatives, so they don’t vote on every issue

  1. Laws

  • Early on, Rome developed civil laws to protect individual rights

  • The laws of Rome were codified and became known as the Twelve Tables of Rome

  • The concept of “innocent until proven guilty” originated here

  • Later, these laws were extended to an international code that Rome applied to its conquered territories

  1. Family

  • The social structure of the Roman family centered on the pater familias – eldest male in the family – though women did have considerable influence within their families, with some supervising a family business or family estate

  1. Slavery

  • As in Greece, slavery was an important element of the social structure of Rome – at one point, slaves comprised one-third of the population, most of whom came from conquered territories

  • Although life was difficult for all slaves, generally, those living and working in the cities had better conditions than their counterparts, and some had the possibility of freedom

  1. Roman Conquests

  • As Rome expanded, Carthage, a city-state in North Africa with powerful ambitions of its own, became its first enemy

  • The Punic Wars

  • Lasted on and off from 264 through 146 B.C.E.

  • The First Punic War (264 – 241 B.C.E.) was fought to gain control of the island of Sicily; Rome won

  • The second began in 218 B.C.E. with an attack by Hannibal, a Carthaginian general, considered one of the great military geniuses of all time

  • In an amazing feat, Hannibal led his army all the way to northern Italy, crossed the Alps on elephants and surprised the Romans, who were expecting an attack from the south

  • Hannibal’s army destroyed many towns and villages to the north of Rome and were on the verge of destroying Rome but a Roman army had landed in North Africa, forcing Hannibal to return to Carthage to defend his city

  • Carthage eventually agreed to sue for peace, and this made Rome the undisputed power in the western Mediterranean

  • Fifty years later, in 149 B.C.E., the Third Punic War was instigated by Rome; Rome invaded Carthage and burned it to the ground

  • With Carthage out of the picture, Rome continued its expansion throughout the Mediterranean

  • Part of that expansion was to obtain Greece by defeating the Macedonians

  • The Romans also fought the Gauls to the north and the Spaniards to the west

  • Warfare aided the spread of Roman culture throughout much of western Europe and the Mediterranean

  • To maintain their vast empire, the Romans built an extensive road network and aqueducts, and greatly enlarged their navy

  1. Collapse of the Republic and the Rise of Empire

  • Causes

  • Large landowners had begun using more slaves from conquered territories

  • This displaced many small farmers, who moved into the cities, causing overcrowding among the plebeians and not enough jobs to support them

  • Roman currency was devalued, causing a high rate of inflation

  • This meant that the plebeians did not have enough money to buy the things they previously could afford

  • Political leaders began fighting amongst themselves

  • The result was that the power of the Senate weakened, ultimately to be transferred to three men, who came to be known as the first triumvirate: Pompey, Crassus, and Julius Caesar

  • Caesar was given power over southern Gaul (France) and other parts of Europe

  • He chose not to conquer German, which would later prove significant as Germany would serve as a training ground for groups intent on conquering Rome and Germany developed a different culture

  • Civil War between the Senate and Caesar’s followers resulted in pushing Pompey and Crassus out of the picture, after which Caesar became “emperor for life”

  • However, angry senators assassinated him in 44 B.C.E.

  • After the death of Julius Caesar, a second triumvirate, composed of Octavius, Marc Antony, and Lepidus came to power

  • Power again shifted to one person, Octavius, who rose to power, assumed the name Augustus Caesar, and became emperor

  • The days of the Roman Republic were over once and for all

  • Rome was now an empire led by a single emperor

  1. Augustus

  • Under Augustus, Rome became the capital of the Western world

  • Established the rule of law, a common coinage, civil service, and secure travel for merchants

  • Stability returned and for 200 years, the Romans enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity known as the Pax Romana (Roman Peace)

  • However, though many of the laws were uniform throughout the empire, a number of traditional customs of the people in the conquered territories survived

  • Under imperial power, the Roman Empire expanded to its largest geographic proportions through additional military conquests

  • The growth of arts and sciences occurred

  • With the Roman peace, the arts in Rome flourished, especially literature (notably, Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Virgil’s Aeneid) and architecture (marked by the building of the Pantheon, Colosseum, and Forum)

  • Roman engineers went to work on roads and aqueducts

  1. Religious Diversity

  • Throughout the days of the Roman Republic and during the early days of the Roman Empire, paganism was the state religion

  • Roman citizens were required to make sacrifices to traditional Roman gods

  • But shortly after the reign of Augustus, a new religion developed in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions – Christianity

  • Christianity grew out of Judaism, which had been practiced by Hebrews in Palestine for thousands of years

  • Judaism was the first major monotheistic religion

  • Initially, both Judaism and Christianity were tolerated by the Romans

  • The Romans allowed the conquered territories to practice their own faiths as long as doing so didn’t interfere with the functioning of the empire

  • Eventually, however, Jewish resistance to Roman control led to the suppression of Judaism

  • As the apostles of Jesus and missionaries extended the influence of Christianity throughout the empire, the Romans began to see the new religion and its leaders as threats to both paganism and their power

  • To make it clear who was in charge, Emperor Nero began to persecute Christians, even killing them in open spectacles at the Colosseum

  • These acts of violence failed to stop the spread of Christianity

  • Only when Emperor Constantine himself issued the Edict of Milan in 313 C.E. did the persecution end

  • And by 391 C.E., Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire

  1. Late Classical Period

  1. Collapse of the Maya

  1. No historian knows for sure why the Maya collapsed

  1. Disease?

  2. Drought?

  3. Declining health of the large peasant population?

  4. Internal unrest and warfare?

  5. It is possible that an expanding population gradually exhausted their environment and could not respond to the needs of their population

  6. Whatever the reasons, the Maya started to desert their cities in the ninth century C.E.

  1. Collapse of the Han Dynasty

  1. The Han dynasty was interrupted by the reign of Wang Mang (9 – 23 C.E.), who established the Xin dynasty after seizing the throne from the ruling Liu family, successfully using the belief in the Mandate of Heave to undermine them

  1. Wang Mang had been a respected government official before he took power, but soon made some disastrous missteps that weakened the empire and his control over it

  2. Attempted reforms of land ownership and the currency were unsuccessful and caused chaos in the local economy among both the rich and poor

  3. Waging war on the edges of the empire led to conscription of a resentful population and heavy taxation of landowners, which forced them to pay farmers less money for more work

  4. Persistent famines, devastating floods along the Yellow River, and increasing commodity prices added to the resentment and fueled peasant uprisings which Wang Mang’s enemies used to their advantage

  5. The Xin Dynasty came to an end in 23 C.E. with the death of Wang Mang in battle

  1. The Han Dynasty was restored a couple of years later, but full recovery proved impossible and, in 220 C.E., the government collapsed

  2. For the next 400 years, China was divided into several regional kingdoms

  1. Collapse of the Gupta Empire

  1. The Gupta Empire fell for one reason: It was invaded by the Huns – not Attila’s forces, which invaded Europe, but another group, the White Huns

  2. The Gupta were able to hold off the Huns for the first half of the fifth century, but they did so at a tremendous cost, which weakened the state

  3. By the end of the fifth century, there were Hun kingdoms in western and northern India

  4. Though the underlying culture of India (including Hinduism and the caste system) survived the invasion, the empire did not

  1. Collapse of the Western Portion of the Roman Empire

  1. Internal decay, in combination with external pressure (Attila’s Huns, among other groups) brought about the fall of the Roman Empire

  2. The sheer size of the empire and the huge expense of maintaining it, coupled by a succession of weak and inefficient leaders, and a series of epidemics, are all factors that caused the empire to collapse

  3. In 284 C.E., Diocletian had become emperor

  1. He attempted to deal with the increasing problems by dividing the empire into two regions run by co-emperors

  2. He also brought the armies back under imperial control, and attempted to deal with the economic problems by strengthening the imperial currency, forcing a budget on the government, and capping prices to deal with inflation

  3. Despite Diocletian’s innovations and administrative talents, civil war erupted upon his retirement

  1. Constantine

  1. Constantine defeated his rivals and came to power in 322 C.E.

  2. He ordered the building of Constantinople at the site of the Greek city of Byzantium, and in 340 C.E., this city became the capital of a united empire

  3. Constantine, too, was an able emperor, but the problems of shrinking income and increased external pressures proved insurmountable

  4. After his death, the empire was again divided into two sections, east and west

  5. The eastern half thrived from its center at Constantinople; the western half, centered in Rome, continued its spiral downward

  1. On its borders, Rome faced external pressure from groups of Germanic invaders

  1. In defense, Roman authorities put Germanic peoples such as the Visigoths (who had adopted Roman law and Christianity) on the borders

  2. But in the early fifth century, Attila and his Huns began to press on the German tribes; in response, they began to press on the Roman Empire

  3. Because the Germanic tribes had no other place to retreat from the Huns, they crossed the border into Roman territory

  4. The Visigoths sacked Rome in 410 C.E., and by 476 C.E., the Roman emperor had been deposed

  5. The fall of the western half of the Roman Empire was complete

  6. The eastern half would survive, but not as the Roman Empire

  7. It was renamed the Byzantine Empire

  1. Belief Systems

  1. Polytheism

  • Believe in multiple gods who impact daily life on earth

  • In ancient Egypt, the gods were often considered benevolent and kind, while in ancient Sumer, the gods were to be feared, and hence had to be appeased on a regular basis

  • Many grand works of ancient civilizations were dedicated to the gods, or made to appease them

  • A priestly class developed to perform complicated rituals

  1. Confucianism

  • Developed specifically for the Chinese culture, and widely practiced throughout China from around 400 B.C.E. onward

  • Adopted by the Han Dynasty

  • Confucius

  • Founder

  • Son of an aristocratic family from northern China

  • Tried to gain a high position in government

  • Never achieved his goal

  • Served as an educator and political advisor

  • His thoughts and sayings were collected by his followers in the Analects

  • Confucianism is a political and social philosophy

  • Dealing almost solely with the question of how to restore political and social order

  • Does not deal with large philosophical issues or with religious issues, such as salvation of an afterlife

  • Beliefs

  • Five Relationships

  • Ruler and subject

  • Parent and child

  • Husband and wife

  • Older brother and younger brother

  • Friend and friend

[When each person in these relationships lives up to his or her obligations of those relationships, society is orderly and harmonious. The inferior in the relationship must obey the superior in the relationship and the superior must set a moral example.]

  • Concentrates on the formation of junzi, individuals considered superior because they are educated, conscientious, and able to put aside personal ambition for the good of the state

  • Confucianism also stresses:

  • Ren - a sense of humanity, kindness, and benevolence

  • Li – a sense of propriety, courtesy, respect, and deference to elders

  • Xiao – filial piety, which means a respect for family obligation, including the extended family

  • Confucius believed that individuals who possessed these traits would be not only good administrators but also influential in the larger society because they would lead by example

  • He also was convinced that to restore political and social order, morally strong individuals were required to exercise enlightened leadership

  • Under Confucianism, women in China were considered of secondary status, although children were taught to honor their mothers as well as their fathers

  • Impact

  • Because Confucianism was an ethical, social, and political belief system, it was compatible with other religions

  • This flexibility enabled Confucianism to flourish

  • Government leaders embraced it because it was intended to create an orderly society

  • Communities became extremely tight-knit; members had duties and responsibilities to many others in the community from birth to death

  • It did not have a similar impact on the rest of the world, because it evolved only within the context of Chinese culture

  • It reinforced patriarchal attitudes in China

  1. Daoism

  • Like Confucianism, Daoism developed out of the disorder of the Era of Warring States [Zhou Dynasty]

  • Its founder was Lao-zi

  • Lao-Zi was believed to have lived during the fifth century B.C.E.

  • His philosophy adapted traditional Chinese concepts of balance in nature, or yin (male, assertive) and yang (female, submissive)

  • According to Daoist philosophy, human understanding comes from following “The Way,” a life force which exists in nature

  • In contrast to the Confucian respect for education and for orderly government, Daoism taught that political involvement and education were unnecessary

  • Rather, in time, the natural balance of the universe would resolve most problems

  • Dao (also spelled Tao) is defined as the way of nature, the way of the cosmos

  • The Dao is passive and yielding but it accomplishes everything yet does nothing

  • Daoists sometimes use the image of water, soft and yielding, yet capable of wearing away stone

  • From this comes idea that humans should tailor their behavior to the passive and yielding nature of the Dao

  • Ambition and activism only bring chaos to the world

  • Within Daoism is the doctrine of wuwei, disengagement from worldly affairs, a simple life in harmony with nature

  • Daoism advocated the formation of small, self-sufficient communities and served as a counterbalance to Confucian activism

  • As an advocate of harmony with nature, Daoism promoted scientific discoveries

  • Daoists became great astronomers, chemists, and botanists

  • Daoism coexisted with Confucianism, Buddhism, and Legalism in China

  1. Legalism

  • Practiced during the Qin Dynasty in China

  • Developed around the same time as Confucianism and Daoism

  • It maintained that peace and order were achievable only through a centralized, tightly governed state

  • Legalists didn’t trust human nature and, therefore, advocated the need for tough laws

  • Legalists believed that people would be made to obey through harsh punishment, strong central government, and unquestioned authority

  • Legalists focused only on things that were practical or that sustained the society

  • Legalists believed that two of the most worthy professions were farming and the military

  • By adopting Legalism, the Qin Dynasty was able to accomplish the unification of China swiftly, and the completion of massive projects like the building of the Great Wall

  • Because Legalism caused widespread resentment among the common people, who suffered under it, Legalism inadvertently led to wider acceptance of Confucianism and Daoism

  1. Hinduism

  • Is a belief system that originated in India from the literature, traditions, and class system of the Aryan invaders

  • Did not have a single founder

  • According to Hindu belief, everything in the world is part of a divine essence called Brahma

  • The spirit of Brahma enters gods or different forms of one god

  • Two forms of the Hindu deity are Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer

  • A meaningful life is one that has found union with the divine soul

  • Hinduism holds that this union is achieved through reincarnation, or the concept that after death the soul enters another human or an animal

  • The person’s good or evil deeds in his or her personal life is that person’s karma

  • Those who die with good karma may be reincarnated into a higher caste, whereas those with evil karma might descend to a lower caste or become an animal

  • If the soul lives a number of good lives, it is united with the soul of Brahma

  • Upon achieving this unification, or moksha, the soul no longer experiences worldly suffering

  • The moral law, or dharma, serves as a guide to actions in this world

  • Dharma emphasizes that human actions produce consequences that each person has obligations to the family and community

  • The Hindu religion reinforced the Indian caste system, offering hope for an improved lifestyle, especially for members of the lower castes

  • Those of the upper castes were encouraged by the prospect of achieving moksha

  • Hinduism also extended the Aryan custom of venerating cattle by considering cattle as sacred and forbidding the consumption of beef

  • In time, Hinduism became the principal religion of India

  • Carried by merchants through the waters of the Indian Ocean, Hindu beliefs also spread to Southeast Asia, where they attracted large numbers of followers

  • During the first century C.E., there were already signs of Indian influence in the societies of the islands of the Indian Ocean and in the Malay peninsula

  • Some rulers in present-day Vietnam and Cambodia adopted the Sanskrit language of India as a form of written communication

  1. Buddhism

  • The second major faith to originate in India was Buddhism

  • In contrast to Hinduism, Buddhism had a founder in an Indian prince named Gautama, born about 563 B.C.E.

  • Troubled by the suffering in the world, Gautama spent six years fasting and meditating on its cause

  • After he determined that suffering was the consequence of human desire, he began traveling to spread his beliefs

  • At this time Gautama became known as the “Buddha,” or the “enlightened one”

  • Although some later followers would consider Buddha a god, Buddha did not see himself as a deity

  • Buddhism sought self-control and stressed equal treatment of people

  • The Buddhist faith opposed the caste system

  • Buddhism shared with Hinduism the concept of reincarnation

  • Buddhists believe in the Four Noble Truths

  • Life has suffering

  • Desire causes suffering

  • Suffering can end

  • Follow the Noble Eightfold Path

  • The end of suffering is nirvana

  • The Eightfold Path is made up of right view, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right meditation

  • Following this path enables a person to move toward nirvana, the state of perfect peace and harmony

  • Buddhism was spread by missionaries

  • Buddhism afforded men and women monastic opportunities as monks and nuns

  • After the death of the Buddha in 483 B.C.E., Buddhism split into two large movements

  • Theravada (Hinayana) Buddhism emphasizes meditation, simplicity, and an interpretation of nirvana as the renunciation of human consciousness and of self

  • In Theravada Buddhism, Buddha himself is not considered a god

  • Mahayana Buddhism is a more complicated form of Buddhism, involving greater ritual than Buddha specified

  • Mahayana Buddhism appealed to people who believe that the original teachings of Buddha did not offer enough spiritual comfort

  • In Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha himself became a godlike deity

  • Moreover, other deities appear, including bodhisattvas, those who have achieved nirvana but choose to remain on Earth

  • Because it rejected social hierarchies of caste, Buddhism appealed strongly to members of lower rank

  • And because Buddhism isn’t attached to an underlying social structure, it can apply to almost anyone, anywhere

  • As a consequence, ti spread rapidly to other cultures throughout Asia

  • The Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka, converted to Buddhism

  1. Judaism

  • The concept of monotheism, or the worship of one god, is attributed to the Hebrews, or Jews

  • The Hebrews traced their origins back to Abraham, who migrated from Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean about 2000 B.C.E.

  • Because of a serious famine in the land of Canaan, the descendants of Abraham migrated to Egypt, which had escaped famine

  • There the Hebrews remained for about 430 years, part of this time serving as slaves under the pharaohs

  • The Exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses was marked by the giving of the Ten Commandments, or moral law of the Hebrews

  • Returning to the land of Canaan, or Palestine, they established a theocracy, or a government ruled directly by God

  • The heart of Judaism was a covenant, or agreement, between God and Abraham in which Yahweh would be their god and the Jews would be his people

  • The history of this covenant relationship became the basis of the Torah, or the Hebrew scriptures

  • After years of observing the governments of neighboring kingdoms, the Hebrews established the kingdom of Israel about 1000 B.C.E. under Saul

  • During the rule of Saul’s successor, David, Jerusalem became the capital of Israel

  • The kingdom began weakening under David’s successor, Solomon because of the heavy taxes he imposed

  • Eventually divided into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.E.

  • Its happened were scattered throughout the far reaches of the Assyrian empire, constituting the first Jewish diaspora, or exile

  • The southern kingdom, called Judah, endured until 586 B.C.E.

  • Conquered by the Chaldeans (from approximately the same territory as the Babylonian Empire), the people of Judah were carried off into captivity into Babylon

  • When Cyrus conquered the Chaldeans and allowed the Jews to return to Palestine 70 years later, Palestine remained under Persian rule until it became the province of Judea under the Roman Empire in 63 C.E.

  • In 132 C.E., after they rebelled against Roman rule, the Jews were spread throughout the Roman Empire in a second diaspora

  • Judaism was not a missionary religion

  • From the Jewish faith would come another major world religion: Christianity

  1. Christianity

  • A key element of Judaism was the belief that God had promised to send the Jews a Messiah, or a savior from their sins

  • Some of the early Jews felt that the promise was fulfilled when Jesus was born in the Roman province of Judea about 4 to 6 B.C.E.

  • As an adult, Jesus and his 12 disciples, or followers, went throughout the land of Judea, preaching the forgiveness of sin

  • Jesus was also called Christ, meaning “anointed”

  • When Jesus’ teachings were feared as a threat to Roman and Jewish authority, Roman leaders order Jesus’ death by crucifixion

  • Jesus’ followers believed in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and admission into heaven which fueled their zeal

  • The network of Roman roads facilitated the spread of Christianity

  • Missionaries, traders, and other travelers carried the Christian message of forgiveness of sins and an afterlife in heaven for those who believed in Jesus as their savior from sin

  • The greatest missionary of the early Christian church was Paul of Tarsus

  • A Roman citizen, Paul undertook three missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire in the first century C.E.

  • Accounts of Jesus’ life in addition to the missionary efforts of Paul and other followers of Jesus are found in the New Testament of the Christian Bible

  • Several Roman emperors considered Christianity a threat to their rule

  • Although some, such as Diocletian, persecuted the Christian church, it continued to grow

  • In 313, the Roman Emperor Constantine changed the position of earlier Roman emperors regarding Christianity

  • In the Edict of Milan, he permitted the practice of Christianity in the Roman Empire

  • Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 381 under Emperor Theodosius

  • After its adoption as the state church of Rome, Christianity in the west began developing an organization under the leadership of the bishop of Rome, or pope

  • In addition to priests who served local churches, monks and nuns withdrew from society to devote their time to prayer and meditation

  • As it spread throughout the Roman world, Christianity gained popularity because of its appeal to all social classes, especially the poor

  • Women received new status as Christianity taught that men and women were equal in matters of faith

  • Roman Catholicism offered monastic opportunities to men and women

  • After the fall of the western Roman Empire, Christianity spread to northern Europe, the Balkans, and Russia

  1. Trade in the Classical World

  1. Silk Roads

  • Central Asian herders often served as trade facilitators along the famed Silk Roads that linked trade between China and urban areas in Mesopotamia

  • During the Roman Empire, the Silk Roads were extended to the Mediterranean world

  • The Silk Roads increased cultural diffusion

  1. Indian Ocean Trade

  • The Indian Ocean trade network, which included the South China Sea, involved mariners from China, Malaysia, Southeast Asia, and Persia

  • Sailors used seasonal monsoon winds to chart their course and carry out voyages that linked East Africa to southern China

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