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UNIT 2 | CLASSICAL CIVILIZATIONS: THE RISE OF STATES & EMPIRES (AKA STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM NOW WE HERE)
UNIT 2 | OVERVIEW, UNIT OBJECTIVES, ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS: How does religion affect the development of society?
Why do civilizations rise and fall? When they fall,
what impact do they have on history?
As states and empires increased in size and contacts between regions multiplied, religious and
cultural systems were transformed. Religions and belief systems provided a bond among the
people and an ethical code to live by. These shared beliefs also influenced and reinforced political,
economic, and occupational stratification. Religious and political authority often merged as rulers
(some of whom were considered divine) used religion, along with military and legal structures,
to justify their rule and ensure its continuation. Religions and belief systems could also generate
conflict, partly because beliefs and practices varied greatly within and among societies.
TIMELINE: 600 BCE - 600 CE
UNIT OBJECTIVES
•Describe origin stories of the major religions that began to emerge during this era. How did they unite classical
cultures? How did they spread to other lands? Analyze how adoption of religious practices affected gender roles.
•Define and explain the concept of “empire”. Locate the major empires of the period and analyze their relative
importance. Give reasons for the rise of large, enduring empires during this era. Analyze major differences
and similarities between these empires.
•Analyze the importance of trade expansion in this period. Describe changes resulting from new
cultural encounters.
UNIT 2 | CLASSICAL CIVILIZATIONS: THE RISE OF STATES & EMPIRES (AKA STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM NOW WE HERE)
UNIT 2 | CONTENT
1
LESSON 2.1 OUTLINE
40 LESSON 2.2 OUTLINE
4
Opening | EQ Notebook
43 Opening | EQ Notebook
6
Activity | Origin Stories
45 Watch | Crash Course World History #5 –
22 Watch | Crash Course World History #6 –
The Persians & Greeks
Buddha and Ashoka
49 Watch | Crash Course World History #8 –
26 Watch | Crash Course World History #7 –
Alexander the Great
2000 Years of Chinese History
53 Read | An Age of Greek and Persian Power
30 Read | The Three Belief Systems of China
62 Watch | Crash Course World History #10 –
36 Watch | Crash Course World History #11 –
The Roman Empire. Or Republic.
Christianity from Judaism to Constantine
Or...What Which Was it?
39 Closing | EQ Notebook
66 Watch | Crash Course World History #11 –
Fall of the Roman Empire
69 Read | A Tale of Three Empires
75 Closing | EQ Notebook
ADDITIONAL RESOURCE
• Watch | Crash Course Literature # 202 – Fate, Family, and Oedipus Rex
2
LESSON 2.1
3.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT
FOUNDATION AND
ANDEXPANSION
CODIFICATION
OF ISLAM
OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.0 | OVERVIEW
UNIT ESSENTIAL QUESTION: How does religion affect the development of society?
A development related to the spread of writing, was the appearance of several belief systems that
embraced people of differing languages and cultural traditions, what we often call “world religions.”
The great majority of people in that era practiced local religions, that is, systems that centered on local
gods and goddesses, sacred places in nature, astrology, magic, and pronouncements of shamans—
individuals who mediated between the natural and supernatural worlds. In large states and empires,
religious life tended to be diverse, though rulers could seldom resist encouraging their subjects to think
of them as individuals with supernatural powers or even as divine beings. With the exception of Islam,
all major world religious emerge in this era. Why?
1
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.0 | OVERVIEW | Learning Outcomes, Vocabulary, & Outline
LEARNING OUTCOMES
OUTLINE
2.1.1 | OPENING
•Describe changes resulting from new
cultural encounters.
EQ Notebook
2.1.2 | ACTIVITY
•Analyze the growth and explain the rise
of large empires during this era.
Origin Stories
•Identify the world religions and belief
2.1.3 | WATCH
systems that flourished during this era.
Crash Course World History #6 –
Buddha and Ashoka
2.1.4 | WATCH
Crash Course World History #7 –
2000 Years of Chinese History
2.1.5 | READ
The Three Belief Systems of China
2.1.6 | WATCH
Crash Course World History #11 –
Christianity from Judaism to Constantine
2.1.7 | CLOSING
EQ Notebook
2
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
VOCABULARY
Belief System – A set of principles or tenets which together
form the basis of a religion, philosophy, or moral code.
Confucianism – A system of philosophical and ethical
teachings founded by Confucius and developed by Mencius,
a Chinese philosopher who believed that rulers should
provide for the welfare of the people and that human nature
is intrinsically good.
Religion – Human beings’ relation to that which they regard
as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial
reverence. It is also commonly regarded as consisting of the
way people deal with ultimate concerns about their lives and
their fate after death. In many traditions, this relation and
these concerns are expressed in terms of one’s relationship
with or attitude toward gods or spirits; in more humanistic
or naturalistic forms of religion, they are expressed in terms
of one’s relationship with or attitudes toward the broader
human community or the natural world.
*Vocabulary definitions taken from oxforddictionaries.com & britannica.com
3
LESSON 2.1
3.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT
FOUNDATION AND
ANDEXPANSION
CODIFICATION
OF ISLAM
OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.1 | OPENING | EQ Notebook
PURPOSE
Each unit of the Crash Course World History Course (CCWH)
ideas, this activity asks them to look at the big ideas through
is guided by what we call an essential question. The Essential
the lens of the Essential Question. At this point, students
Question Notebook (EQ Notebook) is an informal writing
won’t have much background to bring to bear on the issue
resource for students to track their learning and understanding
just yet. This early exercise helps to bring to the fore what
of a concept throughout a unit. Students will be given
they know coming into the unit.
an Essential Question at the beginning of a unit and asked
speculation. Students will then revisit the notebook in order
HOW DOES RELIGION AFFECT
THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIETY?
to answer the Essential Question with evidence they
Students should quickly jot down some ideas for how trade
have gathered throughout the unit. This provides students
and culture are related. They can do this in the context of the
an opportunity to track their learning and to prepare them
unit of study, or relate it to their own lives.
to provide a response based on prior knowledge and
for future activities. To help students focus on the important
PROCESS
Ask students to think about this question and respond
ATTACHMENT
to it on their EQ Notebook Worksheets.
• Essential Questions Unit 2 Notebook Worksheet
4
NAME
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
COURSE
TIME
UNIT 2 | EQ Notebook Worksheet
Answer the unit essential Lessons 2.1.1, then again in Lessons 2.1.7. In your answer,
be sure to include ideas such as historical context and how themes through history
change over time. Use specific examples to support your claims or ideas.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION | How does religion affect the development of society?
LESSON 2.1.1
LESSON 2.1.7
HOW HAS YOUR
THINKING CHANGED?
5
LESSON 2.1
3.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT
FOUNDATION AND
ANDEXPANSION
CODIFICATION
OF ISLAM
OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.2 | ACTIVITY | Origin Stories – Big History Project
PURPOSE
These origin stories are important for a number of reasons:
stories answer and the motivations of humans in asking these
They’re entertaining, instructive, and also useful, because they
types of questions. These readings will prepare students to
help us better understand the kinds of questions that origin
study the religions of this era.
PROCESS
As a class, read the “Modern Scientific” origin story
Once all the groups have finished, have students
and complete the information on the Origin Story
circulate around the room and fill in the other
Comparison Worksheet for this article. There are
sections of the worksheet (or have each group put
seven other origin stories in this unit: Chinese,
its information on the board for other students
Judeo-Christian, Iroquois, Mayan, Greek, Zulu, and
to copy). Ask students to look at the information
Efik. Each group of students will read one article
on the worksheet. Are there any significant
and report back to the class. You’ll need to decide
similarities or differences among the stories that
if you want to use all seven stories, which will
leap out at them? Does the information they’ve
require seven groups, or a smaller selection of the
written on their worksheets provide any insight into
stories, which will require fewer groups.
the reasons why people create origin stories?
Assign students to a group and assign each group
ATTACHMENTS
an origin story. Students should read their story
• Origin Stories Readings
and then discuss as a group how they would fill
• Origin Story Comparison Worksheet
in the column for their origin story on the Origin
Story Comparison Worksheet. They should fill in the
appropriate column as they discuss the story.
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | Origin Story Readings – Modern Scientific: The Big Bang — Cynthia Stokes Brown
This version of modern science’s origin story is condensed and interpreted from a great body of
historical and scientific information.
In the beginning, as far as we know, there was nothing.
able to maintain themselves and reproduce. For 3 billion
Suddenly, from a single point, all the energy in the Universe
years these one-celled creatures reproduced almost exactly,
burst forth. Since that moment 13.8 billion years ago,
but not quite. They gradually changed in response to their
the Universe has been expanding — and cooling down
environment.
as it gets bigger.
LIFE BECOMES MORE COMPLEX
Gradually energy cooled enough to become matter. One
But they also changed their environment. They learned
electron could stay in orbit around one proton to become
to burn energy from the Sun, and they released oxygen
an atom of hydrogen. Great clouds of hydrogen swirled
into the atmosphere. The oxygen formed an ozone layer
around space until gravity pulled some atoms so close
around Earth that protected life from the Sun’s rays.
together that they began to burn as stars. Stars swirled
together in giant clusters called galaxies; now there are
Eventually cells stuck together to form creatures with
galaxies numbering in the billions.
many cells. Plants and animals came out of the sea onto
land and became ever more complex and aware, until
After each star burned up all its matter, it died in a huge
about 100,000 years human beings evolved from a shared
explosion. The explosion generated so much heat that some
ancestor with the species of apes. Humans could talk
atoms fused and got more and more complex, forming
in symbols and sing, dance, draw, and cooperate more than
many different elements, including gold and silver. One giant
the other animals could. Humans learned to write and
star, our mother star, exploded and scattered clouds of gas
to accumulate their learning so that it kept expanding.
containing all the elements needed to form living beings.
Humans increased in skills and in numbers until there
About 5 billion years ago gravity pulled these atoms into
were too many people and too few big animals in some places.
a new star, creating the Sun. The leftover pieces of matter
stuck to each other and formed eight planets, which
Then humans learned to grow their own food and herd
revolve around the sun.
their own animals. Some animals learned to cooperate with
humans. This gave humans new sources of food and work
The third planet out, Earth, became our home. It was the
energy, and they could live in larger and larger groups. These
perfect size — not too big, not too small — and the perfect
groups expanded into cities andempires, using more and
distance from the Sun, not too far or too close. A thin crust
more of the resources of Earth. Humans collaborated and
formed over Earth’s hot interior, and the temperature was
learned collectively in more complex ways; they traveled,
just right for water to form on parts of the surface. Gradually
traded, and exchanged inventions, creating vast civilizations
the chemicals in the water formed inside of membranes and
of astonishing beauty and complexity.
got more complex until single-cell living organisms appeared,
7
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
Humans were always looking for more energy for their use.
About 200 years ago we learned to use the energy from
coal — trees that grew more than 300,000 years ago, then
were buried underground. Humans learned to burn oil —
animal remains buried long ago under the sea. Using these
fossil fuels, humans began to change their climate quickly,
as the gases released from burning these fuels ascended into
the Atmosphere.
Now humans are in a predicament — our population
is increasing rapidly, fossil fuels are running out, we are
pushing many plants and other animals into extinction,
and we are changing the climate. What are we humans
going to do next?
Source:
Big History Project. “Unit 1 - What is Big History? Origin Stories.”
https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | Origin Story Readings – Mayan Origin Story — Cynthia Stokes Brown
This origin story was told by the Mayans, who lived in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico from around 250
CE to 900 CE. It’s the beginning of a long, complex story called the Popol Vuh (literally the “council book”),
first translated into alphabetic text from Mayan hieroglyphics in the 16th century.
Now it still ripples, now it still murmurs, still sighs, and
and the Grandmother Xmucane, to help decide how to form
is empty under the sky. There is not yet one person, not one
a person. The Grandparents said it is well to make wooden
animal, bird, fish, or tree. There is only the sky alone; the
carvings, human in looks and speech. So wooden humans
face of earth is not clear, only the sea alone is pooled under
came into being; they talked and multiplied, but there was
all the sky. Whatever might be is simply not there.
nothing in their minds and hearts, no memory of their builder,
no memory of the Heart of Sky.
There were makers in the sea, together called the Plumed
Serpent. There were makers in the sky, together called the
Then there came a great destruction. The wooden carvings
Heart of Sky. Together these makers planned the dawn of life.
were killed when the Heart of Sky devised a flood for them.
The earth arose because of them. It was simply their word
It rained all day and all night. The animals came into the
that brought it forth. It arose suddenly, like a cloud unfolding.
homes of the wooden carvings and ate them. The people were
Then the mountains were separated from the water. All at
overthrown. The monkeys in the forest are a sign of this.
once great mountains came forth. The sky was set apart, and
They look like the previous people — mere wooden carvings.
the earth was set apart in the midst of the waters.
[The story continues with the final people being made
Then the makers in the sky planned the animals of the
from corn, an important crop that enabled the Mayans
mountains — the deer, pumas, jaguars, rattlesnakes, and
to move from being a hunting-and-gathering society
guardians of the bushes. Then they established the nests
to a more complex civilization.]
of the birds, great and small. “You precious birds; your nests
are in the trees and bushes.” Then the deer and birds were
Source:
told to talk to praise their makers, to pray to them. But the
Big History Project. “Unit 1 - What is Big History? Origin Stories.”
birds and animals did not talk; they just squawked and
https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
howled. So they had to accept that their flesh would be eaten
by others.
The makers tried again to form a giver of respect, a creature
who would nurture and provide. They made a body from mud,
but it didn’t look good. It talked at first but then crumbled
and disintegrated into the water. Then the Heart of Sky called
on the wise ones, the diviners, the Grandfather Xpiyacoc
9
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | Origin Story Readings – Zulu Origin Story – David Baker
The Zulu are a proud African people, famous throughout history for their fierceness and bravery in fending
off invaders. Archaeologists tell us they traveled to the lush green lands of southeastern Africa many
centuries ago from the huge lake regions to the north. Their creation story has many versions, passed
down by word of mouth from generation to generation. It tells of how the ancestors of all plants, animals,
and humanity began from a single source.
At first, there was nothing but darkness. Earth was a lifeless
glowing stone, and flung them into the sky. These were the
rock. But in that darkness dwelt a god, Umvelinqangi, whose
Sun and Moon. Light came into the world.
voice was like thunder and who, when angered, would shake
the world with earthquakes. Umvelinqangi created a single
The Great One also plucked from the reeds fierce lions and
tiny seed. He sent it to the Earth. This seed was the very first
other beasts that would travel the lands hunting prey.
life, from which all other life descended. It landed in the soil
He harvested magical creatures, some good and some bad.
and sprouted into a long reed. The reed dropped more seeds,
One was the snake-like goddess of the rivers, Mamlambo,
which fell off and grew into even more reeds.
rumored by some Zulu to drown people, eat their faces, and
suck out their brains.
This continued until they covered a massive swamp to the
north, the land called Uthlanga. At the end of one reed, there
Another goddess was Mbaba Mwana Waresa, a beautiful
grew a man. His name was Unkulunkulu, known as “the first
woman who created rain and rainbows, and who invented
ancestor” and “the Great One.” Very small at first, he grew
farming and gave the Zulu the gift of beer. One of the final
so large and heavy that he snapped off the end of the reed.
acts of the Great One was the most tragic. He plucked the
Walking across the land of Uthlanga, he noticed men and
first chameleon off a reed and sent it to give humans the
women were sprouting at the ends of the other reeds.
following message: “Men must not die.” By the words of the
He picked them from the reeds. These people were the first
Great One, humans would become immortal. Unfortunately,
humans, the ancestors of all nations, and they spread across
the chameleon was slow and lazy in his journey. The Great
the Earth. It was from Uthlanga that the ancestors of the Zulu
One grew impatient and picked a different lizard from a reed.
journeyed south to the fertile lands they inhabit today.
This lizard was fast and quickly arrived to give word to the
The Great One continued to walk among the reeds. He saw
humans. But the lizard did not bear the same instructions.
many forms of life growing at the end of them. He gathered
Instead the lizard uttered the words, “Men must die.” And
the fish and flung them into the rivers. Fields and forests
so from that day, humans became mortal. It is said that
began to grow, so he harvested birds and antelope, and they
chameleons change color because they are so ashamed
darted off into the wild. He picked cattle so they could be
their ancestor was not fast enough to spare humankind
used by humans. He plucked off a ball of fire and a round
the invention of death.
10
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
The Great One was so powerful in all he created, many Zulu
suspect he was the god who sent the seed to Earth in the first
place and that he used it to transform himself into flesh and
blood. But Zulu histories have differing versions of the story.
The one thing of which the Zulu are certain is that all life–
including humanity — has a single common ancestor.
Source:
Big History Project. “Unit 1 - What is Big History? Origin Stories.”
https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
11
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | Origin Story Readings – Chinese Origin Story: Pangu and the Egg of the World
Cynthia Stokes Brown
This origin story comes from Chinese culture. It was first written down about 1,760 years ago,
roughly 220-265 CE, yet it must have been told orally long before that
In the beginning was a huge egg containing chaos, a mixture
When Pangu died, his skull became the top of the sky, his
of yin and yang — female-male, aggressive-passive,
breath became the wind and clouds, his voice the rolling
cold-hot, dark-light, and wet-dry. Within this yin and yang
thunder. One eye became the Sun and the other the Moon.
was Pangu, who broke forth from the egg as the giant
His body and limbs turned into five big mountains, and his
who separated chaos into the many opposites, including
blood formed the roaring water. His veins became roads and
Earth and sky.
his muscles turned to fertile land. The innumerable stars
in the sky came from his hair and beard, and flowers and
Pangu stood in the middle, his head touching the sky,
trees from his skin. His marrow turned to jade and pearls.
his feet planted on Earth. The heavens and the Earth began
His sweat flowed like the good rain and the sweet dew that
to grow at a rate of 10 feet a day, and Pangu grew along
nurtures all things on Earth. Some people say that the fleas
with them. After another 18,000 years the sky was higher
and the lice on his body became the ancestors of humanity.
and Earth was thicker. Pangu stood between them like a pillar
30,000 miles in height, so they would never again join.
Source:
Big History Project. “Unit 1 - What is Big History? Origin Stories.”
https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | Origin Story Readings – Greek Origin Story: The Titans and The Gods of Olympus
Cynthia Stokes Brown
We know the Greek origin story from some of the earliest Greek literary sources that have survived,
The Theogony and Works and Days, by Hesiod. This oral poet is thought to have been active sometime
between 750 and 650 BCE, within decades of when the Homeric epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey,
took the form in which we know them.
Archaeological findings support the creation story recorded in Hesiod’s work; pottery from the eighth
century BCE depicts the gods and goddesses he describes. Before Hesiod told this patriarchal version,
in which the first woman is the cause of much trouble, Pandora, whose name means “gift giver,” was
known in oral tradition as a beneficent Earth goddess.
In the beginning there was Chaos, a yawning nothingness.
When Zeus was grown, he fed his father a drugged drink,
Out of the void emerged Gaia (the Earth) and other divine
which caused Cronus to vomit, throwing up Rhea’s other
beings — Eros (love), the Abyss (part of the underworld),
children and the stone. Zeus then challenged Cronus to war
and the Erebus (the unknowable place where death dwells).
for the kingship of the gods. At last Zeus and his siblings,
Without male assistance, Gaia gave birth to Uranus (the sky),
the Olympians, were victorious, and the Titans were hurled
who then fertilized her.
down to imprisonment in the Abyss.
From that union the first Titans were born — six males:
Zeus was plagued by the same concern as his father had been
Coeus, Crius, Cronus, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Oceanus, and
and, after a prophecy that his first wife, Metis, would give
six females: Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Rhea, Theia, Themis,
birth to a god greater than he, he swallowed Metis. But she
and Tethys. After Cronus (time) was born, Gaia and Uranus
was already pregnant with Athena, and they both made
decreed no more Titans were to be born. Cronus castrated
him miserable until Athena, the goddess of wisdom, civilization
his father and threw the severed genitals into the sea, from
and justice, burst from his head — fully grown and dressed for
which arose Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty and
war. Zeus was able to fight off all challenges to his power and
sexuality. Cronus became the ruler of the gods with his sister-
to remain the ruler of Mount Olympus, the home of the gods.
wife, Rhea, as his consort. The other Titans became his
court. Because Cronus had betrayed his father, he feared that
One son of the Titans, Prometheus, did not fight with fellow
his offspring would do the same. So each time Rhea gave
Titans against Zeus and was spared imprisonment; he was
birth, Cronus snatched up the child and ate it. Rhea hated
given the task of creating man. Prometheus shaped man
this and tricked him by hiding one child, Zeus, and wrapping
out of mud, and Athena breathed life into the clay figure.
a stone in a baby’s blanket so that Cronus ate the stone instead
Prometheus made man stand upright as the gods did and
of the baby.
gave him fire. Prometheus tricked Zeus, and to punish him,
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
Zeus created Pandora, the first woman, of stunning beauty,
wealth, and a deceptive heart and lying tongue. He also
gave Pandora a box she was commanded never to open, but
eventually her curiosity got the best of her, and she opened
the box to release all kinds of evil, plagues, sorrows, and
misfortunes, and also hope, which lay at the bottom
of the box.
Source:
Big History Project. “Unit 1 - What is Big History? Origin Stories.”
https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | Origin Story Readings – Judeo-Christian Origin Story: Genesis — Cynthia Stokes Brown
This biblical story comes from Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, which is the sacred source
book of both Judaism and Christianity. In Genesis, this story is followed immediately by a second
creation story in Chapter 2, in which humans are created first, followed by plants and animals. These
stories were written down in the first millennium BCE and evolved into the form in which we know
them around 450 BCE, about 2,460 years ago.
GENESIS: CHAPTER 1
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the
And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky
Earth, the Earth was a formless void, and darkness was over
to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as
the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering
signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them
over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there
be lights in the dome of the sky to give light on the earth.”
was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated
And it was so. God made two great lights — the greater light
the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and
to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.
the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and
He also made the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky
there was morning — the first day.
to give light on the Earth, to govern the day and the night,
and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was
good. And there was evening, and there was morning
And God said, “Let there be a dome between the waters
— the fourth day.
to separate water from water.” So God made the dome and
separated the water under the dome from the water above
it. And it was so. God called the dome “sky.” And there was
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and
evening, and there was morning — the second day.
let birds fly above the Earth across the dome of the sky.”
So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered
thing of every kind that moves in the teeming water, and
to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was
God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters
good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in
he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God
number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase
said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed- bearing plants
on the Earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning
— the fifth day.
and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, of every
kind.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants
bearing seed of every kind and trees bearing fruit with seed
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures of every
in it of every kind. And God saw that it was good. And there
kind: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground,
was evening, and therewas morning — the third day.
and the wild animals, each of every kind.” And it was so. God
15
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
made the wild animals of every kind, the livestock of every
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the
kind, and all the creatures that move along the ground
face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with
of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said,
seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts
“Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness, so that
of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures
they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky,
that move along the ground — everything that has the breath
over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all
of life in it — I give every green plant for food.” And it was
the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created
so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And
humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created
there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.
them; male and female he created them. God blessed them
Thus the heaven and the Earth were finished, with all their
and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number;
multitudes. And on the seventh day God rested from all the
fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and
work that he had done in creation. God blessed the seventh
the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves
day and hallowed it because on it God rested from all the
on the ground.”
work that he had done in creation.
Source:
Big History Project. “Unit 1 - What is Big History? Origin Stories.”
https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | Origin Story Readings – Iroquois Origin Story: The Great Turtle — Cynthia Stokes Brown
This story comes from the Iroquois people in North America. In the 1400s they formed a federation
of five separate tribes in what is now New York state. The Iroquois did not use writing, so they told
this story orally until settlers from Europe wrote it down.
The first people lived beyond the sky because there was no
of the earth to put on his back, to make an island for the
Earth beneath. The chief’s daughter became ill, and no cure
woman to live on.
could be found. A wise old man told them to dig up a tree and
lay the girl beside the hole. People began to dig, but as they
The swans led the animals to the place where the tree had
did the tree fell right through the hole, dragging the girl with it.
fallen. First otter, then muskrat, and then beaver dived.
As each one came up from the great depths, he rolled over
Below lay an endless sheet of water where two swans
exhausted and died. Many other animals tried, but they
floated. As the swans looked up, they saw the sky break and
experienced the same fate. At last the old lady toad
a strange tree fall down into the water. Then they saw the
volunteered. She was under so long that the others thought
girl fall after it. They swam to her and supported her, because
she had been lost. But at last she came to the surface
she was too beautiful to allow her to drown. Then they
and before dying managed to spit out a mouthful of dirt
swam to the Great Turtle, master of all the animals, who
on the back of the Great Turtle.
at once called a council.
It was magical earth and had the power of growth. As soon
When all the animals had arrived, the Great Turtle told
as it was as big as an island, the woman was set down on it.
them that the appearance of a woman from the sky was a sign
The two white swans circled it, while it continued to grow until,
of good fortune. Since the tree had Earth on its roots,
at last, it became the world island as it is today, supported
he asked them to find where it had sunk and bring up some
in the great waters on the back of the Great Turtle.
Source:
Big History Project. “Unit 1 - What is Big History? Origin Stories.” https://www.
bighistoryproject.com. Web.
17
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | Origin Story Readings – Efik Origin Story: Abassi, God of the Universe — David Baker
The Efik people live in southern Nigeria, for many centuries dwelling near the regions around the Cross
River. They traditionally worshipped the god Abassi as a supreme creator. Their belief system was
very relaxed. They had no formal priesthood or organized religious institutions. Worship and ritual
were carried out on an individual or family level. Their creation story is a tale of humans defying
the gods in order to achieve greater power and wisdom.
Before Abassi there was nothing. Abassi was god of the
or farm. They were also forbidden to marry and have children,
Universe, and giver of life, death, and justice. He was so
because a large nation of people might one day challenge
powerful that he could create life, heal the sick, and even
the power of Abassi.
raise the dead. Some say that Abassi was the Sun, and
they worshipped it as it rose and set every day. Abassi lived
For a while, this plan worked. The humans returned to the sky
in the sky with his wife, Atai. She was a wise goddess,
every day to take their meals. However, one day, the woman
who often gave Abassi good advice.
decided she was sick of being fed like a helpless child. She
went out into the fields and began to farm. When the time
Abassi created the stars, the Earth, and all the wildlife
came for dinner, she defiantly refused to return to the sky
upon it. He also created two humans, a man and a woman.
with the man.
These humans lived with Abassi and Atai in the sky. They
were very innocent and had little knowledge. Abassi and
The next day, the man visited the woman in the fields and
Atai looked after them, protected them, and even fed them,
saw she was growing her own food. He decided to help her.
because they did not know how to feed themselves.
Before long, the man and woman fell in love. They did not
One day, the humans were looking down from the sky at the
return to the sky again. Many years went by and they had
Earth. They decided they wanted to live there. But when
many children. When those children were old enough, they
they asked Abassi if they could leave the sky and live on the
joined their parents working in the field. They all continued
Earth, he forbade it. The Earth was a place with many
to learn the secrets of the Earth and teach them to each
secrets where many things could be learned. Abassi feared
other. The humans tried to hide their children from the sight
that the humans would one day match his wisdom, or even
of Abassi, but the god saw them. He grew very angry.
surpass it.
He blamed his wife, Atai, because she had convinced him
to let the humans live on Earth. Abassi feared that one
Atai proposed a compromise. The humans could go live on
day, the humans would have learned so much that they would
Earth, but they had to return to the sky every day to have
surpass his wisdom. He also feared they would grow
their meals. The humans were forbidden to learn to hunt
so numerous that they would surpass his power.
18
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
But Atai had a plan. In order to prevent the humans from
growing too powerful, she sent evil into the world in the form
of death and discord. The evil was so strong that the man
and woman immediately died. Their children have suffered
the ills of the world and argued among themselves ever
since. But because their mother defied the gods, the humans
have continued to learn the secrets of the Earth.
Source:
Big History Project. “Unit 1 - What is Big History? Origin Stories.”
https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
19
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
WORKSHEET | ANSWER KEY | Origin Stories – Big History Project
Use this chart to highlight the differences - and any similarities - between the origin stories you read.
MODERN
SCIENTIFIC
MAYAN
ZULU
CHINESE
GREEK
JUDEO-CHRISTIAN
IROQUOIS
EFIK
SOURCE OF
THE WORLD
Big Bang
Makers in the sky
and sea
The darkness
Chaos within
a huge egg
Chaos within a void
God forms Heaven,
Earth, light and dark
First people lived
beyond the sky.
Chief’s daughter
falls through
a hole in the sky.
World is created by
Abassi, from nothing
ORIGINATOR
OF THE WORLD
–
Plumed serpent
Umvelinqangi
Pangu
Gaia, Eros, Erebus
God
Great turtle in
an endless sheet
of water
Abassi, God
of the Universe
HOW THE EARTH
FORMED
Left over matter
dispersed during
the formation
of our sun
Like a cloud
unfolding
Umvelinqangi
created it out of the
darkness.He created
life from a tiny seed
that he sent to Earth.
Pangu died.
Gaia births Uranus
God made water, sky,
ground, vegetation,
creatures
Old lady toad spits
out a mouthful
of dirt on the back
of the turtle
Abassi created it,
as well as the stars
and all life.
AGE OF THE
EARTH
13.8 Billion
Years Old
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
FIRST LIFE FORMS
One-celled
organisms
Deer, pumas,
jaguars,
rattlesnakes
The seed
Umvelinqangi sent
to Earth was the
first life. From the
reed that grew
from that seed
came more reeds,
out of which more
life forms grew.
Fleas, lice of Pangu
Titans
All living creatures
Swans, muskrat,
beaver, toad, turtle
Origin story doesn’t
go into detail. It’s
possible that all
wildlife was created
at once.
20
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
WORKSHEET | ANSWER KEY | Origin Stories – Big History Project (Cont’d)
HOW HUMANS
FORMED
RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN
HUMANS AND
PLANTS/ANIMALS
Evolution and
adaption over
the course of
100,000 years
Derived from corn
on the third attempt
Unkulunkulu grew
out of one reed and
picked the humans
from the reeds that
they grew from.
Fleas and lice on his
body became human
ancestors
Prometheus / Athena
made man. Zeus
made first woman.
Created in God’s
image
Dirt grows
to form the world
island supporting
the daughter
Abassi created
the first man and
woman. They defied
Abassi and married
and had children.
Humans dominate
and jeopardize the
Earth’s stability
Hunt, gather, praise
the gods
All life stems
from one common
ancestor.
Yin yang, find
balance
All subservient to the
gods
Rule over nature
Respectful of
the nature which
supports humanity
All are subservient
to Abassi. The Earth
has many secrets
for humans to learn.
Source: Big History Project. “Unit 1 - What is Big History? Origin Stories.” https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
21
LESSON 2.1
3.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT
FOUNDATION AND
ANDEXPANSION
CODIFICATION
OF ISLAM
OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.3 | WATCH | Crash Course World History #6
Buddha and Ashoka
PREVIEW
In which John relates a condensed history of India, post-Indus
the political and social structure of Indian history. India’s
Valley Civilization. John explores Hinduism and the origins of
history is hard to cover in 11.5 minutes and John Green
Buddhism. He also gets into the reign of Ashoka, the Buddhist
explains why in this Crash Course video, which explains
emperor who, in spite of Buddhism’s structural disapproval
the big moments in early Indian history from the Vedas
of violence, managed to win a bunch of battles.
to Buddhism’s migration into China.
PURPOSE
Crash Course videos should be used as an introduction
In Crash Course World History #6, students learn why Indian
to new ideas and concepts, an instruction to core ideas
history is somewhat difficult to wrap into one short video.
of the unit, and should serve as a reinforcement of previously
They will also explore some of the main religious beliefs
learned events.
of Hinduism and Buddhism and how these faiths tie into
PROCESS
LINK
As with all of the videos in the course, assign students
to watch the video before class. The first time through,
•Crash Course World History #6 –
have students just try to capture the gist of the video.
Buddha and Ashoka
The next time, have them try to determine important
facts and information. Remind students of John’s fast-
Video questions for students to answer during
talking and play the video with captions. Pause and
their viewing.
rewind when necessary. As students watch the video,
have them how faith plays a role in a place’s political
and social structure.
22
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.3 | WATCH | Key Ideas – Factual
Use these questions and prompts at the appropriate stopping points to check in with students
and ensure they are getting the key concepts covered in the video.
SAMPLE ANSWER: It is an area with a long history with
1. (0:43) Why is the history of India so complex?
different cultures and a land area that was divided into
a number of territories. Also, a lot of what we know about
modern India comes from British sources during colonization,
which, of course, means that there is a great deal
of historical bias in these accounts.
2. (1:31) Who took control of India after the disappearance
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Aryans migrated into the area from
of the Indus Valley Civilization in 1750 BCE? How do we
the Caucuses and they left behind religious texts, one of which
know about them?
is called the Vedas.
SAMPLE ANSWER: A grouping of social classes (hierarchy) into
3. (2:40) What is the caste system? What is the divine
explanation for this social system?
four main classes. The justification for the system comes from
the Vedas and its description of the division of Purusha – the
universe-pervading spirit. His mouth became the Brahmins
(priests) because they spoke with the gods. His arms became
the Kshatriyas – the warriors. His thighs represent the
Vaisyas – merchants and artisans who provide for the priests
and warriors. Finally, his feet became the Sudras – laborers
and farmers. These castes became the basis for Hinduism.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Dharma is one’s role in life and society.
4. (3:34) One of the main concepts of Hinduism
is dharma – what is dharma?
Everyone in the caste system must obey this concept and
fulfill their duty in their caste.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Samsara is the cycle of rebirth or
5. (4:24) What is samsara and how does it connect
to dharma?
reincarnation. If you fulfill your dharma in this life then you
might improve your dharma or your placement in the caste
system in your next life.
23
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
SAMPLE ANSWER: Moksha – to release yourself from the
6. (4:46) What is the ultimate goal of samsara?
caste system, which also ties into karma, or the concept
of what goes around comes around. If you are a good person
then you will be rewarded with good things and the same if
you are a bad person then bad things will be your “reward”.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Siddhartha Gautama – an Indian prince –
7. (6:28) How and why did Buddhism begin?
left his royal life to try to find out how to end suffering,
in particular to end life under the caste system.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Four Noble Truths: 1) All life is suffering.
8. (6:59) What were the Buddha’s main teachings?
2) The cause of suffering is desire. 3) To end this suffering,
you must free yourself from desire. 3) In order to stop desiring
everything under the sun, the Buddha said you had to follow
the Eightfold Path (eight ways to live your life the “right” way).
SAMPLE ANSWER: Buddhism was actually attractive to
9. (8:02) Why was Buddhism so appealing to members of
members of all castes but the lower castes in particular were
India’s lower castes?
drawn to the fact that there is no caste system. Anyone who
follows the Eightfold Path may be able to achieve nirvana in
this life rather than having to be reborn over and over again.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Ashoka was a leader from the Mauryan
10. (10:39) What was so great about Ashoka?
Dynasty (269-232 BCE) who converted to Buddhism, built
stupas (mound-like monuments to the Buddha) and pillars
proclaiming his benevolent rule and the practice of dhamma,
which basically stated that everyone should treat each other
with respect.
SAMPLE ANSWER: It almost died out but eventually became
11. (11:48) What eventually happened to Buddhism in India?
intertwined with Hinduism. Buddhism also migrated to China
where it is still a hugely popular faith but a little different
from the Buddhism of Siddhartha Gautama.
24
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.3 | WATCH | Conceptual Thinking
Have students answer the following questions in order for them to make connections across
different concepts and think more critically about the information presented in the video.
1. What are some of the benefits of having a caste system, especially if you are trying to create
an orderly society? What are some of the drawbacks of this system?
2. How do the teachings of Buddha compare to those of Christianity?
25
LESSON 2.1
3.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT
FOUNDATION AND
ANDEXPANSION
CODIFICATION
OF ISLAM
OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.4 | WATCH | Crash Course World History #7
2000 Years of Chinese History
PREVIEW
PURPOSE
In which John introduces you to quite a lot of Chinese
In Crash Course World History #7, students examine the
history by discussing the complicated relationship between
long, vibrant history of China, what has allowed this culture
the Confucian scholars who wrote Chinese history and
to thrive for over 2000 years, and how this area became
the emperors (and empress) who made it. Included is a brief
the first modern state.
introduction to all the dynasties in Chinese history and an
introduction to Confucius and the Confucian emphasis on filial
Crash Course videos should be used as an introduction
piety, the role the mandate of heaven played in organizing
to new ideas and concepts, an instruction to core ideas
China, and how China became the first modern state.
of the unit, and should serve as a reinforcement of previously
learned events.
PROCESS
LINK
As with all of the videos in the course, assign
students to watch the video before class. The first
•Crash Course World History #7 –
time through, have students just try to capture
2000 Years of Chinese History
the gist of the video. The next time, have them try
Video questions for students to answer during
to determine important facts and information.
their viewing.
Remind students of John’s fast-talking and play
the video with captions. Pause and rewind when
necessary. As students watch the video, have them
consider who writes history and why it’s important
to know the sources for the history we know.
26
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.4 | WATCH | Key Ideas – Factual
Use these questions and prompts at the appropriate stopping points to check in with students
and ensure they are getting the key concepts covered in the video.
SAMPLE ANSWER: China had a centralized government and
1. (0:54) Why does John Green refer to China
as the first modern state?
a large team of bureaucrats, who executed the wishes of the
rulers of that government.
SAMPLE ANSWER: A dynasty is a system of government in
2. (1:44) What is a dynasty?
which the right to rule is passed down through the family line.
In the case of China, this meant that the emperors ruled over
the area and as long as the family produced heirs then that
family usually retained the power.
SAMPLE ANSWER: A dynasty can end if there are no heirs but
3. (1:59) How can a dynasty end?
as John Green tells us, this was pretty well assured in China
where the emperor had numerous concubines. Most Chinese
dynasties were overthrown after a rebellion or war.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The first Chinese dynasty was the Shang
4. (3:07) What was the first real dynasty of China?
When did the dynastic period end and why?
as the Xia dynasty was more fiction than fact. After numerous
dynasties rose to power, ruled, and then fell, there was
a rebellion in 1911 that put an end to the entire Chinese
dynastic system.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Mandate of Heaven was a political
5. (4:58) What was the Mandate of Heaven?
and philosophical concept that dates from the Zhou dynasty.
Many historians think this idea was created by the Zhou
to get rid of the Shang because before the Zhou, China didn’t
even have a concept of Heaven. If the emperor behaved
in a proper, upright manner and protected his (or her) people
then he (or she) had the right to rule but if they didn’t live
up to this then they could be overthrown by a new ruler who
was acting on divine intervention.
27
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
SAMPLE ANSWER: This dynasty gave China its name. China
6. (6:03) What did the Qin dynasty accomplish?
was reunified under a single emperor and this dynasty ended
the Warring States period. The Qin also had a reputation for
brutality, which the next dynasty – the Han – used to explain
why the Qin had to be defeated.
SAMPLE ANSWER: As a benevolent ruler who followed
7. (6:32) How did Chinese historians portray
the Han emperor Wen?
Confucian principles and therefore, retained the right to rule
under the Mandate of Heaven. Harsh punishments and
executions declined and the government encouraged learning
(stopped burning books).
SAMPLE ANSWER: A political philosophy created by Confucius,
8. (8:18) What is Confucianism?
who was a minor official during the Warring States period.
While his views were largely ignored during this period, later
emperors followed his conservative theory that the ruler
should be wise and of upright, moral behavior. Confucianism
rests on the idea that everyone has a place in society
(the social hierarchy) and in relationship to other people.
Five key relationships are part of this philosophy but the
most important was that between father and son (the concept
of filial piety). The goal of this relationship was that both
father and son would be “superior men” or junzi. It was
especially important for the emperor to behave in this way
because he was seen as the father to the entire country.
SAMPLE ANSWER: One must study the history of sage
9. (10:47) Why did Confucius emphasize
emperors and learn from them and a good junzi had to
the study of history?
understand and appreciate beauty in history, poetry, and
painting. Emperors, as well as all Chinese, had to have
proper behavior (ren) and venerate their ancestors (li).
By studying the past, present and future emperors
could learn from the behavior of those in the past because
if emperors failed their people due to poor behavior
then that could also cause natural disasters and rebellions,
which could be seen throughout the history of China
according to Confucian historians.
28
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.4 | WATCH | Conceptual Thinking
Answer the following question to make connections across different concepts and think more
critically about the information presented in the video.
1. Why is it important to analyze sources when studying history?
29
LESSON 2.1
3.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT
FOUNDATION AND
ANDEXPANSION
CODIFICATION
OF ISLAM
OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.5 | READ | The Three Belief Systems of China – World History For Us All
PURPOSE
This activity explores the three main traditional belief
belief system, their specific differences, and their importance
systems, that is, religions or philosophies of China:
in the historical development of China. Students will
Confucianism, Taoism (Daoism), and Buddhism. It provides
understand the significance of belief systems in helping
background on each of these systems, including how,
to establish a sense of belonging and building social
when, where, and by whom they were developed and
cohesion, focusing on China in the premodern era. Students
diffused throughout China. Using translations of primary
will also be encouraged to reflect on the impact that their
sources, students will examine the major tenets of each
own belief systems have on their lives.
PROCESS
Have students read the provided article. Host
Potential follow-up questions:
a discussion of themes following their completion
• How does a new religion or belief
of the reading.
system begin?
• How did the religions/belief systems
ATTACHMENT
in the article reach China?
• The Three Belief Systems of China
• How does each group view the world?
• What are the main goals of the practices?
How should followers treat each other?
• How would you describe each religion/belief
system in five (5) words or less?
30
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | The Three Belief Systems of China – World History For Us All
CONFUCIANISM
• Older brothers-Younger brothers. Older brothers should
Confucius was a sage, that is, a wise man. He was born
in 551 BCE, during a period when China was divided into
care for younger brothers. Younger brothers should
many small states, each with its own lord. This time
respect and obey older brother.
• Husband-Wife. Married people should live in harmony.
is known as the “Warring States Period” because the different
A wife should obey her husband.
states were always fighting with each other. There were
• Friend-Friend. Friends should trust each other and treat
many attempts to overthrow the lords because they were
often cruel to the people they ruled. It was a period
each other well.
of great chaos (disorder) and suffering among the people.
Do you notice a pattern? Those in power must take care
Like other people during this difficult and dangerous time,
of those who are weaker. Those who are weaker must
Confucius looked for ways to improve society and make
respect and obey those who are in power. Those who are
it more peaceful. He believed that life would be better and
equal should treat each other equally. The primary and
safer if there was clear order, or harmony, in society.
most important relationship is between parent and child.
He also understood that rulers needed to govern more wisely
Children who understand their roles and duties to their
to avoid or reduce bloodshed. Confucius believed that
parents will then be able to go into the world and understand
people should not use family connections to obtain government
their positions in society. It will be very difficult, however,
positions as many people did during that time. Instead,
for those who do not fulfill their primary duties (to their parents)
he thought that government officials should be well-educated,
to lead a successful life.
talented, honest, and fair. Confucius believed that government
officials should live lives of virtue (be virtuous) so that the
These relationships are based on traditional Chinese values,
people they ruled would follow their example. Therefore,
such as respect for elders (older people) and ancestor worship,
he developed a philosophy that established clear relationships
which existed before the time of Confucius. This was an
between people in all aspects of their lives.
important reason why Chinese people were able to embrace
the teachings of Confucius: they were already familiar with
Relationships:
many of these ideas. The teachings of Confucius were rooted
• Parents-Children. Parents should love and care for their
in things that the Chinese already believed in and practiced.
children. Children should respect and obey their parents.
The children’s respect and devotion for their parents is
On the other hand, Confucianism also placed greater
often called “filial piety.”
importance on learning, or scholarship. According
to Confucianism, people can become government officials
• Ruler-Subjects. A ruler should care for the people he
governs. The people he rules (the subjects) should obey a
to help rule the land if they study hard, are just and fair,
ruler who takes care of them.
and can pass difficult exams. Under his philosophy, it is not
31
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
as important which family you are born into. It is much more
TAOISM (ALSO CALLED DAOISM)
important how smart and just you are. Therefore, Confucianism
We do not know if Laozi was a real person or not. The name
gives everyone the opportunity to become more powerful.
in Chinese means “Old Philosopher” or “Old Master.” This
name may actually have represented several different writers
The main writings of Confucius are in the Analects, the sayings
who contributed to the Daodejing, or The Way and Integrity
of Confucius. In addition to his own words, the ideas of
Classic, which was the earliest set of teachings associated
Confucianism were developed by many other people who
with Taoism. This person or persons lived during a period
were the disciples of Confucius. These people accepted
when China was divided into many small states, each with
and spread his teachings. The most famous of these was
its own lord. This time is known as the “Warring States Period,”
Mencius. He was born almost 100 years after Confucius
because the different states were always fighting, or warring,
died. He tried to convince rulers in China that they should
with each other and their lords. There were many attempts
accept the teachings of Confucius.
to overthrow the lords because they were often cruel to the
people they ruled. It was a period of great chaos and suffering
In Confucianism, memorizing the sayings of Confucius
among the people.
was one of the most important rituals. That way, if someone
spoke the first part of a saying of Confucius, the other
Like other people during this difficult and dangerous time,
people in the group (Confucians) would be able to complete it.
Laozi looked for ways to improve society and help comfort
If they could not, they would not be considered to be part
people. According to legend, he wanted to leave the problems
of that group of “well-educated” people or “leaders.”
in China in order to live out the end of his life in peace and
quiet in Central Asia (west of China). A border guard asked
Some of the sayings of Confucius were about the five
him to write down his teachings before leaving China, and
relationships, but many others were examples of the
so Laozi composed the Daodejing, which lays out the main
way people should behave in order to keep harmony in society.
ideas of what later became known as Taoism.
These sayings often talked about people who were superior
(better than other people) or inferior (worse than other people).
According to Taoism, people have problems because they
do not understand the natural world they live in and how
Here are two examples of famous sayings of Confucius:
it behaves. Therefore, the basic goal of Taoism is for people
• “What is a superior person? One who acts before he
to understand the Tao (the way) of nature and behave according
speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions.”
to it. Those who follow the Tao achieve mental clarity, power,
• “Good government results when those who are near are
and “inner peace.”
made happy, and those who are far are attracted to it.”
It is difficult to describe the Tao in words. In fact, when we
Source;
put things from nature into words, we remove ourselves from
Rothblatt, Joel. “Big Era Four: Expanding Networks of Exchange and
the experience of reality, according to Taoism. Therefore, Taoists
Encounter 1200 BCE - 500 CE. Belief Systems in China: Confucianism, Daoism,
(people who practice Taoism) say that instead of using words,
and Buddhism 581 BCE-1368 CE.” World History for Us All. PDF file.
the best way to experience nature is by observing it and being
32
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
in tune with it. For example, when we watch waves at the
In Taoism, meditation and tuning into nature are the most
beach, we do not judge waves and say, “This one is right
important rituals. Taoists also memorize the main writings
and beautiful” or “That one is wrong and ugly.” Nature
of Taoism, especially the Daodejing and Zhuangzi. That way,
is just what it is; it does not make mistakes. There is no
if someone begins speaking the first part of a saying from
“good” or “bad” in nature. These are ideas that people made
one of these books, the other people in the group (Taoists)
up to describe how things affect them.
are able to complete it. If they cannot, they are not considered
to be part of that group of Taoists.
Therefore, it is easier to explain Taoism with the yin yang
symbol. Many people (especially in Western countries) tend
Examples of two famous Taoist sayings:
• “Who can make the muddy water clear?
to separate ideas in nature into opposites like good and evil,
Let it be still and it will gradually become clear.”
black andwhite, or life and death. Taoists see nature as being
• “That which goes against the Tao will come
whole (the complete outside circle of the yin yang symbol),
to an early end.”
and everything inside of it being connected and as part of the
whole. The “yin” is represented by black, and also represents
water, the moon, and Earth; also quiet, soft and feminine
Source
qualities. The “yang” is represented by white, and also
Rothblatt, Joel. “Big Era Four: Expanding Networks of Exchange and
represents fire, the Sun and heaven, as well as the dynamic,
Encounter 1200 BCE - 500 CE. Belief Systems in China: Confucianism, Daoism,
hard and masculine qualities. Nature is always moving and
and Buddhism 581 BCE-1368 CE.” World History for Us All. PDF file.
flowing, and the yin and yang work together. For example,
black and white are only seen in relation to the other, part
BUDDHISM
of each other, and flowing into each other.
Siddhartha Gautama was born a prince in Northern India.
According to legend, it was predicted at Siddhartha’s
The Taoist belief system was accepted in China in part because
birth that he would become either a great ruler or a great
it reflected earlier philosophies and legends. For example,
teacher. His father, the king, wanted Siddhartha
according to a very famous legend in China, one of the mythical
to succeed him as ruler. For this reason, his father tried
founders of China faced a problem about how to deal with
to prevent him from seeing or experiencing anything
a huge dam that was leaking. Rather than trying to block it,
sad, which might cause him to become religious and teach
he formed channels to “naturally” drain the water away,
others. Therefore, Siddhartha enjoyed his early years
thus creating China’s landscape.
in the palace in luxury without knowing about things such
as old age, sickness, or death. Eventually, the young
Aside from Laozi’s writings in the Daodejing, the philosophy
prince decided to go outside of the palace. There, for the
of Taoism is based on the ideas of other people who accepted
first time, he saw an old person with wrinkled skin
and spread the teachings of Taoism. The most famous of these
who had difficulty walking. Siddhartha understood that
was Zhuangzi (or Master Zhuang), who was born perhaps
he himself would also become old. He also saw a sick
100 years after Laozi died and who wrote Zhuangzi.
person and a dead person. All this made Siddhartha feel
33
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
much suffering. During another trip, he saw a holy man who
According to Buddhism, the “Eightfold Path” means to lead
appeared to be happy and at peace. Siddhartha learned that
a good life. People who follow this path are freed from
this person had given up his home and everything he owned.
suffering and gain happiness. These steps are:
The holy person was trying to find wisdom and peacefulness
Right understanding. It is important to be certain that you
by living a pure and simple life.
understand the teachings of the Buddha correctly.
1. Right thought. Think thoughts that are pure and good.
From then on, Siddhartha searched for a way to end suffering
2. Right speech. Speak words that are truthful
and not harmful.
and become happy. He decided to follow the path of a holy
3. Right action. Treat people well, as you would like
person. He gave up everything he owned. He left his wife
to be treated.
and young child and a life of luxury in the palace. He traveled
around India for years, but he still did not find a way to end
4. Right work. Do not harm others as you earn a living.
suffering. Finally, he decided to sit under a tree and meditate
5. Right effort. Keep trying to become a better person;
stop bad habits.
(become quiet and relaxed and clear his mind of thoughts)
6. Right mindfulness. Be mindful (or aware) of what you are
until he became enlightened (understood the truth about
the world and such things as why there is suffering and how
doing and what is going on around you; always think
to end it). After meditating for several hours, he became
about how you live.
7. Right meditation. Meditate correctly each day to clear
enlightened and became known as the “Buddha,” or the one
your mind of desires and be able to find peace and truth.
who knows the truth. In order to share the truths he found with others, the Buddha
When and why did Buddhism arrive in China? Buddhism
became a teacher. (Remember: this is one of the career
probably first entered China along the “silk roads,” that is,
paths predicted for him at birth and the one that his father
the system of trade routes that connected China to lands
did not want him to take.) There are two main beliefs
farther west as far as the Mediterranean sea and Europe.
of Buddhism, that is, the teachings of the Buddha and
Trade on the silk roads goes back thousands of years. By about
his followers.
100 BCE, Buddhist missionaries began traveling on the
routes along with traders. Trade routes opened contact and
One is the “Four Noble Truths,” which the Buddha discovered
communication between people and places. In addition
when he meditated beneath the tree. These truths are:
to goods, people and ideas spread along the trade routes.
1. Life is full of suffering from birth to death.
By 68 CE, a Chinese Han emperor asked some advisers
2. People suffer because they desire (try to get) things
to visit India to learn more about this “western religion,”
that do not last, for example, money and possessions.
3. The way to end suffering is to stop desiring things.
that is, Indian religion. They returned to China with
4. The way to get rid of desire is to follow
Buddhist monks. New religions and beliefs often become
popular during difficult times when people are searching
the “Eightfold Path.”
for answers to why there is suffering. When dynasties were
34
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
ending in China there was much unrest, and the Chinese
tended to embrace Buddhism more. For example, at the end
of the Han dynasty, Buddhism became more popular.
Source:
Rothblatt, Joel. “Big Era Four: Expanding Networks of Exchange and
Encounter 1200 BCE - 500 CE. Belief Systems in China: Confucianism, Daoism,
and Buddhism 581 BCE-1368 CE.” World History for Us All. PDF file.
35
LESSON 2.1
3.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT
FOUNDATION AND
ANDEXPANSION
CODIFICATION
OF ISLAM
OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.6 | WATCH | Crash Course World History #11
Christianity from Judaism to Constantine
PREVIEW
comparisons to Emperor Augustus, to the spread of the
In which John Green teaches you the history of Christianity,
faith following his death. We’re examining this through
from the beginnings of Judaism and the development of
the lense of history, not theology, so by no means are we
monotheism, right up to Paul and how Christianity stormed
discussing Jesus’ divinity. We’re instead using this time
the Roman Empire in just a few hundred years. Along the
to examine what was happening in the world during this
way, John will cover Abram/Abraham, the Covenant, the
era and why were conditions right for the son of a Jewish
Roman Occupation of Judea, and the birth, life, death and
carpenter to develop such a loyal following and become
legacy of Jesus of Nazareth.
one of the most influential people on Earth.
PURPOSE
Crash Course videos should be used as an introduction
In Crash Course World History #11, students examine
to new ideas and concepts, an instruction to core
the Christian faith, beginning with Judaism, through the
ideas of the unit, and should serve as a reinforcement
birth of Jesus of Nazareth in the Roman Empire and his
of previously learned events.
PROCESS
LINK
As with all of the videos in the course, assign
students to watch the video before class. The first
•Crash Course World History #11 –
time through, have students just try to capture
Christianity from Judaism to Constantine
the gist of the video. The next time, have them try
Video questions for students to answer during
to determine important facts and information.
their viewing.
Remind students of John’s fast-talking and play
the video with captions. Pause and rewind when
necessary. As students watch the video, have them
consider who writes history and why it’s important
to know the sources for the history we know.
36
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.6 | WATCH | Key Ideas – Factual
Use these questions and prompts at the appropriate stopping points to check in with students
and ensure they are getting the key concepts covered in the video.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Hebrews initially worshiped many
1. (1:00) Who did the Hebrews initially worship and
how did they show their faith?
gods and made sacrifices to them in order to bring good
weather and good fortune.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The idea that there is only one true god.
2. (1:10) What is monotheism?
This concept was adopted as a key idea to Judaism, and
would become important to the other great western religions.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Jews - in exchange for his faith, God
3. (2:15) Who are the “chosen people” and what’s
the origin of this name?
had chosen Abraham and his descendants to be a great
nation. The “chosen people” has become a nickname for
followers of the Jewish faith.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Singularity - the Hebrew god doesn’t
4. (2:35) What are some of the characteristics
of the Hebrew god?
want you to put any other gods before him. He’s transcendent
- he’s very involved in history; like destroying cities, bringing
floods, determining outcomes of wars, and demands moral
righteousness and social justice.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Roman Empire had absorbed
5. (3:31) At the time that Jesus was born, some 2000
years ago, who controlled the region of Judea?
the land of the Israelites and Judea was under the control
of Herod the Great, known for building the massive
temple in Jerusalem.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The poor and downtrodden, which was
6. (4:51) Jesus’ message of peace, love, and social justice
was particularly resonant with what groups?
pretty radical in its anti-authoritarian stance.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Jesus was considered a rebel and was
7. (4:51) Jesus’ message of peace, love, and social justice
was particularly resonant with what groups?
executed in the normal manner of the time, by crucifixion.
37
LESSON 2.1 | THE DEVELOPMENT AND CODIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Jews had a long tradition of believing
8. (6:05) Why would people of the era believe that Jesus
was the Messiah?
that a savior would come to them during a time of trouble.
Judea under the control of Herod and the Romans was such
a time. Additionally, Jesus embodied many of the common
prophecies of the time.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Both were called the Son of God; both
9. (7:25) What similarities do Jesus and Roman Emperor
Augustus share?
were sent to free the Earth from fear.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Paul was a Roman citizen, which meant
10. (9:00) What attribute of Paul (Saul of Tarsus) made
it possible to spread the message of Christianity?
he could travel freely throughout the empire, allowing him
to make his case to lots of different people.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The faith happened to coincide with
11. (10:00) What other reasons might be responsible
for the spread of Christianity during this era?
the decline of the Roman Empire, which shared a common
language. Also, Roman religion offered no promise of
a peaceful afterlife, which Christianity did. Finally, Emperor
Constantine allowed for the worship of Jesus and eventually
converted to the faith himself.
38
LESSON 2.1
3.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT
FOUNDATION AND
ANDEXPANSION
CODIFICATION
OF ISLAM
OF RELIGIOUS & CULTURAL TRADITIONS
LESSON 2.1.7 | CLOSING | EQ Notebook
PURPOSE
At the start of the unit, students looked at the essential
HOW DOES RELIGION AFFECT
THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIETY?
question without much to go on. Now that the lesson is
Now that students have spent some time with the material
over, students will revisit the essential question. This time,
of this unit, they should look back over the content covered
students should cite specific passages and evidence from
as well as any additional information they have come across,
the content in the unit that provide insights into answering
and write down any quotes or evidence that provide new
the driving question.
insights into the essential question you’ve assigned for Unit
2. Once they’ve finished, they should think about how this
new information has impacted their thinking about the driving
question, and write down their thoughts in their EQ Notebook.
PROCESS
Ask students to think about this question and respond
ATTACHMENT
to it on their EQ Notebook Worksheets.
• Essential Questions Unit 2 Notebook Worksheet
39
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.0 | OVERVIEW
UNIT ESSENTIAL QUESTION: Why do civilizations rise and fall? When they fall,
what impact do they have on history?
As the early states and empires grew in number, size, and population, they frequently competed for
resources and came into conflict with one another. In quest of land, wealth, and security, some empires
expanded dramatically. In doing so, they built powerful military machines and administrative institutions
that were capable of organizing human activities over long distances, and they created new groups
of military and political elites to manage their affairs. As these empires expanded their boundaries,
they also faced the need to develop policies and procedures to govern their relationships with ethnically
and culturally diverse populations: sometimes to integrate them within an imperial society and
sometimes to exclude them. In some cases, these empires became victims of their own successes.
By expanding their boundaries too far, they created political, cultural, and administrative difficulties
that they could not manage. They also experienced environmental, social, and economic problems when
they overexploited their lands and subjects and permitted excessive wealth to be concentrated in the
hands of privileged classes.
40
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.1.0 | OVERVIEW | Learning Outcomes, Vocabulary, & Outline
LEARNING OUTCOMES
OUTLINE
2.2.1 | OPENING
•Define and explain the concept
of “empire”. Locate the major empires
EQ Notebook
of the period and analyze their relative
2.2.2 | WATCH
importance. Analyze major differences
Crash Course World History #5 –
and similarities between these empires.
The Persians & Greeks
•Analyze the importance of trade
2.2.3 | WATCH
expansion in this period.
Crash Course World History #8 –
•Describe changes resulting from new
Alexander the Great
cultural encounters.
2.2.4 | READ
•Identify the world religions and belief
An Age of Greek and Persian Power
systems that flourished during this period.
2.2.5 | WATCH
•Give reasons for the rise of large,
Crash Course World History #10 –
enduring empires during this era.
The Roman Empire. Or Republic.
Or...What Which Was it?
2.2.6 | WATCH
Crash Course World History #11 –
Fall of the Roman Empire
2.2.7 | READ
A Tale of Three Empires
2.2.8 | CLOSING
EQ Notebook
41
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
VOCABULARY
Empire – Major political unit in which the metropolis,
or single sovereign authority, exercises control over territory
of great extent or a number of territories or peoples through
formal annexations or various forms of informal domination.
Republic – Form of government in which a state is ruled
by representatives of the citizen body. Modern republics
are founded on the idea that sovereignty rests with
the people, though who is included and excluded from
the category of the people has varied across history.
Because citizens do not govern the state themselves but
through representatives, republics may be distinguished
from direct democracy, though modern representative
democracies are by and large republics. The term republic
may also be applied to any form of government in which
the head of state is not a hereditary monarch.
*Vocabulary definitions taken from oxforddictionaries.com & britannica.com
42
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.1 | OPENING | EQ Notebook
PURPOSE
Each unit of the Crash Course World History Course (CCWH)
ideas, this activity asks them to look at the big ideas through
is guided by what we call an essential question. The Essential
the lens of the Essential Question. At this point, students
Question Notebook (EQ Notebook) is an informal writing
won’t have much background to bring to bear on the issue
resource for students to track their learning and understanding
just yet. This early exercise helps to bring to the fore what
of a concept throughout a unit. Students will be given
they know coming into the unit.
an Essential Question at the beginning of a unit and asked
to answer the Essential Question with evidence they
WHY DO CIVILIZATIONS RISE AND FALL?
WHEN THEY FALL, WHAT IMPACT DO THEY
HAVE ON HISTORY?
have gathered throughout the unit. This provides students
Students should quickly jot down some ideas for how trade
an opportunity to track their learning and to prepare them
and culture are related. They can do this in the context of the
for future activities. To help students focus on the important
unit of study, or relate it to their own lives.
to provide a response based on prior knowledge and
speculation. Students will then revisit the notebook in order
PROCESS
Ask students to think about this question and respond
ATTACHMENT
to it on their EQ Notebook Worksheets:
• Essential Questions Unit 2 Notebook Worksheet
43
NAME
CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
COURSE
TIME
UNIT 2 | EQ Notebook Worksheet
Answer the unit essential Lessons 2.2.1, then again in Lessons 2.2.8. In your answer,
be sure to include ideas such as historical context and how themes through history
change over time. Use specific examples to support your claims or ideas.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION | Why do civilizations rise and fall?
When they fall, what impact do they have on history?
LESSON 2.2.1
LESSON 2.2.8
HOW HAS YOUR
THINKING CHANGED?
44
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.2 | WATCH | Crash Course World History #5
The Persians & Greeks
PREVIEW
In which John compares and contrasts Greek civilization
5th century BCE, the Persian Empire was pretty nice place
and the Persian Empire. Of course we’re glad that Greek
to live. Additionally, through the outsider perspective of
civilization spawned modern western civilization, right?
Herodotus, who was Greek, students will discover historical
Maybe not. From Socrates and Plato to Darius and Xerxes,
bias. On the Greek side of things, their culture and approach
John explains two of the great powers of the ancient world,
to society is a legacy that can still be seen today. However,
all without the use of footage from 300.
most of the Greek city-states believed in slavery and
citizenship was limited to males. Finally, students examine
PURPOSE
if the “right” side (the Greeks) won the Persian Wars,
In Crash Course World History #5, students examine the value
which established the western tradition of democracy and
of comparative history and how the contributions of the
cultural flourishing that gave us the Classical age.
Persians and the Ancient Greeks have influenced our own
history as well as how we have come to learn history.
Crash Course videos should be used as an introduction to new
Students will learn about Persian rule, why their leader was
ideas and concepts, an instruction to core ideas of the unit, and
considered “King of Kings” and why if you had to live in the
should serve as a reinforcement of previously learned events.
PROCESS
As with all of the videos in the course, assign students
LINK
to watch the video before class. The first time through,
• Crash Course World History #5 –
have students just try to capture the gist of the video.
The Persians & Greeks
The next time, have them try to determine important
facts and information. Remind students of John’s fast-
Video questions for students to answer during
talking and play the video with captions. Pause and
their viewing.
rewind when necessary. As students watch the video,
have them consider who are the writers of history
and how do we know their perspectives are valid?
Additionally, what might have happened had the
Greeks not defeated the Persians in the Persian Wars?
45
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.2 | WATCH | Key Ideas – Factual
Use these questions and prompts at the appropriate stopping points to check in with students
and ensure they are getting the key concepts covered in the video.
SAMPLE ANSWER: King Cyrus the Great founded the
1. (1:45) Who were Cyrus the Great and Darius I and what
did they do for the Persian Empire?
Achaemenid dynasty in 539 BCE and conquered most
of Mesopotamia. He also freed the Jews from the Babylonian
Captivity and allowed them to return to their homeland.
Darius I was Cyrus’ son, who extended the Persian Empire
from the Indus Valley in the east, Egypt in the west, and
Turkey in the North.
SAMPLE ANSWER: When the Persians took over an area, they
2. (2:02) Why was the Persian ruler known as the King of
Kings?
allowed the conquered kings and elites to keep their power
as long as they pledged allegiance to the Persian king and
paid taxes. So in essence the Persian king became the king
of other kings.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Zoroastrianism is probably the first
3. (2:41) What is Zoroastrianism? Why don’t we hear more
about their practices than Christian ones?
monotheistic faith and it was adopted by the Persians.
Zorastrianism introduced the world to the concept of good
versus evil and also forbade slavery. The Persians were
not terribly concerned about spreading their faith through
the conversion of conquered people; however, Christians,
especially those during the Middle Ages and the Age of
Exploration, were set on converting others to the faith.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Ancient Greeks are really the basis
4. (3:33) What were some of the major accomplishments
of the Ancient Greeks?
of Western culture from architecture, philosophy, literature,
poetry, and music to science, mathematics, and politics; the
influence of their culture is evident throughout history.
In fact, the Greeks gave the West the first history and the first
democracy (Athens).
46
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
SAMPLE ANSWER: Aristophanes – famous Greek playwright
5. (5:03) Why does Aristophanes get both a good and bad
rap these days?
and satirist – is still remembered today for the 11 out of 40
plays that have survived and he’s known as the father of comedy.
However, students today don’t really get his humor and think
he’s rather boring to read.
SAMPLE ANSWER: This was the “golden age” of Ancient
6. (5:43) What were some of the characteristics of Greek
culture and politics in the 4th century BCE?
Greece and the building of the Parthenon, which is probably
the most famous ruin of the ancient world if you don’t count
the pyramids. The Greeks during this time were divided into
a collection of city-states that were fiercely independent,
which meant that each city-state had its own government.
These governments ranged from a direct democracy in Athens
to monarchies and dictatorships. The Greeks also owned
a ton of slaves and treated women pretty poorly.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Persian Wars began because a group
7. (6:23) Why did the Greeks view of citizenship and
allegiance to Greece as a whole change after the
of Ionian city-states rebelled against Persian rule so Persia
Persian Wars?
decided to attack the mainland of Greece. When they did this,
the Greeks decided to band together and fight as a whole
against the Persians. When the Greeks defeated the Persians,
they began to view themselves as Greeks rather than just
Athenians or Spartans.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Athenians became one of the most
8. (7:46) Why did Athens experience a “golden age” after
the Persian Wars and what did this eventually lead to?
powerful city-states, and the de facto Greek capital,
after the wars. As a result, the arts, building, and philosophy
flourished in the city. Rivalries over resources and power
emerged between Athens and Sparta, which eventually led
to the Peloponnesian War.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Bully because when the people of Melos
9. (9:09) Why do the Peloponnesian War and the Melian
dialogue make Athens both a bully and a loser?
didn’t want to fight on the Athenians’ side against
the Spartans, the Athenians killed the men and enslaved
the women and children. Losers because at the end
of the Peloponnesian War, Athens is defeated by Sparta.
47
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
SAMPLE ANSWER: Pro: Athens prospered and their culture
10. (11:48) What eventually happened to Buddhism in India?
flourished, which gave us the legacy of the Classical Age
including philosophy, architecture, and democracy. Cons:
Democracy is great but empires as a whole have lasted
much longer. Life in Athens was great if you were a male
citizen but was pretty bad if you were a slave or a woman.
The struggle for power after the Persian Wars led to the
Peloponnesian War and the eventual collapse of Greek
civilization once they were taken over by Alexander the
Great’s father and then later by the Romans.
LESSON 2.2.2 | WATCH | Conceptual Thinking
Have students answer the following question in order for them to make connections across
different concepts and think more critically about the information presented in the video.
1. Why might it be problematic for people trying to learn about Persian history to have a Greek historian
as our main source of evidence?
48
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.3 | WATCH | Crash Course World History #8
Alexander the Great
PREVIEW
In which you are introduced to the life and accomplishments
failed at accomplishing. Through his conquests, Alexander
of Alexander the Great, his empire, his horse Bucephalus,
spread Greek ideas, culture, language and architecture
the empires that came after him, and the idea of Greatness.
as far east as the Indus Valley. Along with him came empire
Is greatness a question of accomplishment, of impact, or are
builders: scientists, doctors, artisans, and philosophers.
people great because the rest of us decide they’re great?
However, Alexander’s strengths were tied more to his military
mind than empire building. So, was he great?
PURPOSE
In Crash Course World History #8, students are introduced
Crash Course videos should be used as an introduction to new
to the life and times of Alexander the Great, from his conquests
ideas and concepts, an instruction to core ideas of the unit, and
to his legacy while also discussing the issue of deeming
should serve as a reinforcement of previously learned events.
someone from history to be “great.” He defeated the Persian
Empire, something both the Spartans and the Athenians had
PROCESS
As with all of the videos in the course, assign students
and centuries that followed his death. What examples
to watch the video before class. The first time through,
from present times can students reference that might
have students just try to capture the gist of the video.
be similar?
The next time, have them try to determine important
facts and information. Remind students of John’s fast-
LINK
talking and play the video with captions. Pause and
• Crash Course World History #8 –
rewind when necessary. As students watch the video,
Alexander the Great
have them consider how we view people and their
legacy following their deaths. Perhaps Alexander’s
Video questions for students to answer during
greatest feat was his hero-like status in the decades
their viewing.
49
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.3 | WATCH | Key Ideas – Factual
Use these questions and prompts at the appropriate stopping points to check in with students
and ensure they are getting the key concepts covered in the video.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Modern historians tend to recognize
1. (1:58) Why is it problematic to refer to certain rulers
as “the Great”?
that while a ruler might be great to some people, he might be
other people’s idea of terrible.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Alexander of Macedon (356-323 BCE)
2. (2:32) Who was Alexander the Great?
was the son of King Philip II of Macedon, the man responsible
for conquering and uniting the Greek city-states after the
Peloponnesian War. He was said to have tamed a horse no
one else could ride by himself at which time his father said
he was destined for greatness and Macedonia was too small
of an empire for him. Alexander was also an accomplished
general and he greatly increased the size of his empire before
dying prematurely at the age of 32.
SAMPLE ANSWER: He states that this is an extension of
3. (2:54) Why does John Green say that it’s difficult
to judge someone’s greatness based on his or her
the idea that history is the record of the deeds of great men,
accomplishments?
which leaves out half the population (women). Also, some
people cannot take credit for other historic events that were
important such as the Black Plague.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Alexander conquered a lot of territory,
4. (3:35) What is the first reason for Alexander’s
“greatness”?
destroyed the Persian Empire, and extended his from Egypt to
India. He was also a really good general.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Alexander was really good at tearing
5. (4:18) What wasn’t Alexander very good at and what
became of his empire?
things down but not so great at building things to replace
them. As a result, his empire was divided into three different
empires upon his death, with each one being ruled by one of
Alexander’s generals (Antigonids in Greece and Macedonia,
Ptolemies in Egypt, and the Seleucids in Persia). All of these
dynasties lasted far longer than that of Alexander’s.
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
SAMPLE ANSWER: Alexander had an enormous impact on the
6. (5:53) What was Alexander’s second greatness, according
to John Green?
world after his death. Future generals and rulers looked to
Alexander as the epitome of an amazing military leader and
empire builder. He introduced the Persian idea of absolute
monarchy to the ancient world and built a number of cities
along his warring route that would become quite “great”
after his death, including Alexandria in Egypt. He also gave
his empire a common language – Greek – which meant that
trade and overall conversations were made easier by this.
Greek was even the chosen language for the New Testament,
which was written about 500 years after his death.
SAMPLE ANSWER: John Green says that maybe people
7. (7:31) What was Alexander’s third greatness?
Alexander is great because of the legend that surrounds
him, or the exaggeration of that legend. Accounts of his life
were written after he died so historians could embellish
the facts a bit. He died when he was 32, was tutored by
Aristotle, and chased the Persian king around the Middle
East just so he could kill him. He supposedly died of a fever
but this didn’t sound very macho so later historians
added that he might have died from alcohol poisoning
or from someone trying to assassinate him.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Over a thousand years after Alexander’s
8. (9:29) How do Napoleon and Pompey help Alexander’s
greatness?
death, Napoleon invaded Egypt because he was obsessed
with him and wanted to do what Alexander had done. The
Roman general Pompey was also fascinated with Alexander,
which meant that Alexander became the “great” because
so many people after his death thought he was great.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Since men are usually given the title
9. (10:28) Why is the study of greatness troubling?
of great throughout history, it implies that history was made
primarily by men and that history is about celebrity and
legend rather than actual accomplishments.
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.3 | WATCH | Conceptual Thinking
Answer the following question to make connections across different concepts and think more
critically about the information presented in the video.
1. Why does John Green admit that both Crash Course World History and world history textbooks
in general tend to marginalize women? Why do they do that?
52
LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.4 | READ | An Age of Greek and Persian Power
PURPOSE
This reading explores the founding and expansion of Greek
which contributed to the spread of Greek ideas and customs
civilization, but also several other important developments
far east of the Aegean Sea. Students will read about the
that occurred about the same time. Yes, the 400 years from
empires outside of Greece and will examine how trade was
600 to 200 BCE included the flourishing of the Greek
a major force in the integration of ideas and culture.
civilization and the Golden Age of Athens. Those developments,
As the number of cities, so too did the demand for goods,
however, took place on a much larger stage that what is
which expanded land and sea trade routes.
now Greece. A succession of empires greatly contributed
to the Mediterranean region’s integration and expansion,
especially through the conquests of Alexander the Great,
PROCESS
Have students read the article and instruct them
•How was trade handled? What was traded
to pay particular attention to the development
and through what means?
of empires. Host a discussion of themes following
•Other than goods, what else was exchanged
their completion of the reading.
during the foundation of new empires?
Potential Questions & Discussion Points:
ATTACHMENT
• What aspects of society and culture flourished
during the development of new lands and empires?
•An Age of Greek and Persian Power Article
• What administrative challenges did these
empires face?
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READING | An Age of Greek and Persian Power: The Persian (Achaemenid) Empire, 550–330 BCE
BACKGROUND
ADMINISTRATION
The Persians, a group of Indo-European speaking tribes
The vast Persian Empire was the most culturally diverse
from Inner Eurasia, arrived on the Iranian plateau sometime
empire that had ever existed. It linked the east with the west
between 1500 and 1000 BCE. About 550 BCE, Cyrus II, the
and ruled cities where people of every class and culture
leader of the Achaemenids, which was one of these Persian
rubbed shoulders and ideas. It was a huge crucible of cultural
clans, successfully revolted against the Medes, the Persians’
and social cross-fertilization. To rule it, the Persians had
overlords, who controlled upper Mesopotamia.
to invent new administrative tools.
FORMATION
It was Darius I who, building on the administrative systems
It took Cyrus less than a decade to conquer the Medes. He then
inherited from the Assyrians and Babylonians, reorganized the
moved on to seize control of the Anatolian Peninsula and the
empire. He established twenty provinces (called satrapies),
Greek city-states nestled along the peninsula’s western edge.
each with its governor, military commander, and treasurer,
Syria was next and in 539 Babylon fell as well.
who reported separately to the king. In addition, there was
a separate system of inspectors known as the King’s Eyes
When conquering Babylon, Cyrus had promised to treat it
or the Kings Ears. These inspectors had their own armies and
fairly and not to destroy either its institutions or its culture.
could move against even a military commander if necessary.
At the same time, he returned to various groups the goods
The system was so effective in preventing rebellion,
which the Babylonians had taken from them as a sign of
corruption, and harsh rule that it was copied again and again,
conquest. Cyrus also freed the Hebrews, who had been
even in modern times.
enslaved in Babylon. He allowed them to return home. Later
he helped them rebuild their temple in Jerusalem. This
Darius also introduced the Babylonian calendar, known for
policy of local cultural independence won for him a reputation
its accuracy, and set up granaries to assure a constant
as a fair ruler.
supply of food for his troops. He built elaborate underground
irrigation systems as well. In the far reaches of what is now
Meanwhile, other Persian forces moved northeast into the rich
Iran, these irrigation systems turned deserts into gardens.
lands of Bactria-Sogdiana where they captured most of the
trade centers on the Silk Routes that led to Inner Eurasia.
RELIGION
After Cyrus’ death, his son, Cambyses, added Egypt to the
The Persian ruling class followed the religion of Zoroastrianism.
empire‘s holdings. In 322 BCE, Cambyses died. Darius (522-
This religion taught that there were two deities, Ahura
486 BCE), a strong military leader, seized control. He soon
Mazda, the god of light and truth and Ahriman, the god
pushed the Persian borders to the Indus River valley in the
of darkness and evil. These two gods were in constant
east. The Persians now controlled the largest empire the
struggle, a struggle that Ahura Mazda would eventually win.
world had ever seen.
Zoroastrians believed that after the final battle, there would
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
be a Judgment Day and everyone who had ever lived would
wide, from the Nile to the Red Sea. Completed in 500 BCE,
be judged and sent either to heaven or hell. These ideas are
it connected Memphis, then the capital of Egypt, to Babylon
believed to have influenced Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
by sea.
Today, there are Zoroastrians communities in Iran and India,
where they are called Parsis or Parsees. Communities also
DECLINE/FALL
exist in other parts of the world including the United States.
During Darius’ reign, the Greek city-states at the western
The Achaemeinds did not force Zoroastrianism on their subjects.
edge of the Anatolian Peninsula rebelled. They were
As rulers of an empire that embraced more cultural
encouraged by Athens. Darius successfully squashed the
communities than had any other before them, they wisely
rebellion, and two years later he sent an expedition to
allowed their subjects much cultural freedom.
discipline Athens and the other unruly Greek city states.
The Persian army was defeated at the battle of Marathon
Persian kings saw themselves as ruling by the will of the
in 490 BCE. Darius died before he could launch another
god Ahura Mazda who cared for the well-being of all. In an
attack; but his son Xerxes advanced on Greece with
inscription on a rock in Behistun, written in 519 BCE, Darius
a huge expeditionary force. Xerxes managed to burn Athens.
proclaims that “by the favor of Ahura Mazda I am King; Ahura
He was defeated, however, when the Athenian general
Mazda bestowed the kingdom upon me.”
Themistocles lured the Persian fleet into a trap at the Battle
of Salamis in 480 BCE. After this humiliation, the Persians
TRADE
chose to deal with the Greeks through diplomacy, siding with
Darius encouraged trade and economic development in a
one, then another of Athens’ enemies.
number of ways. He standardized weights and measures and
established a coinage system based on gold and silver. He
The next 150 years of Persian history saw slow decline under
also built banking houses. (The word “check” is derived from
a series of ineffectual rulers. Rebellions multiplied. By 359
a Persian word.)
BCE, Phillip II of Macedonia had seen the empire’s weakness
and planned an invasion. He was murdered before he could
When Darius came to power, a network of roads connecting
launch the plan, but his son Alexander carried it forward. In 330,
the urban centers in Southwest Asia already existed. Darius
Alexander earned his title “the Great” with the defeat
added a royal road from Susa in the Persian homeland to
of Darius III the last emperor of the Achaemenid dynasty.
Sardis in the western part of Anatolia, a distance of some
1500 miles. A system of relay stations made it possible for
Source:
a rider carrying mail to ride the distance in six to nine days
Eppley, Felicia. “Expanding Networks of Exchange and Encounter 1200 BCE –
rather than the usual three months. Officials and merchants
500 CE. An Age of Greek and Persian Power 600 – 200 BCE.” World History
traveling on the imperial roads to do the emperor’s business
For Us All. PDF File.
carried passports entitling them to free food and lodging
along the way. Perhaps Darius’ most ambitious undertaking
was the building of a canal, 140 km long and 50 meters
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | An Age of Greek and Persian Power: The Athenian Empire, 454–404 BCE
BACKGROUND
Greece was a collection of city-states sprinkled across the tip
not leave the League without unanimous consent of the
of the Balkan Peninsula, on islands of the Aegean Sea, along
members, which meant that Athens could prevent any city-
the western edge of the Anatolian Peninsula (Ionia), and on
state from dropping out.
the rim of the Black Sea. In the sixth century BCE, the Ionian
city-states belonged to Persia, which conquered them along
Xerxes died in 456 BCE and with him the threat from Persia.
with the rest of the Anatolian Peninsula. In 494 BCE, however,
Nevertheless, Pericles (495-429), the powerful, charismatic
these city- states revolted, spurred on by Athens. Darius, the
leader of Athens, refused to allow any state to leave the
Persian emperor quickly squashed the uprising, and two
League. In fact, he forced more city-states to join. States that
years later, sent an army to get even with Athens. In spite
did not cooperate were subject to occupation by Athenian
of having a force several times larger as the Athenian
troops. In 454 BCE, the League’s treasury was moved to Athens.
army, the Persians suffered defeat on the plains of Marathon
The Delian League had become the Athenian empire.
in 490 BCE.
At its imperial height in the 440s BCE, Athens controlled 172
tribute-paying city-states.
Darius died before he could have another go at the Athenians.
But in 480 BCE his son Xerxes launched a second attack.
ADMINISTRATION
The Athenian navy, however, outfoxed and outmaneuvered
Athens, the champion of individualism and the independent
the Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis. Xerxes watched
city-state, had become the oppressor. While probably no
the defeat of his navy from his throne high up on the coastal
Athenian would have admitted to owning subject states,
plain overlooking the battle site. He quickly marched home
Athens certainly treated the states as though they were
in humiliation. The following year, the Greeks defeated the
private property. Uncooperative states had their land seized
remnants of the Persian army at Platea.
and handed out to Athenian colonists. Governments in
uncooperative states were overthrown and replaced. Taxes
FOUNDING
were collected regularly and often raised. With no external
Although the Persians had been defeated, they remained
enemy threatening the empire, the funds piled up in the
a threat to the Greeks. In 478, 104 Greek city-states created
Athenian treasury.
an alliance, the Delian League, under Athenian leadership,
agreeing to contribute ships or cash to Athens in exchange
Therefore, it was not long before these taxes from member
for building and maintaining a navy. Although the League
states, whose citizens were mostly farmers, traders, and
was run by a council of representatives from member states,
herders, were being used support projects in Athens. This
the Athenians, as the leading city-state, determined how
money financed the art, architecture, and literature of what
much each state would be taxed—how many ships it would
historians call the Golden Age of Athens. In 447 BCE, funds
contribute or how much money it would pay. Members could
from the League’s treasury paid for the construction of the
Parthenon. Completed in 432, it was built on the Acropolis,
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where the Persians had destroyed temples in 480 BCE.
DECLINE/FALL
Phidias (490-430), one of Greece’s greatest sculptors, created
In the wars against Persia, Athens and Sparta had been allies.
the Parthenon’s monumental statue of Athena. It was about
Now they turned against one another. The increase in
thirty-nine feet high and made of gold and ivory. The figure
Athenian wealth and power, both political and commercial,
of Athena held a spear in her left hand and a six-foot high
alarmed the Spartans and their allies. In 460 BCE, the First
statue of Nike, the goddess of Victory, in her right hand.
Peloponnesian War broke out. In 445 BCE a 30- year peace
treaty was signed, but the peace didn’t last. In 431, the
The arts, including drama, also flourished under the Athenian
fighting resumed. In 404, The Spartans won and imposed
empire. Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles,
humiliating terms on Athens. All but a few of its ships had
four of Greece’s most important playwrights, wrote during
to be surrendered. Athenian democracy was replaced by
this period. So did the historians Herodotus (c. 490-c.425 BCE)
a Council of Thirty, an oligarchy, loyal to Sparta. In addition,
and Thucydides (c. 460/455-c. 300 BCE).
Athenian property was plundered and many citizens were
exiled. The Athenian Empire had come to an end.
Needless to say, subject city-states were not happy about
underwriting the glory of Athens. They did, however, benefit
Source:
to some extent from the arrangement, enjoying a period
Eppley, Felicia. “Expanding Networks of Exchange and Encounter 1200 BCE –
of relative peace and prosperity.
500 CE. An Age of Greek and Persian Power 600 – 200 BCE.” World History
For Us All. PDF File.
RELIGION
All of the city-states of the Athenian empire shared generally
the same culture, so religion was never an issue. By 500
BCE, however, the old polytheistic religion of Zeus, Hera, and
Athena, had ceased to be used for much more than public
ceremony. Into this spiritual void came mystery religions such
as the Egyptian cult of the goddess Isis. These cults had
elaborate rites and restricted memberships. At the same time,
thinkers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle used reason to
develop systems of rational thought, philosophies that spread
widely in later centuries.
TRADE
The Athenian navy cleared the Aegean of pirates. This was
a benefit to all of the merchants of the empire because
it allowed for an increase in trade. The downside was that
Athens closely controlled trade so as to benefit itself.
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READING | An Age of Greek and Persian Power: Alexander’s Empire, 330–323 BCE
BACKGROUND
Macedonia was a small woodland kingdom north of Greece.
and Babylonia, conquering as he went. He faced the Persians
It was peopled by Greek-speaking warrior-aristocrats
in three major battles and won each against huge odds.
who ruled over farmers and herders. Athens and the other
He forced Emperor Darius III (336-300 BCE) to flee for his
culturally sophisticated city-states to the south tended to
life. He then occupied the great Persian capitals, and
regard Macedonians as uncivilized and their land as a source
moved into the empire’s northeastern provinces, taking
of timber, gold, and horses. In 358 BCE, Philip II became the
possession of stretches of the trans-Eurasian silk routes.
Macedonian king. He had become familiar with Greek life,
In 326 BCE, he turned southeast and pushed his exhausted
culture, and military tactics during the three years he spent
troops across the Hindu Kush Mountains into the Indus
as a hostage in Thebes. While he had no use for democracy,
valley. There, he subdued one local ruler after another. When
he admired Hellenic (Greek) ceremony and cultural refinement.
he asked his troops to go on beyond the Indus, they refused.
He saw that they could be pushed no further and agreed
When he returned to Macedonia, Philip created a new kind
to head home. In 330 BCE, Alexander was in possession
of army, one with soldiers who served year-round. He trained
of a gigantic Indo-Mediterranean empire.
his forces in Greek military tactics and armed them with
thirteen foot spear-tipped pikes. Then he advanced on the
ADMINISTRATION
Greek city-states, including Athens. He destroyed Thebes
Alexander was undoubtedly a conqueror and destroyer. For
and Sparta, spared Athens, and declared himself supreme
example, he demolished the Greek city of Thebes, and he
leader of a unified Greco-Macedonian (that is Greek and
allowed his solders to reduce the Persian capital of Persepolis
Macedonian) federation of states.
to ruins, killing the men, enslaving the women, and carrying
off the city’s treasure. Alexander, however, was also a builder.
FOUNDING
He was enamored of Greek culture and an admirer of the
Philip intended to attack Persian-ruled Anatolia next, but
Persian’s skill at administering an empire. At the practical
he was assassinated before he could take action. He was
level, he kept Persian bureaucratic organization, sometimes
succeeded by his son, Alexander, barely twenty years old.
substituting Macedonians in key positions. He extended
Alexander had been educated by the Greek philosopher
the Persian system of satraps (provinces) to the lands he
Aristotle and trained in politics and war by his father. He was
conquered in non-Persian areas south of the Hindu Kush.
tireless in battle, a stickler for details, and conscious of his
image. He was adored by his soldiers and almost everyone
Everywhere, he established new cities in the Greek style
else who met him.
and filled them with ex-soldiers mostly Greek and Macedonian,
who settled down and formed an elite class. Most of these
In 334 BCE, Alexander attacked Persia at the head of an army
Greeks married local women and reared half-Greek, half-
of 35,000 Macedonians and Greek allies. In the course of the
Persian children who grew up speaking Greek. Alexander
next eleven years, he moved through Anatolia, Syria, Egypt,
himself wed Roxana, the daughter of a prince of Sogdiana,
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an ancient territory that generally corresponds to the modern
DECLINE/FALL
nation of Uzbekistan. Alexander also held a gigantic marriage
After Alexander took the Indus valley in 325 BCE, he looked
ceremony, wedding thousands of his soldiers to Persian women.
southeastward toward the Ganges River. By this time, his
army had been away from home for almost ten years. Even
TRADE
his toughest Macedonian warriors were exhausted. They
Alexander traveled with a court that included scientists,
refused to go further, and Alexander decided to turn for home.
doctors, architects, artisans, merchants, and surveyors. In the
He got as far as Babylon, where in June 323 BCE he died.
region between the Hindu Kush and the Indus, his surveyors
He appears to have died of a fever complicated by a number
laid out a road that facilitated trade in the area long after
of factors: wounds he had suffered in the course of battles,
Alexander had left. Later, the Mauryan Emperors of India
overwork, a hunting trip in mosquito-ridden swamps, and
extended the route to the Ganges and beyond. The route
a heavy night of drinking. He lingered for four days, and
is still used today.
when his generals desperately urged him to name an heir,
he is said to have replied that it would go to the strongest.
RELIGION
In fact, after his death, his generals almost immediately set
Alexander’s mother once told him that his real father was
to warring against one another, resulting in the division
not Phillip but Apollo. At the time, the pronouncement did
of the empire into three major military states. Alexander
not appear to give Alexander divine ambitions. When he got
asked to be buried in Egypt, and reportedly his body was
to Egypt, in 331, however, he went to consult the oracle of
taken there in a golden sarcophagus (coffin). But no one
Amon, the Creator God, in the Lybian Desert. There the
knows where the conqueror’s remains were laid.
priest told the king that he was the son of Amon-Zeus, a name
combining the chief Egyptian and Greek gods. Shortly
Source:
after, Alexander had himself recognized as the Pharaoh,
Eppley, Felicia. “Expanding Networks of Exchange and Encounter 1200 BCE –
whom Egyptians considered to be divine.
500 CE. An Age of Greek and Persian Power 600 – 200 BCE.” World History
For Us All. PDF File.
As his victories mounted and his legend grew, Alexander
seemed to become more convinced of his divine roots.
At one point, he required that his subjects prostrate themselves
(lie face down) before him. His Greek court and soldiers
refused to do this, so he dropped the issue. He did, however,
promote his relationship to the gods by putting his own
likeness on the front of coins and the image of Zeus wielding
a thunderbolt on the back. During his lifetime, several
religious cults devoted to his worship appear to have arisen,
though they disappeared shortly after he died.
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READING | An Age of Greek and Persian Power: The Ptolemaic Empire, 323–30 BCE
BACKGROUND
After conquering as far east as the Indus River valley,
from their kingdom, the financial minister became the most
Alexander the Great returned to Babylon in today’s Iraq,
powerful administrator. Virtually everything taxable was
where he did in June 323 BCE. As he lay on his deathbed,
taxed—houses, goods people bought, goods they sold,
his generals desperately urged him to name an heir.
farmlands, vineyards, orchards, and gardens. Furthermore,
He is said to have replied that it would go to the strongest.
licenses were required for fishing and trading as well as
In fact, after his death, his generals almost immediately
for keeping bees and pigs. (Part of a tax collector’s job was
set to warring against one another, resulting in the division
to keep up the morale of his victims so that they would not
of the empire into three major military states, the Seleucid
simply abandon their land or jobs.) In addition, the
empire centered on Iran and Iraq, the Antigonid monarchy
government controlled trade, mines, quarries, salt production,
centered on Macedonia and Greece, and the Ptolemaic
and any commodity which produced oil—linseed, safflower,
kingdom centered on Egypt.
and caster. They also enforced strict controls on the production
of linen, papyrus, and beer. At the same time, they expanded
FOUNDING
cultivatable land with irrigation and introduced new crops
After almost fifty years of civil wars, three of Alexander’s
such as cotton and improved varieties of wine grapes.
former generals emerged victorious. One of the big winners
was Ptolemy, who got Egypt, perhaps the richest prize. In
Alexandria, on the Mediterranean, was the major Egyptian
addition he and his successors were able to grab the island
city and port. Founded by Alexander, it was the heart of the
of Cyprus and coastal lands of Anatolia and the Levant (today
Ptolemaic administration. Its population was a cosmopolitan
Syria, Lebanon, and Israel). During the 300 years of their reign,
mix of Greeks, Macedonians, Jews, and native Egyptians.
none of Ptolemies spoke Egyptian except for Cleopatra VII,
It was one of the intellectual centers of the Hellenistic, that
the last one, who died in 30 BCE.
is, Greek-like cultural world. It was here that Ptolemy I, who
collected scrolls obsessively, founded the great museum and
ADMINISTRATION
library. Eventually, the library had some 500,000 scrolls.
The Ptolemies ran Egypt as though it were a private estate.
The Ptolemies recruited the best minds of the day, creating
Non-Egyptian soldiers (Greek, Macedonian, and Anatolian)
the first “think tank”. It was here where Aristarchus of
were hired to fight the Ptolemaic wars and keep the Egyptian
Samothrace theorized that the sun was the center of the
subjects line. Greeks had been in Egypt as traders for several
universe and where Eratosthenes of Cyrene used simple
centuries. Now they became part of the exclusively Greek
geometry to calculate, with amazing accuracy, the earth’s
ruling class, which excluded even upper-class Egyptians.
circumference. It was at Alexandria that Ptolemy I began
construction of the gigantic Pharos lighthouse, which became
one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The Ptolemy’s divided their kingdom into provinces, each
of which was subdivided into areas and villages. Because
the Ptolemies’ chief concern was the extraction of wealth
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
TRADE
DECLINE/FALL
Trade expanded under the Ptolemies. Their foreign holdings
By 200 BCE, the glory days of the Ptolemaic Dynasty were
along the edges of the Mediterranean enriched the empire
waning. When facing a struggle in 217 with the Seleucid king,
with timber, metals, pitch, wine, and precious metals.
Antiochus III, the Ptolemies found themselves in a financial
In addition, they built roads from the Nile to new ports on the
bind. Without funds to hire mercenaries, they were forced to
Red Sea. The new ports were
arm some 200,000 Egyptian troops. The cost of the war led
to increasing money problems and peasant unrest. Between
designed to facilitate the importation of elephants, major
207 and 186 BCE, Upper Egypt broke away and was governed
military weapon in that era. These ports also handled spices
by separate Pharaohs of Nubian origin. The Ptolemies’ lack
from the Arabian Peninsula and India, spices that were
of concern for the population, widespread corruption, civil
crucial to religious sacrifice and mummification. Taking
unrest, a disastrous foreign policy, and near economic collapse
advantage of the seasonal winds (monsoons) which blew
contributed to the decline of the empire. It had no resources
across the Arabian Sea, mariners and merchants built up
to ward off the growing power of Rome to the west. It is not
trade lines between India and the Mediterranean world.
surprising that the Roman Emperor, Octavian, seized Egypt
from Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemies, in 30 BCE.
RELIGION
Although the Greeks brought their gods with them to Egypt,
Source:
the Ptolemies carefully respected the traditional Egyptian
Eppley, Felicia. “Expanding Networks of Exchange and Encounter 1200 BCE –
gods. Ptolemy I became the Pharaoh, the god-king. He called
500 CE. An Age of Greek and Persian Power 600 – 200 BCE.” World History
himself Ptolemy I, Sotor, or Savior. After his death, his son
For Us All. PDF File.
Ptolemy II established a joint religious cult for his father and
mother as savior gods. Cults were established for
subsequent Ptolemaic rulers as well, sometimes even while
they were alive. At death, the bodies of these Hellenistic
pharaohs were mummified and buried in sarcophagi (coffins)
covered with Egyptian hieroglyphs.
At the same time, those following other religions were not
harassed. While the Ptolemies controlled Palestine, the
Jews, for example, enjoyed a period of peace. Jews living
in Alexandria were allowed to build a synagogue in that
city, and, under Ptolemy II, they translated Jewish Scripture
into Greek. (Many of the Jews in Alexandria spoke Greek
rather than Hebrew.) Only under the vicious Ptolemy IV (221203) were they persecuted.
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.5 | WATCH | Crash Course World History #10
The Roman Empire. Or Republic. Or... Which Was it?
PREVIEW
PURPOSE
In which John Green explores exactly when Rome went from
In Crash Course World History #10, students examine Rome’s
being the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. Here’s a hint:
transition from city-state to kingdom to republic to empire
it had something to do with Julius Caesar, but maybe less
and Julius Caesar’s critical role in the transition. Traditionally,
than you think. Find out how Caesar came to rule the empire,
historians divide Ancient Roman history into three main
what led to him getting stabbed 23 times on the floor of the
periods but the end of the Republic and the beginning of the
senate, and what happened in the scramble for power after
Empire are questionable and therefore debatable when
his assassination. John covers Rome’s transition from city-
discussing power shifts in Roman history. As was the case
state to dominant force in the Mediterranean in less than 12
of Alexander the Great, empire building and military
minutes. Well, Rome’s expansion took hundreds of years,
strength go hand-in-hand.
he just explains it in under 12 minutes. The senate, the people,
Rome, the caesarian section, the Julian calendar and our old
Crash Course videos should be used as an introduction to new
friend Pompey all make appearances, but NOT the Caesar
ideas and concepts, an instruction to core ideas of the unit, and
Salad, as Julius had nothing to do with it.
should serve as a reinforcement of previously learned events.
PROCESS
As with all of the videos in the course, assign
Roman Republic and the United States. Historians
students to watch the video before class. The first
debate whether or not the Republic can be
time through, have students just try to capture the
considered a democracy. What do you think?
gist of the video. The next time, have them try to
determine important facts and information. Remind
LINK
students of John’s fast-talking and play the video
• Crash Course World History #10 –
with captions. Pause and rewind when necessary.
The Roman Empire. Or Republic.
As students watch the video, have them consider the
Or... Which Was it?
connections between the political systems of the
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.5 | WATCH | Key Ideas – Factual
Use these questions and prompts at the appropriate stopping points to check in with students
and ensure they are getting the key concepts covered in the video.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The patricians were the wealthy
1. (1:33) Who were the patricians and plebeians? From
which group were Roman senators chosen and why?
aristocrats of Rome while the plebeians were everyone else.
What were the duties of the Roman Senate?
Senators were chosen from the patrician class because
they had the money and power. The Roman Senate was
the legislative body of the Roman government so they
made laws, advised consuls, and set policy for the consuls.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Roman Senate chose two consuls
2. (2:03) Why did Rome need consuls and what were
their job limitations?
every year to act as the chief executives of Rome. There
were two of them in order to have a balance of power and
also so that one could go to war while the other took care
of domestic issues. The consuls only served for one-year
terms and after a senator had served as consul then he was
forbidden from serving again for 10 years (although these
rules were often bent).
SAMPLE ANSWER: If Rome was in danger, either domestically
3. (2:41) Why did they also need a dictator and
who was the model of a good dictator?
or from outsiders, then one person would take charge of the
Republic to guide them out of danger. Cincinnatus, a Roman
general, was the epitome of a good dictator because he came
out of retirement to help Rome and then when Rome was out
of danger, he returned to his home and gave up his power.
SAMPLE ANSWER: He was from the patrician class and
4. (3:15) Why was Gaius Julius Caesar destined
to go into government?
served in the army and the Senate. He eventually decided
to run for consul after proving to be a powerful general
and governor of Spain.
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
5. (3:49) Who made up the first triumvirate and
SAMPLE ANSWER:Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey were
why did these men decide to work together?
the first triumvirate. Each needed the other’s support
in order to gain control of the Roman government. Caesar
was a popular general, Crassus was one of the richest
men in Rome, and Pompey, also a general, was very powerful.
SAMPLE ANSWER: When Crassus died in battle, Pompey
6. (4:56) Why was Caesar recalled to Rome from Gaul?
What did Caesar end up doing when he returned to Rome?
maneuvered to take control of Rome for himself, which
angered Caesar. In order for Pompey to be the sole ruler
of Rome then he had to get rid of Caesar. Pompey worked
with the Senate to accuse Caesar of corruption and recalled
him to Rome. Caesar organized his army (legion) and crossed
the Rubicon River, the boundary between the area he controlled
and Rome, which basically meant he was declaring war
on Rome (Pompey and the Senate). Pompey fled and Caesar
became both dictator and consul of Rome.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Pompey fled to Egypt and Caesar chased
7. (5:41) Why did Caesar go to Egypt? Who did he
meet there and why was this important to the history
him in order to kill him but one of the co-rulers of Egypt,
of Rome?
Ptolemy, had his people kill him first. Caesar thus supported
Ptolemy’s sister-wife, Cleopatra, in their power struggle
for control of Egypt. Cleopatra became the last pharaoh
of Egypt, sided with Marc Antony in the struggle for Rome
after Caesar’s death, and paid the ultimate price for it.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Caesar instituted reforms to help the
8. (6:03) What reforms did Caesar make after becoming
consul/dictator of Rome?
soldiers and ordinary people of Rome. He provided land
for pensions for his soldiers, restructured the debts of these
ordinary citizens of Rome, and changed the calendar,
which looks a lot like the one we use today.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Caesar was stabbed by the senators 23
9. (6:39) What eventually happened to Caesar and why?
Why wasn’t the Republic reestablished after this?
times and died on the Ides of March (March 15, 44 BCE).
The Roman Senate was hoping the Republic (and their power)
would return but Caesar’s reforms were extremely popular
with the people, who then backed a second triumvirate
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
SAMPLE ANSWER: Mark Antony (Caesar’s best friend and
10. (7:07) Who made up the second triumvirate and
what became of Rome?
a general), Octavian (Caesar’s nephew/adopted son), and
Lepidus (the other guy whose name no one ever remembers)
became the second triumvirate. They fought over control
of Rome and Octavian won, became the emperor of Rome,
|and changed his name to Augustus (Revered One), while
the Senate became a rubber stamp of approval for his policies.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Consuls/generals such as Marius and
11. (11:38) What evidence does John Green use to say
that the Roman Republic ended long before Caesar
Sulla, who came to power long before Caesar, governed Rome
and Augustus came to power?
as dictators would have. When Rome began conquering far
off regions such as Spain and northern Egypt after the Punic
Wars, it had to incorporate a diverse collection of people who
then had to be loyal to Rome. Green argues that the Roman
Republic died because much of the power was in the hands
of one man who also controlled the Roman army, and you need
a strong army if you are going to continue to expand your
borders (empire).
LESSON 2.2.5 | WATCH | Conceptual Thinking
Answer the following question to make connections across different concepts and think more
critically about the information presented in the video.
1. What elements of the Roman Republic can we find in American culture and government today?
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.6 | WATCH | Crash Course World History #12
Fall of the Roman Empire
PREVIEW
PURPOSE
In which John Green teaches you about the fall of the
In Crash Course World History #12, students examine the
Roman Empire, which happened considerably later than you
decline of the Western Roman Empire. Once Rome stopped
may have been told. While the Western Roman Empire fell
expanding in the 2nd century CE, loyalty to the empire began
to barbarians in 476 CE, the Byzantines in Constantinople
to fail as citizens of the empire were burdened with high
continued the Eastern Empire nicely, calling themselves
taxes and debt. The rise of Christianity contributed as one
Romans for a further 1000 years. Find out what Justinian and
of the factors that led to the death of the empire along with
the rest of the Byzantine emperors were up to over there,
the reliance on mercenaries. Other causes that played a role
and how the Roman Empire dragged out its famous Decline
in the fall of Rome were a series of rather awful emperors
well into medieval times. In addition to all this, you’ll learn
during the 3rd century CE when 21 men ascended to power
about ancient sports riots and hipster barbarians, too.
in the course of 50 years, along with an increase in plagues
brought forth by trade exchanges along the Silk Road. The
Western Roman Empire serves as a prime example of how
great empires come to an inevitable end, though it did flourish
for another thousand years before the Ottoman Turks
conquered it in 1453 CE.
PROCESS
As with all of the videos in the course, assign
to fail. Are empires pushed or pulled into collapse?
students to watch the video before class. The first
And in what ways is the Roman Empire still alive today?
time through, have students just try to capture
LINK
the gist of the video. The next time, have them try
to determine important facts and information.
•Crash Course World History #12 –
Remind students of John’s fast-talking and play
Fall of the Roman Empire
the video with captions. Pause and rewind when
Video questions for students to answer during
necessary. As students watch the video, have them
their viewing.
consider what causes and forces bring an empire
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.6 | WATCH | Key Ideas – Factual
Use these questions and prompts at the appropriate stopping points to check in with students
and ensure they are getting the key concepts covered in the video.
SAMPLE ANSWER: “Barbarians at the gates.” - The city
1. (:30) What is the “traditional” view of how the Roman
Empire fell?
of Rome was conquered by barbarians (Goths) in 476 CE.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The decision to incorporate Germanic
2. (2:20) What decision led to the decline of the Roman
legions?
warriors into the Roman army.
SAMPLE ANSWER: 41 different men claimed to be emperor,
3. (3:45) In the 49-year span from 235 to 284 CE, how
many people were or claimed to be emperor of Rome?
while only 21 actually were emperor.
SAMPLE ANSWER: John was referencing the Eastern Roman
4. (5:10) Earlier in the video, John claims the Roman
Empire survived until the 15th century CE - what does
Empire, commonly known as the Byzantine Empire, although
he mean by this?
not by the people who lived in it who called themselves
Romans, whose capital was Byzantium, a city on the Bosphorus
Strait that Constantine will later rename Constantinople.
SAMPLE ANSWER: Nicea in 325 CE.
5. (6:20) Where and when did Constantine hold the first
church council for Christianity?
SAMPLE ANSWER: That they followed Roman law. Eastern
6. (8:00) During the Thought Bubble, John lists a number of
similarities between Eastern and Western Roman Empire.
Roman Empire’s codification of Roman laws was one
What, perhaps, is the most consistently Roman aspect of
of its greatest achievements and still has huge influence
Byzantine society?
on law in Europe.
SAMPLE ANSWER: The Hagia Sophia or Church of Saint
7. (9:00) What building became a symbol for the wealth and
opulence of the Eastern Roman Empire?
Wisdom, which had the world’s largest dome that wouldn’t
be rivaled for another 500 years upon its completion.
SAMPLE ANSWER: She fought to protect their rights in divorce
8. (10:00) How did Emperor Justinian’s wife, Theodora,
expand the rights of women in the empire?
and property ownership matters, and even had a law passed
that adulterous women should not be executed.
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
SAMPLE ANSWER: The two sides had different forms
9. (10:30) In what major way were the Byzantines not like
the rest of the Roman Empire?
of Christianity they followed. The Byzantine branch
of Christianity is called Eastern or Greek Orthodox.
SAMPLE ANSWER: There are doctrinal differences like
10. (11:00) What are the main differences between the two
sides of the Christian churches?
the dates of Easter are different between the sides, and
there are political differences like who oversees the church.
In the west, the Pope rules over the church - in the east, there
is a patriarch appointed by the emperor.
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.7 | READ | A Tale of Three Empires – Bridgette Byrd O’Connor
PURPOSE
Empire building and maintenance is a complicated process.
will read about the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean,
By 300 CE, the great empires of the Afro-Eurasian ancient
Han Dynasty in China, and Gupta Empire in India, will
world were in trouble. The article defines what it means
compare struggles each empire faced, and will determine
to be an empire and examines how empires fall. Students
the forces that ultimately brought the empire to fall.
PROCESS
Have students read the article and instruct them
Potential Questions & Discussion Points:
to pay particular attention to the challenges and
• What’s needed to keep an empire balanced
struggles each empire faced. Host a discussion
and flourishing?
of themes following their completion of the reading.
• Are the forces that bring an empire down
from the inside, outside or both? What
ATTACHMENT
instances can students reference to support
• A Tale of Three Empires
their claims?
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
READING | A Tale of Three Empires — Bridgette Byrd O’Connor
In order to understand the fall of an empire, we must first
Maintaining an empire was a monumental task and one that
define the concept. I’m sure many of you are familiar
required finesse and balance. Rulers wanted to extend their
with the definition of a kingdom, which is usually a small
empires in order to increase their tax revenues but
geographic region ruled by a monarchy and composed
they couldn’t tax their citizens too much or they would face
of a rather homogenous group of people. These people
a revolt. Therefore, they had to carefully determine the
share a common culture and can reasonably get along
level of taxes so that no one group was taxed too much.
with each other without too many issues. You could think
If rulers had to increase taxes by a considerable sum then
of a kingdom like your immediate family where your
they often decided it would be best to conquer more territory.
parents rule over you and your siblings. An empire is a little
However, conquering more land meant they needed more
different in that it encompasses a larger area and while
money, which became a vicious cycle until it was too much
it may still be governed by one ruler, it also has a number
to maintain. Rights of citizenship were also extended to the
of local officials or bureaucrats, who have the power
conquered people in order to make them feel like they were
to maintain order in the empire but also report back to the
truly part of the empire. Once again, this was yet another
central government. Empires are also composed of people
balancing act as rulers didn’t want to extend too much power
who have different cultures, customs, and languages, which
to the conquered peoples but also wanted to give them
makes it hard to keep everyone happy and orderly.
enough so that they wouldn’t rebel. Empire building and
maintenance was a complicated process! Once you factor
One of the greatest accomplishments of these large empires,
in all of these issues, it’s not surprising that even the most
which existed in various forms from the ancient world
organized empires eventually came to an end.
through the early 20th century, was organization. Empires
had to make sure that their laws were carried out and
By 300 CE the great empires of the Afro-Eurasian ancient
that they could collect taxes from their citizens, and as a result,
world were in trouble. These empires long provided their
they often connected the empire by creating roads and
citizens with stability in the form of large armies for
establishing communication systems. These roads would not
protection, an increase in the trade of goods and ideas, and
only connect the empire and allow for the swift transport
governments that enforced laws and justice. It wasn’t all
of military personnel and supplies but they also enhanced
roses and chocolates though because these empires did have
trade. The communication posts, which usually functioned
their issues just as any large empire would. However,
as ancient pony expresses, eventually developed into border
it was better to live under Roman rule, the Han dynasty
towns that grew into large cosmopolitan cities. In order for
in China, or the Gupta Empire in India than to be a resident
all areas of the empire to trade efficiently and effectively,
of one of those in-between periods that saw civil war and
a common currency was established, which further
uncertainty. While the Han dynasty collapsed in 220 CE,
increased trade and wealth.
the Western Roman Empire did not fall until 476 CE, and the
Gupta Empire faded out by 550 CE. However, two of these
empires were in trouble long before that.
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
HAN DYNASTY, CHINA
China has been a large and populous region for thousands
well. Competing factions were vying for power at court while
of years and consequently, it has also had to deal with
military generals were attempting to increase their power as
outsiders attempting to invade the area for just as long,
well. As a result, the dynasty fell in 220 CE when the generals
which was the main reason they built that “great” wall.
decided to divide the empire amongst themselves.
The Han dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE) entered into an
agreement with these nomadic tribes that lived on its
WESTERN ROMAN EMPIRE
northern borders. The dynasty would pay them in
The Roman Empire had grown substantially from the end of
return for peace and this agreement worked for many
Augustus’ reign in 14 CE to the death of Trajan in 117 CE and
years until one of these nomadic groups got greedy.
stretched from modern day Britain to Syria. As the Romans
Instead of dividing the payment from the Han amongst
were increasing the territory of the empire, the government
all the nomads, one group kept it all for themselves.
made sure to extend Roman citizenship to conquered lands
This, of course, angered the other nomadic tribes and
but also allowed the conquered people to keep many of their
they attacked both the Han and the nomadic traitor.
local traditions. This was an incredibly smart way to govern
As a result, each nomadic group negotiated individual
as all people had the opportunity to become citizens of the
payments and costs increased to the point that the
Roman Empire and therefore achieve a semblance of equality
Han could not keep up. While the government had issues
under the law while also maintaining their local customs and
with external forces, there were internal forces that also
religious beliefs. The Roman government also benefitted
weakened the dynasty. Peasant farmers were experiencing
from the expansion of the empire since they could now collect
an economic crisis and were forced to sell their property
taxes from a large population and increase the size of their
to wealthy landlords. These aristocrats were exempt from
army with new recruits. While this appears to be a win-win
paying taxes, which meant that the peasant farmers lost
situation for all involved, the empire soon became too large
their land and the government lost tax revenue. The Han
to govern effectively.
dynasty appeared to be losing money at a rapid rate but
then their luck really took a turn for the worse.
Protecting the vast borders of the empire was a logistical
nightmare and the Roman government soon found it easier
In 153 CE, locusts destroyed a large portion of China’s
to pay off the Germanic tribes that were known to raid the
farmland while the Yellow River also began to flood
border towns of the Roman Empire. While this arrangement,
uncontrollably due to years of deforestation and erosion.
which was similar to the Han dynasty’s bribery of the nomadic
These natural disasters crippled the ability of the Han
tribes surrounding China, appeased the Germanic tribes for
to provide for its people. Add a generous helping of infectious
a period of time, the Huns soon ended this peace. The Huns
diseases, which were brought to China via the Silk Road
were a nomadic tribe that lived predominantly in Central Asia
trade routes, and we have a recipe for dynastic disaster.
and Eastern Europe. Most students of history remember
Had the Han dynasty been controlled by a powerful ruler,
them because of their leader Attila the Hun, who united
he or she might have been able to make policies to get China
the Huns under his leadership and set about warring with
out of this mess. However, the Han court was a mess as
neighboring nomadic tribes such as the Goths raping,
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
pillaging, plundering, and burning as his troops moved from
on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, includes the rise
city to city. As Attila and his men moved farther and farther
of Christianity as one of the factors that led to the death
west, the Germanic tribes that lived on the edges of Roman
of the empire along with the reliance on mercenaries, and
Empire began to move into Roman territory. The Romans
the rise of the Praetorian Guard, who were the bodyguards
generally accepted the Germanic refugees until some of the
of the emperor but also responsible for the deaths of at least
generals in the area began treating the Germanic people
two emperors. Other causes played a role as well including
poorly. As revenge for this mistreatment, the Germanic tribes
a series of rather awful emperors during the 3rd century CE
attacked the Romans and killed approximately two-thirds
when 21 men ascended to power in the course of 50 years
of the army including Valens, the emperor of the Eastern
along with an increase in plagues brought forth by trade
Roman Empire. The once great Roman army had been
exchanges along the Silk Road.
horribly defeated, and this provided inspiration and courage
for other Germanic tribes and the Huns to attack the borders
The Western Roman Empire serves as a prime example of
of the Roman Empire. While the Germanic attacks on the
how great empires come to an inevitable end. Once the
Western Roman Empire ultimately led to the empire’s
empire expands to a size that is hard to manage and cracks
defeat, there were many other factors that contributed to the
begin to appear in the internal structure of the government
western empire’s demise.
and economy then the empire cannot sustain itself. The Eastern
Roman Empire with its capital at Constantinople continued
The decline of the Roman Empire began long before the
for almost another thousand years before the Ottoman Turks
“official” fall of the western portion in 476 CE. Once Rome
conquered it in 1453 CE. Constantine, the emperor who
stopped expanding in the 2nd century CE, ordinary citizens
succeeded Diocletian in 306 CE, built a new capital in the
of the empire were burdened with high taxes and many farmers
eastern portion of the empire and named it Constantinople
were in debt, while aristocratic landlords became wealthier.
(present day Istanbul). Constantinople, and its surrounding
This, of course, is a recipe for internal disaster. Loyalty to the
area, was much wealthier than the western empire due in
empire began to fail, borders were harder to control, and the
large part to its location along the trade route connecting the
government began relying on mercenary soldiers to defend
Black Sea and Asia to the Mediterranean and Europe. The
its interests. Mercenaries or soldiers for hire are generally
city marked the end of the major Silk Road trade route that
loyal to money rather than to the empire or nation they are
extended from China to the Mediterranean, but more on
hired to protect. The emperor Diocletian, who reigned from
that later. For now, we shift our attention back to India and
284 to 305 CE, attempted to institute reforms to save the empire
one of its most successful dynasties, the Gupta.
including appointing a co-emperor, Maximian, in 286 CE
and finally dividing the empire into a tetrarchy seven years
THE GUPTA EMPIRE, THE “GOLDEN AGE” OF INDIA
later. Diocletian, however, is probably best known for his
The Gupta Empire began rather late when compared to the
persecution of Christians, who were considered traitors under
Han and Roman empires. Founded in 320 CE by Chandra Gupta I,
Roman law because they refused to worship the emperor and
who united a large section of modern day India by conquering
the Roman pantheon of gods. Edward Gibbon, an eighteenth-
the smaller kingdoms that had risen to power after the fall of
century British historian famous for writing a lengthy work
the Mauryan and Kushan empires. These small kingdoms
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had grown extremely wealthy due to their location in the
empires succumbed to these nomadic tribes so too did the
middle of the Silk Road trade routes. Those empires that
Gupta. A little more than 200 years after its founding, the
existed simultaneously with the Gupta in India, such as the Han
Gupta empire broke apart into regional kingdoms.
and Rome, desired Indian spices and cotton. Once Chandra
Gupta I consolidated his power, his empire benefitted from
COMPARING EMPIRES
the wealth that trade provided as well as the protection of
The main theme connecting these empires together was
the natural boundaries of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush
obviously the problem of the nomadic tribes attacking their
not to mention the fact that the Gupta Empire had the
borders. Ernest O’Roark and Eileen Wood sum up this theme
added protection of a huge army complete with elephants.
quite nicely:
Due to the relative stability of the dynasty over the course
Competition among various groups of herding peoples for
of the next century, the Gupta rulers focused more on becoming
diminishing land and resources, combined with the comparative
patrons of the arts and sciences rather than the conquest
wealth of the settled empires they bordered, led nomadic
of new territories, which is why this period of Indian history
confederations to first raid, then invade their neighbors. This
is often referred to as the “Golden Age”. This stability was,
set off a chain reaction of events that, when combined with
in part, generated by the fact that the Guptas allowed some
internal weaknesses, helping bring down the Han and the
of the conquered rulers to keep their power in exchange for
Romans, while the Gupta simply fell victim to their
their loyalty to the Gupta dynasty, and of course it didn’t hurt
conquests directly. (6)
to have that huge army to back you up either. Gupta rulers
paid artists, writers, and mathematicians to create amazing
Disease was another common factor in the fall of the
works. These scholars made significant contributions to
empires as all were linked to the Silk Road trade routes.
Indian society including the use of the numbers 0 through 9
While these routes were responsible for sharing goods
and the decimal system along with numerous plays
and ideas across thousands of miles and very different
and one of the most renowned pieces of Indian literature,
cultures, they also brought new diseases. Many of these
the Kama Sutra. Aryabhatiya, the man responsible for
diseases killed thousands of people but they also allowed
creating the number system we all use today, discovered
for immunities to build up over time and therefore gave
some astronomical principles that would take a century
the people of Afro-Eurasia a huge advantage when they set
for his European counterparts to discover such as the fact
sail across the Atlantic in search of new trade routes.
that Earth is spherical and rotates on its own axis. The
Gupta also created an empire based primarily on Hinduism
Internal struggles also played a role in the demise of these
while also allowing Buddhists to worship freely. The caste
civilizations and this will be a recurring theme throughout
system was strengthened under Gupta rule, which makes
history including some of the most famous revolutions of
sense considering they believed primarily in Hinduism.
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. If a small portion
The peace and prosperity of the empire soon began to fade
of society becomes wealthy at the expense of a larger and
as the dynasty struggled with increasing attacks by nomadic
poorer portion of society then conflict will ultimately be
groups from Central Asia. Therefore, just as the Han and Roman
the result. Those in poverty see the wealth and success
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CRASH COURSE | WORLD HISTORY
of the elite, which inspires and fuels revolutions.
Finally, the stability that these empires gave the area
surrounding the Silk Road allowed for the expansion of trade,
wealth, and the sharing of information. However, once these
empires fell, wars increased and trade became more localized.
It would take another 900-to-1000 years for new empires to
gain control of the area and promote a revival of the Silk Road.
Sources;
O’Roark, Ernest and Eileen Wood. “Landscape Teaching Unit 5.1: Centuries
of Upheaval in Afroeurasia, 300-600 CE.” World History for Us All. PDF file.
Big History Project. “Unit 7: Agriculture and Civilization.”
https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
Big History Project. “Unit 8: Expansion and Interconnection.”
https://www.bighistoryproject.com. Web.
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LESSON 2.2 | THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATES AND EMPIRES
LESSON 2.2.8 | CLOSING | EQ Notebook
PURPOSE
At the start of the unit, students looked at the essential
students should cite specific passages and evidence from
question without much to go on. Now that the unit is almost
the content in the unit that provide insights into answering
over, students revisit the essential question. This time,
the driving question.
PROCESS
Ask students to think about this question and respond
or evidence that provide new insights into the
to it on their EQ Notebook Worksheets: Why do
essential question you’ve assigned for Unit 2.
civilizations rise and fall? When they fall, what impact
Once they’ve finished, they should think about how
do they have on history?
this new information has impacted their thinking
about the driving question, and write down their
Now that students have spent some time with the
thoughts in their EQ Notebook.
material of this unit, they should look back over the
content covered as well as any additional information
ATTACHMENT
they have come across, and write down any quotes
• Essential Questions Unit 2 Notebook Worksheet
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