“Classic Period” 600 B.C.E. to 600 C.E.

Nomads, Agricultural Revolutions, Early Complex Urban Cultures Technological and Environmental Transformations to 600 B.C.E.


(what was generally taking place at beginning of period)
  • early stages of new wave of urban, centralized civilizations in Persia, China, India, eastern Med- iterranean, & Mesoamerica that created enduring religious, cultural, artistic, & political legacies
  • codification and strengthening of enduring religious and philosophical belief systems
  • nomadic cultures interactions w/ sedentary, agriculture based urban civilizations included: trade, diffusion/spread of ideas and technologies, and conflict
  • established regional grasslands, desert, and sea trade routes in the Eastern Hemisphere

Key Concept 2.1 Codification and Continued Development of Religious and Cultural Traditions

1. Codifications and further developments of existing religious traditions provided a bond among people and an ethical code to live by

  • Monotheistic Judaism
    • codification of Hebrew Scriptures
    • conquest of various Jewish states led to Jewish Diaspora (dispersal), forming often segregated, Jewish communities throughout Middle East and Mediterranean
  • Core beliefs in Sanskrit scriptures formed basis for Vedic religions (Hinduism later)
    • multiple manifestations of Brahma promoted teachings about reincarnation caste system established - based on economic, social, and political status

2. New belief systems and cultural traditions emerged and spread, often asserting universal truths

  • Core beliefs about desire, suffering and search for enlightenment preached by the historic Buddha a reaction, in part, to Vedic/Hindu beliefs and rituals Buddhism changed over time as it diffused/spread throughout Asia through efforts of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, missionaries, merchants, Buddhist schools
  • Confucianism sought to promote social harmony by clarifying social relationships and proper rituals for all Chinese - including the rulers
  • Daoist core belief of balance between humans and nature assumed Chinese political system would be altered indirectly - One Required illustration of Daoist influence on Chinese culture: medical theories/practices, poetry, metallurgy OR architecture
  • Christian core beliefs of divinity of Jesus of Nazareth drew on Judaism, but rejected Roman influences - initial Roman imperial hostility, but efforts of missionaries and merchants eventually gained Roman support from Emperor Constantine
  • Greco-Roman core ideas of philosophy and science emphasized logic, empirical observation, and the nature of political power and hierarchy

3. Belief systems impacts on gender roles - Buddhism and Christianity encouraged monastic life; Confucianism emphasized filial piety (children respect parents and family elders, look after their welfare, support in old age, remember them and ancestors after their deaths)

4. Other religious and cultural traditions continued parallel to the codified, written belief systems in core civilizations

  • Animism & shamanism daily reliance on natural world continued to shape lives of many within and outside of core civilizations
  • Ancestor veneration (respect and rituals) continued in many regions - One Required example from a region: Africa, Mediterranean, East Asia, OR Andes mountain region

5. Arts show distinctive cultural characteristics, development - including: literature, drama, architecture, and sculpture

Key Concept 2.2 Development of States and Empires

1. Dramatic increase in size and number of key states and empires by imposing political unity on regions of previously competing states

Required Examples - know location and names:
  • Southwest Asia: Persian Empires (Achaemenid, Parthian, OR Sassanid empires)
  • East Asia: Qin Dynasty and Han Empire/Dynasty
  • South Asia: Maurya and Gupta empires
  • Mediterranean region: Phoenicia and colonies, Greek ciy-states and colonies, Hellenistic Empire, Roman Empire
  • Mesoamerica: Teotihuacan, Mayan city-states Andean South America: Moche

2. New techniques of imperial administration based, in part, on successes of earlier political systems

  • Imperial administrative systems created by rulers included:
    • centralized governments AND elaborate legal systems and bureaucracies
    • One example: China, Persia, Rome, OR South Asia
  • Imperial governments projected military and other power over larger areas using:
    • diplomacy
    • developing supply lines
    • building fortifications, defensive walls, and roads
    • drawing new soldiers and officers from local or conquered peoples
  • Promotion of trade and economic integration by building and maintaining roads and by issuing currencies helped strengthen success of empires

3. Unique social and economic characteristics developed in imperial societies in Afro-Eurasia and the Americas

  • Cities were centers of trade, public performances of religious rituals, and political administration of imperial provinces
    • One Example: Persepolis, Chang’an, Pataliputra, Athens, Carthage, Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, OR Teotihuacán
  • Social hierarchies (rigid socio-economic classes) included: farmers, laborers, slaves, artisans, merchants, elites - or caste groups
  • Imperial cultures used a range of methods to maintain production of food and provide rewards for the loyalties of the elites
    • One Example: corvee labor, slavery, rents and tributes, peasant communities, OR family and household production
  • Patriarchy continued to shape gender and family relations in all imperial societies.

4. Roman, Han, Persian, Mauryan, and Gupta empires experienced political, cultural, and administrative problems they could not manage - led to their decline, collapse, and transformation into successor empires or states

  • Excessive exploitation of natural resources caused environmental damage and created social tensions and economic difficulties by concentrating wealth to elites
    • One Example: deforestation, desertification, soil erosion OR silted rivers
  • Threats to security from potential and real foreign invasions across frontier borders
    • One Example of external problems along frontiers: Han China and the Xiongnu, Gupta and White Huns OR the Romans and their northern and eastern neighbors

Key Concept 2.3 Emergence of Transregional Networks of Trade, Exchange, and Communication

1. Existing land & water routes became the basis for larger transregional (across several regions) trade, communication, and exchange networks in the Eastern Hemisphere

  • Climate and location of the routes, typical trade goods, and the ethnicity of the people involved shaped the distinctive characteristics of the following trade routes:
    • Eurasian Silk Roads
    • Trans-Saharan caravan routes
    • Indian Ocean sea lanes
    • Mediterranean sea lanes

2. New technologies facilitated (assisted) long-distance trade, communication, and exchange

  • New technologies enabled domesticated pack animal to transport goods longer distances
    • One Example: yokes, saddles, or stirrups One Example of domesticated pack animal: horses, oxen, camels, llamas
  • Maritime technologies innovations and advanced knowledge of monsoon winds stimulated Indian Ocean trade/exchanges from East Africa to East Asia
    • One Example: lateen (triangular) sail OR dhows

3. Religion and cultural beliefs, food crops, domesticated animals, diseases, people, and technologies also moved along the trade routes

  • Spread of crops, including rice and cotton from South Asia to the Middle East encouraged changes in farming and irrigation techniques
    • Required example: qanat irrigation system
  • Diseases spread, decreased some urban populations, contributed to the decline of some empires
    • One Example: effects of disease on Roman OR Chinese empire
  • Religions and cultural transformed as they spread
    • Required examples: Christianity, Hinduism, AND Buddhism


(what generally stayed the same during much of the time period)
  • importance of religion or philosophical beliefs in various cultures
  • forced labor - slavery generally consequence of conquest, debts, or poverty (selling children into slavery) - not race/ethnicity based
  • patriarchy • interactions between settled and nomadic cultures - conflict and/or trade & exchanges
  • Chinese dynastic cycle