Saylor.org's Ancient Civilizations of the World

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Summary

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We will study the emergence of the major civilizations of the ancient world, beginning with the Paleolithic Era (about 2.5 million years ago) and finishing with the end of the Middle Ages in fifteenth century A.D. We will pay special attention to how societies evolved across this expanse of time—from fragmented and primitive agricultural communities to more advanced and consolidated civilizations. By the end of the text, you will possess a thorough understanding of important overarching social, political, religious, and economic themes in the ancient world, ranging from the emergence of Confucian philosophy in Asia to the fall of imperial Rome. You will also understand how many aspects of these ancient civilizations continue to remain relevant in today’s world.


Global Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this text, the student will be able to:

  • Identify and define the world’s earliest civilizations, including the Neolithic Revolution, and describe how it shaped the development of these early civilizations.
  • Identify, describe, and compare/contrast the first advanced civilizations in the world—Mesopotamia and Egypt.
  • Identify and describe the emergence of the earliest civilizations in Asia: the Harappan and Aryan societies on the Indian subcontinent and the Shang and Zhou societies in China.
  • Identify and describe the emergence of new philosophies—Daoism and Confucianism—during the Warring States period in China. Identify and describe the subsequent rise of the Qin and Han dynasties.
  • Identify and describe the different periods that characterized ancient Greece—Archaic Greece (or the Greek Dark Ages), classical Greece, and the Hellenistic era.
  • Identify and describe the characteristics of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic, and Imperial Rome.
  • Analyze the emergence of the Mauryan and Gupta empires during the “classical age” in India
  • Identify and analyze the Buddhist and Vedic (Hindu) faiths.
  • Identify and describe the rise of civilizations in the Americas, particularly in Meso and South America.
  • Analyze and describe the rise of Islam in the Middle East. Identify and describe the emergence of the Arab caliphate, the Umayyad dynasty, and Abbasid dynasty.
  • Identify and describe the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire.
  • Identify and analyze key facets of medieval society in Western Europe—the Catholic Church, feudalism, and the rise of technology and commerce.
  • Analyze and interpret primary-source documents that elucidate the exchanges and advancements made in civilizations across time and space.


References

The information presented in this Wikibook has been drawn from various open source or public domain materials from saylor.org and Wikimedia. The use of this material is in compliance of the Terms of Use of Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikimedia Commons, etc.

Neolithic Revolution and the Birth of CivilizationEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the meaning and nature of “Civilization.”
  • Describe the evolution of Palaeolithic and Neolithic societies.
  • Assess the importance of plant and animal domestication.
  • Trace the origins of sedentary farming societies.


1.1 What Is Civilization?
1.2 Origins of Neolithic Man
1.3 The Development of the Neolithic Age in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe
1.4 The Development of Early Towns: Jericho and Catal Huyuk

The Rise of Civilization in the Middle East, Africa, and the MediterraneanEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the cultural origins of early Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations.
  • Describe the relationship between the geographical features of the ancient world and developments of early civilizations.
  • Trace the development of Minoan commerce, cities, and political institutions during the Greek Bronze Age.
  • Assess the political, social, and cultural legacies of the early civilizations of the Middle East, Africa, and the Mediterranean.


2.1 Mesopotamia
2.1.1 The Emergence of Sumerian Culture
2.1.2 The Fall of Sumer and the Rise of the Babylonian Empire
2.2 Ancient Egypt
2.2.1 Egyptian Society and Religion
2.2.2 Dynasties in Egypt: the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms
2.3 Civilization Centers in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean
2.3.1 Kush and Axum
2.3.2 The Minoans
2.3.3 The Hebrews

Early Civilizations in South and East AsiaEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the relationship between geographical features and developments of early civilizations in South and East Asia.
  • Assess the political, social, and cultural legacies of the Harappan civilization.
  • Describe the social and religious structures of Aryan society.
  • Trace the characteristics, development, and fall of the Shang and Zhou dynasties in early China.


3.1 The Indus River Valley
3.1.1 New Civilization in the Indus Valley: Harappa
3.1.2 Aryan Society and Religion
3.2 Early Chinese Civilization
3.2.1 Shang Society and Culture
3.2.2 Zhou (Chou) Feudalism and Cultural Change

The Warring States Period and the Classical Age in ChinaEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Analyze the emergence of new philosophies in the Far East, including Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.
  • Compare and contrast the political and social organizations of the Zhou, Qin, and the Han dynasties.
  • Assess the political, social, and cultural legacies of the different ruling dynasties during the Warring States period and Classical Age in China.


4.1 The Emergence of New Philosophies in China
4.1.1 Confucius and Confucianism
4.1.2 Lao-tzu and Taoism
4.1.3 Buddhism in China
4.2 The Qin
4.2.1 The Warring States Period
4.2.2 Qin Reforms and Bureaucracy
4.2.3 “The First Exalted Emperor”
4.3 The Han Dynasty and China’s Classical Age
4.3.1 Imperial Control and Han Expansion
4.3.2 Society and Culture
4.3.3 The Later Han and Imperial Collapse

Classical Greece and the Hellenistic WorldEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the cultural origins of Greek civilization in the Mediterranean basin.
  • Trace the development of Greek commerce, cities, and political institutions.
  • Assess the political, social, and cultural legacies of Greek civilization.


5.1 Rise of Classical Greece
5.1.1 The Greek Renaissance
5.1.2 The City-State
5.1.3 Athens
5.1.4 Sparta
5.1.5 Wars and Expansion
5.1.6 Philosophy
5.2 The Hellenistic Period
5.2.1 Macedonian Conquest
5.2.2 Philip II and Alexander the Great
5.2.3 The Breakdown of Alexander’s Empire
5.3 Greek and Hellenistic Culture
5.3.1 Economic and Social Structure
5.3.2 Rural Life and Agriculture
5.3.3 Slavery and Production
5.3.4 Men and Women in Society
5.3.5 Philosophy and Science

The Roman Kingdom, Republic, and EmpireEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify causes, main events, and consequences of Roman expansion in the Mediterranean.
  • Identify the origins of the Roman Republic and evaluate the impact of political and economic expansion on Roman society.
  • Assess the political, social, and economic factors that led to the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.
  • Compare the differing modern views on and interpretations of vital concepts, such as the nature of Roman democracy and imperialism.
  • Identify the reasons for Rome's success in government both externally and internally as it integrated a diverse world into a stable and pragmatic empire.
  • Assess the political, social, and cultural legacies of Roman civilization.
  • Analyze the religious crisis posed by Christianity and the stages by which the Empire adjusted the new revolutionary religion into a new cultural amalgam.


6.1 The Roman Kingdom and the Rise of the Roman Republic
6.1.1 Etruscan Culture and Early Rome
6.1.2 The Roman Republic
6.2 Roman Culture and Society
6.2.1 Roman Art
6.2.2 Slavery
6.2.3 Economic Structure
6.2.4 Roman Literature
6.3 The Roman Empire
6.3.1 From Republic to Empire
6.3.2 Augustus Caesar and the Pax Romana
6.3.3 The Post-Augustan Age
6.3.4 The Decline and Fall of the Empire
6.4 Emergence of Christianity
6.4.1 The Rise of Christianity
6.4.2 Christianity and the Roman Empire

The Classical Age in IndiaEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Trace the origins, development, world-wide expansion, and legacies of Buddhism.
  • Describe the fundamental characteristics and beliefs of Buddhist philosophy.
  • Identify the political, cultural, and religious characteristics of the Gupta Empire.


7.1 The Rise of Buddhism and the Mauryan Age
7.1.1 The Mauryan Age
7.1.2 Buddha and Buddhism
7.2 The Gupta Age
7.2.1 Emergence of the Gupta Empire
7.2.2 Literature, Science, and Art During the Gupta Age

Peoples of the AmericasEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the major Pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas.
  • Describe the relationship between geographical features and developments of early civilizations in the American continent.
  • Compare and contrast the different political, social, and religious characteristics of particularly the Mesoamerican and Peruvian civilizations.


8.1 Origins of American Societies
8.1.1 Early Developments in Mesoamerica
8.1.2 Early Development in the Andes
8.2 Spread of Civilization in Mesoamerica
8.2.1 The Olmecs
8.2.2 Teotihuacán
8.2.3 The Toltecs
8.2.4 The Mayas
8.3 Cultures of South America
8.3.1 The Chavin
8.3.2 The Tiahuanaco

The Rise of IslamEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the rise of Prophet Muhammad, and identify the tenets of Islam.
  • Describe the elements of Islamic law and its practice.
  • Identify and compare the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties and empires.
  • Identify the causes, main events, and consequences of Islamic expansion in the Mediterranean.


9.1 The Arabian World and the Birth of Islam
9.1.1 Pre-Islamic Arabia
9.1.2 The Prophet Muhammad
9.1.3 Islamic Faith and Practice
9.1.4 Islamic Law
9.1.5 Islam, Community, and Ethics
9.2 The Arab Empire of the Umayyads
9.2.1 The Caliphate
9.2.2 The Rise of the Umayyads
9.2.3 The Sunni-Shi’a Split
9.3 From Arab to Islamic Empire: The Early Abbasid Era
9.3.1 Rise of the Abbasids
9.3.2 Abbasid Society and Culture

African CivilizationsEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the cultural origins of early African civilizations.
  • Assess the importance of animal domestication, particularly of the camel, and its influence in the development of trade networks.
  • Assess the impact of Islamic expansion as an ideologically cohesive agent in Africa.


10.1 African Societies
10.1.1 The Iron Age
10.1.2 The Kingdom of Ghana
10.1.3 Islamic Invasions and Expansion in Africa
10.2 States of the Savanna
10.2.1 Empire of Mali
10.2.2 The Hausa Kingdoms
10.2.3 The Songhay Kingdom
10.3 East Africa and Swahili Culture
10.3.1 East African Societies
10.3.2 Islam vs. Indigenous Religion
10.4 Western and Central Africa
10.4.1 Benin and the Forest Kingdoms
10.4.2 Mwenemutapa

Eastern Europe: Byzantium and Orthodox EuropeEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the cultural origins and main characteristics of the Byzantine Empire.
  • Describe the causes, main events, and consequences of the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire.
  • Assess the political, social, and cultural legacies of the Byzantine Empire.


11.1 The Byzantine Empire
11.1.1 The Eastern Roman Empire and Constantinople
11.1.2 The Byzantines: Religion, Society, and Empire
11.2 Byzantium’s Influence in Eastern Europe
11.2.1 Religion and Language
11.2.2 Culture and Commerce

The Rise of Western Europe and the Spread of CivilizationEdit

Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the causes, main events, and consequences of the fall of the Roman Empire.
  • Describe the causes, main characteristics, achievements, and legacies of the Carolingian Empire.
  • Assess the religious, political, and social role of the medieval Church, as well as the causes, main events, and consequences of the Crusades.
  • Describe causes, characteristics, and consequences of feudalism in medieval Europe.


12.1 Emergence of the Middle Ages
12.1.1 The Fall of Rome’s Empire and the Rise of Medieval Europe
12.1.2 Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire
12.2 Medieval Society and Culture
12.2.1 Feudalism
12.2.2 Manorialism
12.2.3 Society and Social Classes
12.2.4 The Black Death
12.3 The Medieval Church
12.3.1 Early Medieval Monasticism
12.3.2 The Crusades
12.3.3 Heresies and Heretics
Last modified on 12 November 2012, at 23:48