|Chapter 1 The Ancient World
Around 3000 b.c. civilizations began to emerge in four different areas—Western Asia, Egypt, India, and China—that gave rise to the great empires of the ancient world. These included the Persian and Assyrian Empires, the empire of Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, the Mauryan and Gupta Empires in India, and a unified Chinese Empire.
The First Humans
What factors contributed to the establishment of organized communities?
Historians rely mostly on written records to understand the past. However, no written records exist for the prehistory of humankind. In fact, prehistory means the time before writing was developed. Prehistoric analysis relies on archaeology, the study of past societies through an analysis of what people left behind. Archaeologists dig up and examine artifacts such as tools, weapons, and art. They also use physics and chemistry to date human fossils and artifacts, through such tools as radiocarbon dating and thermoluminescence. Tools of forensic chemistry, such as the analysis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), also provide information about early humans.
Humanlike creatures first emerged in Africa more than 3 to 4 million years ago. Over a long period of time, Paleolithic people learned to create more sophisticated tools, how to use fire, and how to adapt to and even change their physical environment. Paleolithic people were primarily nomads who hunted animals and gathered wild plants for survival. Their chief work was finding food, and men and women were responsible for it. Despite this consuming task, they created a human culture that included cave paintings.
The agricultural revolution of the New Stone Age, which began around 10,000 b.c., dramatically changed human patterns of living. The planting of grains and vegetables provided a regular supply of food, and the domestication of animals added a steady source of meat, milk, and fibers such as wool for clothing. This Neolithic Revolution made it possible for humans to stop their nomadic ways of living. Instead, they began to settle down and form more permanent settlements. These organized communities gradually gave rise to more complex human societies.
These more complex human societies, which we call the first civilizations, emerged around 3000 b.c. in the river valleys of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China. An increase in food production in these regions led to a significant growth in human population and the growth of cities. Efforts to control the flow of water for farming also led to organized governments in these new urban civilizations. A civilization is a complex culture in which large numbers of human beings share a number of common elements. Six of the most important basic characteristics of civilizations are cities, government, religion, social structure, writing, and art. The emergence of civilizations was a dramatic new stage in the story of world history.
Determining Cause and Effect What were the effects of the Neolithic Revolution?
The First Civilizations: The Peoples of Western Asia and Egypt
What were the first ancient civilizations to emerge?
The peoples of Mesopotamia and Egypt built the first civilizations. They developed cities and struggled with the problems of organized states. They invented writing to keep records and also created literature. Mesopotamians and Egyptians constructed monumental buildings to please their gods, giving witness to the gods' power and preserving their culture for all time. They developed new political, military, social, and religious structures to deal with the basic problems of human existence and organization. These first civilizations left detailed records that allow us to view how they grappled with three of the fundamental problems that humans have thought about: the nature of human relationships, the nature of the universe, and the role of divine forces in that universe. Although later peoples would provide different answers from those of the Mesopotamians and Egyptians, it was they who first posed the questions, gave answers, and wrote them down.
By 1500 b.c., much of the creative impulse of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations was beginning to decline. By 1200 b.c., the decline of the Hittites and Egyptians had created a power vacuum that allowed a number of small states to emerge and flourish for a short while. One example are the Phoenicians, who created a trading empire in the Mediterranean and an alphabet that was later adapted by the Greeks and Romans.
Of these small states, perhaps the most important was that of the Israelites, who created a kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon. By the tenth century b.c., the inhabitants of Israel had divided into a northern kingdom of Israel and a southern kingdom of Judah. Larger states in the region, however, eventually captured them. Although the Israelites created no empire, they left a spiritual legacy that influenced much of the later development of Western civilization. The evolution of Israelite monotheismestablished Judaism as a major world religion. Judaism influenced the development of Christianity and Islam. The Judeo-Christian heritage of Western civilization refers not only to the concept of monotheism, but also to the ideas of law, morality, and social justice that have become important parts of Western culture.
These small states were eventually overshadowed by the rise of the great empires of the Assyrians and Persians. The Assyrian Empire, built upon the effective use of military force, had been the first to unite almost all of the ancient Middle East. The empire of the Great Kings of Persia, however, was even larger. Although the Persian Empire owed much to the administrative organization developed by the Assyrians, the Persian Empire had peculiar strengths. Persian rule was tolerant as well as efficient. Conquered peoples were allowed to keep their religions, customs, and methods of doing business. The many years of peace that the Persian Empire brought to the Middle East aided trade and the general well-being of its peoples. It is no wonder that many peoples expressed their gratitude for being subjects of the Great Kings of Persia.
Making Connections What structures did early civilizations create to deal with problems of organization and questions about their existence?
Thinking Like a HISTORIAN
Calendars and Periodization
Societies developed calendars to measure time and to record significant events. Most societies have adopted the Gregorian calendar for civil affairs. This Christian calendar was introduced in the late 1500s. On this calendar, the era after the birth of Jesus is labeled a.d., Latin for anno Domini, "in the year of our Lord." The years before Jesus' birth are referred to as b.c., for "before Christ." Alternatively, some label those eras, or large divisions of time, as b.c.e. "Before the Common Era" and c.e. "Common Era."
Scientists divide the past into time periods to help categorize information. Archaeologists often describe the past based on tool-making technology. For example, they named the Bronze Age for its prominent use of bronze tools. Historians often analyze the past by dividing time into fixed periods and periods based on events, such as the Age of the Enlightenment. They describe the world in terms of decades, periods of ten years, and centuries, periods of 100 years. For example, a historian might refer to the 1910s as the second decade of the twentieth century.
The First Civilizations: Ancient India
How did civilization develop in ancient India?
As in Mesopotamia and Egypt, early civilizations in India emerged in river valleys. The Indus River valleys supported a thriving civilization between 3000 b.c. and 1500 b.c. that was based on two major cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. An advanced civilization—known as Harappan or Indus civilization—prospered in these cities for hundreds of years and made significant political and social achievements. Internal decline, however, weakened this civilization in the Indus River valley. The final blow to the cities might have been an influx of new peoples.
The Aryans were an Indo-European-speaking nomadic people who moved south across the Hindu Kush mountain range into the plains of northern India. The ongoing migrations and interaction between the Aryans and the Dravidians—descendents of the Indus Valley people— resulted in a new and unique culture. A rigid caste system, in which people were clearly divided into distinct classes, became a chief feature of the new Indian civilization.
Two of the world’s major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, began in India. Hinduism was an outgrowth of the religious beliefs of the Aryan peoples who settled in India. With its belief in reincarnation, Hinduism provided justification for the rigid caste system of India.
In the sixth century b.c., a new doctrine called Buddhism, appeared in northern India. Buddhism was the product of one man, Siddhārtha Gautama. He claimed that he had awakened and seen the world in a new way. His simple message of achieving wisdom created a new spiritual philosophy that came to rival Hinduism.
For most of the time between 325 b.c. and a.d. 500, India was a land of many states. Two major empires, however, were able to create large, unified Indian states and an Indian civilization that set the standard for centuries.
The first of these empires, the Mauryan Empire in northern India, lasted from 324 b.c. until 183 b.c. The Mauryan Empire was at its height during the reign of Aśoka, who ruled from 269 b.c. until 232 b.c.Aśoka, who used Buddhist ideals to guide his rule, is considered to be the greatest ruler in the history of India.
In 183 b.c., the Mauryan Empire collapsed. India then fell back into disunity until a new empire arose. The Gupta Empire prospered from a.d. 320 until the invasion of the Huns reduced its power in the late fifth century. Both Indian empires experienced strong central government and artistic achievements. Indian civilization was extensive and eventually, in the form of Hinduism and Buddhism, spread to China and Southeast Asia.
Identifying Which two major religions began in India, and how did they influence society?
The First Civilizations: Ancient China
What was significant about the first civilizations in China?
Of the great civilizations we have discussed so far, China was the last to fully emerge. By the time the Shang dynasty began to display the first signs of an organized state, the societies in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India had already reached an advanced level of civilization. Not enough is known about the early stages of any of these civilizations to allow us to determine why some developed earlier than others. One likely reason for China’s late arrival was that it was virtually isolated from other emerging centers of culture elsewhere in the world. It was forced to develop on its own.
The Shang dynasty created the first flourishing Chinese civilization. Under the Shang, China developed organized government, a system of writing, a lunar calendar, and advanced skills in the making of bronze vessels. During the Zhou dynasty, China began to adopt many of the features that characterized Chinese civilization for centuries. Especially important politically was the Mandate of Heaven, which supposedly gave kings a divine right to rule. This was closely tied to the pattern of dynastic cycles. Up to a.d. 1912, China was ruled by a series of dynasties. The Zhou dynasty lasted for almost 800 years. Others did not last as long, but the king of each dynasty ruled with the Mandate of Heaven. The family, with its ideal of filial piety, emerged as a powerful economic and social unit during the Zhou dynasty.
Between 500 b.c. and 200 b.c., three major schools of thought emerged in China—Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism. All three sought to spell out the principles that would create a stable order in society. All three came to have an impact on Chinese civilization that lasted until the twentieth century.
After 200 years of civil war, a new dynasty known as the Qin created a new era of Chinese unity. But the first Qin emperor was also the last of his dynasty. A new dynasty—the Han—established a vast empire that lasted more than 400 years. During the glory years of the Han dynasty, China extended the boundaries of its empire far into the sands of Central Asia and southward along the coast of the South China Sea into what is modern-day Vietnam. Chinese culture appeared unrivaled, and its scientific and technological achievements were unsurpassed.
One reason for China's striking success was that, unlike other civilizations of its time, it was for a long time able to fend off the danger from nomadic peoples along the northern frontier. By the end of the second century b.c., however, the presence of the Xiongnu was becoming a threat, and tribal warriors began to nip at the borders of the empire. Although the dynasty was strong and the problem was manageable, when internal difficulties began to weaken the unity of the state, China became vulnerable to the threat from the north and entered a time of troubles.
Outlining What differentiated the first three major dynasties in China?
The Civilization of the Greeks
What contributed to the rise and fall of the civilization of the ancient Greeks?
Unlike the great centralized empires of the Persians and the Chinese, ancient Greece consisted of a large number of small, independent city-states. The polis, or city-state, was a community of citizens ruled by its male citizens. The two most famous city-states were Sparta, a militaristic polis ruled by anoligarchy, and Athens, which became known for its democratic institutions in spite of the fact that many slaves and women had no political rights.
The Greek city-states thrived and reached their height in the Classical era of the fifth century b.c. The century began with the Persian wars, which temporarily unified the Greeks, who were victorious against the powerful Persian Empire. But the growth of an Athenian empire in that same century led to a mighty conflict with Sparta—the Great Peloponnesian War. This led to a weakening of the Greek city-states that led to an invasion by Philip II of Macedonia that put an end to the freedom of the Greeks in 338 b.c.
Despite the small size of their city-states, these ancient Greeks created a civilization that was the source of Western culture. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle established the foundations of Western philosophy. Western literary forms are largely derived from Greek poetry and drama. Greek notions of harmony, proportion, and beauty have remained the touchstones for all subsequent Western art. A rational method of inquiry, important to modern science, was conceived in ancient Greece. Many political terms are Greek in origin, as are the concepts of the rights and duties of citizenship, especially as they were conceived in Athens, the first great democracy the world had seen. Especially during the Classical era, the Greeks raised and debated fundamental questions about the purpose of human existence, the structure of human society, and the nature of the universe that have concerned thinkers ever since.
The Greeks were unable to rise above the rivalries that caused them to fight each other and undermine their civilization. Although the Greeks lost their freedom to Philip II, Greek culture did not die. A new age, known as the Hellenistic era, eventually came into being.
That era began with the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great, the young successor to his father, Philip II. Alexander, vowing to avenge the Persian attacks on Greece, crossed into Asia Minor with his army in 334 b.c. Within four years, the Persian Empire was defeated. Alexander, never at rest, moved eastward into India. There a mutiny by his exhausted troops forced him to return to Babylon, where he died in 323 b.c. Alexander was a great military leader, but not a good political administrator. He failed to establish any definite structure for the empire. Four Hellenistic kingdoms emerged as the successors to Alexander.
Within those kingdoms, the resulting society is known as Hellenistic, meaning to "imitate Greeks." The Greek language became dominant as Greek ideas became influential. Greek merchants, artists, philosophers, and soldiers found opportunities and rewards throughout the Middle East, now a world of kingdoms rather than independent city-states.
The Hellenistic period was, in its own way, a vibrant one. New cities arose and flourished. New philosophical doctrines—such as Epicureanism and Stoicism—captured the minds of many. Significant achievements occurred in literature and science, and Greek culture spread throughout the Middle East and made an impact wherever it was carried. Although the Hellenistic era achieved a degree of political stability, by the late third century b.c., signs of decline were beginning to multiply, and the growing power of Rome eventually endangered the Hellenistic world.
Recognizing Relationships What was the legacy of the Greeks to Western civilization?
The World of the Romans
What characteristics defined Roman rule?
Sometime in the eighth century b.c., a group of Latin-speaking people built a small community called Rome on the Tiber River in Italy. Between 509 and 264 b.c., this city expanded and united almost all of Italy under its control. Roman diplomacy was as important as its armies in achieving this goal. Roman rule was made acceptable by allowing local autonomy and gradually granting Roman citizenship to non-Romans. During this time of conquest, Rome also developed the political institutions of a republicruled by an aristocratic oligarchy.
Although Rome had no master plan for expansion, its relationship with its neighbors outside of Italy soon led to involvement in new wars. Its first challenge was Carthage and the Carthaginian Empire in Spain and Africa. Rome was victorious after the three long and bloody Punic Wars. In the east, Rome conquered Macedonia and also took control of the Greek states. Between 264 and 133 b.c., Rome expanded to the west and east and became master of the Mediterranean Sea.
After 133 b.c., Rome’s republican institutions proved to be inadequate for the task of ruling an empire. In the breakdown that ensued, ambitious individuals such as Pompey, Crassus, and Julius Caesar saw opportunities for power unparalleled in Roman history and succumbed to the temptations. At the beginning of the first century, military reforms had made possible the creation of professional armies that were loyal to the generals who recruited them, rather than to the state. Bloody civil war ensued as powerful individuals jockeyed for power. Peace was finally achieved when Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra.
After a series of bloody civil wars, Octavian, who came to be known by the title of Augustus, created a new order that began the Roman Empire. He did not declare the Republic dead and continued to give the Senate a role in governing. But most of the political power remained in the hands of Augustus. He became the first Roman emperor. The army swore loyalty to him, and the return of peace soon made the new political order acceptable to most people in the empire. In the second century, five "good emperors" maintained a period of peace and prosperity in which trade flourished and the provinces were governed efficiently. The Roman Empire developed a remarkable series of achievements that were bequeathed to the future.
These achievements were fundamental to the development of Western civilization, a civilization that consisted largely of lands in Europe conquered by the Romans, in which Roman culture and political ideals were gradually spread. The Romance languages of today—French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian—are based on Latin. Western practices of impartial justice and trial by jury owe much to Roman law. As great builders, the Romans left monuments to their skills throughout Europe, some of which, including aqueducts and roads, are still in use today. Other monuments provided models for public buildings in the West for hundreds of years. Aspects of Roman administrative practices survived in the Western world for centuries. The Romans also preserved the intellectual heritage of the Greco-Roman world of antiquity.
By the third century, however, the Roman world was suffering an era of decline. Generals fought each other in civil wars. German tribes and Persian armies invaded the empire. There were plagues, population decline, and economic problems. At the same time, a new religion—Christianity— was spreading throughout the empire. Like Judaism, Christianity was monotheistic. Beginning among the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, Christianity, with its promise of salvation and its universality as a religion for all, slowly gained acceptance. In Rome’s last 200 years, as Christianity with its ideals of spiritual equality and respect for human life grew, a slow transformation of the Roman world took place. The Germanic invasions hastened this process and brought an end to the Western Roman Empire in a.d.476. Many aspects of the Roman world continued, but a new civilization was emerging that carried on another stage in the development of human society.
Summarizing How and why did Rome make the transition from a republic to an empire?
1. Making Connections How did rule differ under oligarchies, democracies, and republics?
Using Your Notes
2. Identifying Use your notes to identify the characteristics of a civilization.
Answering the Guiding Questions
3. Drawing Conclusions What factors contributed to the establishment of organized communities?
4. Inferring What were the first ancient civilizations to emerge?
5. Making Generalizations How did civilization develop in ancient India?
6. Analyzing What was significant about the first civilizations in China?
7. Explaining What contributed to the rise and fall of the civilization of the ancient Greeks?
8. Evaluating What characteristics defined Roman rule?
9. NARRATIVE Imagine you are a nomad, moving from place to place to survive. Which factors would you need to settle in one place, start a community, and eventually form a successful civilization?
By the beginning of the first millennium a.d., the great states of the ancient world were mostly in decline or at the point of collapse. On the ruins of these ancient empires, new patterns of civilization began to take shape between 400 and 1500. At the same time, new civilizations were also beginning to appear in Japan, in Southeast Asia, in Africa, and in the Americas. All these states were increasingly linked by trade into the first "global civilization."
The World of Islam
What factors contributed to the development of the Arab Empire?
In the seventh century, a new force arose in the Arabian Peninsula and spread rapidly throughout the region of the Middle East. This new force was a new religion called Islam, meaning "peace through submission to the will of Allah,"—and it was founded by a man named Muhammad. Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, is a monotheistic religion. After Muhammad's death, his successors— known as caliphs—organized the Arabs and set in motion a great expansion. Arab armies moved westward across North Africa and into Spain and eastward into the Persian Empire, conquering Syria and Mesopotamia.
In 661 this Arab Empire came under the control of the Umayyad dynasty. Under the Umayyads, the capital of the empire was moved from Madinah to Damascus, in Syria. In 750 Abū al-’Abbās, a descendant of Muhammad’s uncle, overthrew the Umayyad dynasty and set up the Abbasid dynasty. Twelve years later, the Abbasids built a new capital city at Baghdad on the Tigris River, taking advantage of trading routes. The Abbasids were weakened by the Seljuk Turks and in 1258 fell to the Mongols.
Islamic civilization was built upon the teachings of the Quran, the holy book of Islam. Eventually, caliphs came to rule more like kings than spiritual leaders. Much of the prosperity of the Islamic civilization was based on trade within the Islamic world and with China, the Byzantine Empire, India, and Southeast Asia. Trade was carried both by ship and by camel caravan.
Muslim Arabs absorbed many scientific and technological achievements of the people they conquered. At the same time, they made advances of their own, especially in mathematics and the natural sciences, such as astronomy and medicine. In literature and art, the Muslim world combined Islamic ideals with pre-Islamic traditions to create original works. Mosques from this period that remain standing today are visible symbols of the greatness of Islamic art and architecture.
Like other empires in the Middle East, the Arab Empire did not last. Nevertheless, it made an impact. Islam brought a code of law and a written language to societies that were previously without these features. By creating a renewed trade network stretching from West Africa to East Asia, it brought untold wealth to thousands of people and a better life to millions.
By the end of the thirteenth century, the Arab Empire was no more than a memory. But it left a powerful legacy in Islam, which remains one of the major religions of the world. The spread of Islam to Africa and other parts of Asia ensured that it would affect more than just the Middle East.
Understanding Relationships How did Islam influence the rule of the Arab Empire?
Early African Civilizations
What defined the economies and societies of trading states in Africa?
The mastery of agriculture gave rise to three early civilizations in Africa— Egypt, Kush, and Axum. Later, new states emerged in different parts of Africa, some of them strongly influenced by the spread of Islam. Zimbabwe, which emerged around 1300, was important in southern Africa.
Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were three flourishing trading states in West Africa. Mali and Songhai were especially important. One of the most powerful kings of Mali was Mansa Mūsā, who ruled from 1312 to 1337. Mansa Mūsā doubled the size of Mali. As a devout Muslim, he made a pilgrimage to Makkah. He also made his capital city at Timbuktu a center of Islamic learning and culture. By the fifteenth century, a new kingdom— Songhai—was beginning to surpass Mali. The Songhai Empire reached the height of its power during the reign of Muhammad Ture. The chief cities of the empire prospered as never before from the salt and gold trade until the end of the sixteenth century.
The African continent was also an active participant in emerging regional and global trade with the Mediterranean world and across the Indian Ocean. Although the state-building process in Africa south of the Sahara was still in its early stages compared with the ancient civilizations of India, China, and Mesopotamia, in many respects these new states were as impressive and sophisticated as their counterparts elsewhere in the world.
Due to a lack of written records, we know little about early African society and culture. The relationship between king and subjects was often less rigid in African society than in other civilizations. Family, especially lineage groups, were basic units in African society. Religious beliefs in many African societies focused on many gods, nature spirits, the role of diviners, and the importance of ancestors. Africans produced a distinctive culture in wood carving,sculpture, music, and architecture.
In the fifteenth century, a new factor came to affect Africa. Fleets from Portugal began to probe southward along the coast of West Africa. At first,the Portuuese were in search of gold and slaves, but when their ships rounded the southern coast of Africa by 1500, they began to seek domination of the Indian Ocean trade as well. The new situation posed a threat to the peoples of Africa, whose new states would be severely tested by the demands of the Europeans.
The peoples of Africa were not the only ones to confront a new threat from Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century. When the Portuguese sailed across the Indian Ocean, they sought to reach India, where the Mogul Empire was in the throes of creation.
Explaining How did trade play a role in the development of early African states?
The Medieval Asian World
What were the successes and challenges of medieval Asia?
China fell into chaos after the Han dynasty ended. In 581 a new Chinese dynasty known as the Sui was established. During the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties, which together ruled for almost 700 years, Chinese civilization flourished once again. A mature political system based on principles first put into practice during the Qin and Han dynasties gradually emerged in China. As in the Han era, China was a monarchy with a large bureaucracy. Confucian ideals were still the cement that held the system together. The Mongols overthrew the Song dynasty and established a new dynasty in 1279. Although Mongol rulers adapted to the Chinese political system, this dynasty also failed to last, and in 1369 a new Ming dynasty came into power.
During the thousand years of these five dynasties, China advanced in many ways. Industry and trade grew in size and technological capacity, while in the countryside a flourishing agriculture bolstered China’s economic prosperity. In Chinese cities, technological developments added new products and stimulated trade. During the Tang dynasty, for example, the Chinese began to make steel for swords and sickles and invented gunpowder, which was used for explosives.
Chinese society also achieved a level of development and stability that was the envy of observers from other lands, near and far. The civil service provided for a stable government bureaucracy and an avenue of upward mobility that was virtually unknown elsewhere in the world. China’s achievements were unsurpassed throughout the world, making it a civilization that was the envy of its neighbors and of the world. It also influenced other states in the region, including Japan.
Few societies in Asia have historically been as isolated as Japan. Cut off from the mainland by 120 miles of ocean, the Japanese had little contact with the outside world during most of their early development. However, after the Japanese became acquainted with Chinese culture, they were quick to take advantage of the opportunity. In the space of a few decades, the young state adopted many features of Chinese society and culture and thereby introduced major changes into the Japanese way of life. Nevertheless, although early Japanese rulers such as Shōtoku Taishi (a prince of the Yamato clan) tried to create a centralized political system like that of China,the power of landed aristocratsensured a weak central authority. The result was a society that was able to make use of ideas imported from beyond its borders without endangering customs, beliefs, and institutions inherited from the past.
Between 500 and 1500, civilization in India faced a number of severe challenges. One was an ongoing threat from beyond the mountains in the northwest. A group of rebellious Turkish slaves founded a new Islamic state called Ghazna, located in present-day Afghanistan. In 997 a new leader, Mahmūd of Ghazna, began to attack neighboring Hindu kingdoms to the southeast. By 1200, Muslim power encompassed the entire plain of northern India, creating a new Muslim state known as the sultanate of Delhi. The impact of Islam on Indian civilization is still evident today in the division of the Indian subcontinent into mostly Hindu India and two Islamic states, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
A second challenge to India came from the tradition of internal rivalry that had marked Indian civilization for hundreds of years. After the fall of the Guptas, that tradition continued almost without interruption down to the sixteenth century. The third challenge appeared in the religious divisions (originally between Hindus and Buddhists and later between Hindus and Muslims) that took place throughout much of this period. In India, Hinduism was able to absorb Buddhism and reassert its dominant position in Indian society. But that victory was short-lived. One result of the Turkish conquest of northern India was the introduction of Islam into the region. The new religion became a serious rival to traditional beliefs among the Indian people.
Situated at the crossroads between two oceans and two great civilizations, Southeast Asia has long served as a bridge linking peoples and cultures. Despite the central position that Southeast Asia occupied in the ancient world, complex societies were slow to take form in the region. When they began to appear, they were strongly influenced by the older civilizations of neighboring China and India. In Vietnam, the Chinese imposed their culture by conquest. Elsewhere, merchants and missionaries brought Indian influence. Whatever the means, all the young states throughout the region—Vietnam, Angkor, Thailand, the Burmese kingdom of Pagan, and several states on the Malay peninsula and Indonesian archipelago— were heavily affected by foreign ideas and adopted them as a part of their own cultures. And yet, the Southeast Asian peoples, like the Japanese, put their unique stamp on the ideas that they adopted. The result was a region marked by cultural richness and diversity that was rooted in the local culture.
Summarizing How did the various societies in medieval Asia interact with each other?
Europe in the Middle Ages
How did a new European civilization develop after the fall of the Roman Empire?
After the collapse of the Roman Empire and the establishment of the Germanic states, a new European civilization slowly began to emerge in the Early Middle Ages. The coronation of Charlemagne—a descendant of a Germanic tribe converted to Christianity—as Roman emperor in 800 symbolized the fusion of the three chief components of the new European civilization: the German tribes, the Roman legacy, and the Christian church. In the long run, the creation of Charlemagne’s empire, the Carolingian Empire, fostered the idea of a distinct European identity. The lands north of the Alps now became the political center of Europe. Increasingly, Europe emerged as the focus and center of Western civilization.
With the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire, new forms of political institutions began to develop in Europe. Feudalism put power into the hands of many different lords, who came to constitute a powerful group of nobles that dominated the political, economic, and social life of Europe.
The new European civilization that had emerged in the ninth and tenth centuries began to come into its own in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and Europeans established new patterns that reached their high point in the thirteenth century. The High Middle Ages, from around 1000 to around 1300, was a period of growth for Western civilization, characterized by a burst of energy and enthusiasm. An increase in agricultural production helped sustain a dramatic rise in population that was physically apparent in the expansion of towns and cities.
The development of trade, the expansion of towns and cities, and the development of a money economy added a dynamic new element to European civilization. Although these developments did not mean the end of a mostly rural European society, they opened the door to new opportunities for people to expand and enrich their lives. Eventually, they created the foundations for the development of a mostly urban industrial society.
During the High Middle Ages, European society was dominated by a landed aristocracy whose primary function was to fight. These nobles built innumerable castles that gave a distinctive look to the countryside. Over time, however, medieval kings began to exert a centralizing authority and to develop new kinds of monarchical states. Although they could not know it then, their actions laid the foundations for the European kingdoms that have dominated the European political scene ever since.
During the High Middle Ages, the power of nobles and kings was often overshadowed by the authority of the Catholic Church. It was perhaps the dominant institution of the era. The High Middle Ages witnessed a spiritual revival that transformed European society. Spiritual renewal during the period led to many and sometimes divergent paths: strong papal leadership, a dramatic increase in the number and size of churches, new religious orders, and the "Holy Warrior" in the Crusades—a military effort to recover the Holy Land of the Near East from the Muslims. All these paths seemed to reflect a greater concern for salvation.
A burst of intellectual and artistic activity also characterized the High Middle Ages. An intellectual revival led to new centers of learning in universities and to the use of reason to develop new ways of thought in theology. At the same time, a boom in the construction of religious buildings— especially evident in the great Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals—left Europe covered with churches. They were the visible symbols of Christian Europe’s vitality.
European society in the fourteenth century, however, was challenged by an overwhelming number of disastrous forces. A devastating plague known as the Black Death that wiped out one-third of the European population, a decline in trade and industry, constant warfare, political instability, a decline of church power, and the spectacle of two popes condemning each other seemed to overpower Europeans. No doubt, to some people it appeared that the last days of the world were at hand. But out of the collapse of medieval civilization came a rebirth of culture known as the Renaissance.
Making Connections What was the role of the Catholic Church in medieval Europe?
The Byzantine Empire
What factors contributed to the emergence and success of the Byzantine Empire?
After the collapse of Roman power in Western Europe, the Late Roman Empire in the East, or the Eastern Roman Empire, continued in the eastern Mediterranean. It eventually emerged as the Byzantine Empire, which prospered for hundreds of years. While a new Christian civilization arose in Europe, the Byzantine Empire created a unique Christian civilization. And while Europe struggled in the Early Middle Ages, the Byzantine world continued to prosper and flourish. Especially during the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries under the Macedonian emperors, the Byzantine Empire expanded and achieved an economic prosperity that was evident to foreign visitors who frequently praised the size, wealth, and physical surroundings of the central city of Constantinople.
During its heyday, Byzantium was a multicultural and multiethnic world empire that ruled a remarkable number of peoples who spoke different languages. Byzantine cultural and religious forms spread to the Balkans, parts of central Europe, and Russia. Byzantine scholars spread the study of the Greek language to Italy, expanding Renaissance humanism with an interest in classical Greek civilization. The Byzantine Empire interacted with the world of Islam to its east and the new European civilization of the west. Both interactions proved costly and ultimately fatal. Although European civilization and Byzantine civilization shared a common bond in Christianity, the bond proved incapable of keeping them in harmony politically. Indeed, the West’s Crusades to the Palestine region, for claimed religious motives, led to western control of the Byzantine Empire from 1204 to 1261. Although the empire technically was restored, it limped along. Ultimately its other interaction—with the Muslim world—led to its demise when the Ottoman Turks conquered the city of Constantinople and made it the center of their empire.
Identifying In what way was the Byzantine Empire multicultural?
The World of the Americas
Which civilizations flourished in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans?
Around 5000 b.c., farming settlements began to appear in river valleys and upland areas in Central and South America. Not long afterward, organized communities developed along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the western slopes of the central Andes Mountains.
The Olmec, the first-known civilization in Mesoamerica, appeared around 1200 b.c. Aspects of their tradition influenced later Mesoamerican societies. For example, the Olmec played a ceremonial game on a stone ball court that was later played by the Zapotec and Maya. The Maya and the Aztec were especially successful in developing advanced and prosperous civilizations. Both cultures built elaborate cities that had pyramids, temples, and palaces. Both were polytheistic, worshiping many gods and goddesses. Mayan civilization collapsed in the ninth century, and the Aztecs fell to Spanish invaders in the sixteenth century.
In the fifteenth century the Inca Empire thrived in South America along the Andes. It was carefully planned and regulated, which is especially evident in the extensive network of roads that connected all parts of the empire. Despite this, the Inca eventually fell to Spanish invaders, due to a lack of advanced weaponry. Years before the Inca, around 900 b.c., the Chavin emerged in the Andean region of modern-day Peru. Their stone temples provide evidence of this early South American people.
While the Maya, Aztec, and Inca were developing their civilizations, the peoples of North America were creating a remarkable number of different cultures. The Inuit, Mound Builders, Anasazi, Plains Amerindians, and Iroquois developed societies that responded in unique ways to the environmental conditions that they faced.
All these societies in the Americas developed in apparently total isolation from their counterparts elsewhere in the world. This deprived them of access to developments taking place in Africa, Asia, and Europe, such as the wheel. Also their written languages were not as sophisticated as those in other parts of the world. But in other respects, their cultural achievements were equal to those realized elsewhere. When the first European explorers arrived in the Americas at the beginning of the sixteenth century, they described much that they observed in glowing terms. One need only point to the awed comments of early Spanish visitors who said that the cities of the Aztecs were the equal of any found in Spain.
Unfortunately for their own needs, one development that the peoples of America lacked was the knowledge of firearms. In a few short years, tiny bands of Spanish explorers were able to conquer the magnificent civilizations of the Americas and turn them into ruins.
Making Inferences What factors indicate that the peoples of Central and South America had organized societies?
1. Contrasting What is the difference in authority between an aristocracy and a sultanate?
Using Your Notes
2. Summarizing Use your notes to summarize the characteristics of two major civilizations that emerged in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas after the collapse of ancient empires.
Answering the Guiding Questions
3. Analyzing What factors contributed to the development of the Arab Empire?
4. Identifying What defined the economies and societies of trading states in Africa?
5. Evaluating What were the successes and challenges of medieval Asia?
6. Making Connections How did a new European civilization develop after the fall of the Roman Empire?
7. Describing What factors contributed to the emergence and success of the Byzantine Empire?
8. Identifying Which civilizations flourished in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans?
9. ARGUMENT In what ways did the civilizations described in this lesson interact with and influence each other? Which civilizations do you think had the greatest impact on society? Write an essay arguing your choice. Provide evidence to support your claims.
1. STATING Which civilization was to have the first great democracy in the world? How has this civilization influenced the politics of Western culture?
2. DRAWING CONCLUSIONS What was the social structure in the new Indian civilization? Why did reincarnation provide a good reason for this system?
3. SUMMARIZING Under what group of emperors did the Byzantine Empire expand and prosper? What city in particular attracted the attention of foreign visitors? Why?
4. IDENTIFYING What political institution began to emerge in Europe after the Carolingian Empire? Who gained power as a result?
21st Century Skills
5. IDENTIFYING CAUSE AND EFFECT How did Judaism influence Western culture?
6. ECONOMICS Under whose reign did the Songhai Empire reach its height? What was the key factor that allowed it to prosper?
7. COMPARE AND CONTRAST How are the major beliefs and principles of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam similar? What are their major differences?
8. CREATE AND AND ANALYZE ARGUMENTS Create an argument explaining the similarities between the decline of Rome and fall of the Qin dynasty. Then write an essay that analyzes the argument and explains why it is or is not valid.
Exploring the Essential Questions
9. SYNTHESIZING Write an essay explaining the characteristics of a civilization. Then create a two-column table to contrast patterns of civilization between the ancient and medieval worlds. Be prepared to present your paper and table and to give examples for each element contrasted in the table.
DBQ Analyzing Historical Documents
Use the document to answer the following questions.
The following is an excerpt from The Early History of Rome, written by Roman historian Livy.
10. INTERPRETING What is the moral lesson in Livy’s story about Cincinnatus?
11. DISCUSSING Is it important to be factually accurate as a historian? What is the value in teaching moral lessons through history?
12. INFORMATIVE/EXPLANATORY Write a paragraph that explains how Greek and Roman civilizations impacted Western civilization. Your response should include specific examples.