Foundations Review: Chapter 1-12
The Evolution of Homo Sapiens
The oldest known ancestor of humans is Australopithecus, whose remains have been found in the
Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.
Australopithecus (―southern ape‖) lived from around four million down to around one million
o They were hominids, or members of the family Hominidae, which includes humans
and humanlike creatures.
o By walking on their hind legs they freed up their hands to produce simple tools.
o Australopithecus traveled distances up to fifteen kilometers and produced tools such
as choppers and scrapers.
Australopithecus gave way to the more advanced Homo erectus (―upright-walking human‖),
o the first representatives of the genus Homo.
o They existed from roughly 1.5 million years ago down to around two hundred
thousand years ago.
o Possessing a much larger brain than Australopithecus, Homo erectus was more
advanced in many areas.
o Homo erectus produced more sophisticated tools, such as cleavers and hand axes,
and learned how to control fire.
o Their greatest accomplishment, however, was the development of language skills,
which allowed for the exchange of complex concepts.
Homo erectus was replaced by a more intelligent human species: Homo sapiens (―consciously
o With a brain almost as large as that of modern humans and with a well-developed
frontal region, Homo sapiens possessed the intelligence to have a profound impact
on the world around them.
o Homo sapiens first appeared roughly 250,000 years ago
o Had spread to most of the habitable world by around fifteen thousand years ago.
o They produced knives, spears, and bows and arrows and made themselves such
o helped to drive species such as mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses, and giant
kangaroos into extinction.
Most of human existence falls into the period known as the Paleolithic age (―old stone age‖).
o This period, ranging from the first appearance of the hominids down to around
twelve thousand years ago
o characterized by the existence of humans as hunters and gatherers.
o Because of their nomadic lifestyle, Paleolithic groups never reached beyond thirty
to fifty members.
o Archeologists and anthropologists believe that there was very little social inequality
or gender distinction during this period.
o Late in the Paleolithic age the Natufian society of the eastern Mediterranean, the
Jomon society of central Japan, and the Chinook society of the American Pacific
northwest made an early transition from a nomadic to a more settled existence.
o The most sophisticated people during this time were the Neandertal (one hundred
thousand to thirty-five thousand years ago)
o and Cro-Magnon (forty thousand years ago).
o Elaborate Neandertal burial sites
Shanidar cave in Iraq seem to indicate that humans during this period may
have wanted to honor their dead;
they may also have been preparing them for an existence after death.
Cro-Magnon, classified as Homo sapiens sapiens,
were the first human beings of the modern type.
The existence of Venus figurines
elaborate cave paintings at Lascaux in France and Altamira in
Spain tell us much about their view of the world.
o While some of the paintings may have been done for
purely aesthetic enjoyment, it is more likely that the
depiction of animals was a form of sympathetic magic to
ensure success in the hunt.
The Neolithic Era and the Transition to Agriculture
The discovery of agriculture (and to a lesser extent the domestication of animals) around twelve
thousand years ago helped give rise to the Neolithic age (―new stone age‖).
Women may have played the most important role in the development of agriculture.
This fundamental discovery changed humans from food gatherers to food producers and helped set
the stage for the rise of civilization.
The mastery of agriculture
o ensured a more stable food supply
o helped fuel a population explosion.
o It is estimated that the population of the earth increased from five million in 5000
B.C.E. to fourteen million in 3000 B.C.E.
Neolithic villages such as Jericho and Çatal Hüyük display an accelerated pace of development,
o with the rise of such prehistoric craft industries as pottery, metallurgy, and textile
o The eventual rise of true cities, larger and more complex and influential than
Neolithic villages, left early humans with all the pieces necessary for the
construction of complex societies.
The Quest for Order
Mesopotamia, ―the land between the rivers‖— in this case the Tigris and Euphrates
o was the birthplace of the world’s first complex society.
o The Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia were first in a series of early brilliant
cultures in southwest Asia.
o The cultural and linguistic landscape was enriched and complicated by Semitic
o The rapidly growing population of Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium B.C.E.
required the establishment of political and social organizations.
o Without the benefit of earlier examples the Mesopotamians built sophisticated
political, social and military structures that allowed them to survive and in fact
extend their influence over surrounding regions.
o Although they never achieved political unification, the Mesopotamian city-states of
Eridu, Ur, Uruk, Lagash, Nippur, and Babylon dominated the land between the
Tigris and Euphrates for a thousand years.
o Warfare was common among the Mesopotamian city-states,
occasionally one ruler would temporarily dominate his neighbors and create
In the twenty-fourth century B.C.E. Sargon of Akkad was the first to unite
all of Mesopotamia.
A more impressive and long-lasting state would arise during the time of
Hammurabi (1792–1750 B.C.E.) and the Babylonians.
Hammurabi was a powerful ruler, but he is mainly known for his
sophisticated law code.
Hammurabi’s code was based on lex talionis, or the ―law of
o shaped by class distinctions.
Eventually a new power, the Assyrians, rose to dominate Mesopotamia and
Babylon briefly reasserted its prominence in the sixth century B.C.E. under
The Formation of a Complex Society and Sophisticated Cultural Traditions
The mastery of agriculture allowed for the development of economic specialization and the
expansion of trade.
o such as innovations in bronze (4000 B.C.E.) and
o iron metallurgy (1300 B.C.E.), as well as the
o creation of wheeled vehicles (3000 B.C.E.), also played a role in the expansion of the
o The Mesopotamians actively pursued long-distance trade with merchants in Arabia,
Anatolia, Lebanon, Egypt, Afghanistan, and India.
Another aspect of these developing areas was the increasing distance between the haves and have-
nots of society.
Agriculture made it possible for individuals to become wealthy.
o The gulf between rich and poor steadily increased, with the kings and nobles
positioning themselves at the top because of their status as warriors.
o A powerful priestly class, acting as intermediaries between humans and the gods,
o In addition, there arose a large slave population, drawn mainly from prisoners of
war, criminals and indebted individuals.
o These societies were also highly patriarchal.
In many ways the evolution of writing formed the foundation of the cultural achievements of these
o The Mesopotamians, through cuneiform, began to experiment with a written
language during the fourth millennium.
The significance of a written language is clearly seen in Hammurabi’s law
as well as in early work in mathematics and astronomy and
the masterful literary and mythological achievement of the Epic of
At the same time, because of the complexity of these systems,
writing would for the most part remain the province of the courtly
The written records give a glimpse at the creation of organized
religion in the region.
As was the norm in the ancient world, the Mespotamians were
o with the gods mainly representing forces of nature.
The pessimistic Mesopotamian view of the gods and of people’s
place in the universe represents the precarious existence of life
between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
The Broader Influence of Mesopotamian Society
Seldom in history has a society been as influential as the Mesopotamians. Their relationship with
the Hebrews is a classic example.
o The Hebrew law code was clearly influenced by Hammurabi’s code.
At the same time, these later societies built their own unique cultural achievements.
o The staunch monotheism of Moses was unlike anything that came from the
Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, was both a powerful and a personal God.
This view of God would later shape the development of Christianity and
The Phoenicians, in addition to their role as maritime explorers and merchants, invented
The Indo-European Migrations
The Mespotamians were also influenced by other societies, some from regions far beyond the
boundaries of the Tigris and Euphrates.
o The most important were tribes, speaking a variety of Indo-European languages,
who migrated into the region at various times during the second and third
The Indo-Europeans, originally from the steppe region of southern Russia, left a common
linguistic foundation from India through Western Europe.
o Languages such as Sanskrit, Old Persian, Greek, Latin, Hindi, and Farsi as well as
most European languages were descendants of the Indo-European language.
These tribes had domesticated the horse by around 4000 B.C.E.
o The most influential Indo-European migrants into the area around Mesopotamia
were the Hittites, who settled in central Anatolia around 2000 B.C.E.
Their construction of light, horse-drawn chariots and their mastery of
advanced iron metallurgy made them formidable warriors.
These innovations did not exist in a vacuum, however, and other peoples
quickly borrowed them.
The Indo-Europeans eventually traveled east to the Tarim Basin in western
China, west to Greece, Italy, Germany, and France, and south into Persia
Early Agricultural Society in Africa
Twelve thousand years ago the area we now recognize as the Sahara Desert was a grassy steppe region
with agricultural potential.
By around 8000 B.C.E. early inhabitants of the Sudan stretch began to cultivate sorghum and yams.
Eventually a climatic change around 5000 B.C.E. forced the inhabitants into the Nile valley.
From this point its really impossible to separate the history of the Nile from that of the Egyptians and
o The Nile fostered trade and early unification. Around 4000 B.C.E. small kingdoms
developed in southern Egypt and Nubia.
o The Egyptians, unlike their contemporaries the Mesopotamians
unified early under the legendary king Menes
eventually created the political and cultural grandeur of the Old (2660-
2160 B.C.E.) and Middle (2040-1640 B.C.E.) Kingdoms.
As far back as the Old Kingdom Egypt traded, and sometimes fought,
with Nubian kingdoms like Ta-Seti and Kush.
The Hyksos arrived at the end of the Middle Kingdom
o introduced new concepts such as horse-drawn chariots and
Egypt rose to the level of empire during the New Kingdom (1550-1070
In the eighth century B.C.E. a revival of Kushite power saw King
Kashta conquer and rule Egypt for over a century. Eventually a new
power, the Assyrians, pushed out the Kushites and brought Egypt into
their expanding empire.
The Formation of Complex Societies and Sophisticated Cultural Traditions
Although the picture is less distinct in Nubia, we know that both societies developed true cities and lived
an urban existence.
Social classes developed as the gulf between rich and poor steadily increased.
As with Mesopotamia, the kings and nobles claimed power and prestige because of their status as
A large slave population developed.
Both Egyptian and Nubian societies were highly patriarchal.
o Some women however, most notably Hatshepsut, became pharaohs in Egypt.
o Nubia had many female rulers, both through direct rule and indirectly through serving as
a regent (kandake).
The mastery of agriculture allowed for the development of economic specialization and the expansion of
Innovations in bronze and iron metallurgy were key.
Egyptians actively pursued long-distance trade, ranging from Harappan India to the East African land of
The Egyptians, through hieroglyphics (Greek for ―holy inscriptions‖),
o began to experiment with a written language during the fourth millennium.
o At the same time, because of the complexity of these systems, writing would for the most
part remain the province of the courtly scribes.
o Still, education carried the potential for a profitable profession.
o The Kushites, from their capital at Meroe, copied the Egyptian hieroglyphs and adapted
them to create Meroitic writing.
Unfortunately, this form of writing cannot be read.
o Egyptian written records give us glimpse of their religious beliefs.
o Egyptians were polytheistic with the gods mainly representing forces of nature.
The stable life of the Egyptians in the isolated Nile valley is expressed in their
optimistic view of the gods.
Even mummification expressed the Egyptians’ desire to continue the pleasure of
this life in the next.
Pharaoh Akhenaten introduced the revolutionary concept of monotheism
with his worship of the god Aten, but this belief was quickly squelched after his
The lack of written records limits our knowledge of the Nubian religious beliefs
o at gods such as the lion-god Apedemak
o and the creator god Sebiumeker.
o The Nubians, like their northern neighbors, worshipped Amon and built pyramids, albeit
Bantu Migrations and Early Agricultural Societies
of Sub-Saharan Africa
The Bantu, probably because of population pressures,
o began to migrate out of an area near modern Nigeria and Cameroon around 3000 B.C.E.
o A mastery of agriculture gave the Bantu an advantage over their hunting and gathering
o Agricultural surpluses, along with a mastery of the canoe, obviously benefited the Bantu.
o During the middle of the first millennium B.C.E. the Bantu mastered iron metallurgy
they spread this skill throughout Africa by their migrations.
Bantu spread the cultivation of grains and yams throughout east and South
The Bantus also spread their belief in a single impersonal divine force that had
created the world and then stepped back from it.
The Harappan society, centered around the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro,
o extends back to around 3000 B.C.E.
o it is assumed that they spoke a Dravidian language.
o These sites, in relation to their size and layout, are the largest for their age and unlike any
other cities of the ancient world.
o Mohenjo-Daro possessed a population of up to 40,000.
o Religiously their main gods and goddesses were fertility deities, and there is evidence
that these figures and concepts survived in various forms in later Hinduism.
o Population pressures and ecological degradation led to their decline around 2000 B.C.E.
The Indo-European Migration and Early Aryan India
The total collapse of the Harappan society coincided with the arrival into India of an Indo-European tribe,
the Aryans (―noble people‖).
o The Indo-Europeans, originally from the steppe region of southern Russia,
left a common linguistic foundation from India through Europe.
Languages such as Sanskrit, Old Persian, Greek, Latin, Hindi, Farsi,
and most European languages are descendants of Indo-European.
o Aryans subdued the native Dravidians, but also fought amongst themselves.
o Eventually the Aryans, arguably the first people to domesticate horses, came to rely more
on agriculture than herding.
o They also began to establish more structured political institutions and built regional
but never came close to substantial political unification.
Much of our information about the Aryans comes from the collection of
religious hymns known as the Vedas, especially the Rig Veda.
Eventually the Aryans established the caste system in India.
o The Aryans used the term varna, meaning color, to refer to the different social classes,
which leads scholars to assume that the first distinctions may have been based
By around 1000 B.C.E. the four main castes were
the brahmins (priests),
kshatriyas (warriors and nobles),
vaishyas (artisans and merchants),
and shudras (peasants and serfs).
A few centuries later the untouchables were added
Eventually thousands of sub-castes (jati), based mainly on occupation,
The society would remain staunchly patriarchal as expressed in the
Lawbook of Manu and by the practice of sati.
Religion in the Vedic Age
The religious views of the Aryans at the time of their entry into India are best expressed in the Rig Veda.
o Indra, a violent and militaristic storm god, was the main god in the early days of the
o Questions of ethical behavior were not completely ignored. Varuna watched over human
behavior and sent sinners to the House of Clay and rewarded the virtuous by admitting
them into the World of the Fathers.
o The most important aspects of these early religious views centered around the
performance of rituals, many of them dealing with sacrifice.
Eventually some Aryans, both dissatisfied by the rituals and inspired by Dravidian notions such as
reincarnation, brought about a startling transformation of religious thought.
o The best indication of this evolution of Aryan religion is the collection of writings known
as the Upanishads.
The emphasis shifted away from the heroic adventures of Indra and towards an
examination of the relationship between every individual and Brahma, the
universal soul. C
oncepts such as samsara, the transmigration of the soul,
and karma, the sum of good and bad deeds that would determine one’s position in
the next life, came to dominate Indian thought.
As expressed in the Upanishads, the main goal was to escape the pain and
suffering of eternal rebirth and reach the state of moksha.
Asceticism and meditation were the two principal means of achieving this goal.
Indian religious thinkers emphasized that the material world was an illusion
stressed the virtues of self-control, mercy and honesty. Pacifism and
vegetarianism played a role in this life.
Political Organization in Early China
The first societies in China developed along the fertile banks of the Yellow River
o long history of devastating flooding has earned it the nickname ―China’s Sorrow.‖
The Yangshao society, centered around the neolithic village at Banpo, provides the earliest complete
Around 2200 B.C.E. the first recognized dynasty in Chinese history, the Xia, began in the Yellow River
Until the recent discovery of sites such as Erlitou, however, this dynasty has been more legend than
Much more is known about the Shang dynasty, which lasted from 1766 to 1122 B.C.E.
o Sites such as Ao and Yin provide valuable information, especially the large and elaborate
tombs of the rulers.
o At the heart of Shang power was their monopolization of bronze metallurgy, which
allowed for the rise of a powerful military state.
With the rise of the Zhou dynasty (1122–256 B.C.E.)
o Many of the foundations of Chinese thought and society came into existence during the
o One of the most important is the concept of the mandate of heaven,
which proposed that heavenly powers, although indistinct, granted emperors the
power to govern.
Consequently, the emperors served as a connection between heaven and earth
had to therefore maintain high standards of honor and justice as well as
In practice this theory never achieved more than decentralized
authority during the Zhou period.
Eventually the Zhou emperors lost control to regional princes,
o best shown through the imperial failure to monopolize iron metallurgy,
o resulted in a long period of political decline.
o As early as 771 B.C.E. the western half of the empire collapsed, and the last two
centuries are known as the ―Period of the Warring States.‖
o Order was not restored until the rise of the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C.E.
Society and Family in Ancient China
As early as the Xia dynasty the royal family rose to a prominent social position.
The largely decentralized political structure of the Shang and Zhou periods allowed for the rise of a
powerful aristocratic element.
Craftsmen and merchants, fueled by a long-distance trade that extended back to the Xia period, held
important positions in society.
In this society, as in other early society
o vast majority of the population was made up of peasants and slaves.
o The extended family unit played a crucial role in Chinese society, partly because of the
profound influence of the veneration of ancestors.
o This practice led to a strong sense of family solidarity and eventually translated into a
strong patriarchal system.
o Without an organized religion or powerful priestly class, it fell to the patriarchal leader to
carry out the rites designed to honor the family’s ancestors.
Early Chinese Writing and Cultural Development
China, unlike most of the other ancient societies studied so far, created a distinctive secular cultural
o While recognizing the importance of heavenly support for the emperor, the early Chinese
never developed these ideas into a firmly structured religious tradition.
o This attitude is seen clearly in Confucius’s admonition to revere the gods while also
keeping a distance from them.
o Writing, which goes back to at least the Shang period,
played an important role in the formation of the Chinese cultural framework.
Most of the early evidence of Chinese writing comes from the hundreds of
thousands of Shang oracle bones.
Although they were designed as a means of divination, the bones also
provide valuable information about Chinese writing and thought.
Despite (or maybe because of) the political chaos of the Zhou dynasty,
o this period served as the foundation for many of China’s cultural and literary traditions.
o Thinkers during this period tried to find order in a seemingly anarchic world and
produced important contributions
such as the Zhou classics.
Collections such as the Book of Changes, the Book of History, and the
Book of Rites remained seminal works for thousands of years.
The most important of these Zhou classics is the Book of Songs, that
dealt with famous kings and heroes, but also crucial social and political
issues that were near to the hearts of the common people.
Ancient China and the Larger World
Although geographical isolation stood in the way of the establishment of long-lasting or stable long-
distance trade, China nevertheless influenced its neighbors.
o The nomadic tribes of the north and west, the early ancestors of the Turks and Mongols,
traded and sometimes warred with the Chinese.
o Because of environmental differences, however, the nomadic tribes of the north and west
did not imitate Chinese traditions as thoroughly as did the peoples of southern China.
o Eventually peoples in the south such as the state of Chu grew to be competitors to the
Early Societies of Mesoamerica
The Olmecs were the first recognized society in Mesoamerica.
o Olmec civilization stretches as far back as 1200 B.C.E.
featured important political and religious centers such as San
Lorenzo, La Venta, and Tres Zapotes.
Colossal humanlike heads, sculpted from basalt, remain their most
Their invention of a calendar was later copied by succeeding
There is no evidence of a complete system of writing
By 400 B.C.E. the Olmecs were clearly in a state of decline.
Mesoamerican civilization reached its peak with the flowering of the Maya from 300 to
o Tikal, with a population of around forty thousand, was one of several
important Mayan capitals in a politically fragmented landscape.
o The Maya made important contributions in astronomy, which played a
pivotal role in their efforts to foretell the future.
o Their calendar was the most precise in the Americas
was one of the most accurate and complex in the world.
Math, based on a vigesimal system, proved to be a strong point for
Like the ancient Babylonians and the Hindu scholars of India, the
Maya invented the concept of zero.
The Maya also developed the most sophisticated and
comprehensive writing system in the Americas.
the Mayan epic of creation and heroism, the Popol Vuh, survived
in an oral tradition.
o While probably related to constant warfare, overpopulation, and
ecological degradation, the collapse of the Maya after 900 C.E. still remains
in many ways a mystery.
Along with the Maya, the other great Mesoamerican heir to the Olmecs were the people
of the massive city of Teotihuacan.
o At its peak, between 400 and 600 C.E., Teotihuacan had a population of
almost two hundred thousand people.
o Included in the city was the Pyramid of the Sun, the single largest building
it was two-thirds the size of the great pyramid of Khufu in Egypt
It is thought that these people developed a complete system of
writing, but only a few examples remain in stone carvings to hint
at the complexity and sophistication.
Early Societies of South America
By as early as 12,000 B.C.E. people had begun to migrate into South America
o by 7000 B.C.E. they had made it all the way to the southern tip. Still, much
of this early history remains shrouded in mystery.
The earliest South American state was the Mochica.
o these people had no system of writing, was typical for South America,
o the brilliant artwork of the Mochica tells us much about their culture and
Mochica pottery remains among the most expressive and
sophisticated ever created.
Elaborate ceramic heads represent portraits of individuals’ heads as
well as those of the gods and demons.
The artwork also speaks of the complexity of Mochica society,
with representations of people ranging from aristocrats to beggars.
Early Societies of Oceania
Australia and New Guinea were visited by humans as early as forty thousand to fifty
thousand years ago.
Limited migration, mainly because of low water levels, also stretched out as far as the
The aboriginal population of Australia remained hunters and gatherers
the tribes of New Guinea developed agriculture.
Exploring and settling Oceania fell to Austronesian-speaking tribes from southeast
o This language group is related to Malayan, Indonesian, Filipino,
Polynesian, and the Malagasy language of Madagascar.
o By as early as 4000 B.C.E. these tribes began to sail out into the Pacific,
eventually reaching Vanuatu (2000 B.C.E.),
Samoa (1000 B.C.E.),
Hawai`i (first century B.C.E.)
New Zealand (middle of the first
The Austronesians, arguably the most skilled and daring sailors in history, established
agricultural societies and left political, religious, and cultural influences.
The Rise and Fall of the Persian Empires
Two related Indo-European tribes, the Persians and Medes, migrated into Persia in the centuries before
o Although these tribes originally had limited political organization,
o they were great horsemen
o militarily powerful.
o Expansion began under the Achaemenids during the reign of Cyrus,
known both for his brilliance at military strategy
and his enlightened and tolerant view of empire.
Areas such as Media, Lydia, Bactria, and Babylonia fell to Cyrus
Later Cambyses added Egypt, and
Darius, the greatest of all Persian kings, extended the empire in the east into northern
India and in the west into Thrace and Macedonia
The Achaemenids used an efficient bureaucracy and an elaborate spy network to
The empire reached its peak under Darius,
who made use of regularized tax levies,
centralized coinage, and
an elaborate law code.
The Persian Royal Road was the centerpiece of an expansive road system
that allowed for easy communication.
The Achaemenid state began to decline under Xerxes,
who displayed little of the toleration of his predecessors such as Cyrus or
The Persian Wars (500–479 B.C.E.) with Greece,
marked an end to the period of expansion.
Alexander of Macedon’s invasion in 334 B.C.E. brought about the end of
Alexander claimed the Persian kingship and hence a continuation of power, but his
early death prevented any true, lasting unification.
The empire fell to pieces.
Seleucus, one of Alexander’s generals,
started the Seleucid state, which included most of the old
The Seleucids eventually fell to the Romans in 83 B.C.E.
Even before this, however, the Seleucids had lost Iran to the
Parthians and their most powerful king, Mithridates I.
The Parthian state, centered around Ctesiphon, lasted
until their conquest by the Sasanids in 224 C.E. Claiming
to be the true heirs of the Achaemenids, the Sasanids
would reach their peak under Shapur I.
For a time the Sasanids stood as serious rivals to the later
Arabic warriors brought about the end of the Sasanid
dynasty in 651 C.E.
Imperial Society and Economy
The demands of empire forced the Achaemenids to leave behind the simple political and social
structures of their early nomadic past.
To run an empire the size of the Persian state it was necessary to create a class of educated bureaucrats
o including tax collectors,
o record keepers, and
A more sedentary agricultural existence led to the rise of profound differences between rich and poor.
A complex society of both free citizens and slaves developed.
The formation of such a huge, unified empire was a tremendous boost to trade.
A rich trade network carried goods through the Persian empires from
o India, Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia, Phoenicia, Arabia, Greece, Ethiopia, and Egypt.
Religions of Salvation in Classical Persian Society
In addition to items such as grain, textiles, spices, gold, and ivory, religious concepts were traded back
and forth across the Persian empires.
o In their early stages the Persians worshipped nature gods and performed ceremonies similar to
those of their Indo-European cousins in India, the Aryans.
o A profound change occurred through the philosophies of the seventh-century thinker
His philosophy was preserved by priests, known as magi, through the Avestas and
Zarathustra saw the universe and the human soul as a battleground between:
Ahura Mazda, who represented good and truth,
and Angra Mainyu, who stood for evil and deception.
This philosophy emphasized the significance of every individual’s choice
because there would be a final judgment.
Zarathustra did not tell his followers to renounce the world, but instead
viewed the world as a material blessing from Ahura Mazda.
Zoroastrianism eventually became the main religion of the Achaemenids
but mainly spread throughout the empire on its own merits.
The Sasanids later used Zoroastrianism as a means of emphasizing their
connection to the earlier Achaemenids.
Although worship of Zoroastrianism declined after the Islamic invasion in
the seventh century C.E., the main philosophies of Zarathustra survived the
centuries and influenced Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
In Search of Political and Social Order
The political chaos of the later Zhou period led many Chinese thinkers to reconsider the basic
questions of social and political order.
o This intellectual foment provided the motivation for a rich philosophical age.
o The most influential of these thinkers was Kong Fuzi (Confucius),
whose practical philosophy is best expressed in the Analects.
Confucius believed that the proper balance and order in human relationships would
bring about social and political harmony.
He worked to create junzi, ―superior individuals,‖ who would possess the needed
education and dedication to staff governmental positions.
Certain core values such as:
xiao (filial piety) were central to Confucius’s philosophy.
It was difficult for later Chinese thinkers to escape Confucius’s lengthy shadow.
post-Confucian thinkers was Mencius.
He believed that human nature was essentially good
called for a government based on benevolence and humanity to bring out
Others, such as Xunzi, took a different approach.
Xunzi believed that humans were naturally selfish
called for a government ready to impose harsh social discipline.
Even though Mencius and Xunzi held opposing views of human nature they still
operated within the traditional Confucian framework.
This turbulent age inspired other philosophical schools as well.
o Laozi is traditionally accepted as the founder of Daoism.
The Daoists criticized the social activism of the Confucians
proposed a life of reflection and introspection.
The Daoists, like other Chinese thinkers, discussed the importance of living
in accordance with the dao (way), although the definition often varied.
Instead of action, the Daoists suggested inaction.
o The last influential Chinese school of thought is Legalism.
Thinkers such as Shang Yang and Han Feizi wrote persuasively on statecraft
suggested that the state’s foundation were the armed forces and
agriculture and that clear and strict laws were essential to
control human nature.
The Unification of China
Although Legalism was undeniably harsh, it also proved essential for the unification of China.
o The Qin from western China, inspired by Legalist philosophers such as Shang Yang and Han
created a centralized imperial administration that was responsible for the first
unification of China.
Qin Shihuangdi, the ―First Emperor,‖ united China in 221 B.C.E.
by crushing local autonomy and centralizing authority.
He standardized laws, currencies, weights, and measures
built an extensive network of roads that unified the country
standardization related to the establishment of one Chinese script.
His harsh rule, including the burning of books, execution of scholars, and
drafting of millions for huge public works projects such as the precursor to
the Great Wall of China, inspired resistance and the Qin state collapsed
A centralized state did not disappear with the Qin, however.
The Han dynasty, started by Liu Bang in 206 B.C.E., copied many of the Qin governmental
o replaced the Qin use of Legalist terror with a more traditional Confucian approach.
o The Han dynasty reached its peak under the ―Martial Emperor,‖ Han Wudi (141–87 B.C.E.).
o In addition to overseeing a period of territorial expansion, Han Wudi opened the imperial
university designed to prepare young men for government service.
The Confucian scholars that this system generated poured into the government and
formed one of the foundations of Chinese political greatness for centuries.
From Economic Prosperity to Social Disorder
During the Qin and Han periods China remained strongly patriarchal in its social structure.
Works such as the Classic of Filial Piety and Admonitions for Women stressed the dominant role of
males in society.
Trade, fueled by iron metallurgy and silk manufacture, made for a period of general economic
However, a rapidly expanding population and a widening gap between rich and poor led to tremendous
The Later Han dynasty collapsed in 220 C.E. and centuries passed before true unification was
The Fortunes of Empire in Classical India
Even under the Aryans India had never moved toward unification and remained a series of small
Profound changes began around 520 B.C.E. when the arrival of Cyrus the Achaemenid brought
increasing Persian trade and the introduction of new techniques of administration.
Alexander of Macedon’s invasion in 327 B.C.E. brought chaos and created a political vacuum.
The void would be filled by Chandragupta Maurya who founded the Mauryan dynasty in 321 B.C.E.
o Chandragupta Maurya’s harsh centralizing philosophy, as expressed in the Arthashastra,
ensured that India would be united for the first time.
o The Mauryans reached their peak under Ashoka Maurya,
who completed the process of unification with the bloody conquest of the
Ashoka Maurya built roads,
collected taxes efficiently,
and created a well-run bureaucracy in Pataliputra.
He is best remembered for his conversion to Buddhism and his efforts to
make it a world religion.
The Mauryans collapsed fairly quickly after the death of Ashoka, and India
was not reunified until almost five hundred years later.
Rulers such as Chandra Gupta II witnessed a brilliant cultural age,
o but overall the Guptas never approached the level of centralized
authority reached by the Mauryans.
o Invaders such as the White Huns helped to bring an end to Gupta
power beginning in the fifth century C.E.,
and India would not be reunited again for another
Economic Development and Social Distinctions
The growth of trade and manufacturing encouraged the rise of towns.
Increasing long-distance trade between India and the larger imperial states in China, Persia, and
southwest Asia led to greater economic and cultural integration.
Economic transformation did not change everything immediately.
India remained strongly patriarchal,
o and works such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana portrayed women as weak-willed.
o Child marriages became increasingly common.
o In other areas, however, economic pressures were bringing an evolution of society.
Guilds essentially served as subcastes (jati) and played a role in shaping the
Some vaishyas and shudras grew wealthy enough through trade or industry to
challenge the brahmans and kshatriyas, the traditional leaders of society.
Religions of Salvation in Classical India
This economic transition had tremendous religious implications
o because some thinkers began to question the authority of the brahmans and the validity of
traditional religious beliefs.
o The Charvada sect, for example, believed that all gods were figments of the imagination and
that the brahmans were charlatans.
o Other thinkers took a more spiritual approach, but still came up with answers that shook the
foundations of traditional Hindu thought and in some cases created new religions.
The Jains, inspired by Vardhamana Mahavira, believed that everything in the
universe possessed a soul and therefore practiced ahimsa (nonviolence to other living
A much more popular religion was the Buddhism of Siddhartha Gautama.
The Buddha preached the Four Noble Truths
o : (1) life is pain,
o (2) this pain is caused by desire,
o (3) eliminating desire eliminated suffering, and
o (4) and following the Noble Eightfold Path eliminated desire.
o The Noble Eightfold Path called for leading a balanced and
moderate life and avoiding extremes.
Passionless Nirvana was the final goal.
o From this simple beginning Buddhism eventually grew more
complex and a split developed
between the Mahayana (―greater vehicle‖) and
Hinayana (―lesser vehicle‖) schools.
Although Hinduism predated Buddhism and Jainism, it too went through a period of
transition during these years.
The traditional power of the brahmans was challenged by the evolution of
concepts that appealed to a much wider audience.
Religious and literary classics such as the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and
the Bhagavad Gita from this period express this change.
Early Development of Greek Society
The early Mycenaeans were influenced by the extraordinary Minoan society centered around the city
of Knossos on Crete.
o For example, the earliest Greek writing style, Linear B,
was adopted from the Minoan Linear A.
o Egyptian and Phoenician concepts also reached the Mycenaeans indirectly through their
contact with the Minoans.
o The Mycenaeans were warlike and spent much of their time fighting among themselves
as well as launching campaigns against the Minoans in Crete
and the Trojans in Anatolia.
o the Mycenaeans never unified and instead settled into an uneasy alliance of city-states.
The city-state, or polis, remained the foundation for the Greek political world
throughout their history.
f the many poleis, the two most important were Sparta and Athens.
o The Spartans, because of the fear of an uprising by the helots,
reworked their society to remove all social distinctions and
eventually became the greatest soldiers of the Greek world.
o The Athenians, gave the world gifts such as democracy and
Athens reached its peak during the fifth century B.C.E.
under the leadership of Pericles.
Greece and the Larger World
The inquiring spirit that marked Greek philosophical thought also carried over into exploration.
o Greek mariners explored widely and set up extensive colonies
these explorations helped spread the Greek language and cultural traditions around
Expansion also brought the Greeks into conflict with the Persian Empire.
The Persian War, while serving mainly as an annoyance to the Persians,
turned out to be the turning point in Greek history.
the Peloponnesian War that brought an end to the golden age of Greece.
The Greeks were so weakened that they easily fell to the Macedonian
leader Philip II.
Eventually, however, the conquests of Philip’s son Alexander laid the
groundwork for the Hellenistic age by spreading Greek culture from Egypt
Alexandria in Egypt would serve as the center for this new age.
o Politically Alexander was not so fortunate, and his empire split up
among the Antigonids, Ptolemies, and Seleucids.
The Fruits of Trade: Greek Economy and Society
Trade, in addition to making the Greeks wealthy,
o fostered a sense of unity among the different poleis.
o Panhellenic festivals such as the Olympic games achieved the same goal.
o Greek society remained strictly patriarchal.
o Sparta provided women the greatest opportunity for freedom in the Greek world.
o As in the rest of the ancient world, slavery in Greece played an important
The Cultural Life of Classical Greece
While building on Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Phoenician traditions,
the Greeks branched off to leave a lasting cultural legacy.
o Philosophically the Greeks attempted to construct a system based on pursuing
the truth at all costs through human reason.
o Socrates’ proposal that ―The unexamined life is not worth living‖ perfectly
represents the Greek quest for truth.
o Plato turned inward to the World of Forms for intellectual perfection.
While writing on fields as varied as biology, astronomy, psychology,
politics, and ethics
became known as ―the master of those who know.‖
o Playwrights such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides examined the
parameters of human nature.
o Later Hellenistic philosophical schools also examined the role of the individual
in relation to society.
From Kingdom to Republic
The history of Rome stretches back to around 2000 B.C.E. and the arrival of Indo-European tribes into
o the influence of the Etruscans on the early Romans.
The Etruscans, who sometimes served as kings, dominated Rome until driven out by
Roman nobles in 509 B.C.E.
o The Romans established a republican constitution
with power in the hands of two consuls chosen by the patricians, or wealthy classes.
Later, because of social tensions, the plebeians, or common people, won the right to
choose tribunes and even consuls from their own ranks.
Romans began to expand in the fourth and especially the second century B.C.E.
o While the Romans expanded militarily
o treated the peoples of their conquered regions in an unusually generous and tolerant fashion
that inspired loyalty.
o As the Romans expanded into the Mediterranean they came into conflict with the
Carthaginian Empire in northern Africa.
A victory in the bloody Punic Wars left the Romans masters of the western
The eastern Mediterranean fell to the Romans after successful wars with the
Antigonid, Seleucid, and Ptolemaic empires.
From Republic to Empire
While the conquest of the Mediterranean world brought immense wealth into Rome,
o it also increased tensions caused by the unequal distribution of that wealth.
Wealthy patricians turned captured land into latifundia and dominated smaller
The attempts of the Gracchi to bring about land reform and use state subsidies to
help the poor only led to their assassinations.
The wars of Marius and Sulla were proof of the societal tensions tearing the Roman
Even Julius Caesar, attempted to extend Roman citizenship and create jobs for the
urban poor through huge building projects.
Julius’s victory in 46 B.C.E. after a civil war created order but also
essentially ended the republic.
His assassination in 44 B.C.E. threw Rome into another round of civil strife
until order was restored by his nephew Octavian.
When Octavian received the title Augustus in 27 B.C.E. the empire was born.
While keeping the remnants of the old constitutional framework, all power
actually belonged to the emperor.
The Pax Romana, or Roman peace, an almost unprecedented period of
economic expansion, cultural brilliance, and political stability lasting over
two and a half centuries, began with Augustus.
Roman law, based on principles
such as the presumed innocence of the accused until
proven guilty, brought stability to the empire as well as
influenced centuries of legal thought.
Economy and Society in the Roman Mediterranean
Like other empires, the Roman Empire built roads that facilitated trade and cultural transmission.
Roman control over the Mediterranean was so complete that they simply referred to it as mare
nostrum, or ―our sea.‖
The roads and sea lanes, along with the stability of the pax romana, inspired economic specialization
o Trade promoted the rise of cities, but no city grew as large or powerful or splendid as Rome
Romans enjoyed fresh water from aqueducts,
a sophisticated sewage and plumbing network,
and spectacular public events in the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum.
In regard to family structure, the Romans were strongly patriarchal
o but women did have many rights both inside and outside the
o Slaves constituted up to one-third of the empire’s population.
The Cosmopolitan Mediterranean
The Romans were greatly influenced by Greek culture.
o This influence is clearly seen in early Roman religion,
where gods like Jupiter and Mars mirror their Greek counterparts Zeus and Ares.
Hellenistic philosophy also impressed the Romans.
The writings of Cicero show the influences of Stoicism.
As the empire became more cosmopolitan, other religious concepts—such
as Mithraism, Judaism, and Christianity—spread and became more
The rise of Christianity is almost impossible to separate from later Roman
o The successes of Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus are
intricately tied to Roman unification.
Long-Distance Trade and the Silk Roads Network
Long-distance trade became far less risky and far more profitable during the classical age for two main
The rulers of powerful classical states built roads and bridges that facilitated easier movement of goods
The empires grew to such an extent that they often shared common borders,
o reducing the dangers and uncertainties of trade.
The tempo of trade increased along land routes maintained by the Seleucids and Ptolemies.
Mastery of the monsoon patterns in the Indian Ocean increased trade along the water routes.
The most prosperous and important of the trade routes were the silk roads
o that linked Eurasia and northern Africa.
o From the eastern terminus at the Han capital of Chang’an the trade
routes ran to the Mediterranean ports of Antioch and Tyre.
o Sea routes connected Guangzhou in southern China with southeast
Asia, Ceylon, the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea.
o Silk, fine spices, cotton textiles, pearls, ivory, horses, jade, and
manufactured goods were actively traded from one end of the silk
roads to the other.
o Although a few merchants occasionally traveled the entire
distance, the trade was usually carried out in stages.
Cultural and Biological Exchanges along the Silk Roads
Besides trade goods, the merchants traveling along the silk roads also brought religious concepts to a
o The support of Ashoka allowed Buddhism to spread to Bactria and Ceylon.
The real expansion of Buddhism, however, occurred as the religion followed the
trade routes to Iran, central Asia, China, and Southeast Asia.
Indian influence was profound in Southeast Asia, with the appearance of Sanskrit as well as Hinduism
Christianity was spread in a similar fashion farther west.
o Christian missionaries made use of the Roman roads and sea lanes to spread the Gospel
throughout the empire to Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, Greece, Italy, Spain,
The influence worked both ways.
The ascetic practices of the Mesopotamian and Iranian Christian
communities influenced other Christian thinkers.
Similarly, the actions of Egyptian hermits influenced the rise of Christian
Eventually a split developed, and most of the Christians in southwest Asia
The rise of Manichaeism and its syncretic blend of Zoroastrian, Christian,
and Buddhist elements says a great deal about the increasingly
cosmopolitan world brought about by trade.
Contagious diseases spread rapidly along the trade routes.
o The Han and Roman empires suffered tremendous losses during the second and third
through the outbreak of epidemic diseases such as smallpox, measles, and bubonic
o The population of the Roman Empire dropped from sixty million during the time of Augustus
down to around forty million by 400 C.E.
o China’s population decreased from sixty million in 200 C.E. to approximately forty-five
million in 600 C.E.
Despite the loss of life, the outbreaks of disease brought other changes.
Trade decreased dramatically, and the economies in both areas contracted
and moved toward regional self-sufficiency.
China after the Han Dynasty
After four centuries of cultural and political brilliance, the Han dynasty collapsed in 220 C.E.
o Internally the Han dynasty was torn apart by factional violence.
The economic and social implications of dramatically unequal land distribution may
have been the most important factor in the Han decline.
important changes were shaping the Chinese social and cultural landscape.
Nomadic tribes fell under Chinese influence and became more sinicized.
Traditional Confucianism, in the face of political chaos, lost some of its
and the Chinese increasingly turned to Daoism and Buddhism for hope in a
The Fall of the Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was also going through a long period of decline.
o This topic, the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, is obviously one of the most popular
o a complex combination of factors brought an end to Roman power.
Internal dissension, best represented by the twenty-six ―barracks emperors,‖ tore
Diocletian’s decision to split the empire in half was based on the fact that
Rome had grown so huge as to be almost unmanageable.
Although Constantine tried to reunify Rome, his choice of Constantinople
as the new capital shows that the western half of the empire was in serious
Germanic invasions by tribes such as the Visigoths placed pressures on the
decaying Roman state that were only increased by the appearance of Attila
Finally, in 476 C.E., the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was
overthrown by the Germanic general Odovacar.
Arguably the most important cultural change during this period was the rise
to prominence of Christianity.
o By 380 C.E. the emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official
religion of Rome.
The hope for salvation made Christianity popular among
the masses while St. Augustine’s efforts to harmonize the
new religion with Platonic thought appealed to the
educated classes. Eventually Rome, with the Pope at its
head, became the center of the Christian world.