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Unit 2: The Classical
Organization and Reorganization
of Human Societies
600 BCE to 600 CE
From Ancient to Classical Civ
 Most ancient river valley civs declined after 1200 B.C.E.
 The classical civilizations, which began to emerge around 1000
B.C.E., were measurably different than their river valley
 They grew noticeably larger through trade and conquest.
 Classical civilizations developed in China, India, Greece, and Rome. China
was the 1st and the largest of the classical civs.
 Though all the classical civilizations had declined by 500 C.E., they left an
indelible mark on world civilization. Their impact endures to the present.
 Great developments in philosophy, politics, and art in classical civilizations
formed the foundation for subsequent civilizations.
 Patriarchal culture prevailed in each of the classical civilizations.
 Empires developed as rulers strengthened gov’t and military organizations
 World religions emerged as potent forces in world history
 More numerous and better written records
 More complex long-distance trade
 More contacts between nomads and sedentary people
Dawn of the Empires
Originally created by Ms. Susan M. Pojer
Horace Greeley HS Chappaqua, NY
What constitutes empire?
Imposed political rule over another people and its resources,
usually by conquest
Must create bureaucratic administrations with sufficient
uniformity in language, currency, weights, measures, and legal
systems to enable them to function as a single political
Collection of tax or tribute to provide means to administer the
Empires create structures that display power and luxury,
inspiring loyalty among allies and caution among potential
Often encourage great creativity in the arts and learning
Establish vast marketplaces serviced by highways and roads,
ports, and dockyards. Ex. All roads lead to Rome, and canals
that linked Southern China with the North
Earliest empires built with military force, superior technologies
and vast armies or powerful navies.
What are two forms of imperial rule used in history?
Hegemony- preferred as subjects willingly accept imperial rule in
exchange for benefits like Stability and peace
(Rome, Greece,
- Technological improvements
- Economic trade markets / profits
Rome and China
- Protection from enemies Greece, China and Rome
- or perceived threats
Dominance- conquest and control through superior military power
and or the threat to use it (Akkadians, Hittites, Persians)
- Empires by nature are not static and intentionally or
unintentionally produce change in subjects
- conversion of social, economic, or political sphere
What causes the decline and fall of empires?
Leadership Failure- Rome and Hellenistic Greece
Overextension- Administrative responsibilities
(Rome and China)
Economic Collapse- Cost outrun benefits as territories become more
remote (China)
Doubts about Ideology- Justice of empire from ruling people leads to
possible revolt of subjects
Military DefeatFrom external enemies or revolt or both (Rome
and china)
Earliest Empires
 Sargon of Akkad (2334-2279 BCE)
 Amorites (Babylonians) (1900-1500 BCE)
 Hittites (1400-1200 BCE)
 Assyria’s brutal reign under Sargon II (720 – 600 B.C.E.)
 Chaldeans (600-512 BCE)
Egypt experienced imperial empire as both colonizer and colonized
 Conquered Nubia (2040-1640 BCE)
 Hyksos ruled Lower Egypt (1640-1540 BCE)
 Egypt under the New Kingdom expelled the Hyksos and created
Egypt’s largest empire
 1050BCE-Nubia broke free and in 712-657 BCE Nubia estab
own empire over Egypt
Persia under Cyrus the Great, Darius, and Xerxes
Eurasian Empires of the
Classical Era
Greece under Alexander the Great
China during the Qin and Han dynasties
India during the Mauryan and Gupta
The Persian Empire
Persian Empire
 Also known as the Achaemenid Empire, it would
occupy the arid area between Mesopotamia and
the nomadic tribes of central Asia.
 Indo-European ethnic groups organized into clans
who became loosely connected to Mesopotamian
 Medes and Persians began to appear in the region
east of Mesopotamia about 1300 B.C.E., bringing
with them the use of iron.
Cyrus the Great
 A tolerant ruler  he allowed
different cultures within his
empire to keep their own
 The Greeks called him a
 The Jews called him “the
anointed of the Lord.” (In
537, he allowed over 40,000 to
return to Palestine from
580 – 529 B. C. E.
Cyrus the Great
 Even though he broke the balance when he
defeated the Medes, Babylonians, and Lydians of
western Asia, he was seen as a liberator of
 He allowed local rulers to continue work under
Persian direction.
 Upon his questionable death, his son, Cambyses II,
expanded Cyrus’ conquest by capturing Memphis
and taking control of Egypt.
 The empire would eventually stretch from North
Africa to the Indus River.
Darius the Great (526 – 485 B. C. E.)
Best organizer among
Persian kings
Built Persepolis.
 He extended the
Persian Empire to
the Indus River in
northern India. (empire
stretched 3000 mls)
 He conquered Egypt
& built a canal in Egypt
connecting the Nile and
the Red Sea.
Darius the Great
(526 – 485 B. C. E.)
 Established a tax-collecting system.
 Divided the empire into 23 provinces
called SATRAPIES ruled by a satrap=
 Built the great Royal Road system.
 Established a complex postal
 Created a network of spies called “the
King’s eyes and ears.”
Ruled more than 35 million people
The Persians
 Persians = very
tolerant rulers
 Allowed conquered
people to keep own
languages, religions,
and laws
 Artisans built city of
Persepolis = most
magnificent city in the
Ancient Persepolis
The People of Persepolis
Persian “Royal Road”
The Persians
 Big network of roads
 Allowed for trade
between different
peoples/cultures in the
 Allowed for easy
movement of soldiers
 Royal Road = longest
road in the empire 
had stations along it so
travelers could get
food, water, and fresh
Persian Archers & Soldiers
The Persians
 480 BCE = Darius’s son Xerxes tried to
conquer Greece to expand the empire
 Failed to defeat the Greeks
The Fall of the Persians
 Differences between Persians and its subject peoples
became too difficult to overcome.
 Unfortunately, the tolerance for other traditions exhibited by
Cyrus and Darius was not continued by Xerxes, the
successor of Darius.
 His policies led to rebellions which culminated in the Persian
Wars with Greece. A long period of warfare with Greek citystates resulted in “defeat” and decline. (Marathon &
 In 334 B.C.E., Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great
invaded Persia and defeated the Persians three years later.
Persia was then divided into three regions ruled by
Alexander’s generals until their defeat in 651 C.E.
Greek Civilization:
Ancient Greece
The Aegean Area
 Ancient Greece included the Balkan
Peninsula & small rocky islands in the
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Area
 3/4 of Greek mainland =
 Protected Greeks from
foreign invaders/attackers
 Kept Greeks isolated from
other communities
 Prevented Greeks from
uniting under one
 Between the mountain
ranges = fertile plains good
for farming
The Aegean Area
 Mild climate
 So people spent much
of their time outdoors
 Meetings held in
public squares
 Teachers met
students in public
 Actors performed in
open theaters
The Aegean Area
 Despite lack of government -- Greeks
spoke same language & practiced same
religion (polytheistic)
 Greeks turned to the seas to earn a
living --> no place in Greece is more
than 50 miles from a coast
Aegean Civilization
[2500 BCE - 1100 BCE]
The Minoans
 Lived on the island of Crete
(off the coast of Greece)
 Ruled by King Minos
 Had a large palace that
contained labyrinths = mazes
 Story of Minos and the Minotaur
(half man, half bull)
The Minoans
 Murals show that both men and women:
Curled their hair
Wore gold jewelry
Wore wide metal belts
Liked dancing, sporting events, and boxing
The Minoans
 Women enjoyed a higher
status in society than in other
 Chief deity = goddess of the
 Made a living from sea trade -dominated eastern
Mediterranean Sea trade
 Protected the seas from pirates
The Minoans
 Collapsed about 1350 BCE --> 2
theories why:
 Large tidal wave destroyed cities
 Mycenaeans (from mainland) attacked &
invaded Crete
The Mycenaeans
 Migrated from central Asia to the Balkan
Peninsula (Greece)
 Intermarried with local people there (called
Hellenes) and set up a group of kingdoms
The Mycenaeans
 Each kingdom centered around a hilltop
with a royal fortress
 Surrounded by stone walls for protection
 Palaces = centers of government and
production of goods
 Officials kept track of the wealth of every
 People were taxed in the form of livestock,
wheat, and honey
The Mycenaeans
 Adopted many parts of Minoan culture
 Worshipped same Mother Earth
 Metalworking, shipbuilding, navigation by
sun & stars
The Mycenaeans
 Mycenaeans conquered the Minoans but
were then themselves conquered by the
Dorians from the north around 1100 BCE
 Began “dark ages” of Greek culture
 Trade stopped, people lost skills, poverty
 Ionians reintroduced Greek culture 300 years later
(Ionians = refugees that had escaped when the
Dorians took over)
 New Greek civilization emerged --> called
Hellenic after the original people of Greece
Poets and Heroes
 Two most famous Greek
epics = The Iliad and The
 Written by blind poet named
 The Iliad = about the Trojan War
& features the story of the
Trojan Horse
 The Odyssey = about the
journey of King Odysseus after
the fall of Troy
 Stories were used to teach
Greek values
A Family of Deities
 Greeks believed that gods caused the physical
events of Earth to occur and controlled how people
behaved, as well as what happened to people
 Unlike other early cultures, Greeks didn’t fear their
 Stressed importance of the individual & self-worth --> this
self-respect allowed them to approach the gods with dignity
A Family of Deities
 Greeks humanized
their gods &
 They had a totally
human form
 Had human
 Chief god = Zeus
A Family of Deities
 Each city-state had a particular god as
its protector
 Each god controlled a part of the natural
world (ex: Zeus ruled the sky & weather;
Hades ruled the underworld; Poseidon
ruled the sea; etc.)
A Family of Deities
 Every 4 years, athletic contests were
held to honor Zeus
 Called the Olympic Games --> held in
A Family of Deities
 Greeks began performing plays =
beginnings of theater
 1st play = tribute to Dionysus = god of
wine, fertility, and parties
 Started off as songs then poems then
Ancient Greece: The
The Polis
 Polis = city-state
 Each polis
independently, but
shared certain
features with other
The Typical Polis
 Polis included: a city and the
surrounding villages, fields,
and orchards
 At the center of the city = an
Acropolis = fortified hill
 On top of Acropolis = temple of
the local god or goddess
 Foot of Acropolis = the agora =
public square
The Typical Polis
 Public square was
political center of the
 Citizens gathered
there to choose
officials, pass laws,
 Artisans &
merchants did
business there
The Typical Polis
 Citizens = those who took
part in government
 Could vote and hold public
 Could speak for themselves in
 Could own property
 In return: expected to serve in
government and protect the
The Typical Polis
 Most Greeks were NOT citizens
 Slaves, foreign-born, and women
couldn’t be citizens
Greek Colonies & Trade
 Increase in population after the “dark
ages” --> farmers couldn’t grow enough
grain to feed everyone
 Each polis sent out groups of people to
set up colonies
 Colonists sent grain back to the “parent
Greek Colonies & Trade
 Farmers on mainland produced wine,
olive oil, and other cash crops for export
 Greek trade expanded throughout the
Mediterranean region
Greek Colonies & Trade
 600s BCE = Greeks replaced barter
system with money system
 Began producing textiles (cloth) and
Political and Social Change
 Greek communities first ruled by kings - kings soon lost power
 Each polis was then ruled by
landholding aristocrats = nobles
Political and Social Change
 Disputes between aristocrats and
commoners (especially farmers) often
 Farmers often had to borrow money from
the aristocrats until harvest --> when they
couldn’t pay back the money, the
aristocrats took the land, made farmers
become sharecroppers/day laborers, or
sold farmers into slavery
Political and Social Change
 Farmers began to protest
 Farmers were very
powerful in Greek armies
because they were the
foot soldiers
 Greek armies relied on
the phalanx = rows of
foot soldiers close
together with shields to
form a wall
Political and Social Change
 Middle-class artisans & merchants
wanted a voice in government & joined
the farmers in protest
Political and Social Change
 As a result of the
unrest: tyrannies
 Tyrant = one man -->
seized power and
ruled the polis
 Most were fair; a few
were cruel and unjust
 Tyrannies ruled until
500 BCE
Political and Social Change
 500 BCE - 336 BCE = citystates were oligarchies or
 Oligarchy = a few wealthy people
hold power
 Democracy = government by the
 2 most famous Greek city-states:
 Athens = democracy
 Sparta = oligarchy
“Persian Wars”: 499 BCE–480 BCE
Persian Wars: Battles
$ Marathon (490 BCE)
 26+ miles from Athens
$ Thermopylae (480 BCE)
 300 Spartans at the
mountain pass
$ Salamis (480 BCE)
 Athenian navy victorious
Peloponnesian Wars- 431 B.C.E.
The Peloponnesian War
 The emergence of Athens as an imperial power
after the Persian Wars led to open hostilities with
former allies.
 Mainly between the Spartans, financed by the
Persians and the Athenians, lasted three
decades with the victory of the Spartans.
 Persia regained much of its control and because
of uprisings in Egypt, Cyprus, and Phoenicia, it
did not return to attack Greece.
 In northern Greece, Macedonians, Philip II and
his son, Alexander, would reshape the eastern
Mediterranean and western Asia in this vacuum.
Macedonia Under Philip II
Alexander the Great
356-323 B.C.E.
Alexander the Great
 He saw himself as an
Achaemenid ruler in the
tradition of the Persians.
 Alexander, a Macedonian,
defeated Athens but was
welcomed by the military
to power.
 Alexander and his armies
would travel over 22,000
miles and extend Greek
influence from Egypt to
the Indus River.
 Benevolent despotism but
don’t test him.
Alexander the Great in Persia
Building “Greek” Cities in the East
Library at Alexandria (333 B.C.E.)
Alexander the Great’s Empire
A New
Trade in the Hellenistic World
Hellenic vs. Hellenistic Art
The Breakup of Alexander’s Empire
The “Known” World – 300 B.C.E.
The Incursion of Rome into the Hellenistic World
 Greek language and culture became the dominant
culture among the ruling intellectual and commercial
elites from the Mediterranean, India, Russia, and
Central Asia.
 Local customs coming from the Persians, endured
and transformed the simplicity of earlier Hellenic
culture into the more complex, elaborate, and
cosmopolitan Hellenistic culture until the death of the
last Macedonian queen, Cleopatra in 30 B.C.E.
 Buddhist art is also transformed.
 Hellenistic ecumene- unified urban culture,
encompassing the vast lands and diverse peoples.
 Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Corinth, Delphi and later
cities built by Alexander and his generals.
 Asia, Africa, and Europe begin to merge culturally.
Originally created by Ms. Susan M. Pojer Horace Greeley HS
Chappaqua, NY
Geography of the
Rome’s central location contributed to its success in
unifying Italy and then all the lands ringing the
Mediterranean Sea which it called the “Middle of the
Italy was a crossroads within the Mediterranean and
Rome was a crossroads within Italy.
The Tiber River on one side and a double ring of seven
hills on the other afforded natural protection to the
The Apennine Range runs along its length like a spine,
separating the eastern and western coastal plains.
The mild Mediterranean climate affords a long
growing season and conditions suitable for a variety
of crops and the conditions for sustaining large
The mountainous regions were abundant in timber and
iron and other metal were found in the northwest
region of Etruria.
The Geography of Rome
The Mythical Founding of
Romulus & Remus
From Kingdom to Republic
 Modern scholars do not support the myths of
Romulus and Remus but it appears bands of IndoEuropean migrants crossed the Alps and settled
throughout the Italian Peninsula.
 Like their distant cousins in India, Greece, and
northern Europe, these migrants blended with
the Neolithic inhabitants of the region, adopted
agriculture, and established tribal federations.
Bronze metallurgy appeared around 1800 B.C.E.
and iron around 900 B.C.E.
 The first major group of Italy were the
Etruscans. Coming from Anatolia, they settled
from the Po River in the north to modern-day
Naples in the south.
 The Etruscans deeply influenced the early
development of Rome. Several of the first Roman
kings were Etruscan and ruled through the
seventh and sixth century B.C.E.
Influence of the Etruscans
 Writing
 Religion
 The Arch
Apennine Peninsula in 753 BCE
Formation of an Empire
 About 509 B.C.E., Romans drove out the Etruscan kings and
declared Rome a republic, a government in which power resides in
a body of citizens and consists of representatives elected by them.
 The Roman Republic which lasted from 507 to 31 B.C.E. was not a
democracy. Sovereign power resided in assemblies and while all
male citizens were eligible to attend, the votes of the wealthy
classes counted for more than the votes of poor citizens.
 In Rome, as in classical China and Greece, patterns of land
distribution caused serious political and social tensions.
Conquered lands fell into the hands of wealthy elites who
organized large plantations known as latifundia.
The Roman Republic
• The real center of power was the Roman Senate. Technically an
advisory council, first to kings and later to Republican officials, the
Senate increasingly made policy and governed. Senators nominated
their sons for public offices and filled Senate vacancies from the ranks
of former officials.
 The Senate whose members served for life brought together the state’s
wealth, influence, and political and military experience.
 The inequities in roman society led to periodic unrest and conflict
between the elite (patricians) and the majority of the population
 It became apparent in time the republic which was constructed for
small city-states was not suitable for a large and growing republic.
Roman Expansion under the
 Occurred in 3 Main Stages
 United Italian Peninsula
 Conflict with Carthage
 1st Punic War (264-241 BCE)
 2nd Punic War (218-201 BCE)
 3rd Punic War (146 BCE)
 Subjugation of the Hellenistic States
Carthaginian Empire
Expansion of the Empire
 As it expanded, Rome often offered its opponents a choice
between alliance and conquest. If they accepted Roman rule, they
would receive Roman citizenship and protection.
 Rome fought protracted and bloody wars against the
Carthaginians (Hannibal) called the Punic Wars. The
Carthaginians were the heirs of the Phoenicians which controlled
much of the southern and eastern Mediterranean.
 During the early first century B.C.E., Rome fell into civil war as
individuals fought for land and power in the new lands of the
Romans. While there were attempts to reform the empire under
Tiberius in 132 B.C.E. and Gaius in 121 B.C.E., they were both
assassinated and the die had been cast for a move away from the
Republican ideals and a move toward a centralized imperial form
of government.
Imperial Rome Emerges
 In addition to the Carthagians, the Romans also
fought with the Gauls (Celts) from Modern-day
 Under Julius Caesar, Rome expanded its empire
across the Mediterranean and the continent of
 The conquest of Gaul helped to create a political
crisis. As a result of his military victories, Caesar
had become very popular in Rome. As tensions
arose in early 49 B.C.E., Caesar had turned his
armies toward Rome.
 By early 46 B.C.E., he had made himself master of the
Roman state and named himself dictator-an office he
claimed for life rather than the usual six-month term.
 Caesar’s policies pointed the way toward a centralized,
imperial form of government for Rome and its
possessions but Caesar’s rule had alienated many
members of the Roman elite and he was assassinated in
44 B.C.E. which led to continued civil conflict until the
acceptance of Octavian, Caesar’s nephew and adopted
Expansion under the
Octavian Augustus:
Rome’s First Emperor
Pax Romana
 Octavian known now as Augustus, a term with strong religious
connotations suggesting the divine nature of its holder, would rule
virtually unopposed and fashioned an imperial government that guided
Roman affairs for the next three centuries.
 During the two centuries following Augustus’s rule, Roman armies
conquered much of the Mediterranean. The empire had expanded to
include not only the lands of Italy, Greece, Syria, Gaul, and most of
the Iberian Peninsula, but it would go onto conquer lands as far as
Britain, most of northern Africa, SW Asia, and Anatolia.
 Roman Expansion had especially dramatic effects on European lands
embraced by the Empire. Egypt, Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia
had long been sites of complex city-based societies but Gaul,
Germany, Britain, and Spain were not.
 When Roman soldiers, diplomats, governors, and merchants arrived,
they stimulated the development of local economies and states.
The Greatest Extent of the
Roman Empire – 14 CE
Pax Romana: 27 BCE – 180 CE
Roman Law
 Under conditions of political stability and the Pax Romana,
jurists constructed an elaborate system of law.
 Romans began a tradition of written law about 450 B.C.E.,
when they created the Twelve Tables.
 As armies spread Roman influence, jurists worked to
construct a rational body of law that would apply to all
peoples under Roman rule.
 They established the principle that defendants were
innocent under proven guilty and they also had the right to
challenge their accusers in a court of law.
 Like transportation and communication networks, Roman
law helped to integrate diverse lands that made up the
empire and the principles of Roman law continued to shape
Mediterranean and European society long after the empire
had disappeared.
Rome’s Early Road System
Roman Roads:
The Appian Way
Imperial Roman Road System
Roman Aqueducts
The Roman Colosseum
The Colosseum Interior
Roman Society
 As Rome expanded, it did levy tribute, taxes, rents, and
recruited soldiers from the peoples in conquered. They
settled their own soldiers in captured lands, turning those
lands into Roman estates and enslaving millions of people.
 The Supplying of Rome, the construction of cities, and
trade across the Eurasian land mass transformed the
Empire dramatically.
 Even though it was law for the peoples of the empire to
worship Roman deities, as conditions worsened and
contact with other areas increased, new religious thoughts
would permeate the empire.
 The two groups who were creating the greatest concern for
the Romans were the Jews of Palestine and a Jewish sect,
known as Christians.
The Empire Stops
 One noticeable difference
during this time is the building
of walls to keep out the
Barbarians of the Empire.
 The most famous was Emperor
Hadrian’s Wall (117 - 138
C.E.) which defined the most
northern extent of Roman
expansion on Britain.
 As military commanders were
more focused on defensive
strategies than on offensive
strategies, these changes
started to sow seeds for future
The Rise of Christianity
“Third Century
235 to 284 C.E.
Crises of the
 Political Problems
 Succession (22 emperors b/w 235 & 284)
 Military Problems
 Barbarian attacks
 Barbarization of the army
 Economic Problems
Growing cost of defense
Loss of resources
Increased insecurity hurt trade
 Social Problems
Loss of confidence
Decline of cities
People felt no connection to rulers/only passive loyalty
The Empire in Crisis: 3c
Diocletian’s Reforms
 Political Reforms
 Divided empire into 2 parts with 2 co-emperors and 2 ceasars
 Decreased power of provincial governors
 Emphasized divine nature of the Emperor—called Lord
 Military Reforms
Doubled size of army
Began draft
Created mobile field armies
Rebuilt frontier fortifications
 Economic Reforms
Direct requisition
Issued a new currency
Heavy taxes
Froze wages & prices
 Persecuted Christians
Diocletian Splits the Empire in
Two: 294 CE
 When Diocletian resigned in 305 C.E., the old
divisiveness reemerged as various claimants
battled for the throne.
 The eventual winner was Constantine who
reunited the entire empire under his sole rule by
 In 312, Constantine won a key battle near Rome.
He later claimed he had seen a cross superimposed
on the sun before battle. Believing the Christian
God had helped him achieve victory, he would
later legalize Christianity called the Edict of
 This ended the persecution of Christians in the
Constantine: 312 - 337
The Spread of Christianity
Constantinople: The
New Rome
 In 324, Constantine transferred the imperial
city from Rome to Byzantium, an ancient
Greek city on the Bosporus Strait between
the Black and the Mediterranean Seas.
 This move reflected and accelerated
changes in the empire.
The Eastern Roman Empire
Rise of the Barbarians
 Continuing imperial vitality in the Eastern Empire
contrasted with deepening decline in the Western Empire,
which became a separate entity after 395.
 While the Byzantine armies were able to stop the warring
bands north of the Danube River, many of these groups
would move toward the west and create havoc for the
Western empire.
 The primary “Barbarian” groups were the Huns, Vandals,
Goths, Saxons, and Franks.
 The Goths, a Germanic People, would go on to sack Rome
in 410. By 530, with the old Roman economy and urban
centers in shambles, the Western Roman empire would
eventually fall to numerous tribes from across Europe and
Barbarian Invasions: 4c-5c
The Fall of the Roman Empire
 476—Odovacar, a German, killed the
last Emperor and became King of Italy
 Considered the Fall of the Roman
Empire—now all Roman land west of
the Adriatic was ruled by “barbarians.”
The Han Dynasty
Chinese Dynasty Song
Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han
Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han
shang, joe, chin, hahn
Sui, Tang, Song
Sui, Tang, Song
sway, tang, soong
Yuan, Ming, Qing, Republic
Yuan, Ming, Qing, Republic
yooan, ming, ching, Republic
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
mou dzu dong
Ancient Chinese Civilization
 Chinese civilization along the Huanghe
(Yellow River) developed in relative
isolation, save for some overland
trading with India and the Middle East.
 By around 1500 B.C.E. a line of kings
called the Shang ruled over the
Huanghe valley. They began the
dynastic cycle that would endure until
the 20th century.
•The rise and fall of
Start here
dynasties in China – any
power that lost power
was because they lost
their mandate
Emperor is
defeated !!
Rebel bands find
strong leader who
unites them.
Attack the emperor.
Poor lose
respect for govt.
They join rebels
& attack landlords.
2500 – 250 BC
A new
comes to power.
The emperor
reforms the govt.
& makes it more
famines occur.
Lives of common
people improved;
taxes reduced;
farming encouraged.
Problems begin
(extensive wars,
invasions, etc.)
Taxes increase;
men forced to
work for army.
Farming neglected.
Govt. increases
Dynastic Cycle
 Dynastic cycle lasted from 1700 BCE
until the early part of the 20th century.
 Dynasty=family of kings.
 3 Dynasties of classical China: Zhou,
Qin, and Han.
Shang (1700 - 1027 BCE)
First recorded Dynasty
Ruled by a belligerent aristocracy
First Chinese cities, center of court life
Villages organized by clans, not nuclear
Cast bronze, created silk
Developed writing. Ideas through
pictographs. Thousands of characters.
Honored ancestors, used oracle bones
Shang tyrant emperor overthrown by
Zhou, who ushered in the 2nd dynasty.
Shang Bronzes
Zhou (Chou) (1027 - 250 BCE)
 Longest lasting Chinese Dynasty.
 First classical era dynasty.
 First period of territorial expansion (complicated
problems of central rule).
 Featured decentralized politics but important cultural
innovations incl. Confucianism, Mandate of Heaven,
and Chinese language.
 Est system of currency
 China’s feudal period (rulers gave land to their
supporters in exchange for defense).
Zhou Coins - bronze
Zhou (Chou) (1027 - 250 BCE)
 Zhou rulers claimed direct links to the Shang rulers.
 Also asserted that heaven had transferred its
mandate to rule China to the Zhou emperorsMandate of Heaven.
 Mandate of Heaven remained a key justification for
Chinese imperial rule in all subsequent dynasties
(think Divine Right).
 Promoted linguistic unity via a standard spoken
language (Mandarin Chinese). Largest single group
of people speaking the same language in the world at
this time.
 As a wondering scholar-philosopher in Zhou China,
Kung Fuzi (Confucius) undertook a quest to become
chief advisor to a ruler who possessed the wisdom to
restore centralized control, peace, and order in his
realm (like Aristotle philosopher-king).
 Though he never fulfilled this goal in his lifetime, his
students preserved, spread, and debated his
teachings after his death in the early 5th c B.C.E., and
compiled his teachings in the Analects. (Consider
Greek philos, the Buddha, and Jesus’ disciples).
 His social and political teachings formed the basis for
one of humanity’s greatest and most enduring civs.
551 – 479 B.C.E.
Born in the feudal
state of Liu.
Became a teacher
and editor of books.
Confucianism 101
 Idealized strong rulers and consolidation of polit
 Advocated rule by highly educated, exclusively male
elite (think Aristotle).
 Began as an ethical rather than religious system.
 Est norms for all aspects of Chinese life, from familial
relationships, filial piety, ancestor veneration, and
male authority.
 Est norms for etiquette of rulers and scholar
 Influenced art, music, calligraphyI
 Formed basis of Chinese philosophical and religious
beliefs for more than 2000 years.
 Confucianism waxed and waned during
subsequent dynasties, but continues to
influence Chinese culture today.
 Also exerted influence on other Asian
societies incl Japan and Korea.
Zhou (Chou) (1027 - 250 BCE)
 The breakdown of the Zhou dynasty’s
ability to control its vassals in the 8th c
B.C.E. led to a long period of political
conflict (i.e. land-owning aristocrats
solidified their own power base and
disregarded the central govt.)
 Internal conflicts left China vulnerable to
outside invaders btwn 8th-3rd c B.C.E.—
Warring States Period
Qin (221 - 207 BCE)
 By 221 BCE, warrior Shi Huangdi
brought an end to the years of civil strife
and disunity, ushering in the Qin
 Shi Huangdi vanquished all his rivals
and founded a new imperial court.
 But Shi Huangdi proved to be a tyrant,
so the Qin Dynasty ended shortly after
his death in 210 BCE.
Qin (221 - 207 BCE)
 Self appointed title Qin Shi
Huangdi , meaning First
 The name Qin conferred on
the whole country its name of
 Brutal yet effective. Organized
China into large provinces
ruled by bureaucrats.
 Shi Huangdi appointed
officials from nonaristocratic
groups, so that they would not
dare to develop their own
independent bases of power.
Qin (221 - 207 BCE)
 For defense, built first Great Wall (Ming
built other part later), extending 3000+
miles. Largest construction project in
human hist.
 Adopted Legalism: only way to achieve
order was to pass strict laws and
impose harsh punishments. (Hanfeizi)
 Ordered natl census, standardized
currency, weights measurements,
laws, and unified written script
throughout the realm.
 Banned Confucianism, burned books.
Attacks on intellectuals and high taxes
made him fiercely unpopular.
The Terracotta Warriors
Han (202 BCE - 221 CE)
 After Shi Huangdi’s death, massive peasant revolts
broke out. Two peasants led a revolt against Qin
oppression, toppling the dynasty.
 Liu Bang—brought China under control & established
the Han Dynasty
 Lasted for 400+ years. Most effective, & most
enduring bureaucracy in the preindustrial world.
 Legalism replaced by Confucianism
 Introduced civil service examination (process of
selecting govt officials based on merit rather than
noble birth). Ltd. power of emperor (checks &
 Expanded Chinese territory into Korea, Indochina,
and central Asia.
Han (202 BCE - 221 CE)
 Wu Ti (140-87 BCE)-erected shrines to Confucius,
and he was established as a god. Official state
 Required nobles to divide their land btw all sons to break up
large estates
Trade expanded greatly during this time period
Peace brought great prosperity.
Buddhism introduced, paper invented
Great increase in population
Govt sponsored public works projects incl complex
irrigation & canal systems (compare to Rome)
 Not highly militaristic.
221 - 581 (CE)
 Han dynasty overturned by a nomadic tribe,
the Huns
 Han weakened by corruption & peasant uprisings
 Warlords control china - no centralized gov’t
 Non-Chinese nomads control much of China
 Buddhism becomes popular - Confucianism
 (Invaders like Huns might topple a dynasty,
but they couldn’t devise a better system to
run the country, so the system & its
bureaucratic administrators normally
Economy & Society
 Considerable gap btwn landed elite and the masses (peasant
farmers). Strength of agrarian base allowed China to carry about
1/5 of the total human population from the last centuries BCE to
the present day.
 Slavery waned after the Zhou dynasty.
 3 main social groups:
 Landowning aristocracy (educated bureaucrats or mandarins)
 Laboring masses (peasant farmers, urban artisans)
 Mean people (unskilled laborers, performing artists). Required to wear
green scarves for identification. Punished for crime more harshly.
 According to Confucianism, men superior to women, old
superior to young, etc.
 “There are no wrongdoing parents.” Courts didn’t prosecute
parents who injured or killed children, but would punish a
disobedient child.
 Strict control over one’s emotions.
Economy & Society
 Trade became important during Zhou &
Han. Focused on luxury items: silk,
 Confucian emphasis on learning and
political service led to scorn of lives
devoted to moneymaking. Therefore,
wealthy merchants had low prestige in
social hierarchy.
Economy & Society
 Chinese civ evolved with very little outside contact. Most saw
China as an island of civilization in a sea of barbarians with
nothing to offer except threat of invasion. They saw no need to
learn from other societies.
 Spread of Buddhism is exception to this rule, b/c it came from
India during & after the Han decline.
 Chinese pioneered technologies that were later disseminated
over much of Eurasia & northern Africa: paper & compasses.
 Asian nomads disseminated these inventions over much of the
globe, contributing to tech transformations in Japan, Rome, Mid
East, & Eng.
 China’s silk became valued in Mide East & Roman Empire.
Trade of silk and other luxury products generated a network of
roads thru ctrl Asia known as the Silk Road. Han actively
encouraged Silk Road trade.
Originally created by Ms. Susan M. Pojer Horace
Greeley HS Chappaqua, NY
Cultural Cohesion
1500 B.C.E.-600 C.E.
Aryan Migration
 pastoral  depended on their cattle.
 warriors  horse-drawn chariots.
Caste and Varna
Caste identities developed gradually as the Aryans
established settlements throughout India.
The Aryans used the term Varna (Color) to refer to
the major social classes. “Wheat colored v. darker
After about 1000 B.C.E., the Aryans increasingly
recognized four main Varnas: Brahmins (priests),
kshatriyas (warriors and aristocrats), vaishyas
(cultivators, merchants, artisans), and shudras
(landless peasants and serfs). Untouchables came
Dravidians believed that humans souls took on new
physical forms after deaths of their bodily hosts.
Sometimes souls returned as plants or animals,
sometimes in the bodily shell of newborn humans.
Transmigration and reincarnation
Varna (Social Hierarchy)
Pariahs [Harijan] 
The Vedic Age
The foundations for
Hinduism were
The Empires of
Establishment of States
Fortunes of Empire in
 By 700 B.C.E., wars of expansion had resulted in
consolidation of several large regional
kingdoms that dominated much of the
 However, it is believed that none of these earlier
kingdoms were able to establish hegemony over
the others.
 During the classical era, the Mauryan, Kushan,
and the Gupta Empires founded centralized,
imperial states that embraced much of India, but
neither empire survived long enough to establish
centralized rule of the entire subcontinent as a
lasting feature of Indian life.
 Cholan Empire (Tamil Nadu) would control much
of the south until the British Raj. [300 BCE-1279
Unification of India
 The push for unification of India came
partly as a result of intrusion from
beyond the subcontinent.
 About 520 B.C.E. the Persian emperor
Darius crossed the Hindu Kush,
conquered parts of NW India, and made
what is now Punjab in northern Pakistan
part of the Achaemenid Empire. Persian
ways were embraced.
 Almost two centuries later in 327 B.C.E.,
after overrunning the Persian empire,
Alexander of Macedon crossed the Indus
River and crushed the state he found
Mauryan Empire
 Alexander and his armies did not stay in
NW India and his withdrawal created a
vacuum by removing the existing states.
 During the late 320’s B.C.E., an ambitious
adventurer named Chandragupta
Maurya exploited that opportunity and
laid the foundations for the Mauryan
Empire, the first state to bring a
centralized and unified government to
most of the subcontinent.
 He also continued on and captured the
Bactrian lands and eventually all of
northern India from the Indus to the
Maurya Empire
321 B.C.E.- 185 B.C.E.
The Maurya Empire
321 BCE – 185 BCE
Chandragupta: 321 BCE-298 BCE
* Divided his empire into
provinces, then districts
for tax assessments and law
 He feared assassination  food tasters,
slept in different rooms, etc.
 Like Persia and China, a bureaucratic
administrative system enabled him to
implement policies throughout the state
 Chandragupta’s advisor.
 Brahmin caste.
 Wrote The Treatise on
Material Gain or the
 A guide for the king and his ministers:
Supports royal power.
The great evil in society is anarchy.
Therefore, a single authority is
needed to employ force when
 Tradition holds that Chandragupta
abdicated his throne to become a monk
and eventually starved himself to death.
 Whether this is true or not, it is certain
that his son succeeded him in 297 B.C.E.
and added most of southern India to the
growing empire.
 The high point of the Mauryan Empire
came during the reign of Chandragupta’s
grandson, Asoka.
Asoka’s reign
(268-232 B.C.E.)
 Asoka’s first major
undertaking was to
conquer a region of
east-central India
known as Kalinga.
 By Asoka’s estimate
100,000 died and over
150,000 were removed
from their lands.
 Some scholars debate
that because of the
bloody campaign, Asoka
converted to Buddhsim.
based in
Asoka’s law code
 Edicts scattered in
more than 30 places
in India, Nepal,
Pakistan, & Afghanistan.
 Written mostly in
Sanskrit, but one was in
Greek and Aramaic.
 10 rock edicts.
 Each pillar [stupa] is 40’-50’ high.
 Buddhist principles dominate his laws.
All living things…
One of
Asoka’s rule
 As a result of Asoka’s policies, most of India
was integrated and benefited from an
expanding economy and a stable government.
 He encouraged trade by building roads, some
over 1000 miles long, to link India to the West.
Along the roads trees were planted, wells
were dug, and inns were established.
 Asoka died in 232 B.C.E. and decline set in
almost immediately. Many scholars believe the
excessive pay and costs of administration
helped to pave the way and by 185 B.C.E., the
Mauryan Empire had disappeared.
Turmoil & a power Vacuum:
220 BCE – 320 CE
The Maurya Empire is divided into many kingdoms.
 Although the Mauryan Empire came to an
end, India did not crumble into anarchy.
Regional kingdoms emerged most notably
were the Bactrians, Kushans, and the
Tamil Nadu
 The Indo-Greek Bactrian nomads
controlled a large territory in
northern India. Bactria was a thriving
commercial center linking lands from
China to the west.
 This region became a cultural
crossroads of the now emerging silk
road. Most notably was the Bamiyan
Valley in modern-day Afghanistan.
Kushan Empire
30 C.E. – 375 C.E.
The Kushan Empire
The “Forgotten
3 CE – 375 CE
The Kushan Empire
 The Kushans eventually conquered
the Bactrians and ruled much of
northern India and central Asia
from about 1C.E. to 300 C.E.
 Under Kanishka, the most
prominent of the Kushan emperors,
commerce resumed and the silk
road network again flowed
between Persia (Sassanid) and Han
China, but imperial rule was not
firmly established.
 King of Kings
 Son of God, Shah
 Uzbekistan to southern IndiaCapital city- Peshwar and Mathura
 Raw silk from China made into fine
 Pepper, Peacocks, Spice
 700 feet high stupa- Buddha’s
Kushan Empire
 Trade, trade, trade…
 Buddhism flourished and
brought to China
 Open-minded, multicultural
 Arts, literature, and science
 Knowledge of Plants,
medicines, etc.
 Peace, trade, and tolerance
 the Kushan empire split into western and eastern
halves. The Western Kushans (in Afghanistan)
were soon subjugated by the Persian Sassanid
Empire and lost Bactria and other territories.
 Then in the mid 4th century they were subjugated
by the Gupta Empire under Samudragupta.
 These remnants of the Kushan empire were
ultimately wiped out in the 5th century by the
invasions of the White Huns, and later the
expansion of Islam.
The Gupta Empire
320 C.E.- 647 C.E.
The Gupta Dynasty
 Like the Mauryas, the Guptas based their
state in the center of northern India near
the Ganges.
 The new empire arose on the foundations
laid by Chandra Gupta (Not related to
Chandragupta Maurya) who established a
kingdom around the year 320 C.E.
 His successors, Samundra Gupta and
Chandra Gupta II conquered many of the
regional kingdoms of India and established
tributary alliances.
Gupta Empire: 320 CE – 647 CE
Gupta Rulers
 Chandra Gupta I
r. 320 – 335 CE
“Great King of Kings”
 Chandra Gupta II
r. 375 - 415 CE
Profitable trade with
the Mediterranean
 Hindu revival.
 Huns invade – 450 CE
Fa-Hsien: Life in Gupta India
 Chinese Buddhist monk traveled along the
Silk Road and visited India in the 5c.
 He was following the path
of the Buddha.
 He reported the people to
be happy, relatively free of
government oppression, and
inclined towards courtesy and
charity. Other references in
the journal, however, indicate
that the caste system was
rapidly assuming its basic features, including
"untouchability," the social isolation of a lowest
class that is doomed to menial labor.
Trade Routes during the
Extensive Trade:
gold & ivory
 The greatest of Indian poets.
 His most famous play was Shakuntala.
 During the reign of Chandra Gupta II.
Greatly influenced
Southeast Asian art & architecture.
500 healing
plants identified
1000 diseases
medicinal guides
of Zero
PI = 3.1416
The earth
is round
Gupta Decline
 Unlike Asoka and the Mauryan,the Gupta left
local government, administration, and policy
in the hands of their allies.
 When nomadic invaders came in during the fifth
century, it split easily along administrative
 Gupta administrative talents were not a match
for the White Huns, a nomadic people of
Central Asia who occupied Bactria and
eventually moved south across the Hindu Kush.
 Imperial government survived only a short time
in India. India would be overtaken by Muslim
groups in the 7th century but not until the
establishment of the Mughal Dynasty in the 16
century did any state rule as much of India as
the Mauryan or the Gupta.
The Cholan
300 B.C.E.- 1279 C.E.
Cholan “Empire”
300 BCE-1279 CE
Also known as the
Tamil Nadu
Ceylon and south
eastern coast
Mentioned in the
pillars of Ashoka
medieval Cholas
under Vijayalaya (c.
848), the dynasty of
Vijayalaya, and
finally the Later
Chola dynasty of
Kulothunga Chola I
from the third
quarter of the 11th
Cholan Dynasty
Mostly known for
later Hindu
Trade network and
cultural diffusion
with Southeast
Longest lasting
“classical” society
Major Rise in the
Middle Ages- c.
1000 CE