Common themes for our classical
– Geographic Features and their influence on a
– Types of Government
– Culture and Intellectual Life
– Movement of People and Goods
Do Now: 9.23.09
Staple and hand hmwk #5
Set up your notes for “Classical Civilizations”: 1/3
Quiz on these notes Thursday
This PowerPoint is also linked on my homepage
Come after school if you do not have
PowerPoint at home.
Aim: to assess the primary characteristics of
civilizations in the fertile Crescent and China
The Fertile Crescent
This is the land that comprises present day Iraq.
See map on page 32 of text.
The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers form a band of
arable land in an other wise arid climate.
There are no real natural barriers in this area, and
as a result we will see a proliferation of changes in
power in the Ancient Middle east
This is also referred to as the “cradle of
Like Ancient Egypt, the presence of rivers
provided the needed water and fertile land ti
support these various civilizations.
There are some similarities among all of the
peoples of the Ancient Middle East, and
here are some of the key facets that each
have in common.
Let’s take a look at the map on page 32 of
Each of the civilizations of the ancient Middle
Polytheistic religions and an economy based
primarily on agriculture
A rigid social structure that is based on wealth
Governments that are power based, with a single
ruler in power and no hint of democracy
Here are some of the key accomplishments of
these ancient civilizations:
Sumerians: The existed nearly 5000 years
ago, and were the first to have a
systematized form of writing known as
cuneiform. This utilized wax tablets, ,and
included nearly 300 symbols.
It is generally regarded as the first form of
writing, and signals a new age in the
development of civilizations.
The Phoenicians began to develop an alphabet,
that moved from using symbols like the Sumerians
to utilizing actual letter that could be formed into
Our 26 letter alphabet is based on this innovation.
The Hittites, who followed the Phoenicians, were
responsible for the invention of ironworking.
This is key for the making of better tools and
The Babylonians, who followed the Hittites
were responsible for the codified laws
which we studied known as the Code of
This set of laws was clearly in favor of the
wealthy classes, but signaled a key step in
the unification of a people under a prescribe
set of rules.
The Persians, who we will see later will wage
war against the Ancient Greeks, were the first
great ancient civilization to begin an extensive
trading network in the Mediterranean. See page 39
in your text
They also began the minting of coins to be used as
a means of exchange.
What is key to note about this area and this time
was the fact that geography played a huge role in
the development off these peoples.
We will see similarities in the development
of civilization is the Far East.
Let us take a look at Ancient China and
Notice the importance of geography in the
development of these great river valley
China: What we have to consider and what we
need to know…
Geography: Isolation due to high mountains and
expansive deserts allow for a sort of protracted
Let’ look at the map on page 59 of your text.
China, more than any other region has the concept
of centralized government down!
Mandate of Heaven: this is the equivalent
of the Divine Right theory that will be
popular in latter day Europe.
If God and Politics are connected, there can
be grave problems.
The dynasties that you read about are most
important for the concept of the Dynastic
Cycle…(see page 62 in text)
The Dynastic cycle reflects the natural ebb
and flow of power in any system.
New Dynasties: Provide
– Peace As time passes…
– Roads and canals The Dynasty
– Land becomes lazy…
– Protection and neglects the
Corruptions causes over-taxation
Failure to protect their provinces places them at
Roads and wall begin to fall apart: Lack of
People are mistreated – governmental apathy
The “Mandate of Heaven” is “lost”.
(Really the people’s confidence in the Dynasty is
Problems arise that the Dynasty cannot or
will not handle…
Finally, a new dynasty fills the power
vacuum and claims the “Mandate of
The cycle will continue with each
succeeding Dynasty…(chart on page 62)
Do Now: 9.22.08
Have Hmwk #9 on your desk. Have your
notebook out. Notes continued : “Classical
Today’s focus: China, India, Ancient Greece.
Quiz #2 on Tuesday, based on the notes you have
Hmwk #10 – Wednesday. Pages 104 – 116 (1/3
2/3 from your text.
Power and Centralized Government in
Feudalism – (this system will also be the
foundation of European Middle Ages and
Feudalism is a three-tiered system of
Give land and some autonomy to:
Give military allegiance to the Dynastic Ruler
The Peasant Classes
Give taxes to the lords in return for
Remember that the history of China will be
a constant struggle between those in power,
and those seeking power.
Government is highly centralized, and
power remains in the hands of the few.
No matter who gains control, it always
devolves into a system of exploitation.
See map on page 95 in text book
Civil Service: Government Employment
Bronze and ceramic work
The Great Wall
*See map on page 51 of your text
Three regions of importance…
– North: Flat. Fertile. Plentiful Water
– Deccan Plateau: Central. Dry. Little Population
– Coastal Plains: Fishing. Farming. Trading.
Mauryan Dynasty. (321 – 185 B.C.E)
Here we see similarities to the Chinese in
terms of centralized Empires.
A Bureaucracy existed – a government of
departments and appointed officials.
Taxes are collected.
Public works (Roads etc.) are built
The Spread of Buddhism will be central to
the history of the Indian Subcontinent, and
we will cover that in later units.
Further, schools and libraries were built in
the major cities.
Let’s move on to Ancient Greece.
Geography and the impact on Ancient Greece:
Consult map on page 108 of your text book
Mountains, and it’s location prevented Greece
from having an expansive empire like Egypt or
Yet, its location also facilitated their skill as
sailors, which proved to be a benefit in trade.
Most significantly, concerning Geography
in Ancient Greece, was the fact that
mountains caused the development of the
Simply put, people settle in valleys more
easily than on the sides of mountains
Hence, in Ancient Greece, independent city
states developed, rather than having one
The city state was also referred to as the
This polis was built on two levels:
– On the hilltop was constructed the acropolis –
which typically contained the marble temples
dedicated to the Greek Gods and goddesses
– On the flatter plain was the walled main city –
where the citizens lived.
What was the Greek Governmental system
It will change somewhat over time, but we
can make some generalities here:
Early Greece was really a series of
monarchies in control of the city states.
Over time, this evolved…
Power shifted to the wealthy landowners, called
This landholding elite were the challenged by a
growing middle class who prospered as trade
Hence, the aristocrats then banded together to
form an oligarchy – which is governmental rule
by a selected few. This elite were the most
powerful both economically and politically.
Sparta and Athens: a case study in two city states.
Interestingly – as iron replaced bronze as a metal
to shape weapons, these weapons became cheaper
and the military could expand its ranks.
City-states were now in the hands of citizen
soldiers, and we will see Sparta and Athens differ
greatly on their emphasis on the role of the
Monarchy with two kings Limited democracy
Military Society Laws made by an
Trade and travel assembly – only males
discouraged Trade encouraged
Military training Education for boys
mandatory for boys Women were still
Women totally subjugated subjugated
The wars between the Athenians and the Spartans
weakened the power of the Greek city states, and made
them vulnerable to attack from outside forces.
The Greek also fought a series of campaigns against the
Persians, which further diminished their power.
Greece will be invaded by a power from the north, the
Phillip of Macedonia will conquer Greece, but it will be his
Son, Alexander will become known because of his great
successes as Alexander the Great.