Civilizations Review Essay Sample

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East Asia
Shang Dynasty
a) Pan Ku (mythic ancestor of Chinese), stories about early kings b) Hwang He River (Yellow River), isolated from rest of world-> little trade c) Line of kings called the Shang, powerful military

d) Developed ideas based on basic harmony
Ancestor worship
Gods controlled all aspects of peoples’ lives
e) Irrigation and advanced technology
Skilled in pottery and silk
Horse drawn chariots
Good bronze workers
Oracle bones (writing)
f) Extended family was important, patriarchal structure
g) Invasions cause temporary decline- less of a break between river valley society and later Chinese civilizations than others

Zhou Dynasty
a) Wu Wang came from northern China
b) Extended territory to Yangtze River (Middle Kingdom)
c) Alliance/ feudal system (standard in agricultural kingdoms) Mandate of Heaven
Bureaucracies in some complex kingdoms
d) Beginnings of Confucianism and Daoism
Philosophy lessened political confusion
e) Creation of Mandarin Chinese- language unity
Trade of luxury items
f) Classes
1) Landowning aristocracy and educated bureaucrats
2) Laboring masses, peasantry, urban artisans
3) Mean people (performing artists)
Patriarchal society
g) Nomadic invasions, regional disloyalties

Qin Dynasty
a) Qin Shi Huangdi took control and made himself the sole ruler
b) Strong economy based agriculture
c) Powerful army with iron weapons
Conquered surrounding territories and unified region
d) Legalism dominant belief system
e) Great Wall of China- empire was well organized, centralized and territorial Standardized all laws, currencies, weights, measures, and systems of writings
f) Patriarchal
g) Peasant rebels

Han Dynasty
a) Wu Ti
b) Enlarged empire to central Asia
c) Political organization
d) Buddhism spread along Silk Road
Believed politicians should be educated and excellent communicators
e) Trade thrived along Silk Road
Civil service exam based on teachings of Confucius
Invented paper, sundials, calendars, rudder(navigation), compass, broadened use of metals f) Social structures (classes, position of women)
g) Invasions, tax problems, population increase, corruption of court officials, unable to control large estate owners

South Asia
Mohenjo Daro and Harappa
a) Historical background (founders)
b) Indus River Valley, huge mountains that limited interaction, but Khyber Pass provided connection
c) Big cities with master plans, uniformly constructed
Strong central government led by priest-king
d) Polytheistic
e) Sophisticated wastewater systems
f) Social structures (classes, position of women)
g) ?- invasions, arrival of Aryans

Maurya India
a) Aryans- developed origins of Hinduism in the Vedas (epics) Founded by Chandragupta Maurya who unified small kingdoms
Ashoka Maurya led empire to greatest heights
b) Indus and Ganges Rivers, Deccan plateau
c) Powerful military
d) Ashoka converted to Buddhism
e) Trade included silk, cotton, elephants
f) Ashoka’s death, economic problems, invaders

Gupta India
a) Chandra Gupta the Great
b) General geographic features
c) Decentralized and smaller than Mauryans
Golden Age of India
d) Hinduism dominant religion
Reinforced caste system
e) Math- pi and zero and decimal system->Arabic numerals
f) Rigid social structure, women were losing their rights, very patriarchal g) White Huns invaders, not enough taxes for military defenseDelhi Sultanate
a) Islamic invaders
b) Ganges River, Delhi
c) Political leader was the sultan
Tried to convert the Hindus
Religiously motivated destruction (temples and violence)
d) Taxed non-Muslims
e) Colleges founded, irrigation systems improved, mosques built Fusion of Indo-Muslim cultures
f) Women enjoyed rights that gradually were stripped away g) Mongol invasions, inefficient and bad leaders

Middle East
Mesopotamia- “The Land Between the Rivers”- Tigris and Euphrates * Demonstrates that conquering civilizations adopted and adapted the customs and technologies of those they defeated
* Rose in the southern part of Mesopotamia
* City-states
* Polytheistic- each city state had own god and also group of collective gods * Built temples called ziggurats
* Sumerians developed cuneiform
* Invention of the wheel -> enhanced trade
* Math system and geometry
* Successful agriculture and river management
* Invasions brought decline

* Akkadians developed first known code of laws, then overthrown by Babylonians * King Hammurabi developed more extensive Code of Hammurabi-> step toward modern legal codes * Invaded by Hittites- strong military with iron weapons

* Assyrians established capital at Nineveh
* Cruelty led to uprisings
* Invaded by Medes then Chaldeans, who rebuilt Babylon but eventually Babylon fell Lydians- coined money rather than use barter system
Phoenicians- developed simple alphabet
Hebrews- 1st Jews, created monotheistic religion

a) 3 Major Kingdoms—Old, Middle, New
United under King Menes
b) Nile River
c) Rulers were called pharaohs
d) Polytheistic, focus on afterlife, use bodies in afterlife->
mummification e) Constructed obelisks, pyramids, tombs
Hieroglyphics- writing system

Depended on trade
f) 1st female ruler in history- Queen Hatshepsut
Women enjoyed more rights and opportunities to express individuality than in Mesopotamia But women still expected to be subservient to men, not educated nearly as well as boys Social structure
Top- pharaoh- owned all land in the kingdom
Merchants and skilled artisans
g) Invasions from Assyrian and Persian Empire
* A powerful and prosperous was typically the breeding ground for invasions. When they were attacked, the empire was too big to protect-> weakened

a) Inherited many achievements of the earlier Mesopotamian society Cyrus the Great established Persian Empire
b) Middle East
c) Political organization
d) Zoroastrianism
e) Advanced iron technology
Lively artistic style
Built large roads
f) Warriors, priests, and peasants gave way to an educated bureaucracy Free classes included artisans, craftsmen, merchants, and low-ranking civil servants but did not have as many privileges; Slaves were a large portion of the class system g) Conquered by Alexander the Great

Umayyad Empire
a) Abu Bakr (Mohammad’s follower) became 1st caliph- emperor and religious leader b) Arabic desert, expanded to N. Africa and Spain(Cordoba) c) Theocracy- government ruled by immediate divine guidance / caliphate
Capital- Damascus, Syria

d) Islam
Shiite- backed Ali (Mohammad’s son-in-law)
Sunnis backed Umayyad (caliph chosen from a group of people)
e) Arabic became official language
Gold and silver coins became standard monetary unit
f) Social structures (classes, position of women)
g) Rise of Shia Islam

Abbasid Caliphates
a) Historical background (founders)
b) General geographic features
c) Capital at Baghdad, Iraq
d) Shia Islam
Sufis, Islamic mystics, effective missionaries
e) Built around trade
Creation of credit (checks)
Steel manufacturing
Medical encyclopedia
Algebra contributions
f) Society became more structured and more patriarchal
g) Mongol invasions

Athens city-state/ Sparta city-state
a) Historical background (founders)
b) General geographic features
c) Polis= city-state, Athens- 1st democracy
d) Polytheism (gods possessed human failings), SPA philosophers e) Political, commercial, and cultural center of Greek civ. / agricultural and highly militaristic region f) Citizens (adult males), Free people, Noncitizens, slaves / equality for boys and girls but no individuality g) Peloponnesian War, conflict with other city-states

Alexander the Great’s Empire
a) Philip III of Macedon
b) Greece, Persian Empire, Indus River
c) Divided into 3 empires (Antigonid, Ptolemaic, Seleucid) d)
e) Adopted and spread Greek customs
f) Social structures (classes, position of women)
g) Death of Alexander

Roman Republic
a) Historical background (founders)
b) Alps, Mediterranean Sea
c) Representative republic with a Senate and an Assembly
More stable than direct democracies of Greek polis
Developed civil laws to protect individual rights (12 Tables of Rome) d) Paganism- Polytheistic gods from Greek origin (renamed to suit culture) e) Major artistic and intellectual ideas
f) Patricians (land-owning noblemen) and plebeians (all other free men) Family centered on the pater families (eldest male), women considered inferior to men just like in Greece Slaves were important element of social structure

g) Use of more slaves displaced small farmers into the cities -> no jobs to support them Currency devalued -> inflation
Political leaders started fighting amongst themselves -> weakened Senate

Roman Empire
a) Julius Caesar then Augustus Caesar
b) Expanded to its largest geographical proportions
c) Empire led by a single emperor
d) Christianity started to spread, became official religion during Constantine’s reign e) New rule of law
Common coinage
Civil service
Pax Romana
Literature- Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Vergil’s Aeneid
Architecture- Pantheon, Colosseum and Forum
Astronomy Ptolemy
Engineering- aqueducts and roads
f) Social structures (classes, position of women)
g) Too big, too many expenses, corrupt leaders, epidemics, Invasions * Golden Ages- occurs when a major empire greatly expands its territory and it becomes the center of artistic and scientific energy

West Africa Kingdoms of Mali / Ghana / Songhai
b) South of the Sahara, West Africa
c) Mansa Musa (great Mali ruler) built capital at Timbuktu and expanded kingdom; made pilgrimage to Mecca and gave out gold on the way Sonni Ali (Songhai ruler) conquered the entire west Africa

d) Constant trade brought Islam
e) Explosion of trade created when the west Africans encountered the Islamic traders Lots of gold and salt (Ghana) in the W African kingdoms
Timbuktu became a major cultural center (had a university and many scholars) during the Songhai Empire Oral literature important
Known for sculptures made out of pottery and bronze
Benin culture mastered a bronze sculpting technique
g) Ghana was subject to a Holy War where an Islamic group killed people who didn’t want to convert

East African Kingdoms
* Great Zimbabwe is the largest and most impressive city of the Kingdom of Kongo; stone houses * Political authority based on kingship

* Christian Kingdom

Terms to Know:

Neolithic Revolution: transition period in which people moved from nomadic lifestyles to agricultural lifestyles and town and city life

Bantu: the language that provided a linguistic base across much of Africa; it constitutes a major part of the Swahili language; different ethnic groups that spoke Bantu languages

Hammurabi: King of Babylon; expanded the idea of a code of laws into the Code of Hammurabi

Hebrews: the first Jews; believed in the monotheistic religion of Judaism; developed a distinct culture that would lead to development of major world religion

Monotheism: belief in one god

Shi Huangdi: the 1st emperor of the Qin dynasty; recentralized various feudal kingdoms, and refused to tolerate any dissent whatsoever

Mandate of Heaven: heaven would grant the emperors power only as long as they governed justly and wisely; the heavens appointed the emperors

Chinese dynastic cycle:
1) dynasty creates strong politics and economy
2) dynasty grows weak, taxes decline
3) social divisions increase
4) invasion or internal rebellion
5) another dynasty emerges from a general, invader, peasant rebel

Confucianism: philosophy of Confucius developed specifically for the Chinese culture; his thoughts and sayings are collected in the Analects; deals almost solely with how to restore political and social order; women were considered of secondary status; compatible with other religions

Legalism: practiced specifically during the Qin Dynasty in China; peace and order are achievable only through a centralized, tightly governed state; don’t trust human nature so need tough laws; farming and military were 2 worthy professions; Qin dynasty managed to accomplish unification of China through Legalism

Daoism: founded by Lao-tzu; based on concept regarding an eternal principle governing all the workings of the world; ambition and activism only bring chaos; promoted scientific discoveries; added complexity and uniqueness of China

Ancestor worship: based on the belief that the deceased, often family members, have a continued existence and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living; serves as the basis for many religions in Africa

Hinduism: began in India with the Aryan invaders; Brahma is the 1 supreme force, the creator in all things; dharma, moksha, reincarnation; no central sacred text

Caste system: social structure of classes in Hinduism; became more and more rigid as it got more complex

Siddhartha Gautama: founder of Buddhism; Hindu prince; rejected wealth to search for the meaning of human suffering; he became Buddha, the Enlightened One

Buddhism: religion practiced in many eastern civilizations; no supreme being; appealed to members of lower class

Ashoka: the Mauryan emperor who converted to Buddhism: started the spread of Buddhism

Polis: city-state that shared a common culture and identity; independent from each other; found in Greece

Democracy: government in Athens where all citizens were expected to participate; only adult males could participate though; slavery allowed the Greeks to develop democracy because they had time to meet and vote, etc.

Augustus Caesar: the 1st emperor of Imperial Rome; established rule of law, common coinage, civil service, and secure travel for merchants; started Pax Romana

Romanization: acculturation, integration and assimilation of newly incorporated populations by the Roman Republic and Roman Empire

Jesus: Jesus of Nazareth was a Jewish teacher who claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah; he was crucified then rose from the dead and ascended into heaven-> Christianity was born

Christianity: major world religion that was broken off from Judaism; Christians believe that forgiveness of sins is achievable only through belief in the divinity, death, and the resurrection of christ

Muhammad: prophet of Allah(God); his words from God were written down in the Quran; the founder of Islam

Islam: major world religion that was born in the Middle East; Muslims believe that salvation is won through submission to the will of God, and that this can be accomplished through the 5 Pillars of Islam; split into 2 groups because of the disagreement on who should succeed Mohammad as the leader of faith

Sunni: Group of Muslims that believe that the leaders of the empire should be drawn from a broad base of people, not through the hereditary line of Mohammad

Shi’ite: Muslims that believe Mohammad’s son-in-law, Ali, was the rightful heir to the empire

Sufi: Islamic mystics; most effective Islamic missionaries; stressed a personal relationship with Allah-> Islam highly adaptable to different circumstances; succeeded in converting large numbers of people to Islam

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