Neolithic Revolution and Early River Valley Civilizations

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Neolithic Revolution and Early River Valley Civilizations

  • The Neolithic Revolution was a time period about 10,000 years ago when man changed from hunting and gathering (which was dangerous) to settling down and domesticating plants and animals.

  • Basically people changed from cave men to farmers.

  • When people settled down and farmed, they had more food and populations grew.

  • Eventually cities formed.

  • These cities formed in river valleys because river valleys had rich soil (silt) for farming.

  • There were 4 important river valleys: The Nile (Africa), The Tigris-Euphrates (Mesopotamia), Yellow (China), and Indus (India) Rivers.

  • These were the places where organized, advanced civilizations began.

Sample Regents Question:

One reason for the development of an early civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates river valleys was that

1.  the location protected the people from land invasion
2.  periodic flooding left rich soil, which was ideal for farming
3.  these rivers provided a direct trade route between Europe and Asia
4.  these rivers flowed into the Mediterranean Sea
Code of Hammurabi

 King Hammurabi carved his list of 282 laws on an eight foot high stone.

 This is the first evidence of a written list of laws.

 This "Code of Hammurabi" is famous for the expression: "An eye for an eye - and a tooth for a tooth".

 The Code of Hammurabi is usually associated with the "Twelve Tables" (of Rome) and the "Justinian Code" as early examples of a legal system
Sample Regents Question:
The code of Hammurabi is an example of :

1)written rules for legal procedures
2) the power of strong kings to control trade
3) regulations on the way to conduct wars against neighboring nations
4) the power of a legislature to veto laws passed by absolute monarchs
Greece - Rome - Silk Road

  • Ancient Greece was the birthplace of democracy - which means that everyone in the society gets an equal vote.

  • It was also famous for the great battles between Athens (which was a democracy) and Sparta (which was a military dictatorship).

  • Athens experienced a "golden age" of culture because they excelled in government (the first democracy), sports (the first Olympics), Architecture (those building with the pillars), and the arts (sculpture, theater, literature, philosophy).

  • Rome was the largest civilization in the world.

  • At its peak there were 70 million people in the Roman empire, 1 million lived in the city of Rome.

  • There are often Regents questions which ask about Roman roads.

  • The Romans had a great system of roads to transport goods, information, and soldiers around the empire.

  • There are often Regents questions about Roman law, which was a very advanced system of law that greatly influenced the US legal system.

  • The Silk Road was a road that connected China to the middle east and to Europe.

  • The Chinese were the only people in the world who knew how to make silk.

  • Silk was traded on the Silk Road but it also spread ideas and culture between China and the Middle East.

Sample Regents Questions:

1) Which ancient civilization established the basis of western democracy?

1.  Phoenician
2.  Egyptian
3.  Sumerian
4.  Greek

2) The Ancient Romans’ most significant contribution to Europe has been in the area of

1.  economics

2.  poetry
3.  drama
4.  law

3) The Silk Road was important because it allowed for the

(1) exploration of China by the Roman Army

(2) development of agriculture by the nomadic people of Central Asia
(3) movement of Chinese armies through Southeast Asia
(4) exchange of goods between Asia and the Middle East



  • Buddha came up with the "Eightfold Path", and the "Four Noble Truths".

  • Preached that people should give up their worldly desires.


  • Dominant religion in India.

  • Believe in Reincarnation.

  • Believe in the Caste System.

  • Believe in levels of Gods, and Moksha - which is kind of like their version of heaven.


  • Was the worlds first monotheism.

  • Their book (The Old Testament), is the foundation for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.


  • Not really a religion but is the dominant philosophy which guides the Chinese people.

  • Named after Confucius, who taught that harmony can be achieved if one maintains good relationships with those around them.

  • He also taught a concept called Filial Piety, which urges people to respect their ancestors and elders.


  • Islam is the name of the religion.

  • Muslims are people who practice Islam.

  • This religion was founded by Mohammed about the year 600.

  • The Koran is its holy book and Mecca is its center.

  • It exploded throughout the Middle East and is now the worlds 2nd largest religion.

  • For some reason the Regents test's often contain a question about the great influence Muslims had on math and science.


  • Founded in Rome after Jesus died.

  • It is based on his teachings and the belief that he is the son of God.

  • Is now the worlds largest religion.

  • The Religion split in the early 1500's during The Reformation.

  • Before The Reformation, all Christians were Catholic. After the Reformation - Protestants (Baptists, Methodists, Calvinists, Episcopalians, etc.) - split off from the Catholics.

  • The two divisions of Christianity are very similar, but Protestants do not recognize The Pope.

1) The Buddhist religion teaches that salvation is earned by

1.  following the Ten Commandments

2.  worshiping Allah as the one true god
3.  learning to give up selfish desire
4.  being baptized and confirmed

2) Judaism, Islam, and Christianity share a belief in

1.  the central authority of the Pope
2.  a prohibition of the consumption of port
3.  reincarnation and the Four Noble Truths
4.  monotheism and ethical conduct

3) The teachings of Confucius encouraged people to

1.  put their own interests first
2.  reject government authority
3.  believe in reincarnation
4.  follow a code of moral conduct

4) The Koran, jihad, and the hegira are most closely associated with the practice of

1.  Islam
2.  Judaism
3.  Shinto
4.  Buddhism

Medieval Times

  • The Medieval age was dominated by Feudalism and the Catholic Church.

  • Feudalism is the idea that the King grants land to the Nobles.

  • The Nobles had serfs (peasants) work the land and pay the king with what was produced on the land.

  • Knights worked for the Nobles as a source of protection. Kind of like a neighborhood army to protect the manor.

  • When the King went to war with another King - he got all the Knights from his Nobles to help him in battle.

  • There was a strict social order - with the poor serfs (peasants) on the bottom.

  • Since the serfs had very little to look forward to during their life - they placed a great emphasis on religion - which promised them a great life in heaven.

  • The Catholic Church was very important during this time - it provided order and unity (This is a common Regents Question!)

  • Knights were bound by the code of chivalry - they had to be nice to the ladies and act with honor and dignity.

Sample Regents Questions:

1) All things were under its domain...its power was such that no one could hope to escape its scrutiny

Which European institution during the Middle Ages is best described by this statement?
1. the Guild
2. Knighthood
3. the Church
4. the nation-state

2) Feudal societies are generally characterized by

1. an emphasis on social order
2. a representative government
3. many economic opportunities
4. the protection of political rights
The Crusades (1096-1291)

  • The religion of Islam grew very fast and the Muslims took control of the Middle East.

  • The Middle East is a place of many important religious sites (like the birthplace of Jesus).

  • The Christian Europeans decided to go on various "Crusades" - to free these holy sites from Muslim control.

  • The Crusades (there were several of them) didn't really work - the Christians never really took the land from the Muslims.

  • But Europeans and Muslims gained new ideas and products as they traded with each other and were exposed to each others culture.

Sample Regents Questions:
1) Which statement best describes the result of the Crusades?
1.  Europeans maintained a lasting control over much of the Middle East
2.  Islamic influence dominated Europe
3.  Europeans developed tolerance of Non-Christian religions
4.  trade between Europe and the Middle East was expanded

2) A major goal of the Christian Church during the Crusades (1096–1291) was to

1.  establish Christianity in western Europe
2.  capture the Holy Land from Islamic rulers
3.  unite warring Arab peoples
4.  strengthen English dominance in the Arab world
Early Japan

  • Regents questions about early Japan usually involve comparing European and Japanese Feudalism.

  • They were similar systems - offering little social mobility.

  • If you were born a peasant - you remained a peasant.

  • Knights were the warriors during European feudalism.

  • Samurai were the warriors during Japanese feudalism.

  • Both warrior groups had codes of honor and conduct that they had to live by.

  • Knights had the code of chivalry.

  • Samurai had the code of bushido.

  • Japan was also a very isolated country - they kept to themselves and tried to minimize contact with others (which was kind of easy to do since it is a group of islands).

Sample Regents Questions:

1) The code of bushido of the Japanese samurai is most similar to

1.  belief in reincarnation and karma of Hindus
2.  practice of chivalry by European knights
3.  teachings of Judaism
4.  theory of natural rights of the Enlightenment writers

2) In Japan between 1603 and 1868, the most notable action taken by the Tokugawa Shogunate was the

1.  military conquest of China
2.  development of extensive trade with the Americas
3.  formation of cultural links with Europe
4.  virtual isolation of the country from the outside world

The Mongols

  • Most Regents Questions about The Mongols are based on maps.

  • The most important thing to remember about The Mongol empire is that it was giant - stretching from the East coast of China - all the way to Eastern Europe.

  • The Mongols - led by Kubla and Ghangis Khan - were fierce warriors.

  • They invented the stirup - which allowed them to control their horses and use them in battle.

  • The Mongols were also famous for allowing the people they conquored to maintain their culture and identity.

Sample Regents Question:

Which factor contributed to the success of the vast empire created by the Mongols?

1) employing superior military skills.
2) avoiding contacts with the west.
3) paying monetary tribute to local rulers.
4) converting conquored peoples to Confucianism.

The Renaissance

  • The Renaissance was a re-birth of culture which started in Italy.

  • Art, architecture, and literature all flourished during the Renaissance.

  • It started in Italy because Italian city-states were making a lot of money through trade (you need a lot of money to finance art).

  • Renaissance artists and thinkers looked back to the golden age of the Greeks for inspiration.

  • Humanism was a big part of the Renaissance - artists celebrated human achievement and form (think statue of David).

  • The Renaissance was mostly a "secular" (non religious) movement.

  • "By any means necessary" - this famous quote by Malcolm X is taken from the ideas of Machiavelli's book "The Prince".

Sample Regents Questions:

1) In Europe, a major characteristic of humanism was

1. a belief in the supremacy of the state in relation to individual rights
2. a rejection of ancient civilizations and their cultures
3. an emphasis on social control and obedience to national rulers
4. an appreciation for the basic worth of individual achievement

2) One factor that enabled the Renaissance to flourish in Northern Italy was that the region had

1. a wealthy class that invested in the arts
2. a socialist for of government
3. limited contact with the Byzantine Empire
4. a shrinking middle class

The Reformation

  • The Reformation: think Martin Luther.

  • Martin Luther was upset over the corruption within the Catholic Church.

  • Catholic clergy were selling "indulgences" - kind of like a 'get into heaven free card'.

  • He hung a list of 95 thesis, or ideas, protesting the Catholic Church, on the door of a church in Germany.

  • Because of the new printing press - these ideas were printed up and spread all over Europe.

  • Because of this movement Protestants were born - and the Catholic Church lost power.

  • Now Christians are split between Catholics and Protestants.

Sample Regents Questions:

1) Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses were a call for

1.  religious revolt against the German princes
2.  reforms within the Roman Catholic Church
3.  greater papal authority
4.  crusades to spread Christianity

2) Which was a major result of the Reformation?

1.  new Christian denominations emerged
2.  religious teachings were no longer allowed in the universities
3.  the Crusades were organized
4.  the power of the Pope was strengthened


  • MesoAmerica is the term for American civilizations before the arrival of Europeans.

  • The main civilizations here are The Aztec's, The Inca's, and the Mayan's.

  • The Regents Exam often has a questions relating to the fact that there were advanced, complex civilizations in the America's before the arrival of Europeans.

  • The Aztec's were in present day Mexico.

  • They built giant stair stepped pyramids where they made human sacrifices to the Sun God.

  • The Inca's lived in the Andes Mountains of South America and were famous for their terraced farming.

  • But once the Europeans came with their guns, cannon, metal weapons and diseases - they quickly overran these civilizations.

Sample Regents Questions:

1) A study of the Maya, Aztec, and Inca civilizations of Latin America would show that these civilizations

1.  developed advanced and complex societies before the arrival of the Europeans
2.  established extensive trade with Pacific Rim nations
3.  were strongly influenced by their contact with Asian and African civilizations
4.  were relatively large, but not well organized

2) In Latin America, the Maya and the Aztec civilizations were similar in that they

1.  showed little evidence of urbanization
2.  lacked a strong central government
3.  developed complex mathematical and calendar systems
4.  used military weapons superior to those of Europeans

European Exploration and Cortez

  • With the invention of the compass and the astrolabe, Europeans began sailing and exploring all over the world.

  • And when they got to these far away places they realized they had better weapons than the local people - so they killed and enslaved them.

  • The Spanish (led by Columbus and Cortez) easily defeated the native people in the New World.

  • They had better weapons, and they carried diseases that devastated the New World people.

  • Once they established contact in the New World - both sides started trading with each other.

  • This is called the Columbian Exchange - Europeans got new world goods (corn and potatoes), and the New World people got Old World goods (horses, and eventually slaves).

  • Chistopher Columbus started a  vast cultural exchange between the two hemispheres.

Sample Regents Questions:

1) The Native American population of Mexico in 1492 has been estimated at 25 million; the population in 1608 has been estimated at 1.7 million. This decrease in population was mainly a result of

1.  crop failures brought on by poor weather conditions
2.  emigration of Native Americans to Europe and Africa
3.  wars between various native groups
4.  diseases introduced by the Spanish

2) A major result of the Age of Exploration was

1.  a long period of peace and prosperity for the nations of Western Europe
2.  extensive migration of people from the Western Hemisphere to Europe and Asia
3.  the fall of European national monarchies and the end of the power of the Catholic Church
4.  the end of regional isolation and the beginning of a period of European global domination
Slave Trade

  • When the Europeans went to the New World they enslaved many of the local people to work in the gold mines and the sugar cane, cotton, and tobacco plantations.

  • However, the local population died rapidly when exposed to European diseases.

  • So the Europeans began importing slaves from Africa to work in their New World colonies.

  • African slaves were part of a system called the "Triangle Trade" - this was a system of trade between Europe, the New World and Africa.

  • Many African slaves died on their way across the Atlantic in a brutal journey called "The Middle Passage".

  • Many think of African slavery as an American (US) event - but the vast majority of African slaves were brought to the Caribbean and South America.

Sample Regents Questions:

1) Which statement best describes a result of the scarcity of native Indian labor in Latin America during the colonial period?

1.  unskilled laborers were imported from Asia
2.  many people from Spain and Portugal immigrated to the region
3.  Native American Indians from the British colonies went south to work
4.  large numbers of African slaves were imported

2) In the 1600’s, the interest of Europeans in Africa was based mainly on Europe’s need to

1.  market its surplus agricultural products
2.  obtain workers for its colonies in the Americas
3.  establish collective security arrangements
4.  settle its surplus population on new lands


  • Mercantilism is a concept that came out during the Age of Exploration.

  • Mercantilism is the idea that a nation is more powerful and wealthy if it has overseas colonies.

  • The overseas colonies provide gold and silver for the home country.

  • The Colonies also provide raw materials and will also buy manufactured goods from the home country.

  • Under the system of Mercantilism the colonies exist for the benefit of the imperial power.

Sample Regents Question:

1.)According to the theory of mercantilism, colonies should be

1.  acquired as markets and sources of raw materials
2.  considered an economic burden for the colonial power
3.  grated independence as soon as possible
4.  encouraged to develop their own industries


  • Absolutism is the concept that a ruler has absolute rule over his nation.

  • Absolute rulers are usually kings such as Louis XIV of France, or Henry VIII of England.

  • Absolute rulers had "divine right" - meaning that their power to rule came from God.

  • Louis XIV is the classic Absolute ruler with his giant palace at Versailles and his famous quote, "I am the State".

Sample Regents Question:
“. . .The person of the King is sacred, and to attack him in any way is an attack on religion itself. Kings represent the divine majesty and have been appointed by Him to carry out His purposes. Serving God and respecting kings are bound together.” —Bishop Jacques Bossuet

1.)This statement describes the philosophy that existed during the

1.  Golden Age of Athens
2.  Age of Absolutism
3.  Renaissance
4.  Industrial Revolution

Scientific Revolution

  • The Scientific Revolution was a huge turning point in the creation of our modern world.

  • It brought us from a world where religion provided nearly all the answers - to a world where science provides answers.

  • Before the Scientific Revolution people got their ideas about science from the ancient Greeks (Aristotle), or the Catholic Church.

  • But then scientists such as Galilieo, Copernicus, and Isaac Newton began using the Scientific Method in search of the real scientific truth.

  • The Scientific Method is the use of experimentation and observation (over and over again) to come up with an accurate conclusion.

  • Galileo and Copernicus proved that the sun was the center of the universe, while the Catholic Church still believed that the earth was the center of the universe.

  • The Church put Galileo on trial and made him say that he was wrong or they would kill him.

  • He admitted he was wrong even though he knew he was right.

Sample Regents Questions:

1) Francis Bacon, Galileo, and Isaac Newton promoted the idea that knowledge should be based on

1.  the experiences of past civilizations
2.  experimentation and observation
3.  emotions and feelings
4.  the teachings of the Catholic Church

2) Which statement best describes the effects of the works of Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Sir Isaac Newton, and René Descartes?

1.  The acceptance of traditional authority was strengthened.
2.  The scientific method was used to solve problems.
3.  Funding to education was increased by the English government.
4.  Interest in Greek and Roman drama was renewed.

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