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Friday, June 30, 2017

Writers of the Italian Renaissance

Writers of the Italian Renaissance
One of the first humanists, the Italian Francesco Petrarch (PEE-trahrk), lived from 1304 to 1374. Like many of the humanists, Petrarch became famous as a scholar and as a teacher. He also wrote poetry, and his sonnets to Laura, an imaginary ideal woman, are considered some of the greatest love poems in literature.

Petrarch’s main influence, however, grew out of his desire for continuity with classical writers, whom he believed were committed to virtue in both public and private life. Petrarch thought these individuals could best be imitated if one studied their writings. The study of the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans came to be called classical education. A command of classical languages, as they had been used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, became the mark of an educated person.

The humanists remained deeply committed to Christian teachings. For that reason, they sometimes felt a tension between their commitment to the study of the ancients and their commitment to Christianity. Petrarch, for instance, agonized over his lust for fame (a common Roman ambition) because he feared it would hurt his chances for salvation. Like most Italian humanists, Petrarch thought it important to lead a full and active life here on earth, even if that meant devoting less time to spiritual concerns.

Niccolo Machiavelli (mahk-yah-VEL-lee) of Florence, a diplomat and historian who lived from 1469 to 1527, ranks as one of the most illustrious of the many Renaissance writers. In 1513 he wrote a famous essay, The Prince, which described government not in terms of lofty ideals but as Machiavelli felt government actually worked.

Machiavelli can be considered a humanist because he looked to the ancient Romans for models and because such matters as the workings of politics interested him. However, the lack of concern for morality that he wrote about in The Prince set him apart from other humanists, who considered virtue their main aim.

Baldassare Castiglione (kahs-teel-YOH-nay) was an Italian diplomat and writer who lived from 1478 to 1529. In 1528 he published what was probably the most famous book of the Renaissance, The Book of the Courtier. Castiglione’s work is a book on courtesy as well as an explanation of the role of the refined courtier as opposed to that of the coarse knight of the Middle Ages. As nobles lost their military role, Castiglione gave them a new idea of refined behavior. The setting for the book is the court at Urbino, an Italian city-state where the author lived many happy years. Castiglione’s characters are real people who reflect in fictional conversations on how gentlemen and gentlewomen ought to act in polite society.

The Humanities and The Origins of the Italian Renaissance

The Humanities
Beginning in the 1300s, a number of Italian scholars developed a lively interest in classical Greek and Roman literature. Medieval scholars who had studied ancient history had tried to bring everything they learned into harmony with Christian doctrine. By contrast, the Italian scholars studied the ancient world to explore its great achievements.

These Italian scholars stressed the study of grammar, rhetoric, history, and poetry, using classical texts. We call these studies the humanities; people who specialized in the humanities were called humanists. Humanists searched out manuscripts written in Greek and Latin. Often they would find more than one copy of a work. If the copies differed, humanists compared the different versions to try to determine which was most authentic. In doing so they displayed a critical approach to learning that had been lacking.

As humanists studied classical manuscripts, they came to believe that it was important to know how things worked. This belief led them to emphasize education. However, they also felt that a person should lead a meaningful life. Humanists became convinced that a person had to become actively involved in practical affairs such as patronage of the arts.

Humanists viewed existence not only as a preparation for life after death but also as a joy in itself. Along with a belief in individual dignity came an admiration for individual achievement. Many individuals of this period displayed a variety of talents, such as being both poet and scientist.

The Origins of the Italian Renaissance

The Origins of the Italian Renaissance
A renewed interest in Greek and Roman literature and life characterized the Renaissance, In many ways it was natural that this interest would reawaken in Italy. Ruins of the mighty Roman Empire served as constant reminders of Roman glory. The tradition of Rome as the capital city of a vast empire lived on in the popes, who made Rome the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. The Crusades and trade with Africa and Southwest Asia introduced new ideas and brought Italians into contact with the Byzantine civilization, whose scholars had preserved much learning from classical Greece and Rome. Arab and African developments in such disciplines as medicine and science fired the curiosity of many Italian scholars.

Italian cities such as Florence, Rome, Venice, Milan, and Naples had grown rich through trade and industry. Their citizens included many educated, wealthy merchants. In Florence, for example, the Medici (MED-ee-chee) family grew wealthy first as bankers and then as rulers of the city-state. As leader of Florence, Lorenzo Medici became a great patron of the arts and influenced Florence’s artistic awakening.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

History of Africa

Africa and the Americas
The civilizations of Europe, Southwest Asia, and East Asia were all in contact with each other. Consequently, developments in one often found their way to the others and often had great influence. In Sub-Saharan Africa and especially the Americas, however, such early contact with other regions of the world was minimal or non-existent. Consequently, these civilizations developed in unique ways.

Africa's early history. Scholars rely on many methods to understand the history of Africa. Linguists study the development and spread of language groups like Bantu, for example, to understand the spread of African peoples throughout the continent. Oral traditions  poems, songs, or stories passed from one generation to the next have also been a major source of information about specific African clans, villages, and dynasties. Scholars believe that most Africans lived in small, independent villages and were farmers, herders, or fishers. Relationships established by kinship and age provided the ties that bound the different societies together. Religion was an important part of life in many African societies. Elders usually exercised authority over the village. Life in African villages was closely bound to the agricultural cycles of planting and harvesting. Through the rise and fall of numerous kingdoms, the village survived as the basic unit of society and the economy.

African city-states and kingdoms. While some African peoples lived happily without developing state structures, others came together to establish small city-states, kingdoms, and even empires. These states were as diverse as the African geography and peoples that created them.

Along the Nile River, south of the major centers of ancient Egypt, arose a powerful kingdom known as Kush. At first, Kush maintained close cultural and economic ties with Egypt. Beginning in about 1300 B.C., however, Kush started to become more independent. Then in about 710 B.C. it conquered Upper Egypt. For about 40 years a Kush dynasty ruled a unified Egypt. Then the Assyrians, who were armed with iron weapons, invaded in 671 B.C. With the Assyrian invasion the kingdom of Kush weakened. Later, the kingdom of Aksum arose in the Ethiopian Highlands. As Kush declined, Aksum became a major competitor for control of trade in this area.

No large kingdoms such as Kush and Aksum emerged on the coast of East Africa. Instead, a series of city-states emerged and dominated coastal trade in the Indian Ocean. The growth of Indian Ocean trade after the A.D. 900s dramatically increased the demand for gold. The Shona people, who immigrated onto the plateau land of what is today Zimbabwe, achieved control over local peoples and mining activities. The spread of Islam also created favorable conditions for trade and gave rise to a new society along the coast that merged African, Arabic, and even Persian elements as the language it produced, Swahili, testifies.

In West Africa, between Lake Chad and the Atlantic Ocean, several important African societies and empires flourished. They included the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay. The wealth and strength of these kingdoms depended on control of the trade routes across the Sahara Desert. At the desert’s edge, traders exchanged gold, extracted from mines south of the desert region, for salt, which was mined in the Sahara itself. The spread of Islam in the region was often an important factor in the creation of great empires. Mali and Songhay both, for example, were Muslim states.

The Empires of Mexico and Peru & The earliest Americans

The earliest Americans. The first people in the Americas lived by hunting and gathering. Gradually, a new way of life emerged farming. In what are now the United States and Canada, many different cultures and societies thrived. The cultures of these peoples often depended on the geography of the region they inhabited. In the dry, desert-like conditions of the Southwest, for example, farmers lived in permanent settlements made up of communal houses, rather like apartment buildings, built out of adobe a sun-dried brick. On the northwest coast of North America, on the other hand, people relied primarily on fishing and carved great totem poles with their family histories from the enormous trees that forested the region. On the Great Plains, tribal peoples survived by hunting buffalo, following the herds wherever they went. More sophisticated cultures developed in the diverse environment of the Eastern Woodlands. The Hopewell Culture, for example, left many mounds, presumably burial sites, as well as the foundations of buildings, which archaeologists have recently uncovered.

The empires of Mexico and Peru. In Central and South America a variety of cultures also developed. Early cultures in Mesoamerica included the Olmecs in Mexico and the Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula. The Maya were farmers who were also skilled architects and engineers. They built steep pyramid-shaped temples to their gods and invented the only writing system in the Americas. Despite the brilliance of their civilization, however, which was scattered among many city-states throughout the Yucatan region and into present-day El Salvador, about A.D. 900 they suddenly abandoned their ceremonial centers.

Meanwhile, further north, other civilizations had also developed in central Mexico. About A.D. 650 a people called the Toltec invaded central Mexico from the north. Ruled by a military class, the Toltec soon spread their influence as far south as the Yucatan. Around 1200 A.D. other peoples from the north also invaded central Mexico. One of these peoples, the Aztecs, soon emerged as the strongest. The Aztecs incorporated into their culture the inventions of peoples they conquered or with whom they traded. They also made and acquired the use of the calendar and mathematics. To sustain their gods, they practiced human sacrifice.

At about the same time that Aztec civilization was at its height, another civilization was expanding in the Andes Mountains of South America. These people  the Inca based their religion on worship of the Sun and moon. Their name meant “children of the Sun." By the late 1400s, the Inca Empire extended along most of the west coast of South America and far into the Andes, covering much of the present-day nations of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile. The Inca built fortresses and irrigation systems and laid roads, many of them paved. The rulers of the empire prevented local famines by maintaining storehouses and distributing food supplies when crops failed. After conquering their neighbors, the Inca sought to eliminate regional diversity in their empire. They established an educational system, particularly for the children of the nobility, that taught the imperial language, Inca religion, and history. Although the Inca did nof have a writing system, they kept records by means of the quipu, a kind of knotted string used to assist the memory. They were also quite advanced in the practice of medicine, using anesthetics and even performing operations on the brain.

Japan, Korean, and Southeast Asian

Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
Chinese civilization also greatly influenced surrounding peoples. Civilization in Japan was largely inspired by contacts with China, and the Japanese initially developed a centralized imperial political system modeled in many ways on that of China. Chinese Buddhism also heavily influenced the Japanese, many of whom accepted it side by side with their own native religion, now called Shinto, which was based on a belief in gods or nature spirits called kami. The Japanese also adopted the Chinese style of writing, as well as such things as artistic designs, road engineering, medical knowledge, and even styles of clothing.

While imperial rule was usually centralized in China, a different pattern developed in Japan after about 800. Although the emperor remained an important spiritual symbol, power gradually shifted to great war lords. Eventually a decentralized kind of political system developed that resembled feudalism in Europe. Under the theoretical authority of the emperor, a shogun, or supreme military commander, ruled loosely over powerful local lords, who were in turn supported by warriors known as samurai. Eventually, the most powerful lords, known as daimyo, or “great names,” fought among themselves for power, while the emperor and the shoguns were relatively powerless.

Chinese influence was even more pronounced in Korea, the rugged, mountainous peninsula south of Manchuria on the east coast of Asia. China had conquered Korea under the Han dynasty. After the fall of the Han, three kingdoms emerged in Korea, which struggled for control of the peninsula. Eventually, the strongest, Silla, united Korea under its own rule. Thereafter, apart from conquest by the Mongols, Korea retained its political independence, but continued to be heavily influenced by Chinese culture. Koreans adopted the Chinese civil service system, for example. Korean scholars also studied the Confucian Classics. Chinese Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism, became extremely influential in Korea. Nevertheless, the Koreans retained their own sense of identity, expressed in such things as their own language and their native dress.

Chinese influence even penetrated to Southeast Asia, where the modern-day countries of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Thailand (formerly Siam) are found. China controlled northern Vietnam, for example, a region then known as Nam Viet, for much of its history. Other parts of Southeast Asia, on the other hand, such as Cambodia, were heavily influenced by contacts with Indian civilization and Hinduism, as well as Indian versions of Buddhism.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Mongol Empire

The Mongol Empire
While China continued to develop and become prosperous, to the north a new power emerged in the form of the Mongols, a fierce nomadic people who had adapted to life in the great steppes of Mongolia Empire . Under a new leader, who became known as Genghis Khan, or “Universal Ruler,” the Mongols created a vast empire that eventually stretched from Europe to China and the borders of India. In the early 1200s, the Mongols captured the city now called Beijing in northern China. Under Kublai Khan, one of Genghis Khan’s grandsons, the Mongols completed their conquest of China and Kublai Khan proclaimed the beginning of his own Yuan dynasty in 1271.

Over a century of warfare and invasion the population of China had declined from about 100 million to about 60 million, but after the consolidation of Mongol rule, China once again began to prosper in many ways. The population began to increase again, and Kublai Khan extended the Grand Canal all the way to Beijing. The Mongols also linked China to India and Persia by new roads, and encouraged trade throughout their vast empire. During Mongol rule, contacts between China and Europe increased, as Christian missionaries and merchants like Marco Polo travelled to China and back. Despite such benefits, however, the Chinese always regarded the Mongols as invaders and in 1368 the Chinese overthrew the last Mongol emperor and established a new Chinese dynasty, the Ming, on the throne.

China under the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties

The Civilizations of East Asia
In Europe the Western Roman Empire never recovered after its collapse in the late 400s. In China the Han dynasty collapsed about the same time. However, the Hun and other nomadic invaders from Tibet and Mongolia eventually settled down, established kingdoms, and adopted Chinese customs. In the late 500s, a unified empire was re-established in China.

China under the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties. The short-lived Sui dynasty reunited China in 589. During their brief period in power, Sui rulers began building the Grand Canal, an engineering marvel that connected northern and southern China for the first time in history. When the Sui tried to conquer new territory in Manchuria and Korea, however, they were defeated by invading Turks. In 618 an uprising ended and the Sui dynasty and ushered in a new dynasty the Tang. Although also relatively shortlived, the Tang dynasty, like the Han dynasty, began a golden age of steady cultural development in Chinese history. The Tang dyanasty reached its height in about 750, and then gradually declined until it was overthrown in 907. In 960, the Song dynasty came to power.

Although numerous foreign invaders threatened northern China, eventually even forcing the Song to move their capital south to Hangzhou, trade, the arts, and technological development flourished. Hangzhou and Guangzhou became major bases for overseas commerce. Exports included gold, silver, copper, and “cash” strings of copper coins. Porcelain, a fine translucent pottery, became one of China’s most valuable exports. Song artisans perfected the art of making porcelain, while Song artists, partly inspired by the Daoist love of nature, produced beautiful landscape paintings.

The Song further improved the civil service system that produced administrators for the empire. In technology, they developed such innovations as moveable type, though it was nof widely used in China because of the number of characters in the Chinese language. The use of gunpowder as an explosive for war, appeared under the Song. Under both the Tang and the Song, technological improvements in agriculture, particularly extensive water control projects, as well as the introduction of new strains of quick-ripening rice from Southeast Asia, improved food supplies. Also, a new crop, tea, began to be cultivated.

The Europe in Transition and the Islamic Empire

The Islamic Empire
While the Byzantine Empire spread Christianity to the north, in the south Arab armies inspired by a new religion, Islam, swept out of the Arabian peninsula and overran much of the old Byzantine territory.

Prophet Muhammad and Islam. In the A.D. 600s, the prophet Muhammad began preaching Islam, today the world’s second largest religion. The central message of Islam is that there is only one God. The holy- book of Islam is the Qur'an, which according to Muslims is the word of God revealed to Muhammad through a series of revelations. The Qur'an presents God’s laws and teachings and outlines what is expected of all good Muslims. According to the Qur'an, Muslims must meet five important obligations known as the Five Pillars of Islam: (1) Recite the profession of faith, “...there is no deity except Allah [God] and Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.” (2) Pray five times a day facing Mecca, the holy city of Islam. (3) Give alms money or food to the poor. (4) Fast from first light to sunset during the month of Ramadan. (5) If possible, make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire, Kievan Russia, and the Mongols
While barbarians plundered the western part of the Roman Empire in the A.D. 400s and 500s, the Byzantine Empire continued to thrive. Although surrounded by enemies, the Byzantine Empire maintained its independence and even expanded its influence to the north.

The Byzantine Empire. By the early 500s, the Western Roman Empire had broken down into a group of Germanic tribal kingdoms. The Eastern Roman Empire, on the of her hand, had defeated the barbarians and was primed for a great political, economic, intellectual, and artistic revival. Emperor Justinian, who ruled from 527 to 565, led this revival. In addition to recovering some of the old Roman territories in Italy and the Mediterranean, Justinian proved a capable ruler who preserved and further codified Roman law. During the Middle Ages, the Justinianic Code became the basis of many European legal systems and its influence continues today.

After Justinian’s death, however, the empire suffered from bofh internal civil wars and conflicts with the Persians to the east and Slavic and Germanic tribes to the north and west. During the 600s, a new power also emerged in the south, from the deserts of Arabia, inspired by the religious faith of Islam. Muslim armies soon overran major parts of the Byzantine Empire in North Africa and the Fertile Crescent. Under such blows, after 650 the Byzantine Empire was reduced to little more than Asia Minor, the southern Balkan peninsula, parts of Italy, and nearby islands of the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.

In addition to preserving Roman law, the Byzantine Empire also profected and perpetuated its own brand of Christianity, sometimes called Orthodox Christianity. Because religion was so closely bound up with the state, Byzantine leaders saw controversies over religious doctrines and rituals as important matters of state. Such attitudes often involved the state in major controversies. One of the most important, for example, was the debate over the use of icons holy portraits of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the saints in the 700s and early 800s. Those who favored their use in worship fought the iconoclasts, who thought of icons as idols and wished to suppress their use. Eventually, the iconoclasts lost the debate, but in the meantime the state had been seriously disrupted. Despite such debates, Christianity remained one of the most important aspects of Byzantine society and proved instrumental in expanding Byzantine influence among the Slavic tribes that threatened the northern borders of the empire.

The rise of the Mongols

The rise of the Mongols.
After the death of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, in 1054, Kiev declined in power and wealth. Disputes among Kievan princes as well as raids on the state’s trade by Turkish peoples to the south weakened the state. After groups of princes sacked Kiev in 1169 and again in 1203, the city’s prosperity was ruined. As the princes continued to fight among themselves, new invaders from Central Asia took advantage of Kiev’s weakness. These invaders, the Mongols, came from the Asian steppe east of the Ural mountains. By 1240, the new invaders had conquered and burned almost every city in Kievan Russia.

The Mongols did nof try to impose their way of life on the Slavic peoples whom they conquered. They wanted only to collect wealth from the region. In time, Mongol power weakened and the princes of the region grew more independent. During the early 1300s, Moscow, or Muscovy, became the strongest principality, partly because its ruler, Prince Ivan I, cooperated with the Mongols. In return for his cooperation, the Mongols granted Ivan the title of Grand Prince. By the time of Ivan III, also called the Great, who ruled from 1462 to 1505, Moscow had become so powerful that Ivan was finally able to overthrow Mongol rule altogether in 1480. Uniting the principalities and conquering more territory to the west, he became the first ruler of the independent state of Russia.

The Rise of Ancient Russia

The rise of Russia
The expansion of Orthodox Christianity from Constantinople also affected the emergence of new civilization to the north, where, beginning in the A.D. 200s, Slavic tribes settled in much of eastern Europe. Ofher peoples, like the Huns, Avars, and Magyars, often invaded the region and for a time made the Slavs their subjects. During the 800s, Vikings from Scandinavia also swept into eastern Europe. The Vikings came more as traders than conquerors, however, and several cities sprang up along the Viking trade routes.

Two such cities were Novgorod, south of Lake Ladoga, and Kiev, on the Dnieper River. In 862, a people called the Rus, under their war leader Rurik, took control of Novgorod and established a dynasty. Eventually the Rus, whose name is probably the origin of the name Russia, also took control of Kiev and several ofher principalities. By the 800s, they had come to mle over all the Slavic tribes along the Dnieper River. Kiev especially prospered because of its location along the rich trade route that extended north from Constantinople to the Baltic Sea. Kiev grew to become the most important principality in Kievan Russia.

Despite the Kievan prince’s predominant position, a centralized government never fully developed. Instead, the rulers of ofher principalities simply paid tribute to Kiev and largely ran their own affairs as they liked. At times, the princes of the cities of Kievan Russia ruled with the advice of councils of boyars, or nobles. Anofher important institution widely used in bofh Kiev and Novgorod was the town meeting, where the heads of all households gathered at the command of the prince to consider such matters as war, disputes among princes, and special measures to deal with emergencies.

As the Kievan state developed, it came increasingly under the influence of Constantinople to the south. In 988, the Kievan ruler Vladimir I converted to Orthodox Christianity, partly out of a desire to marry the Byzantine emperor’s sister, Anna. Thereafter, the Byzantine Church became increasingly important in Kievan Russia. The patriarch of Constantinople chose the chief bishop, or metropolitan, of the Kievan Church. New monasteries in the region soon became centers for social services, education, and artistic expression.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Fall of the Roman Empire in the West

The fall of the Roman Empire in the west.
The success of Christianity within the empire was in part due to a growing sense of insecurity among many people. During most of the A.D. 200s, the Roman empire experienced dreadful confusion, civil war, and barbarian invasions. If not for the efforts of two emperors, Diocletian and Constantine, the empire probably would have collapsed. Their reforms and reorganization of the empire postponed final collapse for about 200 years. Diocletian divided the empire administratively and appointed a co-emperor to help govern the vast territory more efficiently. Constantine continued these reforms and established a second capital at Constantinople, from which the eastern provinces of the Roman empire could be more efficiently administered. After Constantine’s death, however, the administrative division eventually became a permanent division into what ultimately became to two separate empires.

As the two parts of the empire drifted apart, both came under increasing pressure from invading barbarian tribes like the Huns. The wealthier and more populous eastern half was able to defend itself better than the relatively poor, agrarian western half. Weakened within as well as by attacks from outside, eventually the western half of the empire collapsed in A.D. 476, when Romulus Augustulus, the last emperor of Rome in the west, was defeated and killed by invading barbarians. Actually, no such thing as a single fall occurred, but instead the empire gradually disintegrated. Despite this “fall” of the Roman Empire in the west, the eastern Roman empire, usually called the Byzantine Empire, continued to exist for nearly another thousand years. Roman imperial traditions were preserved even after the collapse of the western empire through the continuance of the Roman Church, the only imperial institution to survive relatively intact. Through the church, Roman ideas and civilization remained an important base on which a new civilization would eventually be built in western Europe.

the Rise of Christianity in Ancient Rome

The rise of Christianity.
One of the world’s major religions in this time, Christianity, originated during the Roman Empire in the Roman-controlled territory of Judaea. It was founded by a Jewish teacher known as Jesus of Nazareth. Roman histories say very little about Jesus. Our knowledge of Jesus comes mainly from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the first four books' of the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

According to these accounts, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, worked for a time as a carpenter, and began preaching as an adult. The teachings of Jesus have become one of the greatest influences on the Western world. He accepted the Hebrew Ten Commandments as guides to right living, but he gave them added meaning. He summarized the Ten Commandments in two great rules: people must love God above all else, and they must love others as they love themselves.

Both the conservative Jewish hierarchy in Jerusalem and the Roman authorities felt threatened by Jesus’ message. Eventually the Romans put Jesus to death by crucifixion, a common form of execution for criminals in the Roman world. According to the Gospels, however, Jesus arose from the dead, remained on Earth another 40 days, and then ascended into heaven. His followers believed that his resurrection and ascension proved that Jesus was the Messiah, the savior of mankind sent by God, and they called him Jesus Christ after the Greek word for Messiah Christos. His followers began to preach that through the death of Jesus Christ, the son of God who had died for the sins of the human race, all people could achieve redemption.

Believing that the day of God’s final judgment was close at hand, Jesus’ disciples set out to spread his message. At first they worked mainly in the Jewish communities of Palestine. Eventually, however, the Christian message was spread into the Greek and Roman world by a new convert, a Jew named Saul of Tarsus who took the name Paul after becoming a Christian. It was Paul who emphasized that Christianity was for everyone, not just Jews. He journeyed throughout the eastern Mediterranean establishing Christian churches and encouraging them through his Epistles, or letters which still form an important part of the New Testament. According to tradition, he was eventually put to death while visiting Rome. His message continued, however, and within 400 years, Christianity had spread to all parts of the huge Roman Empire. The true success of the church was marked when the emperor Constantine proclaimed himself a Christian in A.D. 312. After A.D. 391, when the emperor Theodosius banned the old pagan religion of Rome, Christianity became the sole official religion of the entire empire.

During the later years of the Roman Empire, Christianity developed a definitive church organization. Priests conducted services and performed baptisms and marriages. Above the priests were the bishops, who headed the church in each city. The bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, the most important administrative centers of the church, were called patriarchs. Over time, the bishop of Rome assumed the title of pope, from a Latin word for father, and claimed supremacy over the church.

Roman society and culture

Roman society and culture.
The Pax Romana meant prosperity to many people, but the wealth was not evenly distributed. Rich citizens usually had both a country home and a city home. Such houses were often equipped with modern conveniences like running water and baths. The average Roman on the other hand lived in a poorly constructed apartment building with very little furniture. Most residents of the city of Rome were farmers or artisans who barely made a living. To divert their attention from their problems, the Roman government provided free grain to residents of the capital, as well as public entertainment. Romans were fond of the theater, especially satires and comedies. Their favorite pastimes, however, were more brutal sports such as chariot racing in the huge Circus Maximus racetrack in Rome, where spectacular crashes might occur. They also enjoyed gladiatorial combats between humans or beasts or sometimes both in the Colosseum, Rome’s great amphitheater. So important were such entertainments in Roman society that the poet Juvenal once observed that only two things interested the Roman masses: “bread and circuses.”

The practical Romans applied the scientific knowledge they gained from the Greeks in planning cities, building water and sewage systems, and improving farming and livestock breeding. Roman engineers surpassed all ancient peoples in their ability to construct roads, bridges, aqueducts, amphitheaters, and public buildings. Perhaps the most important contribution of Roman architects was the use of concrete, which made large buildings possible in terms of both cost and engineering. The Romans often based their buildings on Greek models. Unlike the Greeks, however, they also knew how to build the arch and vaulted domes, and emphasized size as well as pleasing proportions.

Greek influence was also strong in the arts, though a number of Romans produced works of great originality, especially in literature. Virgil, a contemporary of Augustus, was one of the greatest Roman poets and author of the Aeneid an epic poem that told the story of a Trojan prince named Aeneas, a legendary ancestor of the Latins. The poet Ovid wrote love lyrics and the Metamorphoses, a collection of myths written in verse. Another poet, Horace, wrote of human emotions in his odes, satires, and letters. The Romans also valued works of history, such as the Annals, a history of Rome under Augustus and his immediate successors, written by Tacitus.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Roman Empire

The Roman Empire.
By 133 B.C. the Roman Republic faced many problems. Although several leaders attempted reforms, their programs angered many senators, and as a result some leaders were violently overthrown. Expansion of the Roman empire brought changes in the army, and eroded the old reliance on citizen- farmers as the backbone of the legions. As the values of the old republic began to break down, many new leaders struggled for power. Emerging from such a power struggle, in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar became dictator for life. He proved to be an able politician. He granted citizenship to many people in the provinces and gave land to veterans and grain to the poor in Rome. His new position angered conservative Roman families and on the Ides of March (March 15), 44 B.C., conspirators stabbed Caesar to death in the Senate Chambers.

Caesar’s death
Caesar’s death soon led to a division of the Roman world between his heir, Octavian, and his friend and ally, Marc Antony. As Octavian built up his power in Rome and the western half of the empire, Marc Antony allied himself with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and made his base in the eastern part of the empire. Eventually, civil war between the two split the Roman empire. Finally, in 31 B.C., Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the great naval battle of Actium and became master of the Roman world. In 27 B.C. the Senate proclaimed him Augustus Caesar, or Augustus “the revered one.” Historians agree that Augustus was the first real Roman emperor and they mark his reign as the end of the old republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

Augustus and his successors established Roman power throughout the Mediterranean world and imposed what became known as the Pax Romana, or Roman Peace. Law, military organization, and widespread trade and transportation held the empire together and brought about peace and economic prosperity for more than 200 years.

Roman Expansion

The Roman World
The spread of Hellenistic and Greek culture occurred not only in the eastern Mediterranean, but also in the west, where it had a great influence on the a new power in the Italian peninsula, the city of Rome.

The founding of the Roman Republic. Many peoples had inhabited Italy since ancient times.

Roman Expansion Timeline
Sometime around the mid-700s B.C., a group of people called Latins built villages along the Tiber River. Located near a shallow river crossing, the Latins had settled in the middle of important trade routes that spread out in all directions. Eventually, these villages united to form the city-state of Rome. In the late 600s B.C., Rome came under the control of the Etruscans, from whom the Romans learned many of the arts of civilization. Rome was also influenced by Greek settlements in Sicily and southern Italy.

Latins, Etruscans, and other peoples living around Rome gradually came to be called Romans. In 509 B.C., the Roman aristocracy overthrew the last Etruscan monarch and set up a republic, a form of government in which voters elect their leaders. Only adult male citizens who owned land could vote. Three groups of citizens helped govern Rome: the Senate, various popular assemblies, and officials known as magistrates. After the end of the monarchy, Roman society was also split between the powerful aristocratic class, known as patricians, and the nonaristocrats known as plebeians. Over time, the plebeians successfully forced the patricians to grant them greater political participation. By about 300 B.C., wealthy plebeians had even joined with the patricians to form a new Roman nobility that soon controlled the state.

For more than 200 years after the founding of the republic, the Romans fought many wars against neighboring peoples in Italy. By 265 B.C., the Romans controlled all of Italy south of the Rubicon River on the northeast coast. Both military organization, based upon legions made up of Roman citizen-soldiers, and wise policies that gradually granted full or partial citizenship to the inhabitants of other Italian cities, helped the Romans achieve their victories.

Roman expansion. As Roman power grew, the Romans came into conflict with Carthage, a powerful city located on the coast of North Africa. In a series of three wars, called the Punic Wars, the Romans completely destroyed their rivals and took over their colonies around the Mediterranean. At the same time, they also began to conquer the eastern parts of the Mediterranean world. As the Roman Republic created this vast new empire, the role of the citizen-farmer and the traditional values of earlier Roman society weakened. As land and slaves became more expensive, and military service kept many citizen-farmers away from their farms, many lost their lands and moved to the cities, where they joined the unemployed masses. In addition, the pressures of ruling such a large empire placed strains on a government that had been designed to rule a small city-state.

Ancient Greek art

Greece's Golden and Hellenistic Ages
Despite the failure of political unity in the Greek world, during the 400s B.C. Greek culture reached new heights. It was a period so magnificent that it is often called Greece’s golden age.

Ancient Greek art.
Greek art reflected the way in which Greeks viewed themselves and the world. The pride people took in their city-states was perhaps most effectively displayed in the great temples and public buildings the Greeks built to adorn their cities.

Structures such as the magnificent Parthenon, an engineering masterpiece in its own right, were decorated with the finest sculptures the Greeks could produce. The golden age in Greece produced some of the finest sculptors who have ever lived men like Myron, who created the famous Discus Thrower; Phidias, who created the statue of Zeus at the Temple of Olympia; and Praxiteles, renowned for his delicate, lifelike, and often life-sized figures. In addition to sculpture, the Greeks also painted their best preserved paintings are found on vases. Vase paintings illustrated everyday life as well as myths.

Thinkers and writers of the golden age. Even before the golden age, the Greeks displayed a keen interest in the things of the mind philosophy, mathematics, science, and literature. As they investigated the natural world, Greek thinkers moved away from the myths of the past and sought natural explanations for the phenomena around them. In the 500s B.C., for example, before the golden age began, the philosopher Pythagoras wrote that everything could be explained or expressed through numbers and the relationships, or ratios, between them. Hippocrates, considered the founder of modern medicine, taught that disease comes from natural causes, not as punishment from the gods.

During the golden age itself, Greek philosophers increasingly turned their attention to' human nature and the human mind. Socrates, for example, who lived in Athens from 470 to 399 B.C., wanted people to think for themselves and established a method of learning through questioning. Today we call this the Socratic method. In this way, he believed, people might acquire wisdom. Accused of corrupting the minds of the youth and for showing irreverence for the gods, he was condemned to death by his enemies in Athens. His pupil, Plato, founded the Academy, a school devoted to teaching philosophy. Plato was interested in discovering the true nature of things, which he expressed in his theory of forms the idea that everything physical is but an imperfect expression of a perfect universal form, or idea. Plato was also interested in politics and wrote the Republic, outlining his idea that society should be organized so that the best and brightest might govern it a meritocracy in which all people would do the work for which they were best suited.

One of Plato’s students at the Academy was Aristotle, who was determined to apply philosophical reasoning and logic to every branch of human knowledge. Aristotle concluded that the Greek ideal of style in the arts balance, order, and restraint also represented the highest ideal in terms of human behavior  an ideal that was most likely to bring people the greatest happiness. Applying his reasoning skills to politics, Aristotle concluded that the best form of government was one that combined certain elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy into a kind of limited democracy in the hands of the middle class.

The Greeks also applied this method of logical reasoning to human affairs, particularly to the writing of history. Herodotus and especially Thucydides, who wrote the History of the Peloponnesian War, were the first great historians of the Western world. Combining reason with beauty, however, they also saw history as a branch of literature. Another branch was drama. Greek playwrights explored the conflicts of human existence in terms of both tragedy, in which the major characters struggle unsuccessfully against their fate, and comedy, in which they succeed in solving their problems.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The spread of Hellenistic Culture

The spread of Hellenistic culture. After Alexander’s death, his generals murdered his family and divided his short-lived empire among themselves into a number of kingdoms, including Macedonia, Egypt, and Syria. Despite this political division, Hellenistic society continued to spread through trade and the exchange of ideas among scholars in many lands, who could-all communicate in Greek. Trade routes now connected the entire Mediterranean world and reached as far as India. The growth of trade in turn led to the growth of a middle class, a middle class that fostered a rise in education and levels of literacy. The decline of the old Greek ideals of the polis also led to new developments in religion and philosophy.

Some people adopted the practice of ruler-worship. Others sought to counter the feelings that they had lost control over their own destinies by turning to new mystery religions that promised immortality after death. Still others turned to philosophy.

Hellenistic philosophers were more concerned with ethics than with basic questions of reality and human existence. Four chief schools of philosophy emerged: Cynicism, Skepticism, Stoicism, and Epicureanism. Cynics believed that people should live according to nature, scorning pleasure, wealth, and social position. Skeptics philosophized that no definite knowledge is possible because everything is always changing. Stoics believed that divine reason directs the world, and that only by trying to follow the path laid down by the divine spark within every person could one find true happiness. Epicureans taught that the aim of life is to seek pleasure and avoid pain and that one of the ways to achieve this was by limiting one’s desires, rather than trying to fulfill all of them.

While people grappled with the problems brought on by living within a more complex and sophisticated world, Hellenistic scientists were also learning more and more about how the world around them functioned. Many advances were made in mathematics. The Greek mathematician Euclid further systematized geometry. Archimedes, considered the greatest scientist and inventor of the Hellenistic period, applied geometry to measure spheres, cones, and cylinders and to advance developments in mechanics. Other scientists used mathematics to calculate the daily positions of the planets and stars, and even to calculate the circumference of Earth with amazing accuracy. Hellenistic physicians learned much about the human body and greatly increased medical knowledge by dissecting human bodies.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great. So long as the Greeks remained disunited, to a considerable extent the achievements of their civilization also remained relatively limited in their impact on other peoples and civilizations. In 359 B.C. this changed when Phillip II became king of Macedonia and began to unite Greece under his own rule by conquering the Greek city-states. The process of Greek unification and expansion was taken even further by Phillip’s son, Alexander the Great. Alexandw the Great was one of the greatest military leaders in world history. Picking up where his father had left off, Alexander not only completed the conquest and unification of the Greek world, but also set out to conquer the rest of the known world.

By 331 B.C., he had conquered Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the rest of the Persian Empire and was attempting to conquer the plains of northern India. After a long campaign in India, however, he was forced by his men to turn back home. In 323 B.C., he died in Babylon. He was not yet 33 years old. In his short life, he had laid the foundations of an empire that would spread Greek ideas to other parts of the world and in turn expose Greek civilization to new influences and ideas from outside its borders. A new civilization, often called Hellenistic, meaning Greek-like, emerged in those areas ruled by Alexander and his successors.

The Greek City-States for Kids

The Greek City-States
In the area in and around the Aegean Sea, an Indo-European speaking people, known as the Greeks, established themselves in small city-states sometime after 2000 B.C. The Greeks eventually created a brilliant civilization that became one of the foundations of modern Western civilization.

Early Greeks and the rise of city-states. Even before the Greeks appeared in the Aegean, an earlier people had established a powerful civilization on the island of Crete. The Greeks remembered this earlier civilization in their myths. Around A.D. 1900, archaeologists began to unearth evidence that proved the stories had a basis in fact. They named the people the Minoan civilization, after the fabled King Minos of Greek myths. Scholars believe that the civilization was already well established by 2000 B.C.

The Minoans were great seafarers and traders. They built magnificent palaces and homes for nobles decorated with beautiful frescoes and complete with running water. Sometime around 1500 B.C., however, a volcanic eruption on a nearby island sent great tidal waves crashing across Crete, causing enormous destruction. Although the Minoans rebuilt after the disaster, their civilization never fully recovered. Their last great palace at Knossos was destroyed around 1400 B.C., probably by Greek-speaking Indo- Europeans known as Mycenaeans, who had migrated to Greece after 2000 B.C.

The Mycenaeans built fortified cities in the southern part of Greece. By about 1200 B.C., however, most of their cities had been destroyed and a more primitive Greek people, the Dorians, had moved into the peninsula. Eventually, all these Greek-speaking peoples, influenced by the geography of the terrain and their own tribal organization, established city-states in the 800s and 700s B.C.

The Greek word for city-state is polis. All Greek city-states shared certain features. They tended to be small in area as well as in population though the two most important city-states, Athens and Sparta, were exceptions to this rule. Most city-states were organized around hilltops, known as an acropolis, where temples and other public buildings were located alongside a fort that could provide protection. In addition, each city-state had a market place, which could also be used as a public meeting place, as well as surrounding lands for agriculture and herding.

Greek government and society. According to tradition, the poet Homer gathered and wove together an earlier oral tradition into the two greatest Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Iliad told of the Trojan War, between the Mycenaeans and their Greek allies, and the city of Troy in Asia Minor. The Odyssey was the story of the homeward voyage of one of the Greek princes, Odysseus. Scholars often refer to the era of these epics as the Homeric Age. Through these poems we are able to get a glimpse of what early Greek society was like. The early city-states were tribal kingdoms that constantly waged war on each other.

During the Homeric Age, the Greeks developed religious ideas that focused on explaining the natural world and human actions rather than on moral issues and life after death. Their gods had many human characteristics. Believing that the gods delighted in displays of strength and courage, the Greeks held athletic contests in their honor the most famous of these were the games at Olympia, held every four years in honor of Zeus, the king of the gods.

Over time, the early kingships gave way to rule by the chief landowners, or aristocrats. The power of these nobles was in part due to the fact that they were the only ones who could afford the weapons and armor of warfare. But by 600 B.C., wealthy nonaristocrats could afford some weaponry of their own. A new class of nonaristocratic foot soldiers, known as hoplites, emerged. As the hoplites took on a larger and larger role in defending the city- states, the nonaristocrats began to demand more say in the government.

Some leaders took advantage of popular discontent to establish themselves as tyrants. The tyrants seized power unlawfully, but they ruled with the people’s support. Over time, however, they became harsh and unjust, and the word tyrant took on its present meaning of a ruler who exercises absolute power brutally and oppressively. Eventually, many city-states ousted their tyrants and adopted the idea that people could and should mle themselves. This led to the form of government called democracy a government in which all people take part.

Sparta and Athens. The differences that existed among the Greek city-states is perhaps best illustrated by Sparta and Athens. Spartan society developed primarily out of the need for security. The Dorian invaders who established Sparta had conquered and enslaved the surrounding peoples. Eventually, three social groups emerged in Sparta. The first group, known as the equals, was composed of all adult male descendants of the original Dorian invaders who had established Sparta. All land in the state was divided equally among these citizens and their families. Along with each allotment of land went state slaves, called helots, to work it. The second group was made up of so-called half-citizens, free men who paid taxes and might even serve in the army, but who had no political power. The third group consisted of the helots.

The helots greatly outnumbered the Spartans who lived in constant fear of a helot revolt. Consequently, the Spartans developed a rigid military social structure to guard against such a revolt. All Spartan males were trained from birth to be soldiers and Spartan females were raised to he wives and mothers of soldiers. The strict discipline of Sparta did lead to efficient government and an almost unconquerable army, but the Spartans paid a heavy price for this military might by sacrificing individual freedoms for the state. Furthermore, they produced little in the way of art, science, literature, or philosophy.

Athens on the other hand developed very differently. In Athens, as elsewhere in Greece, social standing and political power were closely linked. At the top stood the citizens consisting of all adult males born in the polis. Athenian women were also citizens but could not vote and were legally considered minors. People born outside Athens were noncitizens. Called metics, they worked as merchants or artisans, but could not own land or take part in politics. At the bottom of society stood the slaves who comprised more than half the population during Athens’s greatest period.

Initially a monarchy, Athens made the transition to an aristocratic form of government early on. By the late 600s, however, social discontent among non-aristocratic citizens led to reforms and the creation of Athens’s first written law code. About 594 B.C. the aristocratic leader Solon instituted further reforms, cancelling debts and outlawing the practice of enslaving people for debt. Still, unrest continued and around 546 B.C. a wealthy aristocrat named Peisistratus seized power as a tyrant. Finally, around 508 B.C., Cleisthenes overthrew the tyrannical government and established a direct democracy in Athens, in which all citizens played an equal role in making decisions for the state.

The Expansion of Greece. During the aristocratic period in Greek development, many cities sent out colonists to settle throughout the eastern and central Mediterranean world, even as far as the shores of the Black Sea. Both the Greek city-states and these colonies developed for a long time without interference from the empires of Southwest Asia. In 546 B.C., however, the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, conquered Lydia in Asia Minor and acquired the Greek city-states along the western coast of the Aegean Sea. After a series of revolts among these Greek cities, aided by Athens, both Darius I and his son Xerxes I sent huge armies to conquer mainland Greece. In 479 B.C., however, the Athenians and Spartans combined to defeat the Persians at the battle of Plataea.

After these Persian Wars, Athens used diplomacy to create the Delian League, an alliance with some 140 city-states. By the 450s B.C., however, the Delian League had become little more than an Athenian empire. Ironically, even as the League was being turned into an empire, under the Athenian leader Pericles, democracy was reaching its height in Athens. Pericles hoped to unite all Greece under Athenian leadership. Other city-states increasingly resented Athens’s domination, and in 431 B.C. the devastating reloponnesian War broke out, with Sparta leading a coalition of states against Athens. After almost a generation of warfare, Athens finally had to surrender to Sparta in 404 B.C.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Ancient Chinese Life

Chinese life and Culture.
In the uncertain times of the late Zhou period, Chinese philosophers laid the groundwork for the basic philosophical schools that would be influential in later Chinese history. One of their basic ideas was the dualism, or two-sidedness, of nature. They taught that everything in the world results from a balancing of complimentary forces, called yin and yang. Through the balancing of yin and yang, people could achieve harmony. Perhaps the most influential scholar to offer a practical guide to achieving this harmony was Kongzi, known in the West as Confucius. Confucius taught about the importance of family, respect for one’s elders, and reverence for the past. These three concepts formed the basis of Confucian philosophy.

Other philosophies and religious teachings offered other ideas about China’s problems. Daoism, for example, took its name from its central idea, the Dao, or Way of Nature. Daoists believed that people should withdraw and contemplate the natural harmony of the world in order to learn from it and allow it to govern human affairs. Daosim and Confucianism eventually came to complement one another.

Legalism, on the other hand, was a school of philosophy that taught that people were basically selfish and untrustworthy and had to be controlled with harsh measures. The Legalists believed in power, not virtue, and in the importance of having harsh laws. It was in part their adherence to Legalist views that made the Qin under Shi Huangdi so unpopular. The Han, on the other hand, followed a Confucian model in their approach to government.

The family, not the individual, was the most important unit of Chinese society. The father ruled the family and women were subordinate to men although Chinese society also taught great respect for mothers and mothers-in-law. Within the household, these women held considerable power. Until she had born a son, on the other hand, a new wife might be treated almost like a servant in her husband’s family. Respect for one’s aged parents, and especially for one’s father, was an important virtue.

As civilization prospered in China, the Chinese also developed skills in the arts and sciences. The most important works of Chinese literature were the Five Classics: the Book of History; the Book of Poetry; the Book of Divination; the Spring and Autumn Annals; and the Book of Rites. The Five Classics became the basis on which all Chinese scholars were educated. We do not know who wrote these works or when they were written. The Analects of Confucius were also essential reading for all properly brought up young men. Indeed, these works became the mainstay of the imperial civil service examinations and did much to maintain the unity of imperial culture throughout the various regions of China. Most of all, the use of these texts in Chinese education emphasized respect for tradition and knowledge of the past.

In science, Chinese astronomers early on computed the year to be 36514 days long. In 28 B.C., Chinese astronomers first observed sunspots and sometime before A.D. 100 they were building special instruments to observe the movement of planets. Another scientific invention was a primitive seismograph that could detect even the faintest earthquakes. The Chinese developed paper, as well as such things as the sundial, the water clock, and a process of printing.

While China developed in relative isolation in eastern Asia, far to the west new civilizations began to develop around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. These civilizations were the beneficiaries of earlier developments in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ancient Chinese Civilization Shang, Zhou, Qin & Han dynasties

Ancient Chinese Civilization
Unlike civilizations further west, Chinese civilization developed in relative isolation from outside influences. This was because China was cut off by its great distance from other centers of civilization, as well as by geographical barriers such as the Gobi desert and the towering mountains of Central Asia.

Their lack of contact with foreigners helped give the Chinese a strong sense of identity and superiority. They regarded their land as the only civilized land and called it Zhonggno, the “Middle Kingdom.” To the Chinese it represented the center of world.

Geographical and cultural influences. As elsewhere, the development of civilization in China was greatly affected by its geography. The heartland of China stretches from the coast up the valleys of the Huang He, Chang Jiang, and Xi Jiang rivers. The valley of the Huang He is particularly fertile due to the rich yellow soil known as loess. So much of this soil washes into the Huang He that it is sometimes called the Yellow River. The river is also prone to flooding, which in turn has led to another nickname, “China’s Sorrow.” In addition to being isolated by mountains and deserts, China itself is divided by the Qinling (CHIN•LING) Shandi, a range of mountains that separates north and south China. These mountains also mark the boundary between two different types of agriculture in the north, wheat was the principal crop, while in the south Chinese farmers primarily grew rice.

This heartland region, sometimes called China Proper, is surrounded by a number of outlying regions: Tibet, Xinjiang (SHIN»JYAHNG), Mongolia, Manchuria, and Korea. From these more forbidding areas, the heartland of China has sometimes been attacked by nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples. Historically, the Chinese have tried to control these areas, either to protect themselves from attack or to gain valuable trade routes. In the process of unifying or controlling all these areas, the Chinese developed a tradition of imperial rule.

The Shang dynasty. China’s first historic dynasty, the Shang, began along the Huang He sometime between 1750 B.C. and 1500 B.C. During the Shang period, many elements of later Chinese civilization began to develop, notably a writing system, and a religious tradition that combined animism a belief that spirits inhabit everything with ancestor worship. The Chinese worshiped gods of the wind, Sun, clouds, and moon. They also believed that the principal god, Shang Ti, was responsible for their destiny and controlled the forces of nature. Shang rulers tried to appeal to Shang Ti through their ancestors.

The Zhou, Qin, and Han dynasties. In 1122 B.C., the Shang were conquered by the Zhou (JOH), a powerful tribe from the northwest frontier. The Zhou claimed that their right to rule was divinely granted because Shang Ti had withdrawn his favor from the Shang dynasty. Instead, the Mandate of Heaven, as they began to call it, had passed to them. Future rulers of China would also argue that they ruled because they had this mandate, and if a dynasty lost the throne it was because they had lost the Mandate of Heaven.

Although they ruled China for about 900 years, the Zhou did not impose a centralized form of government. Instead they granted territories to members of the royal family and their allies to rule as they liked, so long as they provided the Zhou monarch with military service and tribute. Eventually, Zhou power declined and a number of warring states emerged to struggle for control of the country. One of these warring states, the Qin (CHIN), emerged victorious in 221 B.C. and founded a new dynasty.

Although the Qin dynasty only lasted a short time, until 206 B.C., it united China under a strong, central government for the first time in history. The first Qin ruler took the title Shi Huangdi, meaning “first emperor.” The Qin established the first real Chinese empire. They also standardized weights, measures, and coinage; established a uniform system of writing; and imposed a single system of taxation throughout the country. In order to maintain their rule, however, the Qin were harsh in their methods. Discontent soon grew, and in 202 B.C. Liu Bang, a commoner, raised a revolt that overthrew the Qin and established a new dynasty, the Han.

Like the Qin, the Han dynasty maintained a strong centralized government, but it ruled less harshly and more wisely. The Han improved the Qin bureaucracy and built a centralized civil service system, eventually based on an examination system tor prospective officials, to run the empire. They also increased trade, expanded and defended the frontiers, and generally tried to improve the economy of" China. Linder their rule, China prospered and many new tools and luxury goods became available including paper, a Chinese invention that later spread to the West. Eventually, however, the quality of emperors declined and in A.D. 220 the Han dynasty fell. For hundreds of years, nomadic tribes swept across northern China. Not until A.D. 589 did a Chinese general once again unify China and restore the imperial tradition.

Ancient Indian Lifestyle & Culture

Ancient Indian life and culture
The ancient Indian societes established the basic social and cultural pattems of Indian civilzation and left the world a rich legacy in art, literature, mathematics, and science. Under the Indo-Aryan influence, four distinct varna, or social classes, emerged in Indian society: the Brahmins, or priests; the Kshatriyas, or warriors; the Vaisya, which included farmers, traders, and merchants; and the Sudras, or peasants. A fifth group, known as Pariahs “untouchables,” stood at the bottom of society as virtual outcasts. As time passed, these four great varnas further subdivided into hereditary groups known as jati, each with its own fixed social position and rules about eating, marriage, labor, and worship. Westerners would later refer to this division of society as the caste system.

The social divisions of Indian society were reinforced by religious teachings. So too was the position of women, which was subordinate to that of men. Polygyny, the marriage of a man to more than one woman, for example, was accepted in Indo-Aryan society and became more widespread during the Gupta period. Another practice that became more common under Gupta rule, especially among the upper castes, was suttee, which required a widow to commit suicide by throwing herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.

Religion, in fact, was a central feature of Indian life. In addition to the Vedas, over the centuries other religious writings became important. Sometime after 700 b.c., for example, religious thinkers began to question the authority of the Brahmins. Wandering and teaching their message among the forests of the Ganges plain, these thinkers produced a new body of religious literature known as the Upanishads, complex explanations of the Vedic religion. Ordinary people, however, preferred the two great epics of Indian poetry, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, which taught the doctrines of Hinduism through historical and religious stories. The last part of the Mahabharata, known as the Baghavad Gita, or “Song of the Lord,” was especially popular. Its main teachings were devotion to God and that one should conduct oneself according to one’s dharma, or moral duty in life, so that the soul could progress toward deliverance from the cycle of reincarnation. Under the Guptas, Indians also enjoyed the Panchatantra, a series of fables that included the story of Sinbad the Sailor, which later found its way into the Persian tale of The Thousand and One Nights.

Art and architecture also developed, particularly under the Guptas, as did mural paintings in caves. These paintings are a valuable source of information about the daily life of the Indian people at that time. Buddhist architecture developed its own distinctive style in the stupa the dome-shaped shrines that held artifacts and objects associated with the Buddha.

Perhaps the most significant developments came in the sciences. Indian mathematicians understood abstract numbers and negative numbers, as well as the concepts of zero and infinity. Indians probably invented the numbers we call “Arabic”: the digits 1 through 9. Indian astronomers also understood the rotation of Earth on its axis and could accurately predict eclipses of the Sun and moon. Indian physicians understood the importance of the spinal column and invented the technique of inoculation infecting a person with a mild form of a disease so that he or she will not fall ill with the more serious form. They also practiced bone-setting and plastic surgery, and some understood the importance of disinfecting wounds and practicing strict cleanliness to avoid infection. By the time of the Guptas, such knowledge was passed on through the great university at Nalanda, a Buddhist institution that offered a free education to as many as 10,000 students.

Indo-Aryan Migration

Indo-Aryan migrants. What is certain, however, is that sometime around 1750 B.C., new groups of Indo- European speaking peoples, whose original homeland was probably somewhere north of the Black and Caspian Seas, began to move south through the mountain passes into northern India. Although they called themselves Aryans, scholars today refer to them as Indo-Aryans, to distinguish them from those Aryan tribes who remained in what is now Iran. The nomadic Indo-Aryans herded sheep and cows. Skillful fighters, the Indo-Aryans eventually conquered the Indus Valley and then gradually moved eastward along the great Ganges River, until after several centuries they controlled the entire Gangetic plain of northern India.

Most of what we know about early Indo-Aryan society comes from the Vedas, the great literature ot the Indo-Aryan religion. Eventually, Indo-Aryan settlements joined to form small city-states, each ruled by a raja a prince or king. Differences between the Indo- Aryans and the earlier inhabitants of India led to the development over time of a complex social system, with warriors and later priests at the top, followed by merchants, traders, farmers, and servants at the bottom.

Less influenced by the influx of the Indo-Aryans, southern India at first developed somewhat differently from the north. Separated from the Indo- Gangetic plain in the north by the forest-covered mountains of the Vindhya Range, the people of the south were able to resist conquest by the Indo- Aryans for centuries. They remained linguistically, ethnically, and culturally distinct from the populations of the north. The southern part of India is quite hilly, and this too worked against political or cultural unification. As a result, southern India remained fragmented into many different groups. Some lived as farmers, others as hunter-gatherers. Those living along the coast often turned to trade and commerce for a living and, through coastal ports, southern Indians eventually made contact with other civilizations in southeast Asia.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ancient Indian Civilization & Harappan civilization

Ancient Indian Civilization
As far as scholars can tell, the first civilization in India developed about 4500 years ago, in the valley of the Indus River. This was several hundred years after Egypt and Sumer developed civilizations. Although our knowledge of this civilization is incomplete, the ruins of two cities, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, provide us with the best evidence. Scholars often refer to this civilization as the Harappan civilization because it was in Harappa that archaeologists first discovered its artifacts.

Harappan Civilization. Both Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro show evidence of extremely sophisticated city planning and design. Both cities, for example, had wide streets laid out on a grid pattern, as well as extensive public water works, including public baths and a covered brick sewer system for private homes. The early Indus Valley people also developed their own written language, though modem scholars have not yet learned to decipher it. Scholars disagree about why this civilization declined. Some have suggested that the course of the Indus River changed dramatically, with devastating consequences for agriculture in the valley and flooding in the cities. Others have suggested invasion by migrating tribes led to the conquest and downfall of the civilization. Still others have argued that the region was subject to major earthquakes. The real reasons remain a mystery.

The Phoenicians, Lydians, and Hebrews

The Phoenicians, Lydians, and Hebrews
The peoples who lived in the western end of the Fertile Crescent and in western Asia Minor did not create large empires, but they had great influence on the modern world.

Phoenicia consisted of a loose union of city-states, each governed by a different king. The Phoenicians turned to the sea and to commerce for their living and became the greatest traders in the ancient Mediterranean world. Perhaps most important, the Phoenicians developed the alphabet, on which our own alphabet is patterned.

The Lydians of Asia Minor are remembered as the first people in history to use coined money, beginning in about 600 B.C. Through trade, they passed on the idea of a money economy to the Greeks and Persians.

As in the eastern part of the Fertile Crescent, a series of peoples inhabited Canaan, which lay south of Phoenicia along the land bridge between Asia and Africa. The Semitic-speaking Hebrews, the ancestors of modern Jews, had a great influence on this region and on all of history.

The Hebrews worshiped one god, Yahweh. They thought of their god not as a glorified human being, but as the one true god, the creator of the universe. The Torah, part of the Hebrew scriptures, outlines the Hebrew code of laws. This code set a higher value on human life than had earlier law codes. Because of its emphasis on ethics, or right conduct, Judaism, the Hebrew form of monotheism is often called ethical monotheism. It ranks as the Hebrews’ most important contribution to Western civilization.

Empires of the Fertile Crescent

Empires of the Fertile Crescent
The lack of unity among the Sumerian city-states made them vulnerable to attack not only by rival cities, but also by surrounding nomadic peoples who were attracted by the relative wealth of the cities. As these nomadic peoples interacted with the settled communities of the cities, they soon began to learn the skills of civilization. Combining this new knowledge with their own warlike skills, some began to conquer the cities of the Tigris-Euphrates and to create the first empires.

Fertile Crescent and Akkadians
Some time around 2330 B.C., the Akkadians, a people who also lived in Mesopotamia, conquered the Sumerians. The most powerful ot the Akkadian kings, Sargon, who ruled from about 2350 to 2300 B.C., established a great empire that extended as far west as the Mediterranean Sea. Although it only lasted about a hundred years, the Akkadian Empire was the first of many to take control of the area.

Around 1792 B.C., a powerful ruler named Hammurabi (ham»uh*RAUB»ee) came to power in the city of Babylon and conquered most of the upper Tigris-Euphrates Valley. More than just an outstanding military leader, Hammurabi was an outstanding political leader as well. He is best known for the Code of Hammurabi, a collection of laws compiled under his direction. Like the Akkadians, the Babylonians copied many aspects ot Sumerian culture, including their religious beliefs.

Sometime in the 1600s B.C., yet another group of warlike peoples, an Indo-European speaking group known as the Hittites, invaded the Tigris-Euphrates Valley from Asia Minor. The Hittites were among the first to use iron weapons. They also introduced a new, more reasonable set of laws than the harsher ones laid down in Hammurabi’s code. Yet, while they conquered Babylon, the Hittites were unable to hold the region for long and eventually withdrew to their new home base in Asia Minor.

After a prolonged period of further invasions by migrating peoples, about 900 B.C. the Assyrians, a Semitic-speaking people, began to expand their rule throughout the Fertile Crescent. Eventually, they conquered a vast empire that stretched from Egypt to the Iranian Plateau.

The Assyrians excelled in warfare. They were the first to make extensive use of cavalry units of soldiers mounted on horses. They also waged war ferociously, frequently killing their war captives and sometimes massacring the inhabitants of cities they conquered to instill terror in others. They ruled their empire through an efficient system of imperial bureaucracy. Governors ruled conquered territories and made regular reports to the king. To ensure loyalty, secret inspectors checked up on the governors and reported on their activities to the king directly. Like other conquerors before them, the Assyrians were influenced by the earlier patterns of Sumerian civilization. In fact, it was while excavating the great library of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh that modern archaeologists found a copy of the ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest works of literature known.

The Assyrians’ tactics won them many enemies. Finally, in 612 B.C., an alliance of their foes, led by the Medes and the Chaldeans, captured and totally destroyed the Assyrian capital of Nineveh and put an end once and for all to Assyrian power.

Under the leadership of king Nebuchadnezzar (neb*uh«kuhd»NEZ»uhr), the Chaldeans conquered most of the Fertile Crescent. Babylon, their capital, once again became a large and rich city. After Nebuchadnezzar’s death, however, this brief revival of Babylonian power faltered and in 539 Babylon fell to yet another Indo-European speaking people from the Iranian Plateau, the Persians. Under their great rulers, Cyrus the Great and Darius I, the Persians created the largest empire yet seen, ruling the peoples of southwest Asia and Egypt with an efficient and generally tolerant imperial bureaucracy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Kingdoms of the Tigris-Euphrates & Sumerian Civilization

Kingdoms of the Tigris-Euphrates
The ancient Egyptians developed a civilization that reflected the generally bountiful nature of the Nile. In the Tigris-Euphrates Valley sometimes called Mesopotamia, after the later Greek term for “land between the rivers,” or the Fertile Crescent civilization developed along rather different lines. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers begin in the hills of modern Turkey and flow south to the Persian Gulf. The flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates, unlike that of the Nile, cannot be easily predicted. Not only is the exact time of year unpredictable, but the extent of the flood cannot be estimated. Not surprisingly, the people of the valley viewed nature and the gods as angry and unreasonable. Even so, the two rivers provided water and rich soils for agriculture, particularly in Sumer in the southern region.

Sumerian Civilization
Sumerian civilization. In Sumer, Neolithic people settled, grew crops, and over time created what we call Sumerian culture in a number of small city-states. A city-state included not only the city itself but also the land and fields around it. By 3000 B.C., the Sumerians knew how to use metal and had developed a new form of wedge- shaped writing, known as cuneiform from the Latin word for wedge.

The ancient Sumerians established many of the patterns of civilization that would be adopted by later civilizations in the Tigris-Euphrates region. They built their houses and other buildings from sun-dried clay bricks. They may have also invented several important architectural designs, including the arch. The most striking buildings were temples, known as ziggurats, which formed the central feature of a city- state. Ziggurats were built up like a layered wedding cake, with each story a bit smaller than the one on which it sat. At the top was a shrine to one of the Sumerian gods.

In addition to their architectural advances, the Sumerians also made many other important discoveries. Some scholars think they were the first to develop and use the wheel. In mathematics they used a number system based on 60, and divided the circle into 360 degrees, with each degree made up of 60 minutes, and each minute further subdivided into 60 seconds.

Sumerian civilization religion
Religion was at the heart of Sumerian civilization. Like the ancient Egyptians, the Sumerians were polytheists, believing in many gods. They believed that each city was the property of a god or goddess, who were also associated with the forces of nature and with heavenly bodies like the moon and the Sun. Unlike the Egyptians, however, the Sumerians viewed their gods as unpredictable and cruel rather like the natural environment around them. Consequently, they had little conception of an elaborate afterlife. Indeed, competition among the city-states over water rights along the rivers was often interpreted as a battle between the gods of the respective city-states.

Egypt was the gift of the Nile

Kingdoms of the Nile
Egypt was “the gift of the Nile"
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus once observed that all Egypt was “the gift of the Nile.” Each year rain caused the river to flood, bringing rich silts down from the Ethiopian Highlands and depositing them over the lower parts of the river valley. From the earliest times, Egyptian farmers planned their work around the flood, not only taking advantage of the richness of the soil it left behind, but also using its waters for irrigation.

Over the centuries, strong leaders united early Egyptian farming settlements to create two kingdoms, Lower Egypt in the north, and Upper Egypt in the south. Then, sometime after 3200 B.C., a king of Upper Egypt, known as Menes (MEE»neez), united the two kingdoms. He and his successors eventually took the title pharaoh. They crushed rebellions, gained new territory, regulated irrigation, and encouraged trade, bringing increased prosperity. From the time of Menes to almost 300 B.C., about 30 Egyptian dynasties, or families .of rulers, rose and fell. Historians divide this time span into three kingdoms: the Old Kingdom, which lasted from about 2650 to 2180 B.C.; the Middle Kingdom, from about 2040 to 1780 B.C.; and the New Kingdom, which was established about 1570 B.C. The periods between the kingdoms are referred to as intermediate periods.

The Hyksos 
During the second intermediate period, about 1650, much of Egypt fell under the control of an Asiatic people the Hyksos (HIK*sohs) whose horse-drawn chariots overwhelmed the Egyptians. Eventually, a new leader emerged in the city of Thebes who drove the Hyksos out of Egypt and proclaimed the New Kingdom under his own dynasty. Adopting the battle techniques of the Hyksos, the pharaohs of the New Kingdom conquered new territories in Nubia and along the eastern Mediterranean coast, in the process establishing an empire.

From about 1380 to 1362 B.C., Egypt was ruled by the pharaoh Amenhotep (ahm»uhn»HOH»tep) IV. Amenhotep IV tried to replace the traditional Egyptian belief in many gods, a practice known as polytheism, with his own belief in only one god, a practice known as monotheism. The new god was symbolized by the disk of the Sun, called the Aton, and Amenhotep even changed his name to Akhenaton (ahk«NAHT#uhn), or “he who is pleasing to Aton.” Akhenaton’s religious revolution stirred up resentment and the end of his reign was marked by strife between the pharaoh and the priests of the old religious cults. After Akhenaton’s death, the priests regained power and, under the boy- king Tutankhamen (too • tang»KAHM#uhn), they restored the old polytheistic religion in Egypt.

After Akhenaton, few strong pharaohs ruled Egypt. Perhaps the most important exception was Ramses II, sometimes called Ramses the Great, who ruled from about 1279 to 1213 B.C. Ramses’ successors could not hold the empire together, however, and eventually Egyptian power declined.

With the prosperity provided by the Nile’s bounty and protected for the most part from invaders by its geographical location, Egyptian civilization was remarkably stable over the course of its long history.

Anxious to keep track of the Nile floods, the Egyptians developed a remarkably accurate calendar based on the rising and setting of the star Sirius. They also developed a number system based on 10, remarkably similar to the decimal system we use today. They used geometry to calculate how to restore the boundaries of fields after floods, and also to build the pyramids. Egyptian architects and engineers ranked among the best of the ancient world. The Egyptians also learned a great deal about the human body and used this knowledge to treat illnesses and to preserve the bodies of the dead.

At the heart of Egyptian civilization was the Egyptians’ concern with religion. Egyptians believed in many gods, including the idea that the pharaoh himself was a god. The most important of these gods was Amon, or Amon-Re, the king of the gods. They also came to believe in an afterlife and the possibility of achieving immortality after death by preserving the body of someone who had died. To do this, they developed a process known as mummification, which involved removing internal organs and treating the body with chemicals so that it would remain preserved for centuries. Although at first only the pharaoh was treated in this fashion, eventually even ordinary Egyptians hoped to survive after physical death. In later periods, they included copies of the Book of the Dead hymns, prayers, and spells that acted as a kind of guide to the afterlife in people’s tombs. It was largely in an effort to preserve bodies and to safeguard all the articles with which they were buried for the needs of the afterlife that Egyptians spent so much time constructing elaborate tombs like the pyramids. Much of Egyptian art was also devoted to religious themes and to decorating the tombs in which people expected to spend eternity.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ancient World and the First Civilizations & Prehistoric peoples

The First Civilizations

The Emergence of Civilization
“In the beginning human history is a great darkness.” This observation, made twenty-five years ago by a leading world historian, is still true today. Despite great efforts by archaeologists the scientists who study ancient fossils, settlements, and artifacts and other researchers, over the years, we are still forced to reconstruct the story of early human beings before the development of writing from very little evidence. It is a story that depends upon little more than a basketful of human bones, fossils, and artifacts. Yet despite these limitations, through research and new scientific techniques scholars have been able to unearth a great deal of information about the emergence and early development of civilization. Most scholars refer to this period before the invention of writing as prehistory.

Prehistoric peoples. Archaeologists have found evidence that humanlike creatures first appeared on Earth millions of years ago. At some point, probably between 300,000 and 200,000 years ago, the species known as Homo sapiens, which includes Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon people as well as all people living today, appeared in Africa. Over thousands of years, the first prehistoric people migrated to many parts of the world.

Scientists today often classify the stages ot human development according to the kinds of tools people 8M used. The Stone Age, the period in which people used tools made primarily of stone, is divided into three parts: the Old Stone Age, or Paleolithic Age; the Middle Stone Age, or Mesolithic Age; and the New Stone Age, or Neolithic Age. These periods lasted different lengths of time in different parts of H the world, depending on when people developed H newer and better stone tools. In general, however, H the Old Stone Age lasted from about 2 million years H ago until about 12,000 years ago. The Middle Stone H Age lasted from about 12,000 to about 10,000 years H ago, and the New Stone Age lasted from about to about 5,000 years ago.

At first, early humans were nomads, moving from I place to place in search of food. These early peoples I seem to have been greatly affected by climatic I changes, particularly the long periods of extremely I cold weather known collectively as the Ice Age. I During the Ice Age, Neanderthals and later Cro-Magnons learned to use fire and to make warm clothing, which helped them survive in colder regions.

During the Ice Age the sea level dropped because so I much water was frozen in the icecaps. As the sea level I fell, land bridges emerged between the continents.

People and animals crossed the land bridges into new territories. In this way, humans spread into all parts of the world.

As people adapted to the changes in their environment, they discovered new ways of living. During the Middle Stone Age, for example, they tamed the dog, and invented the bow and arrow, fishhooks, fish spears, and harpoons made from bones and antlers. More important changes occurred during the New Stone Age. During this period, some Neolithic peoples began settling in permanent villages. Some people learned to grow their own plants, which led to the development of agriculture, and to domesticate, or tame, herd animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs. Depending on local conditions, some people became primarily farmers, while others survived by herding animals.

Agriculture and the domestication of animals changed the basic way people lived. While farmers had to settle in one area, herders often remained partly nomadic, moving with their herds in search of grazing land. In addition, the kind of agriculture people practiced varied from region to region as different plant species were domesticated in different parts of the world. Wheat and barley, for example, originated in Southwest Asia and rice developed in South Asia.

Corn was first cultivated in the Americas, bananas in Southeast Asia, and potatoes in South America. The shift from food gathering to food producing is often called the Neolithic Revolution.

The foundations of civilization. As people learned to farm and began to settle down, they also began to establish towns. Eventually, where conditions were right, people organized themselves on an even larger scale into what we today call civilizations. Most civilizations have at least three characteristics: (1) People have been able to produce surplus food. (2) People have created large towns or cities with some form of government. (3) A division of labor exists, in which different people perform different jobs, instead of each person doing all kinds of work. Some historians also consider the development of a calendar or some form of writing to be characteristic of civilization.

Meanwhile, people were also improving their tools. In particular, they learned to use metals. With the discovery of copper and bronze, some people moved into the Bronze Age. People in the Nile and Tigris-Euphrates River valleys knew how to make bronze jewelry and weapons as early as 5,000 years ago. By about 3,200 years ago, people in southwestern Asia had learned to make iron and to craft tools from it, thereby launching the Iron Age.

Improved farming, made possible by techniques such as irrigation and better tools, caused a surplus ot higher quality food and therefore a healthier and more comfortable life for each person. Improvements in agriculture also led to an increase in population, and some of the early village communities grew to become cities. The large number of people living in cities provided the labor to create great palaces, temples, and other public buildings.

The development of agriculture had significant consequences for family life in early human settlements. At first, women did much of the farming, both planting and harvesting crops. With steady food supplies from agriculture, men hunted less. As women became responsible for much of the food supply, their authority and independence seems to have increased. When the plow was invented, however, men again became the primary food providers and assumed their former dominance in the family.

As farming methods improved, fewer people had to work in the fields in order to produce enough food for all. Some could specialize in other kinds of work. Those skilled in making tools and weapons, for example, could devote all their time to such work, trading their products for the food they needed. Thus a skilled class of craft workers called artisans appeared. Other people became traders and merchants. Traders not only transported goods for sale, but also passed along ideas. We call the spread of aspects of culture from one area to another cultural diffusion. People in the river valleys also developed calendars early in their histories, as they sought to know when to plant and harvest their crops. Writing too developed as civilizations expanded their trade and discovered the need to keep records. By developing written language, the early river valley civilizations created a record of their culture and society  the era of recorded history had begun.

The first civilizations that we know of developed in or around four great river valleys: the Nile Valley in Africa; the Tigris-Euphrates Valley in southwest Asia; the Indus Valley in south Asia; and the Huang He, or Yellow River Valley in east Asia. Farming in these river valleys depended on irrigation. Farmers had to get water from the rivers to their fields during the dry season. They had to control floods, so that their crops were not washed away. Building large irrigation and flood control projects required a high level ot cooperation. Governments may have developed gradually as a result of such cooperation. To work together effectively, people made rules to govern their behavior and to plan, direct, and regulate their work.

Geography and World History

Geography and World History: An Introduction
World History: People and Nations tells the story of the world's people from the very earliest times to the present. History describes the events that make up this story, while geography describes the places in which the events take place. History, then, represents the unfolding drama of people and events through the ages. Geography describes the stage on which this drama is played out. History and geography are so intertwined that to separate them would leave the story only partially told.

History and Geography
Even though history and geography are closely related, they are still two distinct subjects. The basic difference between them may be stated quite simply. As you study history, you acquire an orientation to time; as you study geography, you acquire an orientation to space. Geographers organize their thoughts with respect to spatial arrangements and distributions over Earth's surface. Historians, on the other hand, organize their ideas with respect to time.

Although history is mostly concerned with time, and geography mostly with space, each subject employs aspects of the other as analytical tools. Historians know full well that events occur in places as well as in time. Events, like people, are widely distributed across Earth. In other words, events have a spatial, or geographic, dimension. And geographers, in examining distributions and arrangements throughout the world today, find that they often must look back to a period in time in order to explain these current patterns.

World History: People and Nations tells the story of the world's history. Geography helps to bring this story into focus. Therefore, understanding the special themes and tools of geography will be of great value to you as you read and think about the great personalities and events of the past.


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