Chapter 5: Ancient India and China: 6000 B. C. – A. D. 220 T

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Chapter 5: Ancient India and China: 6000 B.C. – A.D. 220
Thousands of years ago, civilization developed in India and China. In India, villages grew into cities in the Indus River Valley. In China, small towns grew large in the Yangtze River and the Huang He Valleys. In this chapter, you will learn that ancient people in India planned their two large cities and that the Chinese people became great builders and artisans. You will also learn about Hinduism and Buddhism, two religions that developed.

Goals for Learning

To explain the importance of geography in the history of civilization

To describe India’s first civilization

To describe Hinduism and castes

To compare Hinduism and Buddhism and describe the four noble truths of Buddhism.

To explain two wonders of ancient China

To describe the Shang, Qin, and Han dynasties


Geography of China and India

Map Skills: Civilization began thousands of years ago along the river valleys of Asia. Geography, or the land and the weather, was important in the history of India and China. Both countries are large. Mountains cut them off from other countries. The people get water from the rivers and use them for travel.

Study the map, then answer the following questions:

1. Name the large desert in Mongolia.

2. Name two rivers in China.

3. Name one river in India.

4. What country is directly south of Mongolia?

5. Mountains separate China from the West. How do you think this has affected China’s history?


Reading Strategy: Visualizing

Visualizing is another strategy that helps readers understand what they are reading. It is like creating a movie in your mind. Use the following ways to visualize a text:

Look at the photographs, illustrations, and descriptive words.

Think about experiences in your own life that may add to the images.

Notice the order in which things are happening and what you think might happen next.

Key Vocabulary Words
Lesson 1

Geography: The science that deals with land, weather, bodies of water, and plant and animal life

Peninsula: A piece of land surrounded on three sides by water

Subcontinent: A large landmass that is somewhat smaller than a continent

Monsoon: A seasonal wind
Lesson 2

Irrigate: To bring water to crops

Pictogram: A figure that tells a story
Lesson 3

Hinduism: The main religion of India, which stresses the belief in the Vedas

Reincarnation: The rebirth of the soul into a new body

Cycle: The events that keep happening, one after another

Caste: A class of people in India
Lesson 4

Buddha: A name meaning the “Enlightened One??; the name given to Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism

Enlightened: Knowing the truth

Desire: To wish for something

Nirvana: A condition of complete emptiness in which a person’s soul finds perfect peace

Soul: A person’s spirit

Lesson 5

Isolate: To keep apart or away from others

Plateau: A flat area that rises above the land close by

Canal: A waterway made by humans

Invade: To attack or march into another country
Lesson 6

Dynasty: A family that rules a country over a long period of time

Noble: A person of high birth

Artisan: A person who makes beautiful objects for everyday use

Symbol: Something that stands for something else

Scribe: A person from ancient times who could read and write

Society: A group of people whose members live together for the good of all

Lesson 1: Ancient India

To describe why ancient towns formed along river valleys

To describe the climate of India


The science that deals with land, weather, bodies of water, and plant and animal life


A piece of land surrounded on three sides by water


A large landmass that is somewhat smaller than a continent

The civilization of India is one the oldest in the world. Geography—land, weather, bodies of water, plant and animal life—shapes all civilizations. India has a very interesting geography. It is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water. India is often called a subcontinent because it is so large. From north to south, India extends about 2,000 miles. It has the world’s highest mountains, called the Himalayas. The Ganges and Indus are two great rivers. Great seasonal winds called monsoons are very important to life in India.

What Has Geography Done for India?
Most of the time, geography has protected India. However, many armies have marched into India over the past 4,000 years. These armies reached India through passes, or openings, in the mountains. The best known passage into India is the Khyber Pass.

The people who came through these passes changed India’s history. Each group brought new ideas. The newcomers sometimes married the people who had come before. Indian culture became a blend of many different groups.

What Rivers Are Important to India?
The Indian subcontinent has many rivers. The three most important are the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Indus Rivers. The Ganges River is so important to the Indians that they call it “Mother Ganges.??


Writing About History

Geography influenced ancient India and China. What is the land like where you live? In your notebook, write an essay. Tell how rivers, mountains, or other features have affected the way people live in your area.


A seasonal wind

Reading Strategy: Visualizing

What words in this paragraph help you visualize the geography of India?

Map Study: Early River Valley Civilizations
This map shows four early river valley civilizations. Which one was farthest west? farthest east? Were any of them in Europe? Name two rivers where civilization began.

Why Is the Monsoon Important?
Life in India depends on seasonal winds called monsoons. In the summer, wind blows over the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. When this air reaches land, rain falls. Sometimes rain pours down for weeks. In fact, 90 percent of India’s yearly rain comes from the summer monsoon. Sometimes the monsoon is late or little rain falls. Then crops fail, and many people go hungry.

India is hot most of the year. The temperature usually stays above freezing. Its two seasons depend on the rain. Summer is the rainy season; winter is the dry season.


Lesson 1 Review
On a sheet of paper, use the words from the Word Bank to complete each sentence correctly.

Word Bank



Khyber Pass



1. We sometimes call India a _____.

2. Two important rivers in India are the Ganges and the _____.

3. A _____ is a seasonal wind that brings rain to India.

4. Armies marched into India through the _____.

5. _____ is the study of how land, bodies of water, weather, plants, and animals change people’s lives.

What do you think?

In what ways has its geography helped or hurt the people of India?

Lesson 2: The History of Ancient India

To describe the farming, art, homes, and writing of the civilization

To explain possible reasons why this civilization suddenly ended


To bring water to crops

Reading Strategy: Visualizing

How could this paragraph be written differently to create a stronger picture of these homes in your mind?

India’s first civilization developed in the Indus River Valley. This river begins in the Himalayas. When the snow melts, the river floods. Later, the water retreats and leaves silt, or a rich layer of soil, behind. Because this silt makes the soil fertile, people settled along the Indus River.

Two cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, looked like modern, planned cities. Their streets were wide and straight. The people built with clay bricks, which were all exactly the same.

How Did These Ancient People Live?
The people of the Indus River Valley raised grains and vegetables in their rich soil. They learned how to irrigate, or bring water to, their fields during the dry season.

The farmers grew enough food to feed everyone. Because of this, the city people could make pottery, cloth, jewelry, and metal tools. How do we know? Because archaeologists have dug up beautifully painted pottery, stone carvings, and gold and silver jewelry. We also know that Indians made the first cotton cloth.

Archaeologists have also found things from faraway in the ruins of ancient India. This early civilization traded goods with other civilizations.

What Were the Homes Like?
In the cities, people’s homes were sometimes two stories high. Most had a patio, or rooms open to the sky. Stairs led up to the roof. The people built alabaster windows. This marblelike stone allowed light to shine through. Some homes had indoor bathrooms and toilets. Dirty water drained away through clay pipes.


Reading Strategy: Visualizing

Draw a picture to help you visualize what this paragraph is about. How does this image help you picture a city in ancient India?


A figure that tells a story

Why Were the Cities Walled?
A great wall surrounded each city and protected it. Towers were built into the walls. From these towers, people could see any enemy. In the center of the city was another walled area. Behind the wall stood a fort, a place to store food, and a large bath. The people may have used this area as a place to honor their gods.

Did These People Have a Written Language?
Archaeologists have discovered many clay tablets in the Indus River Valley. On them are pictograms—figures that tell a story. They have also found hundreds of small carved markers. Did business people use these to stamp the things they sold? We do not know because at this time no one can read the Harappan language.

What Caused This Ancient Civilization to End?
About 1500 B.C. this civilization suddenly ended. Perhaps the coastline changed so trading became harder. Maybe the monsoon failed. Maybe disease, an earthquake, or a flood struck. Perhaps farmers could no longer grow enough food. Or maybe armies from central Asia invaded.

What do you think?

Why do you think we call Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro “planned cities???

Map Study: Ancient India

This map shows the Indus River Valley civilization. Name the mountain passes through which armies marched into India. What mountain range lies to the east of the Indus River Valley civilization?

Lesson 2 Review
On a sheet of paper, use the words from the Word Bank to complete each sentence correctly.

Word Bank






1. The first civilization in India grew up along the _____ River Valley.

2. This happened because of the rich _____ that the spring floods left behind in the valley.

3. The two great cities of this civilization were _____ and Mohenjo-Daro.

4. People in these cities built _____ windows to let in light.

5. In this valley, archaeologists have discovered clay pads with _____, or pictures, on them.


Lesson 3: Hinduism


To identify the major features of Hinduism

To understand the importance of Sanskrit to India

To explain the purpose of castes


The main religion of India that stresses the belief in the Vedas


The rebirth of the soul into a new body


The events that keep happening, one after another

Reading Strategy: Visualizing

What words in this paragraph help you understand what you are reading?

For the next 500 years, people fought wars in the Indus River Valley. Many soldiers wandered into India. They fought with each other and with the people who came before them. Over hundreds of years, these people married one another. Eventually, they developed a new set of the beliefs and practices called Hinduism. Hinduism is the main religion of modern India.

What Do Hindus Believe?
The Hindus, or the people who practice Hinduism, believe that everything is God, or Brahman. The Vedas, their holy writings, explain “Brahman is one, and yet expresses itself as many.?? The word Vedas means “books of knowledge.?? Hindus believe that Brahman, Vishnu, and Shiva are different faces of God. Brahma creates, or makes, life. Vishnu preserves life, and Shiva destroys it. Hindus believe that these three faces express the main powers of God.
What Is Rebirth?
Hindus believe that all living things—weeds, water, insects, animals, and people—have souls. Hindus believe in reincarnation, or the rebirth of the soul into a new body. The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth keeps happening until a soul becomes perfect. Then the cycle ends, and a soul becomes one with Brahman. Hindus do not kill animals. They believe that cows are especially holy.


Reading Strategy: Visualizing

Draw a picture to help you visualize what this paragraph is about. How does this image help you remember the four main castes?


A class of people in India

What Is a Caste?
Hinduism teaches that people are born into castes, or classes of people. Hindus have four main castes:

1. the Brahmin caste made up of religious leaders

2. the ruler and warrior caste

3. the shopkeeper, landowner, and skilled-worker caste

4. the farmer, unskilled worker, servant, and slave caste

The Brahmin caste is the highest; the fourth caste listed is the lowest. Over thousands of years, the Hindus have divided their four main castes into smaller and smaller groups. They divide according to work, money, skin color, and religious beliefs.


Why Were Castes Important?
The members of each caste remained in the caste for life and followed its rules. For example, a person could marry only within the same caste. Another rule was that all the people in a caste did the same kind of work. When people broke these rules, they were thrown out from the caste. People called them “outcaste,?? because they are outside any caste.

What Is Sanskrit?
Sanskrit was the language of ancient India. It is one of the oldest languages in the Indo-European family. Latin, English, German, Spanish, Greek, and Persian are also in this language family. The languages have many words in common. For example, mata is the Sanskrit word for “mother.??

Lesson 3 Review
On a sheet of paper, write the answer to each question. Use complete sentences.

1. What are the Vedas?

2. What does the saying “Brahman is One, and yet expresses itself as many?? mean?

3. Why do some Hindus not kill animals?

4. What is an Indian caste?

5. What does Sanskrit have to do with the English language?

What do you think?

What can the Hindu religion teach us?


Lesson 4: Buddhism

To explain how Siddhartha Guatama founded Buddhism

To explain how and where Buddhism spread


A name meaning the “Enlightened One??; the name given to Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism


The state of knowing the truth

Hinduism developed over a long period of time. Later in India, a man named Siddhartha Gautama began to question Hindu beliefs. He explained his beliefs to others. These beliefs are the basis of Buddhism.

How Did Gautama Become the Buddha?
Gautama was born around 563 B.C. His family was very rich. As a young man he began to feel sorry for the poor people in India. According to an old story, Gautama left his palace one day with his servant. They saw a crippled man, a sick man, a dead man, and a holy man. His servant said, “Such is the way of life, to that we must all come.?? This led Guatama to realize that birth, old age, sickness, and death come to everyone. The next day Gautama left his wife and newborn son. For several years, he walked the countryside and studied the Hindu holy books.

One day, while sitting under a giant tree, Guatama discovered four noble truths about life. From then on, he was known as the Buddha, or the “Enlightened One.?? To be enlightened is to know the truth.

What Are the Four Noble Truths Buddha Discovered?
For the rest of his life, Buddha taught and preached. He walked from village to village, dressed in a yellow robe. He trusted others to give him the food and shelter he needed.

Reading Strategy: Visualizing

What clues on this page help you visualize the four “Noble Truths???


To wish for something


A condition of complete emptiness in which a person’s soul finds perfect peace


A person’s spirit

Reading Strategy: Visualizing

Create a graphic organizer to show how Buddhism and Hinduism are alike and different

Buddha preached four “Noble Truths?? about the meaning of life:

1. Our life is full of suffering.

2. Our own selfish wishes cause this suffering.

3. We stop suffering when we stop being jealous, greedy, and selfish.

4. We can stop wishing for, or desiring, more.

To stop wanting more and more, Buddha said that people must follow the “Eightfold Path.?? To stop wanting so much a person must believe, think, speak, wish, enjoy, act, try, and live in the right way. When all desires finally end, a person enters the spiritual place called nirvana. In nirvana, a person’s soul, or spirit, finds perfect peace.

How Are Buddhism and Hinduism Alike and Different?
Gautama was born a Hindu, so many Buddhist beliefs are the same as those of Hinduism. Both religions believe that life is sad and evil. Both believe in reincarnation. Many followers of both religions refuse to kill an animal or eat meat.

A big difference between the two religions is that Buddhists do not believe in the caste system. Buddha treated all people the same. He believed that when people follow the Eightfold Path, they reach nirvana in their own lifetime.

Where Did Buddhism Spread?
Buddha founded several groups of monks. These holy men lived in monasteries that became important centers of learning. Buddhism spread from India into Burma, Thailand, Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan.


Who Was Ashoka?
The first Indian empire, the Maurya, was created in 321 B.C. Ashoka was its third emperor. At first, Ashoka fought wars to expand his empire. In one military victory, more than 100,000 people died. Seeing this, he realized the evil of war. He became shoka, or powerful. He accepted the teachings of Buddhism. Because of his change of heart, he was called “without sorrow,?? or ashoka. Ashoka is remembered as an emperor who tried to rule with justice and wisdom.

Lesson 4 Review
On a sheet of paper, write the letter of the answer that correctly completes each sentence.

1. Siddhartha Gautama was born _____.

A rich

B poor

C small

D large

2. Another name for the Buddha is _____ One.

A Channa

B Allah

C Enlightened

D Nirvana

3. Gautama preached _____ “Noble Truths.??

A two

B four

C six

D eight

4. Buddhists give up _____ when they reach nirvana.

A desire

B religion

C food

D labor

5. Some Buddhist beliefs are similar to _____ beliefs.

A Christian

B Muslim

C Orthodox

D Hindu

What do you think?

Why do you think that some Hindus became Buddhists?

Then and Now

Buddhism, Yesterday and Today

Buddhism spread quickly throughout Asia. Buddhism started in India, but it has nearly disappeared there today. Worldwide, there are about 353 million Buddhists.

Buddhism has split into three main groups: Tibetan, Pure Land, and Zen.

The major difference among them has to do with how a person can reach enlightenment.

Buddhism spread to America in the 1900s. Why? Partly because many people from Asia moved to the United States. Also, Buddhism appealed to some Americans who were looking for a new kind of religious experience and expression.


Lesson 5: Ancient China

To describe the geography of China

To explain how the Yangtze River and Huang He have influenced life in China


To keep apart or away from others


A flat area that rises above the land close by

People have lived in China for thousands of years. Its geography made China a safe and productive place to live. In fact, farming began there more than 1000 years ago. These farm villages eventually grew into cities. The first Chinese cities began near the Huang He about 2000 B.C. The ancient Chinese were also great builders.

What Is China’s Geography?
China is huge. In ancient times, its geography isolated or kept it away from other peoples. The enormous Gobi Desert lies to the north. The Tibetan mountain plateau—a flat area that rises above the land close by—stretches toward the west. The mighty Himalayas rise in the southwest. The sea guards the east and south.

What Keeps the Yangtze from Flooding?
The Yangtze is the longest and most important river in China. Because it is deep and runs swiftly, it hardly ever floods. In fact, it is the world’s deepest river. Large ships travel inland on it as far as 600 miles. The Yangtze flows through southern China. It has been one of China’s main trade routes since ancient times.

Why Does the Huang He Flood?
The Huang He flows across northern China. Because the river is shallow, it often floods. Throughout the years, it has destroyed both cities and farms. Since 600 B.C., it has flooded more than 1,500 times. Hunger, disease, and death follow. For this reason, it is sometimes called “China’s Sorrow.??


A waterway made by humans


To attack or march into another country

Reading Strategy: Visualizing

What words in this paragraph help you visualize the building of a canal?

Why Did the Chinese Build a Grand Canal?
A great wonder of the ancient world was the Grand Canal. Most of China’s rivers flow from west to east. The Chinese rulers built a 1,100-mile canal, or waterway, that flowed north and south. It joined the Huang He and the Yangtze River.

The Chinese used the canal to transport grain and other supplies from the fertile south to the north.

Who Built the Canal?
The Chinese rulers began the canal more than 2,400 years ago. More than 5 million people worked on it. In some areas, the rulers forced all men between the ages of 15 and 50 to work on the canal. An army of 50,000 guards beat and sometimes beheaded those who refused to work.

One person in every five families had to supply and prepare food for the workers and guards. During the building of the canal, 2 million workers died, became ill, or ran away.

Why Did the Chinese Build a Great Wall?
In ancient times, nomads invaded, or attacked, China on its northern and western frontier. Rulers built walls to keep them out. Two rulers joined all the walls together and created the Great Wall of China. It is another wonder of the ancient world.

How Big Is the Great Wall?
Builders started work on the wall over 2,000 years ago. It stretches nearly 1,500 miles from the Yellow Sea westward. It is really a collection of short walls. In some places, it stands about 35 feet high. Its base was 15 to 30 feet thick. The workers built towers along the wall. From these, guards looked far to the north and to the west. They watched for signs of invaders.

An ancient Chinese historian says 300,000 workers built the Great Wall of China. Others believe that 1 million people worked on it and that 400,000 of them died while building the wall.


Lesson 5 Review
On a sheet of paper, write the letter of the answer that correctly completes each sentence.

1. For nearly 1,000 years China was nearly cut off from the rest of the world because of _____.

A the Gobi Desert

B the Tibetan plateau

C the Himalayan Mountains

D all of the above

2. The _____ River is the deepest river in China and in the world.

A Yangtze

B Huang

C Ganges

D Indus

3. The _____ joins together the Yangtze River and the Huang He.

A Great Wall of China

B Grand Canal

C Gobi Desert

D Tibetan mountain plateau

4. The Great Wall protected the Chinese from invaders from the north and the _____.

A east

B west

C south

D all of the above

5. “China’s Sorrow?? is another name for the _____.

A Great Wall of China

B Grand Canal

C Huang He

D Yangtze River

What do you think?

Why do people think that the Great Wall of China is a wonder?

History in Your Life

The Huang He, Sweet and Sour

Many popular Chinese dishes mix sweet and sour flavors. China’s Huang He has “sweet and sour?? traits too. This river flows out of the western mountains across the flat North China Plain. For farmers, the river can be “sweet.?? It waters the fields. It also brings loess, a rich yellow soil, from the mountains. The yellow mud gave the river its Western name. It also makes the soil the most fertile in China.

Sometimes, though, the river turns “sour.?? It overflows its banks and floods the plains. Then it becomes deadly. More than 1,500 floods have been recorded in the past 3,000 years. One terrible flood in 1887 killed almost a million people. The Chinese people have built dikes and dams to control the river. Even today, the floodwaters of the Huang He can be a “sour?? threat.


Lesson 6: The History of Ancient China

To describe what life was like during the Shang dynasty

To explain why the Shang dynasty might have collapsed

To identify China’s first golden age


A family that rules a country over a long period of time


A person of high birth


Something that stands for something else

Reading Strategy: Visualizing

Create a symbol that has two parts, like a Chinese character. How does this help you visualize a Chinese character?

In ancient times in the valley of the Huang He, many rulers fought one another. Around 1600 B.C., one powerful ruling family took over the whole plain. This family ruled for many years. A family that rules a country for a long period of time is called a dynasty. We call China’s first dynasty the Shang.

What Was a Shang City Like?
Like the people of ancient India, the ancient Chinese built cities. The people of the Indus River Valley in India built brick homes. However, the people of the Yellow River Valley in China built wooden ones.

Archaeologists have discovered over 130 Shang villages and cities. Among the most important was Anyang, which was carved out of a forest. A palace and a temple stood in its center.

Near these important buildings, the nobles—people of high birth—lived. Their homes were large rectangles. Anyang had a business area with shops and government buildings.

What Is a Chinese Character?
During the Shang dynasty, the Chinese developed writing. At first, they wrote pictograms. Later they included symbols. These figures stood for something else. It was a difficult language with over 3,000 characters, or symbols.

Each Chinese character includes two parts. One gives the meaning of the character. The other tells how to pronounce it. The language of modern China still uses the same characters the Shang dynasty used.



A person from ancient times who could read and write


A group of people whose members live together for the good of all

Who Were the Scribes?
The written language of the Shang dynasty was difficult. Only a few people could read and write. We call these people scribes. Shang scribes wrote on long, narrow bamboo strips. Scribes wrote the characters up and down the strip rather than across.

What Is Ancestor Worship?
The Shang people believed that the gods controlled all things. They believed that the spirits of nature gave their rulers power. Among these spirits were the spirits of dead ancestors. When bad things happened, families thought that dead ancestors were not pleased with them. Ancestor worship was an important part of the Shang religion.

Why Did the Shang Decline?
The Shang dynasty lasted over 500 years. Then in 1122 B.C., the Zhou people captured the city of Anyang. The Shang society was sharply divided into rich and poor people. A society is a group of people whose members live together for the good of all.

The rich nobles lived in large houses in the cities. They owned bronze weapons. They were proud of their beautiful silk clothes and jade jewelry. But the poor lived in small huts or in caves. They owned no land. They could only work the land the nobles owned. When invaders came, the poor may have welcomed them. Perhaps because of this, the Shang dynasty fell apart.

Technology Connection

Early Earthquake Detection

A man named Zhang Heng thought he could predict that an earthquake was about to occur. In about A.D. 132, he created what is believed to be the world’s first earthquake detector.

Zhang Heng’s instrument was shaped like a large vase. Its copper-domed top featured eight dragons’ heads around its edge. Each of these heads held a bronze ball.

A pendulum under the dome would swing if the earth shook. As the pendulum swung, it caused a ball to drop from a dragon’s mouth into the mouth of a bronze toad beneath it.

The loud sound of the falling ball warned of an impending earthquake. The position of the dragon showed the direction of the earthquake’s epicenter. The epicenter is the point where an earthquake begins.


What Were the Accomplishments of the Qin Dynasty?
The Qin dynasty ruled China for only a short time, from 221 to 206 B.C. It was the first to unite China with a strong central government. Qin is pronounced as Ch’in. This may be why the land is called China. Before the Qin dynasty took control, there was no central ruler of China. The Qin leader, Shi Huangdi, named himself First Emperor. For 2,000 years after Shi Huangdi, Chinese rulers took the title of Emperor. The First Emperor is known for many accomplishments. Writing became more uniform. This allowed people in different areas to better communicate. The same system of laws was created throughout the land. New roads and canals were built. Nearly 2000 miles of the Great Wall of China was built to protect the country from northern enemies.

However, the Qin Dynasty did not last long. When the First Emperor died, he was buried in a tomb beneath a huge mound of earth. Buried near the tomb in a large pit were more than 6,000 life-size clay statues of warriors and horses. When the First Emperor died, his son became the Second Emperor. At this time, the peasants were unhappy with high taxes and harsh treatment by the Qin rulers. The peasants rebelled. In 206 B.C., Liu Bang, a peasant, who became the Prince of Han, defeated the Emperor’s army. Under the Han Dynasty, China entered its first Golden Age.

Why Is the Han Dynasty Known as the First Golden Age of China?
The Han Dynasty changed China in important ways. Beginning in 206 B.C., the Han military expanded China’s empire by conquering Vietnam, Korea, and much of what is now western China. The Han created a trade route called the Silk Road. It increased trade with central Asia, western Asia, Africa, and, later, Europe. The Silk Road brought China a new religion called Buddhism. Buddhism began in India. It taught how to escape the hardships of life. Many Chinese became Buddhist.


Besides military conquest and economic progress, the Han Dynasty had many other achievements. The Han learned how to make paper out of wood pulp. Chinese writers wrote history books and dictionaries printed on paper. They learned how to mass produce iron and steel farming tools. They invented sundials, water clocks, wheelbarrows, and compasses.

Before the Han Dynasty, government workers were selected by the influence of family and friends. Under the Han Dynasty, government workers were selected for their knowledge and skills. They had to be honest and respectable. It was thought that this would make the government more stable. Each worker had to pass an examination based on the teachings of Confucius, a very important Chinese philosopher.

He taught that a ruler should govern by good example. Confucius thought that if a ruler used force to govern, the ruler had failed. The teachings of Confucius were so important that they became the state religion of China.

The Han dynasty ended in A.D. 220, but the influence of the Han can still be seen in the culture and people of China. Today, more than 90 percent of the Chinese people identify themselves as the “People of the Han.??

Confucius: c. 551–479 B.C.

Confucius was China’s greatest teacher. (In Chinese, he was called “Master Kung.??) Confucius did not teach religion, but he advised local rulers. His students later wrote down his sayings.

China was in great disorder when Confucius was alive. He hoped his ideas would bring back order. Confucius thought each person had a place in society. People owed respect to a superior, such as a ruler or a father. They should obey him or her. In turn, that person should set a good example. Confucius also taught his students to be loyal and honest. Culture and polite behavior were important too.


What do you think?

Why would the division of society into the rich and the poor cause problems?

Map Study: Ancient China
This map shows ancient China. What desert lies north of the Yellow River? What great river crosses the southern part of China? Name three mountain ranges to the west of China.

Lesson 6 Review
On a sheet of paper, use the words from the Word Bank to complete each sentence correctly.

Word Bank






1. A _____ is a family that rules a country over a long period of time.

2. The _____ was the first dynasty in China.

3. In their writing, the Chinese use _____.

4. The _____ dynasty was the first to unite China with a strong central government.

5. The _____ invented paper out of wood pulp.


Document-Based Reading
The Bhagavad Gita

Hinduism is the major religion of India. Over 80 percent of India’s more than one billion people follow it. Hinduism is one of the oldest of the great world religions. It is different from the others in several ways. Hinduism is not based on the teachings of one person. It grew slowly over hundreds of years. It also does not have one holy book, such as the Bible or the Qur’an. Instead, there are many religious hymns and poems.

This excerpt is from the Bhagavad Gita. The name means “Song of the Lord.?? This poem was probably written about A.D. 100. It is part of an older epic, or long poem. In it, the god Krishna teaches lessons about life and death.

What is work? What is beyond work? Even some seers [wise men] see this [incorrectly]. I will teach thee the truth of pure work, and this truth shall make thee free.

He whose undertakings are free from anxious desire and fanciful thought, whose work is made pure in the fire of wisdom: he is called wise by those who see. In whatever work he does such a man in truth has peace: he expects nothing, he relies on nothing, and ever has fullness of joy.

He has no vain hopes, he is the master of his soul, he surrenders all he has, only his body works: he is free from sin. He is glad with whatever God [the eternal spirit] gives him, and he has risen beyond the two contraries here below; he is without jealousy, and in success or in failure he is one: his works bind him not.

He has attained liberation: he is free from all bonds, his mind has found peace in wisdom, and his work is a holy sacrifice. The work of such a man is pure.

Greater is thine own work, even if this be humble, than the work of another, even if this be great. When a man does the work God gives him, no sin can touch this man.

And a man should not abandon his work, even if he cannot achieve it in full perfection; because in all work there may be imperfection, even as in all fire there is smoke.

Document-Based Questions
1. What does the speaker want to teach?

2. Who is a wise man?

3. Why should a person do his or her own work?

4. Should a person give up a job if he or she is not good at it? Why or why not?

5. How does the advice in this reading relate to the caste system?


Spotlight Story: Family Ties—The Ties That Bind

The family has always been the backbone of Chinese society. In ancient China, people thought that the dead were still part of the family. Living family members honored those who had died. People offered them food and drink. They took care of family graves. These ancestors were seen as powerful spirits. Families hoped their ancestors could help them gain the gods’ approval. That would bring good luck.

During the Shang dynasty, ancestors had a special role. People asked their help before making decisions. Even rulers asked their advice. People would go to a priest and ask him a question. To answer, priests used animal bones or tortoise shells. These were called oracle bones. The priest scratched a question on a bone. Next, he touched it with a red-hot bronze rod. The heat made cracks in the bone. These lines were the ancestors’ answer. The priest studied the shape of the cracks. Then he explained what they meant.

Traditional Chinese families were very close. The family made sure every member was taken care of. It provided work, especially in farming areas. In turn, people were loyal to their families. A person’s actions affected his or her whole family. If one member did wrong, it would shame them all.

The Chinese had great respect for old age. Children were expected to care for aging parents and grandparents. Older members of the family also had the most power. The teachings of Confucius made such relationships very important. A father had authority over his children and wife. Men were seen as better than women.

In the past, families arranged marriages for their children. Often the groom and bride met for the first time at their wedding!

Chinese society has changed a lot in recent times. In general, families are smaller. The government makes some decisions that families used to make. But even in modern times, Chinese family ties remain strong.

1. What is the backbone of Chinese society?

2. How did the ancient Chinese people show respect for their ancestors?

3. How were oracle bones used?

4. In general, what did the Chinese think of older family members?

5. How did Confucius affect beliefs about the family?


Chapter 5 SUMMARY
India is a large peninsula in south Asia. The world’s highest mountains are in the north.

India gets water from the Ganges and Indus rivers. Seasonal storms called monsoons also bring rain.

The first Indian civilization began in the Indus River Valley. The largest cities were Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were walled cities. The careful planning of these cities shows their people knew mathematics.

People in the Indus River Valley irrigated crops. They made pottery and cotton cloth. They traded with other peoples and wrote pictograms on clay tablets. The civilization ended suddenly about 1500 B.C.

A set of religious beliefs and practices called Hinduism developed. The Vedas contains some of its holy writings.

The Hindus believe that everything is god, or Brahman. Hindus believe in a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (reincarnation).

Hindus developed a spoken and written language called Sanskrit. It belongs to the same language family as many European languages.

Hinduism is based on castes, or classes. Everyone is born into a caste. A person’s job and way of life depend on this.

The Indian Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha. He taught the four “Noble Truths.?? He said that people should follow the “Eightfold Path?? to reach nirvana.

Buddhism shares some beliefs with Hinduism, but not the caste system. Buddhism spread from India into other parts of Asia.

China is a huge region. A desert, mountains, and oceans kept it isolated. Chinese rulers built the Great Wall to keep out invaders.

The Yangtze, in southern China, is its longest river. The Huang He (the Yellow River), in northern China, often floods. The first cities were built along this river about 2000 B.C.

The Shang was China’s first dynasty. It began about 1600 B.C. Its center was in the Huang He Valley.

Shang society was sharply divided between rich and poor.

The Shang developed a written language. Only scribes could read and write it. It is still used today.

Ancestor worship was an important part of the Shang religion.

The Qin dynasty was the first to unite China with a strong central government.

The Han dynasty is known as the first golden age of China.


Chapter 5 REVIEW
On a sheet of paper, use the words from the Word Bank to complete each sentence correctly.

Word Bank

Grand Canal










1. The ancient language of India is _____.

2. _____ was one of the two big cities of the Indus River Valley civilization.

3. Farming in India depends on the _____, or seasonal winds.

4. Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus River Valley is a _____ city.

5. One religion practiced in India is _____.

6. The earliest written record in India comes from the _____ or “books of knowledge.??

7. The two most important rivers in China are the Huang He and the _____.

8. The two great wonders of ancient China are its Great Wall and its _____.

9. Under the _____ dynasty, government workers were selected for their knowledge and skills.

10. The first dynasty, or ruling family, in China was the _____.

On a sheet of paper, write the letter of the answer that correctly completes each sentence.

11. The _____ are in the northern part of India.

A Huang He and Yangtze Rivers

B Himalayan Mountains

C Sahara and Gobi desert

D all of the above

12. Civilizations developed along rivers because _____.

A people can travel on them to other places

B people can send objects and food on them to other places

C they connect the villages and cities of the country

D all of the above


13. When rivers flood and the water retreats, they leave behind rich dirt called _____.

A bronze

B silt

C jade

D monsoon

14. The first villages in India and China grew up around _____.

A deserts

B river valleys

C oceans

D mountains

15. The Hindus believe that they are born or reborn into one of _____ castes.

A two

B three

C four

D five

On a sheet of paper, write the answer to each question. Use complete sentences.

16. Why did ancient civilizations all start in river valleys?

17. Why is geography important to history? (Hint: Use the geography of China and India to explain your answer.

18. What are three facts about Hinduism?

Critical Thinking
On a sheet of paper, write your response to each question. Use complete sentences.

19. What does the saying “the monsoon means life or death to the Indian people?? mean?

20. What was the same about life in ancient India and life in ancient China? What was different? (Hint: You might think about where the cities grew up, city life, and religion.)

Test-Taking Tip: Study test material with a partner. Take turns quizzing each other on the material.


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