Journey Across Time: The Early Ages Summary

Introduction

Journey Across Time: The Early Ages provides an in-depth look at the ancient world and beyond. The textbook begins with a look at the shift from nomadic hunting and gathering to sedentary agriculturalism. An examination of what is needed for a civilization to prosper is given, touching on job specialization and the invention of tools in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Israel, and Egypt. Special attention is paid to the development of government and social organization.

The classical world is explored through the lens of Greek and Roman history. The rise of cultural and intellectual aspects of these civilizations is analyzed and special attention is paid to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Additionally, the birth of Jesus and the rise of Christianity are a special focus as the impact of religion throughout the Mediterranean is considered.

The role of religion in the ancient world is explored through the development of Indian and Chinese civilizations. These cultures are analyzed in terms of their political structures as well as the development of Hinduism and Buddhism and the role that these religions played in their respective cultures. Also covered is the life of Mohammed and the development of Islam and the ensuing Islamic empire.

The Middle Ages are looked at in terms of Chinese, African, and Japanese civilizations. Medieval Europe is also covered including the role of the church, feudalism, and the Crusades. Finally, the development of civilization in the Americas and Renaissance Europe are covered in the last section of the text.

Journey Across Time: The Early Ages also offers a "Skillbuilder Handbook," which offers hints on notetaking, outlining, and drawing inferences. A number of primary sources are included, such as excerpts from the Talmud, Pericles's Funeral Oration, and the Magna Carta. "Tools of the Historian" are included to help students better understand the history presented in the text. Finally, themes of history and geography are also covered, including location, place, human/environment interaction, movement, and region.

Journey Across Time: The Early Ages Summary

Chapter 1: The First Civilizations

The modern world can attribute its understanding of the prehistoric and ancient world to the work of historians, archaeologists and anthropologists. Over time, these researchers have studied the behavior of humans, their interaction with the environment as well as the development of tools and language. Historians study the past by looking at written records which were first kept around 5500 years ago. However, prehistory, events which occurred before the invention of writing, is just as important and can tell us a great deal. Archaeology is a precise science which requires a particular skill set and specialized tools to find evidence of past civilizations underground. Anthropologists examine human behavior through art, artifacts and other evidence that demonstrates their relations to one another.

Early humans are described in terms of their survival strategies. The nomadic hunters and gatherers moved from place to place following their food; this was not a sustainable way of life. Fire proved to be a critical element in the survival of the paleolithic people, allowing them to survive the Ice Ages (approximately 100,000 BCE to 8000 BCE). Taming fire allowed people to adapt to their cold environment by providing warmth, light, a way to cook food, and a defense against predatory animals.

The Neolithic Age began circa 8000 BCE when nomadic groups became sedentary and learned to farm. This way of life proved to be much more practical and far more sustainable than the nomadic lifestyle. The greatest advance of this era was the domestication of plants and animals. Neolithic era people used animals for their meat, milk, hide in addition to using them for work such as pulling plows. Being sedentary also allowed people to specialize in jobs, develop tools and build more permanent shelters. Once sedentary groups became skilled, their groups grew into villages; most notable among the first villages were Jericho and Catal Huyuk.

Spotlighted in this chapter is Otzi the Iceman, a neolithic era man found in the Alps by two hikers in 1991. Otzi is notable for several reasons. First, Otzi carried a Bronze Age axe which was considerably more advanced than the era in which he lived. Second, Otzi's death remains a mystery; was he caught in an unexpected storm, killed by another human or the victim of an accident? Additionally, Otzi's clothing and possessions have taught us a great deal about the ingenuity of Neolithic Era man.

Mesopotamia is one of the world's oldest civilizations. Variously known as the Cradle of Civilization, the Fertile Crescent and the Land Between Two Rivers, Mesopotamia was nestled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is modern-day Iraq. The early empire was divided into city-states which often fought one another. The Sumerians, Assyrians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and others vied for control of the region. Mesopotamian city-states were governed by rulers who gained their power through dynastic succession and believed that their reign was divinely sanctioned.

Religion played a significant role in Mesopotamian culture. The people were polytheistic and believed that the gods were in control of virtually every aspect of their lives from the success of their crops to beneficial or harmful weather. Sacrifices and offerings were made daily at the local step-pyramid temples (ziggurats).

Social structure was important to the Mesopotamians and there was no real chance for upward mobility. Society was divided into three social strata: the upper class which included government and religious leaders, the middle class which included artisans, farmers and merchants, and the lower class which was comprised of slaves.

The legacies of ancient Mesopotamia include the first legal code (the Code of Hammurabi), the first system of writing (cuneiform), base-60 math, the sundial, the plow, irrigation and the wheel.

Chapter 2: Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt was a prosperous civilization characterized by a strong sense of religion, a stable government and vibrant arts.

Situated along the Nile in a fertile river valley, the Egyptians' geography was tremendously beneficial. Agriculture began along the Nile circa 5000 BCE. The Nile is the world's longest river, measuring over 4000 miles; it is the only river in the world that flows from south to north. The Nile River is characterized by cataracts, swiftly moving rapids, which proved an excellent natural defense. Other natural defenses included the delta marshes in the north, borders created by the Mediterranean and Red Seas, and vast desert land. Unlike the Mesopotamians who were unable to predict the flood cycles of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Egyptians successfully predicted when they needed to plant, irrigate and harvest their crops along the Nile. One of their ingenious inventions was the shadoof, a bucket affixed to long poles, which allowed them to collect water from the Nile and move it to the basins. The Nile also provided natural resources which were important to the civilization. Egyptians harvested the papyrus that grew along the banks of the Nile and used it to make baskets, rafts and sandals. They also learned to dry it into a paper-like product which is what they used to write on. Egypt's stable food source yielded a surplus which allowed the Egyptians to specialize in other kinds of jobs and to develop new skills. The majority of Egyptians were artisans, merchants and craftspeople.

Such success required a stable government to oversee activity and society in general. Initially, Egypt was broken up into villiages which were led by chiefs. Eventually, however, Egypt split into two separate kingdoms: Upper and Lower Egypt. These two regions were ultimately united by Narmer (also known as Menes) around 3100 BCE. In order not to alienate either kingdom, Narmer wore the double crown which was made up of Upper Egypt's white crown and Lower Egypt's red crown. Narmer began a long history of dynastic succession in ancient Egypt which lasted for nearly three thousand years and saw thirty-one dynasties.

Ancient Egypt had a highly organized and clearly delineated social structure. The pharaoh was atop the social hierarchy followed by the priests and nobles. Below this group were traders, artisans, shopkeepers and scribes who were above farmers and herders. Unskilled workers and slaves were at the bottom of the social hierarchy. In ancient Egypt, education was rare. Girls were taught how to care for a household and boys learned skills for their given trades from their fathers. Although Egypt was very much a patriarchy, women did have some rights.

Egypt's Old Kingdom lasted from 2600 BCE until 2300 BCE. It was during this era that the Egyptians developed a strong sense of religion and the afterlife. In fact, the culture was obsessed with preparations for life after death; almost as soon as a pharaoh ascended the throne, preparations for his pyramid began. The Egyptians were polytheistic and believed that the pharaoh was a living embodiment of one of the gods. They believed that the gods controlled both natural and human behavior.

The Middle Kingdom (1975-1640 BCE) started after a time of chaos, disorganization and non-native rule called the First Intermediate Period (2125-1975 BCE). The Middle Kingdom era was characterized by a flourishing of the arts including painting, sculpture and elaborate architecture. This golden age was brought to an end when an Asiatic people known as the Hyksos invaded, precipitating the Second Intermediate Period (1630-1520 BCE).

The New Kingdom (1539-1075 BCE) was characterized by several notable pharaohs. This era saw the reign of Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh. She proved to be an excellent leader whose reign was peaceful; however, she was overthrown by her stepson, Thutmose III, who led aggressive wars of conquest. Other significant rulers included Tutankhamen and Ramses II. In 760 BCE, the people of Kush invaded and took over Egypt which led to its ultimate fall.

The legacies of ancient Egypt are vast. Their advances in medicine were among the earliest to identify medicines and other treatments. The mathematical discoveries used in their architecture remain in use today.

Chapter 3: The Ancient Israelites

The history of ancient Israel is told in this chapter beginning with the first Israelites and then exploring the kingdom of Israel and the growth of Judaism.

Judaism is the world's oldest monotheistic religion. It began when Abraham, the patriarch, made a covenant with God. He led his people out of Ur in Mesopotamia and into Canaan, their promised land, where they were to settle as God's chosen people. As monotheists, the Israelites stood out at a time when virtually everyone with whom they came into contact practiced some version of polytheism. This difference made the Israelites a target in the ancient world where they were persecuted, enslaved and even killed.

The ancient Israelites were nomadic herders and traders who spoke Hebrew. According to biblical tradition, the Israelites left for Egypt in search of a more favorable climate after a severe drought in Canaan. Once they arrived, however, they were enslaved by the pharaoh. In order to prevent a rebellion, the pharaoh demanded that all Israelite baby boys be thrown into the Nile. One mother hid her son along the riverbank. He was found by the pharaoh's daughter who named him Moses. As an adult, Moses saw a burning bush and heard the voice of God telling him to lead his people out of Egypt. Moses appealed to the pharaoh who refused to free the Israelites. God sent a series of ten plagues which were so insufferable that the pharaoh finally acquiesced and freed Moses and his followers. This is known as the Exodus. On their return to Canaan, the Israelites traveled through the Sinai Desert. Atop Mount Sinai, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God which would serve as the Torah, the laws by which the Israelites would live.

Around 1000 BCE, the Israelites had to fight the Philistines who had been living in Canaan. In order to defeat them, the Israelites realized that they needed a leader to unite them against a common enemy. The first king of the Israelites was Saul. Although he successfully defeated the Israelites' enemies, he disobeyed some of God's commands; therefore, God commanded the Israelites to choose another king. David succeeded Saul as king and was a highly effective warrior. David expelled the Philistines once and for all and also conquered some of the surrounding lands, thus creating an empire. In order to maintain his empire and make Jerusalem into a thriving capital, David heavily taxed the Israelites. When he died, he was succeeded by his son, Solomon, who followed through on his father's dream of building a great temple.

The Israelites eventually split up into two groups, the kingdom of Israel in the north and the smaller kingdom of Judea in the south. Both, however, were threatened by their powerful Mesopotamian neighbors. Ultimately, Israel was conquered by the Assyrians and Judah by the Chaldeans. In 586 BCE, King Nebuchadnezzar captured and destroyed Jerusalem and enslaved the Jews. In addition, he destroyed the Great Temple.

While captive in Babylon, the Jews continued to practice their religion and began to record their history and beliefs in writing. When the Persians defeated the Chaldeans, the Jews returned to Judah where they rebuilt Jerusalem and the Great Temple. The Jews' faith determined their lifestyle in terms of education, food, clothes, and family life. Because reading the Torah was an important aspect of Jewish life, religious teachers became the leaders of Jewish communities. Jews could only eat kosher food and wear one kind of fabric.

The Jews encountered another round of opposition when the Romans conquered Judah in 63 BCE. Yet again, the Jews were persecuted and their valiant revolt was crushed. For the next 2000 years, most Jews lived outside of their Promised Land. However, following the end of World War II and the Holocaust, the United Nations divided Palestine and gave part of it to the Jews; hence, in 1948, Israel was reborn.

Chapter 4: The Ancient Greeks

It could be argued that the Greeks had the greatest influence of any ancient civilization on the development of the modern world. Their advances in literature, philosophy, art and architecture remain ubiquitous influences world-wide.

The development of Greek culture was heavily influenced by its geographic location. Whereas the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations sprang up in river valleys, Greek culture developed amid a rocky, mountainous peninsula. Greece is surrounded by the Ionian, Mediterranean and Aegean Seas; these surroundings naturally lent themselves to the rise of an economy based on sailing, trading and fishing. The soil, however, was not conducive to farming, so the Greeks relied heavily on trade to obtain a lot of what they needed. Because of the mountainous landscape, the Greek city-states were all fiercely independent.

The Minoans were a people native to the island of Crete. The Minoans were successful traders and sailed as far away as Egypt and Syria. They traded the pottery they made for the metals and ivory, materials which were not indigenous to Crete. Circa 1900 BCE, the Mycenaeans, who were originally from central Asia, invaded Greece and ultimately became their first kings. These early kingdoms were centered around a fortified hilltop palace. Government officials collected taxes from artisans, farmers and merchants. Eventually, the Minoans sailed to the Greek mainland and the two cultures began to trade. Ultimately, the Mycenaeans surpassed the Minoans as the strongest seafaring people in the Mediterranean. Their most significant victory took place during the legendary Trojan War. By 1100 BCE, however, the Mycenaean civilization collapsed, giving way to the Dark Ages.

During the ancient Greece's Dark Ages, the culture grew only enough food to get by and did not maintain a food surplus. Craftsmen stopped teaching others their skills and people virtually ceased reading and writing. A great shift in population occurred, resulting in many people moving to the islands throughout the Aegean and to Asia Minor. The Dorians who had inhabited northern Greece for many years began to move south and settled in the Peloponnesus. They brought with them their technology including weapons and farming tools which allowed the culture to develop a food surplus. One result of this was that there was an increase in trade which brought a new written language to Greece from the Phoenicians.

Between 750 and 550 BCE, the Greeks colonized Italy, North Africa, France, Spain and western Asia. Not only did they conquer more land but they spread Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean. City-states called polises arose and varied in size and population. The people living in the polis ran the government; thus, the Greeks were the first civilization to promote the idea of citizenship. Native-born, free, land-owning males were considered citizens and had rights and privileges. Slaves, women and foreign-born residents were not considered citizens and had no rights or responsibilities.

The two most powerful poleis in ancient Greece were Sparta and Athens. Sparta focused solely on citizens' physical development while Athens emphasized the intellectual development of its citizens. Sparta had the greatest and most powerful military in Greece. Boys were trained to serve beginning at age seven while girls were trained in sports and learned how to become healthy wives and mothers. Sparta's government was an oligarchy in which a few people held power. Athens, in contrast, boasted a direct democracy in which its citizens participated directly in governing the polis. Education was of paramount importance to the Athenians; philosophy, math, science, literature and theater were of particular importance.

Direct democracy worked in ancient Athens because the polis was somewhat small; usually, only 6000 of the 43,000 male citizens attended meetings which were held every ten days. Pericles was the great Athenian statesman who was responsible for the golden age of Athens. He patronized the arts, architects, philosophers and writers of his day.

The Greeks' nemesis, however, was Persia. Cyrus the Great successfully united the Persians into a strong army which handily defeated much of Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Canaan, Egypt and India. Darius succeeded Cyrus in 521 BCE and turned his focus towards the Greeks whom they had encountered in the Mediterranean. The result was the Persian Wars which ultimately contributed to the downfall of the Persian Empire in 330 BCE.

Greece also experienced internal conflict as well. The Peloponnesian War was fought mainly between Athens and Sparta. Sparta and her allies defeated Athens with the help of their one-time enemy, the Persians. Conflict continued, however, and the Greeks, too busy fighting each other, failed to notice the powerful force that was located north of them in Macedonia.

Chapter 5: Greek Civilization

Ancient Greek culture was characterized by a flourishing of literature, art and architecture. The Greeks were polytheistic and believed that their gods controlled both nature and events in people's lives. Religion was so important to the Greeks that the majority of their building projects were temples. The Greeks believed that the twelve most important gods (Olympians) resided atop Mt. Olympus. These deities included Zeus (king of the gods and the sky), Hera (goddess of marriage), Hades (god of the underworld), Poseidon (god of the sea), Hestia (goddess of the home), Artemis (goddess of the hunt), Apollo (god of light), Hermes (the gods' messenger), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty and love), Ares (god of war) and Athena (goddess of wisdom).The Greeks' created myths to explain things like the change in seasons and how souls got to the underworld. In order to keep the gods happy, the Greeks made offerings and sacrifices at temples and celebrated festivals honoring the gods.

In addition, the Greeks consulted the oracle, the most famous of which was located at Delphi. The Greeks believed that the oracle could tell people what their destiny or fate was as well as what their future held. Often, the oracle's answers came in the form of riddles which were difficult for people to decipher or interpret.

Greek literature was varied. The oldest stories were told as epics in which a hero endures a long and difficult journey. The most famous Greek epics were the Iliad and the Odyssey, both of which are attributed to the blind poet, Homer. These epics tell the story of the Trojan War and Odysseus' return home from the war. The complex narratives are important reflections of ancient Greek society and its values. In addition, they teach lessons about courage, valor, friendship and relationships. Another form of Greek literature is the fable. Created circa 550 BCE by a slave named Aesop, these short stories used animals who spoke and acted like people in order to teach important lessons and communicate morals. Aesop's fables were passed down orally for more than two centuries.

Drama was another critical element of Greek culture. The Greeks were the first in the Western world to invent tragedies and comedies. The Greeks performed these plays in outdoor theaters throughout the land, usually in conjunction with religious festivals. Some of the best-known playwrights were Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides who wrote tragedies; Aristophanes was the most celebrated comedic playwright. The main questions addressed in Greek drama include:

  1. What is the nature of good and evil?
  2. What rights should people have?
  3. What role do gods play in our lives?

Greek art and architecture also reflect the values of Greek cultures. The inherent themes include balance, moderation, and harmony. Greek buildings generally had one of three column types: doric, ionic, or corinthian. Greek vases also reveal a great deal about Greek culture and ideas; typically, vases were either red with black figure painting or black with red figure painting. Finally, Greek sculpture often emphasizes physical perfection and careful attention to detail.

Greek philosophy ("love of wisdom") developed in the fifth century BCE. Philosophy gave way to advancements in history, political science, science, and math. Different schools of of philosophies began to develop. The Sophists traveled from polis to polis teaching that there was no absolute right and wrong. Socrates, however, disagreed with the Sophists' ideas. He asserted that there was absolute truth for each person. He also developed the Socratic Method which was learning by asking questions. Plato was most interested in government and his most famous work was The Republic. He believed that society should be ruled by philosopher-kings who, he thought, were the only ones qualified to lead others. Whereas Plato established the Academy in Athens, Aristotle opened the Lyceum, a peripatetic school. In short, Aristotle believed that everything should be done in moderation.

Greek historians include Herodotus ("the father of history") and Thucydides. Both chronicled wars, government and human activities. While Herodotus believed that events in history were effected by the gods, Thucydides believed that humans controlled and were responsible for their own actions.

Circa 359 BCE, Philip II of Macedonia decided to invade Greece and took over the land, polis by polis. Upon Philip's death, his son, Alexander assumed the throne at the age of twenty. Alexander conquered more land in the twelve years he ruled than anyone else in the world had to date; in fact, he extended his empire as far east as India. Taught by Aristotle, Alexander the Great had a healthy respect for history and the other cultures he encountered. Alexander died in 323 BCE at the age of thirty-two in Babylon having conquered the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Persians, among others.

Chapter 6: Early India

Like ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, ancient India began in a fertile river valley. A subcontinent, India has a dynamic geography. Bordered to the north by the Himalaya Mountains, the highest mountains in the world, and by the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal to the south, India also has two significant rivers: the Ganges and the Indus. India is also home to the dry Deccan Plateau and lush plains. The Indian climate, however, is plagued by monsoons in both winter and summer.

Indian civilization first sprang up near the Indus River around 3000 BCE. Like the Nile River in Egypt, when the Indus flooded, it left behind rich, fertile soil which was excellent for farming. Such beneficial conditions led to a food surplus and job specialization. This early settlement was home to over a thousand towns and villages and lasted for approximately 1500 years. A great deal has been learned about this early culture by examining the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, the region's two major cities.

Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were well-planned cities that boasted populations of nearly 35,000. Neighborhoods were surrounded by walls and a fortress allowed for the overall defense of the city. Houses were made of mud brick and had flat roofs; each home centered around a courtyard. The Harappan civilization was quite advanced; homes had indoor bathrooms and a subterranean sewer system that drained waste outside of the city walls. The majority of Harappans were farmers whose crops included wheat, barley, rice, cotton and peas. Artisans made tools out of copper and bronze, pottery and cloth.

Despite such technological advances, the Harappans had no written language and, as a result, no written records from their time exist. Based on the architectural remains of this culture, however, archaeologists and historians believe that government and religion were intertwined based on the proximity of the royal palace to the temple.

Evidence of trade with Mesopotamia dating back to 2200 BCE is evident in archaeological evidence. While some traders traveled over land, others sailed the Arabian Sea. By 1500 BCE, Harappan culture fell. Some believe that the demise of this prosperous civilization was the result of natural disasters including earthquakes and floods.

The Aryans were an Indo-European people who ultimately settled in India and Iran. The Aryans' most prized possession was cattle. Not only did they provide meat, milk and butter, but they were even used as currency. The amount of cattle one had determined his wealth. The Aryans' metalworking skills allowed them to improve agriculture by inventing the iron plow; they were highly productive farmers. Around 2000 BCE, the Aryans crossed the Hindu Kush mountain range and entered the Indus River Valley. By 1000 BCE, they migrated across the Punjab and Ganges Plains. The Aryans also brought a new language, Sanskrit, to India. Songs, stories, poetry and prayers were written down, leaving  an excellent record of their culture.

The Aryans were organized by tribes and each tribe was led by a prince or raja. These small kingdoms often fought one another for power, land and resources. Such divisions also characterized the rest of Aryan society. The caste system was the Aryan social hierarchy which kept each social class separate from the others. The caste system determined one's job, education, marriage and peer group. The caste system let everyone know where they were in society and allowed the Aryans to stay in control. Priests topped the caste system followed by warriors and rulers. Commoners were the largest group, just above the unskilled laborers and servants. Finally, the untouchables or pariahs were total outcasts and were isolated in Aryan society.

Two of the world's oldest religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, were born in India. Hinduism has thousands of deities though they are all considered a part of a universal spirit called Brahman. Hinduism's beliefs and practices are chronicled in the Upanishads, the religion's sacred text. Hindus also believe in the idea of reincarnation and karma. Buddhism was founded circa 600 BCE by Siddhartha Gautama. This religion is focused on ending suffering and attaining nirvana or enlightenment. Buddhists are guided by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The first Indian empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 321 BCE. He set up a strong military, a centralized government and a postal system to facilitate communication. The Gupta Empire succeeded the Mauryan Dynasty after 500 years of disorder and weak leaders.

India's legacies include two epic poems, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the concept of zero and infinity as well as a number system, and also scientific and medical advances.

Chapter 7: Early China

Ancient China's geography, like virtually every other civilization, had a significant impact on the development of its culture. Inhabitants chose to settle mainly along the Huang He (Yellow) River and the Chang Jiang River. Floods were both beneficial and detrimental to the people; although many homes were destroyed, the floods also left behind a great deal of rich and fertile soil. These river valleys were virtually the only parts of China that were suitable for farming; most of the rest of the country was mountainous or desert-like.

Like the ancient Egyptians, the Chinese also ruled through a series of dynasties. The Huange He valley was the first area to be civilized and it was probably ruled by the Xia dynasty about which little is known. The kings of the Shang dynasty ruled from 1750 BCE until 1045 BCE. The first Shang king ruled a small settlement in northern China. Later kings of this dynasty extended their rule to include most of the Hunag He valley. Warlords were empowered throughout the land to enforce the king's rule and help him stay in power. Inhabitants of the Shang dynasty were mainly farmers, traders or craftspeople. They worshipped gods and spirits, fearing that if they were not treated well that a terrible fate might befall them. They also believed it was critical to honor their ancestors who would bring them good luck. Like the Greeks, the Shang kings believed that they could learn about their future by seeking the guidance of an oracle. In fact, the earliest examples of writing in ancient Chinese culture come from the messages interpreted by the priests which were inscribed on bone. Ancient Chinese writing began as pictographs, characters which represented objects. Ideographs, which joined two ideas together, were also used.

The Zhou dynasty succeeded the Shang after an aristocrat, Wu Wang, led a rebellion against the Shang. The Zhou dynasty thrived for 800 years. The dynasty was characterized by a large bureaucracy which supported the king who the people believed served as a link between heaven and earth. The Zhou believed that their kings ruled because of the Mandate of Heaven. This mandate worked in two different ways. First, the people expected the king to rule in accordance with the dao (way). Second, the mandate gave the people rights, including the right to overthrow corrupt leaders. The Zhou dynasty also witnessed many technological advances that allowed them to irrigate and farm more effectively. The Zhou dynasty also witnessed a rise in trade and manufacturing; the most significant item was silk. The Zhou dynasty fell circa 221 BCE after two hundred years of fighting.

Chinese society was divided into social classes. At the top of the hierarchy were the landowning aristocrats followed by the peasant farmers who were above the merchants. The family was an important element of ancient Chinese society. Families practiced filial piety which meant that the young had to respect their elders. As was typically the case in the ancient world, Chinese society was patriarchal. At every level in society, men ruled.

Ancient China is perhaps best known for the development of three philosophies: Confuscianism, Daoism and Legalism. These philosophies arose during the Period of the Warring States between 500 and 200 BCE. Confuscianism was based on the idea that people needed to have a sense of duty to their family and to their society. Daoism focused on the idea of a peaceful society in which people should give up their desires and instead dedicate themselves to nature and the Dao. In contrast to Confuscianism which focused on the greater good, Daoism emphasized inner peace and harmony. Finally, Legalism promoted the idea of strict laws rather than the idea that men could bring peace to the land. Hanfeizi, the scholar who first promoted the ideas of Legalism, believed that people were inherently evil and that they needed stiff penalties and punishments. Legalism "favored force and power, and did not require rulers to show kindness or understanding. Its ideas led to the cruel laws and punishments often used to control Chinese farmers."

One of the states which ignored the Zhou kings between 400 and 200 BCE was Qin. Qin Shihuangdi based his rule on Legalism and fortified the central government. In addition, he created a common currency, and united the empire through roads and canals. In order to keep invaders out, Qin had the Great Wall of China built  which still stands today. However, Qin's rule was not popular among the Chinese people. Many believed that he was a harsh leader and several attempts were made on his life.

The Han dynasty began in 202 BCE and reached its peak under the rule of Han Wudi who encouraged the idea of civil service. The Han dynasty also experienced unprecedented technological growth. Waterwheels, drill bits and steel were invented as was paper. The ancient art of acupuncture was also invented. Perhaps the most significant development, however, was the creation of the Silk Road. This 4000 mile network connected trade routes and resulted in a valuable trade economy. Merchants who made their way to China along the Silk Road also brought with them Buddhism, which, some believe, ultimately led to the fall of the Han dynasty.

Chapter 8: The Rise of Rome

The geography of ancient Rome played a significant role in the empire's development. Located strategically in the Mediterranean and bordered by the Alps to the north, Rome had excellent natural defenses and resources. Unlike its neighbor, Greece, Italy was not as mountainous which meant that cities and towns were not as isolated. Italy also had much greater potential for agriculture which allowed for the sustaining of a larger population. Rome, located about fifteen miles up the Tiber River, was founded atop seven hills.

Early Roman civilization was influenced largely by the Greeks and Etruscans who settled there as well. Skilled craftsmen, the Etruscans were largely responsible for the creation of temples, buildings and central squares throughout Rome. The Etruscans ruled Rome as monarchs for over a century. However, when Tarquin the Proud, the last Etruscan king, was overthrown, the Roman republic was born.

The Romans conquered all of Italy, Greece and beyond. The Romans were excellent soldiers, having taken the Greek military formations and strategies and improved upon them. The Romans built a network of roads connecting their major cities and towns to facilitate movement. Once the Romans conquered an area, they allowed the natives to rule themselves so long as they paid taxes to Rome.

Romans belonged to one of two social classes; the patricians were the wealthy nobles in the ruling class and the plebians were the lower, working class. Although men in both classes were considered citizens which allowed them the right to vote and the responsibility to pay taxes and serve in the military, plebians were not allowed to serve in the government. The top government officials were the consuls of whom there were two. The consuls could keep one another in check since they each had the power to veto the other. Praetors served as judges whose responsibilities included interpreting laws. The Senate, however, was probably the most important group in Roman government. The Senate was made up of 300 men whose terms lasted as long as they lived. The Senate's power grew over the years and ultimately the group was responsible for proposing laws, debating issues and moving ahead building projects. Upset by their lack of power, in 494 B.C.E. the plebians rebelled and went on strike. Knowing that they would be unable to run the country without the plebians' taxes or military participation, the patricians acquiesced and allowed the plebians to set up the Council of the Plebs so that their interests were represented.

Circa 450 B.C.E., Rome established a set of laws called the Twelve Tables. These laws were carved on bronze tablets and displayed them at the Forum for all to see. The laws, however, applied only to Roman citizens, and not to those living in Roman colonies or conquered lands. Many of the ideas in the Twelve Tables were the basis for the United States' Constitution; for example, the Romans were the first to promote the idea that one is innocent until proven guilty.

The chief enemy of the Roman republic was the city of Carthage in North Africa. Initially founded as a Phoenician colony, Carthage was another powerful trading entity. Between 264 B.C.E. and 202 B.C.E., Rome fought Carthage in the Punic Wars, a series of battles which ultimately gave them control of the Mediterranean and all of its trade routes. In addition to Carthage, Rome also fought Macedonia in a series of battles.

Social unrest continued as did conflict between the plebians and patricians in Rome. Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus (also referred to as the Gracchii) worked hard for land reforms that would benefit the plebians, many of whom had lost their land to the development of latifundia, large estates which were controlled by the patricians. The Gracchus brothers attempted to take back some of the land and return it to the plebians so that they could farm and make a living. The patricians were so opposed to giving land back to the plebians that they went as far as to murder the Gracchus brothers.

Another advocate of the plebians was Julius Caesar. Having risen to power through his military conquests, Caesar formed the First Triumvirate with Pompey and Crassus, both of whom were also successful military leaders. Caesar overshadowed his colleagues and was ultimately offered the crown, though he rejected it three times. A group of conspirators who feared that Caesar was too ambitious murdered him on the Ides (15th) of March in 44 B.C.E. Following his assassination, Rome was once again embroiled in civil war and eventually the Second Triumvirate emerged. This group included Octavian, Antony and Lepidus. They, too, could not agree on anything so Lepidus retired from politics and Octavian and Antony fell into conflict. Octavian emerged victorius and in 27 B.C.E., assumed the title Augustus meaning "revered or majestic one." Rome soon found itself to be an empire.

Augustus ushered in the Pax Romana, a two-hundred year period of peace and prosperity. During Augustus' reign, there were more than fifty million inhabitants in the Roman Empire. Augustus maintained his empire by fairly and equitably taxing its inhabitants. When Augustus died, he was succeeded by the Julio-Claudian emperors who included Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. Nero committed suicide after his reign, leaving Rome leaderless. At the beginning of the second century C.E., however, the "Good Emperors" took the throne expanding Rome to its greatest size. The empire enjoyed a strong economy, stable leadership and tremendous growth.

Chapter 9: Roman Civilization

Ancient Roman culture was rooted largely in Greek culture. However, whereas "the Greeks loved to talk about ideas, to the Romans, ideas were only important if they could solve everyday problems."

As far as Roman art, though their architecture was quite similar, their sculpture was markedly different. While the Greeks focused on rendering perfect human forms in their sculpture, the Romans were more concerned with a realistic depiction of the subject "including wrinkles, warts, and other less attractive features." What the Romans added to architecture, however, was the arch and the dome. This allowed them to use fewer materials which also kept costs down. The Romans were also the first to use concrete for building which was not only sturdy and capable of bearing a great deal of weight, but also was inexpensive to make. Among the most notable Roman structures are the Colosseum and the Pantheon.

The Greeks were also an inspiration when it came to literature. The poet Virgil penned the Aeneid, an epic poem chronicling one version of the founding of Rome. Another poet, Horace, is noted for his satirical work as well as his odes. Ovid's work is based largely on Greek mythology. Finally, Livy is Rome's greatest historian. In 10 BCE, he authored History of Rome which describes Rome's ascent to prominence in the Mediterranean.

The Romans also made some notable scientific and mathematical advancements. The study of anatomy was important to Roman physicians, especially Galen who made some significant discoveries about the human body by dissecting animals. Ptolemy mapped the planets and stars, and, although he believed that the earth was at the center of the universe, he did make some important contributions to science and, in particular, astronomy.

Rome boasted a population of over one million when the empire began in 27 BCE. Daily life centered around the forum, a central square and market which also had temples and public buildings. While the city was overcrowded and dirty, the countryside was dotted with estates owned by the wealthy patricians. The plebians' homes and apartments were usually in disrepair and shoddy condition while the patricians' homes were centered around an atrium and had plenty of space. This inequity proved to be a point of contention between the two social classes. In order to keep peace, the Roman government provided "bread and circuses" for the people. Essentially, this amounted to free grain and entertainment which the government believed was a small price to pay for social stability.

Roman families were patriarchal and often multigenerational. Patrician boys went to school and were educated about rhetoric, literature and writing. When boys were between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, they celebrated a rite of passage by becoming a man in Roman society. Depending on their family, boys of that age might have joined the army, apprenticed in the family business or get involved in the government.

Although ancient Roman women were not considered citizens, they did enjoy some rights. Roman women were allowed to own and sell land and run a business; these rights were in stark contrast to the plight of the Greek woman who had no rights at all. Slavery was common throughout the empire. Slaves were people whose native land had been conquered. Most often, the work of slaves included toiling in the fields, mining and caring for citizens' homes. Those slaves who had been well-educated prior to their captivity were allowed to earn money which they could use to buy their freedom.

The Romans were polytheistic and adopted many of the gods in the Greek pantheon. Their religious practices included sacrifices and offerings, similar to those used by the Greeks. As the empire grew, however, Romans came into contact with more and more religions such as Judaism and, later, Christianity.

The fall of Rome cannot be attributed to any one cause. The decline of this once great empire was precipitated by a weak government, social unrest, an unstable economy, the rise of Christianity and the invasion of barbarian tribes. While the western half fell into disarray, the eastern half not only survived but thrived and became the Byzantine empire.

The Byzantine Empire's capital was established in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). Christianity was the official religion of the Byzantine Empire which united the people, their beliefs and their language (Latin). What had been the eastern portion of the Roman Empire was ruled by efficient, effective rulers like Justinian who unified the military and united the government.

Chapter 10: The Rise of Christianity

Beginning in 63 BCE., the Romans controlled Judaea which had formerly been Judah, one of the kingdoms of Israel. From 66 CE until they were finally defeated in 132 CE, the Jews rebelled against the Romans and fought for the preservation of their beliefs and ways of life. This era was complicated by the birth of Jesus who left his home in Nazareth and began preaching throughout the Roman-occupied lands of Judaea and Galilee. Jesus' teachings became wildly popular and soon he had a close-knit group of twelve followers: his disciples.

Jesus preached that God was going to rule the world and that in preparation for his arrival, people needed to repent for their sins. Jesus also told people that their adherence to Jewish laws was not nearly as crucial as their individual relationship with God. Jesus taught that people should "love your neighbor as yourself," and "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Jesus often taught using parables in which he drew examples from daily life to elucidate his spiritual messages. Among his most famous parables are the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. What was most shocking for some, however, was that Jesus referred to God as his Father and his assertion that he was the Messiah.

Jesus drew the attention of the Roman governor and officials when he performed miracles such as turning wine into water and healing the sick. More than anything else, the Romans feared losing control. Hence, they worried that Jesus would incite an uprising. Circa 33 CE, Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem to observe the Jewish holiday of Passover. At the Passover seder commonly known as the Last Supper, Jesus informed his disciples that one of them would betray him. Betrayed by his disciple Judas, Jesus was arrested by the Romans and charged with treason. Jesus was then crucified, the same punishment administered to lower-class criminals and political dissidents.

Several days after Jesus was removed from the cross, his followers claimed that he had risen from the dead. Belief in Jesus' resurrection marked the start of Christianity, the world's largest religion. The early Christians gathered in churches to study throughout the Mediterranean and pray. Among the earliest and most significant Christian leaders or apostles were Peter and Paul. They preached that "by accepting Jesus and his teachings, people could gain salvation, or be saved from sin, and allowed to enter heaven."

While a number of Roman emperors persecuted the Christians because they feared them, emperors later on grew tolerant of the new religion. One of the reasons that Christianity later gained such popularity in Rome was because it offered the Romans something to believe in at a time when the empire was beginning to crumble. In 312 CE, the emperor Constantine legalized and adopted Christianity. In 313 CE, he drafted the Edict of Milan which granted religious freedom to all Romans.

The early Christian church had a clear hierarchy at the top of which were the patriarchs, followed by the archbishops, bishops, priests and laity. The Christian's sacred text was the New Testament. Comprised of four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, these books tell the story of Jesus' life, ministry, and death.

One of the reasons that Christianity spread so quickly in the first millennium was due in no small part to the stability and prosperity of the Byzantine Empire. Throughout the Empire, church and state were inextricably linked; the people believed that their emperor was a representation of Jesus on earth. The churches of Rome and Constantinople, however, differed significantly on some important issues including the use of icons and how the churches should be run. This conflict led to a schism, resulting in the division between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Chapter 11: Islamic Civilization

The seventh century witnessed a great deal of activity in the Arabian peninsula. Bedouins emerged as successful desert herders who lived off the land and off of the animals they had domesticated. Arab merchants usually traveled by caravan in order to avoid attacks by the Bedouins. The most important town was Mecca which was a hub of trade and spiritual activity.

In 570 CE, Mohammed was born in Mecca. He grew up to be a successful leader of a caravan and merchant who later married and had a family. Circa 610 CE, Mohammed grew dissatisfied with society so he went into seclusion to pray and meditate. Mohammed returned, claiming that he had been visited by an angel who told him to preach Islam, "'surrendering to the will of Allah.'" Mohammed preached around Mecca, urging people to stop worshipping false idols and to live humbly. He said "that wealth was not as important as leading a good life. When the Day of Judgment arrived, he said God would reward the good people and punish the evildoers."

While initially Mohammed's only followers were his family members, eventually his message gained momentum. Experiencing a great deal of persecution, in 622 CE, Mohammed and his followers left Mecca for Medina. This notable pilgrimage is known as the Hijrah, Arabic for "breaking off relationships." While in Medina, Mohammed showed great leadership skills and was accepted by people as God's messenger and prophet. Mohammed, his followers and his army returned to Mecca in 630 CE, where he established the first Muslim state. Mohammed died two years later.

The Quran is Islam's holy text which contains Allah's revelations to Mohammed. Essentially similar to the Bible, the Quran outlines rules by which Muslims are to live including honoring one's parents, showing kindness to neighbors, and alms-giving. Equally important are the Five Pillars of Islam: belief, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage.

After Mohammed's death, his followers chose his successor or caliph. Mohammed's father-in-law, Abu Bakr, was the first caliph. He was the first of the Rightly Guided Caliphs which also included Umar, Uthman and Ali, all of whom were friends or relatives of Mohammed. The next group of caliphs were the Umayyads who expanded Islam througout North Africa, Spain and part of India.

Islam, however, was also plagued by internal disagreements. The Shiites "believed that Ali, Mohammed's son-in-law, should succeed him and that all future caliphs should be Ali's descendants." Sunnis, on the other hand, "outnumbered Shiites, accepted the Umayyad dynasty as rightful caliphs...Over time, the Shiites and Sunnis developed differet religious practices and customs."

The Umayyads were succeeded by the Abbasids who ruled until 1258. The focus of the Abbasids was on "trade, scholarship, and the arts. They also built a new capital, Baghdad." Most notable was the Persian influence that characterized the Abbasids' rule. The Abbasids lost power when they hired the Seljuk Turks to fight on their behalf but were soon overtaken by the Seljuks. The Arab Empire ended when the Mongols took Baghdad in 1258.

Muslim cities like Baghdad, Cairo and Damascus were extremely prosperous as a result of their successful trading. Religious life in these cities was centered around mosques (Muslim houses of worship). Social life, however, centered around bazaars or marketplaces. One's social group was based on one's wealth. At the top of the social hierarchy were government leaders, followed by landowners and then traders. While there was a clear division of labor in Muslim society, women did have rights which was not always the case in the ancient and early modern world.

The legacies of the Muslim world include the realization that the earth was round, a number of medical advances, and many literary works including The Arabian Nights.

Chapter 12: China in the Middle Ages

Following the fall of the Han dynasty, China had no centralized government for three centuries. More divided than ever, China found itself home to seventeen different kingdoms which were plagued by war and poverty. During this period of unrest, the people living on the Korean peninsula decided to reclaim their land after many years of Chinese occupation.

In 581 CE, a warrior named Wendi declared himself emperor and reunited China, founding the Sui dynasty. Wendi was succeeded by his son, Yangdi, who tried to expand China's territory in vain. Yangdi's greatest accomplishment, however, was the construction of the Grand Canal which linked the Chang Jiang and Huang He Rivers. This new trade route was critical to China's economic prosperity. Massive public works like the Grand Canal characterized Yangdi's reign, but at the expense of the people. Farmers who had been forced to work on the project and citizens who had paid heavy taxes to fund it eventually revolted, overthrowing Yangdi and ending the Sui dynasty.

The Tang dynasty began in 618 CE and lasted for 300 years. This era was characterized by a number of reforms in an effort to strengthen the government. The emperor Taizong reinstated the civil service exam to vet out the best government officials in addition to giving land to the farmers. The empress Wu ruled during this period as well. She increased China's military forces and expanded the government. The Tang dynasty also witnessed the expansion of China's empire in terms of land acquisition. China took control of the Silk Road, Tibet and Vietnam. In the mid-eighth century, however, the Chinese encountered resistance from the Turks for control of the Silk Road. Ultimately, this conflict brought about the fall of the Tang dynasty.

In 960 CE, a Chinese general declared himself emperor and began the Song dynasty which remained in power until 1260 CE. The Song dynasty was characterized by cultural prosperity but this was compromised by the fact that the military was not strong enough to defend the empire. Hence, Tibet reclaimed independence and a good deal of northern China was overrun by nomads.

Buddhism was a strong force in the development of Chinese civilization. Although the religion was tolerated by early Tang rulers and monasteries sprang up throughout the empire, many Chinese feared the rising popularity of the religion. In 845 CE, however, later Tang rulers became increasingly uncomfortable with the spread of Buddhism and ultimately had many monasteries and temples destroyed. Tang and Song rulers brought about a new kind of Confuscianism, neo-Confuscianism, in response to the pressure they felt from the growing popularity of Buddhism. Some Tang and Song rulers based their rule on neo-Confuscianism; for example, they established a merit system and reinstated challenging civil-service examinations.

The Tang and Song dynasties were China's golden era in which a great many inventions were developed. Perhaps the most influential of China's inventions was the printing process; the earliest printed book dates to 868 CE. After 1000 CE, Pi Sheng invented the idea of movable print which allowed for mass printing and distribution of books. Other Chinese inventions included gunpowder, large ships with rudders, and the fire lance. Literature and the arts also flourished during this era. Poetry and landscape painting were the most prolific art forms as was porcelain.

Mongolia was an important part of China. The Mongols were tremendous warriors who were also skilled at riding horses. The Mongols were united by Genghis Khan who amassed an army of 100,000 warriors. This strong military conquered peoples and lands across the Asian continent. The Mongols adopted many Chinese inventions including the use of gunpowder which allowed them to continue conquering. Upon his death, his empire was divided up among his four sons. When Kublai Khan died in 1294, the stage was set for a new dynasty.

The Ming dynasty began in 1368. Once again, civil service exams were reinstated, a census was taken, and public works projects were undertaken to repair the damage caused by the Mongols. The fifteenth century also brought about a desire to explore. Hence, fleets of large ships set out to learn about lands beyond their own borders. Chinese explorers reached India, the Persian Gulf, Arabia and Africa. Other cultures had the same idea to explore and in 1514, Portuguese explorers arrived in China. A steady stream of missionaries followed, bringing with them Christianity and novelties such as clocks and eyeglasses. Once again, a Chinese dynasty fell; in 1641, the Manchus defeated the Chinese armies.

Chapter 13: Medieval Africa

The geography of Africa was intimidating to travelers and traders, essentially cutting off the continent from interaction with other cultures and civilizations. However, Northern and Western Africa eventually prospered from trade when people began to form caravans using camels which had been introduced by the Romans. The salt and cloth from North Africa was traded for the gold and ivory native to West Africa. Rulers began to form empires which rivaled European kingdoms in terms of size and wealth.

The first African empire was Ghana which became powerful in the fifth century. Rulers taxed anyone wishing to pass through Ghana en route to somewhere else. This taxation filled Ghana's coffers and brought wealth to the region. Traders were willing to pay the taxes because "Ghana knew how to make iron weapons [and] used these weapons to conquer its neighbors. Although Ghana owned no gold mines, it controlled the people who did." In short, African traders would rather pay than have to fight a strong military force.

Eventually, however, Ghana's power receded. "The discovery of new gold mines outside Ghana's control reduced the taxes it collected. In addition, heavy farming robbed the soil of minerals and made it harder to grow enough crops to feed people." And although Ghana had adopted Islam, the nation

The second kingdom to rise to power was Mali after the fall of Ghana in the thirteenth century. The "Lion Prince," Sundiata Keita, ruled from 1230 to 1255, taking the capital of Ghana in 1240. Conquering the gold mining areas allowed Mali to take control of the gold and salt mining industries. After the death of the last Mali king, Mansa Musa, the Songhai rose to power under the leadership of Sunni Ali. Using his powerful army to conquer lands and peoples along the Niger River, Sunni Ali ultimately built the largest empire in West Africa.

While Ghana, Mali and Songhai ruled the savannahas, other groups ruled the rain forests. The Benin controlled the Niger delta and the Kongo ruled the Congo River basin. The rain forests were rich in natural resources and the land was especially suitable for farming.

East Africa first became powerful around the millennium BCE when Queen Makeda rose to power in Ethiopia. She is even believed to have met with King Solomon of the Israelites. The result of this was the introduction of Judaism to Africa and a small group of Ethiopian Jews. Ethiopia's power was centered in Axum, a powerful city-state on the Red Sea. Axum fought with the Kush for control of the surrounding lands. Circa 300 CE, the Axum king, Ezana, conquered the Kush and converted its people to Christianity.

With the African continent splintered into so many disparate kingdoms, it was critical for the rulers of each kingdom to be well-organized. Most of the African kingdoms were run by a centralized government which also oversaw the smaller, local governments. Throughout the African kingdoms, most aspects of the economy were directly supervised by the king and merchants and traders were taxed accordingly.

As for religion, most Africans believed that there was a supreme being. Religion not only provided some guidance for people to live by but also served as a link to their past. Many Africans believed that the spirits of their deceased ancestors lived on and watched over them. Both Christianity and Islam, however, became widely practiced throughout Africa during the Middle Ages.

African society was rooted in the family; when extended family was included, a family unit could number in the hundreds. Children were honored and respected as a link between the past and the present; some tribes believed that children were born with the spirit of an ancestor. History was transmitted mainly through oral tradition.

African history was changed forever with the growth of the slave trade. Beginning in the fifteenth century, Europeans began to seize Africans for use in Europe and in America once the New World was settled. African slaves were put to work mainly in the fields to assist with the harvesting of crops and to help maintain plantations and estates.

Chapter 14: Medieval Japan

Japan was somewhat isolated from the rest of the Asian continent because of its geography. Japan is made up of a chain of islands which are also very mountainous. The land is prone to earthquakes as well because many of the country's mountains are also volcanoes. Approximately one-fifth of the land is suitable for farming; as a result, the Japanese settled mainly along the coast in small villages where they could fish.

Japanese culture began to develop circa 5000 BCE. Early settlers began to establish fishing villages and were known as the Jomon culture. The Jomon were characterized by their distinct pottery. Around 300 BCE, they were surpassed by Yayoi culture who introduced agriculture to the Japanese mainland. The Yayoi were quite advanced, employing a pottery wheel, mastering metalwork, and cultivating rice paddies. The Yayoi also organized themselves into clans which were led by small groups of warriors. The warriors protected the clan members in return for a portion of their annual harvest.

The Japanese creation myth claims that "two gods dipped a spear into the sea. When they pulled it out, drops of salty water fell on the water's surface and formed the islands of Japan. The two gods then created the sun goddess, Amaterasu, to rule over Earth. They also created the storm god, Susanowo, as her companion." When Susanowo went to Earth, his children first populated Japan. Amaterasu's grandson, Ninigi, was sent to rule over them. "To make sure that everyone would accept his power, she gave Ninigi her mirror, her jewel, and a great sword." These objects became symbolic of power in early Japan.

In the sixth century, the Yamato clan asserted its power over most of the land. They claimed that they were descendants of Amaterasu and, as a result, Jimmu, the first leader, took the title "emperor of heaven." In fact, every Japanese emperor has descended from Jimmu. Around 600 CE, Shotoku, a Yamato prince, took power and wanted to create a strong, centralized government like the one in China. To do this, he drafted a constitution which stated that the emperor would possess unlimited power. The emperor would be allowed to appoint bureaucrats to help run the government. In order to learn as much as possible from the Chinese, Shotoku sent some government officials to China to study. They adopted Buddhism in addition to ideas about art, philosophy and medicine.

In 646 CE, the Great Change took place. Rulers divided the land into provinces which were run by officials who answered to the emperor. A significant change was that clan leaders no longer collected taxes from farmers; instead, government officials took a share of the harvest for the emperor. Centralizing the government was an idea which had worked in China and proved successful for the Japanese as well.

In addition to the introduction of Buddhism, Shinto was another significant religion in Japan. Shinto means "way of the spirits." Shinto was based on the idea of animism, the belief that everything in the natural world possessed a spirit or a kami. In an effort to honor these kami, the Japanese set up shrines everywhere. "There, priests, musicians, and dancers performed rituals for people who asked the gods for a good harvest, a wife or a child, or some other favor."

In the eighth century, Japan's emperors set up a new city named Nara which essentially served as smaller capital city. During the Nara Period, government officials were put into a hierarchy in which they were ranked from most to least important. During this era, a census was conducted to count the number of Japanese citizens as well as to determine how much the emperor should be paid in taxes.

In 794 CE, Japan's Emperor Kammu set up a new capital city, Heian, which later became known as Kyoto. Throughout Heian, nobles gained power and influence while that of the emperor waned. Needing to protect their land, the nobles created small armies of samurai ("one who serves"). The samurai lived in accordance with Bushido, a strict code of conduct. By the twelfth century, wealthy families had amassed large samurai armies and fought one another for power. The Gempei War began in 1180 as a battle between the two most powerful clans: the Taira and the Minamoto families. The Minamoto won, led by a man named Minamoto Yoritomo who the emperor later named shogun, commander of the emperor's military. Towards the end of the thirteenth century, the powerful Mongols attacked but were defeated by the Japanese. A series of shogunates ruled Japan after this attack but a succession of weak leaders resulted in the rise of feudalism.

Japanese culture in the Middle Ages was characterized by a rise in the practice of Buddhism throughout the country, the development of artistic and architectural styles, and the flourishing of literature and drama.

Chapter 15: Medieval Europe

The fall of the Roman Empire had a dramatic effect on much of Europe. No longer united by the Roman emperor, many independent kingdoms sprang up. Early modern Europe's geography played a significant role its development. Rivers made transportation and trade significantly easier, while mountains isolated some lands from the rest of the continent.

The invasion of Germanic tribes in the fifth century was an influential factor in redistributing both land and power. The Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Huns and Saxons were among the many tribes vying for control. The Franks controlled much of modern-day France. King Clovis, their ruler, converted to Catholicism, thus winning favor with the Romans inhabiting the land. Upon his death, a great deal of fighting took place as nobles tried to control the kingdom. Charles Martel tried to unite the Frankish nobles which proved to be a difficult task. With the support of the Catholic church, however, he finally did just that. Not only did Charles Martel face fighting among the Franks, he also faced threats from the outside. Muslim armies were trying to make in-roads into Europe in the early eighth century. Martel successfully defeated the Muslims in the Battle of Tours in 732. Martel was succeeded by his son, Pepin, who ruled the Franks and even defeated the Lombards who posed a threat from Italy. Upon defeating this Germanic tribe, Pepin donated the land he conquered to the pope; this land became known as the Papal States. Pepin was succeeded by his son, Charles. By 800, Charles ruled over a great deal of western Europe, including Germany and Spain. His military prowess earned him the name Charlemagne, "Charles the Great." Charlemagne was crowned by the pope as the new Roman emperor. As such, he moved the capital to Aachen and established courts run by nobles throughout the land. Charlemagne placed a high value on education and, as a result, started a school for the children of nobles led by the scholar Alcuin. There, students learned math, religion, science, Latin, music and literature.

Unfortunately, Charlemagne's successor, his son Louis, was an ineffective leader and upon his death, the empire was divided into thirds. What had been Charlemagne's empire was invaded by the Magyars from Hungary, the Scandinavians from northern Europe and the Vikings. These invasions destroyed the Frankish kingdom established by Charlemagne and made way for the establishment of new kingdoms. Under the leadership of Otto I, Germany and part of Italy defeated the Magyars and established the Holy Roman Empire. This set the stage for centuries of dual rule by the church and the government. Monasteries sprang up across the Holy Roman Empire and the popes enjoyed unprecedented power.

Feudalism, a system based on "landowning, loyalty, and the power of armored knights on horseback," also characterized Medieval Europe. It marked a shift in power from the hands of the king to the landowning nobles. Nobles ruled and protected the people living in their fief in return for services they would provide such as farming or fighting in the army. Knights were positioned between the lords and the serfs (peasants). Knights who swore loyalty to the lord were given land and were known as vassals. This focus on farming led to the invention of new technology. Europeans developed the horse collar which allowed them to use horses to pull plows. They also improved their plows by fitting them with an iron blade.

Not only did agriculture thrive in the Middle Ages, but so too did trade. Port cities such as Venice and Flanders became prosperous, wealthy and a center of economic activity. Such abundant trading also resulted in the rise of manufacturing. And in order to protect their economic interests, craftspeople formed guilds which regulated the price and quality of goods as well as the training of those hoping to enter the profession.

Much of Europe engaged in fighting over land and power throughout the Middle Ages. William the Conquerer was crowned king of England after the 1066 Battle of Hastings in which he overthrew Harold Goodwinson who tried to stake his claim to the throne. Anglo-Saxon culture began to develop a strong focus on government and the rule of law. The notions of a grand jury and a trial by jury were instituted under Henry II. In 1215, the Magna Carta was drawn up which outlined the power of the kings and the nobles; in short, this important document established the idea of giving power to the people.

The Middle Ages were also characterized by a surge in religious fervor. The Crusades, a long series of battles over the Holy Land, began, pitting Christians against Muslims. Neither side emerged victorious but several unintended consequences were the result. First, there was an increase in trade between the Middle East and Europe. Second, the system of feudalism began to crumble as so many joined the Crusades leaving lands unprotected.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the church gained unprecedented power. New religious groups like the Cistercian order and the friars emerged, spreading the power of the church. Daily life was governed by the church which also maintained all records and presided over all aspects of society. In 1233, the pope initiated the Inquisition, a court which would try those accused of heresy. Not only were heretics persecuted, but also Jews. The Inquisition resulted in the spread of anti-Semitism throughout much of Europe in the Middle Ages.

The Middle Ages was also witness to the Black Death which killed upwards of 38 million people. It was spread from China to Europe through trade. One of the consequences of the Black Death was an unstable economy. This plague, coupled with continued fighting against the Muslims, resulted in dramatic changes across the continent of Europe.

Chapter 16: The Americas

The first people in the Americas were nomadic hunters and gatherers. In Mesoamerica, people became sedentary around 10,000 years ago when they began farming. Among their first crops were pumpkins, peppers, beans and squash which were well-suited to the fertile soil and temperate climate.

The first sedentary cultures in the Americas arose around 1500 BCE in Mexico. The Olmecs created a stable and productive empire which thrived for nearly eight centuries. Trade was facilitated by the many rivers throughout the region. The Mayans were another settlement who benefited from trade. Despite their prosperity, around 900 C.E., the Maya abandoned their settlements and disappeared. The Toltec took over much of northern Mexico and strictly oversaw the trade of obsidian which they monopolized. Since obsidian was used to make weapons, the Toltec faced very little opposition since they controlled the region's resources. Eventually, however, the Aztec overtook the region, borrowing a great deal from the Toltecs.

In what is now modern-day Peru, the Moche ruled for half of the first millennium CE. They successfully irrigated the land and domesticated animals in the region. Since the Moche enjoyed a great food surplus, they were freed up to make advances in other areas. They were among the first to build pyramids and create art to tell the history of their culture. The Moche, despite their stability, never advanced much beyond their own borders. Their contemporaries, the Inca, however, were focused on empire-building. The Incan empire's capital was Cuzco which was settled circa 1100 CE.

The Native Americans of North America developed their own farming methods. Early settlers included the Hohokam and the Anasazi. East of the Mississippi River were the Hopewell and the Adena known as the "Mound Builders." Though these two cultures mysteriously disappeared, they were quickly replaced by the Mississippians who controlled the land from Ohio, Indiana and Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these early Native American groups learned to cultivate corn as well as other plants. Native American cultures developed in response to the climate and natural resources; hence, inhabitants of the Great Plains experienced a life very different from those who lived in the Northeast or Southwest.

In spite of the poisonous snakes, insects and dense forests, the Maya thrived in what is now Guatemala. The sinkholes and swamps provided the Maya with a reliable and plentiful water source. In order to protect their resources, the Maya set up city-states led by military force. Their leaders claimed that they descended from the sun. They also asserted that in order to keep the gods happy, they had to make sacrifices. Their mission in battle was not to obtain more land but to capture prisoners whom they could sacrifice. Mayan life revolved around religion. The Maya developed a 365-day calendar, a written language and a numeric system based on twenty.

The Aztec, in contrast, were focused on war. They had left their homeland after a the father of a sacrifice victim vowed revenge. After many years of wandering, they believed that they had reached their new home when they witnessed the prophesied eagle as it "screams and spreads its wings, and eats...the serpent." Aztec civilization was ruled by kings who were perched atop the social hierarchy. Below them were nobles, commoners, unskilled laborers and enslaved people. Social mobility was possible if one acted particularly brave in battle.

The Inca devised a highly organized government in order to rule their vast lands. A strict social hierarchy was imposed to help maintain order. The Inca believed that their capital, Cuzco, was protected by the sun god. The Inca also practiced human sacrifice and built temples to honor their gods.

Despite the seeming invincibility of the native people of the Americas, the arrival of European explorers changed things drastically. The Portuguese, followed by the Spanish, conquered the people and the lands they encountered, thereby ending centuries of native rule.

Chapter 17: The Renaissance and Reformation

As Europe emerged from the Middle Ages and the Black Death, people began to look back to the Greeks and the Romans for inspiration. The Renaissance ("rebirth") lasted from 1350 to 1550 and brought about a renewed focus on the arts. Despite the continued presence of the church in everyday life, most Europeans became more secular.

Italy was the center of the Renaissance. People began to gravitate towards cities where intellectual life was abundant. Italian city-states grew powerful through trade with the Byzantines, Turks and Arabs. The Italian merchants also traded with other European nations such as Spain, France and Holland. Florence and Venice emerged as the most powerful cities as a result of their prosperous trading. Socially, a new class of people gained status in Italian city-states. The urban nobles acquired their wealth from trade and began to take an active role in public life.

During the Renaissance, a new world view emerged called humanism. "Humanists believed that the individual and human society were important. Humanists did not turn away from religious faith, but they wanted a balance between faith and reason." Italians turned to classical texts for their inspiration. In addition to speaking, studying and writing in the vernacular, people studied and wrote Latin. Some of the most notable literature written during the Renaissance included Dante's The Divine Comedy and Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the early 1450s drastically changed the face of literature. The first book published on the printing press was Gutenberg's Bible.

Among the most influential individuals to have lived during the Renaissance was Leonardo da Vinci. He was not only an artist, but he also studied anatomy, engineering, and other sciences. da Vinci was only one of many notable Renaissance artists, however. Raphael and Michelangelo were equally well-known. Renaissance art was characterized by a realistic depiction of people, use of perspective to create depth, and chiaroscuro, which contrasted light and dark thereby creating dramatic overtones. The artists' most famous works include da Vinci's The Last Supper, Raphael's School of Athens, and Michelangelo's David.

Italy was not the only country to experience a rebirth during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, however. Northern European nations including Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands also enjoyed a golden age of during which art and literature flourished. Perhaps the most significant literary advances during the Renaissance were those made by William Shakespeare.

The shift in society's focus also effected religion. The long-established Catholic church was challenged in Germany by a monk named Martin Luther. In 1517, he pinned his ideas (the Ninety-Five Theses) to the door of the church in Wittenberg calling for significant changes. This began the Reformation which led to the growth of Protestantism throughout Europe. Luther's main contention was that salvation could be attained by faith and good works, not purely by purchasing indulgences which were sold by the Catholic church. Other Christian denominations emerged during the sixteenth century as well, including Calvinism and Lutheranism. In response, the Catholic church launched the Counter-Reformation. Not only did the Catholics battle the Protestants, but Catholic missionaries also traveled overseas to try to convert non-Catholics. A series of religious wars plagued Europe as religious fanatics vied for power. England and Spain experienced their own Reformations. The Anglican church emerged which ultimately led the Pilgrims to leave England and set sail for America. Spanish leaders launched the Spanish Inquisition during which two thousand Spaniards were killed.

In short, many modern religious ideas and practices were established beginning with the Renaissance. This was reflected in the religious overtones inherent in much of the art of the time.

Chapter 18: Enlightenment and Revolution

Beginning in the fifteenth century, many European nations began dispatching explorers to investigate other parts of the world. In order to maximize their resources, the Europeans adopted new technology from those with whom they had contact. To safely navigate the Atlantic Ocean, the Europeans began using the astrolobe, which they learned about from the Arabs. This ancient Greek invention allowed them to determine latitude. The Arabs also introduced the Europeans to triangular-shaped sails which allowed them to sail more directly towards their destination. The Europeans also employed the compass which had been invented by the Chinese. These new inventions were introduced to the Europeans through trade and travel which, in turn, allowed them to do exactly that. As the sixteenth century loomed on the horizon, four European nations dominated: England, Spain, France and Portugal. These nations set sail around the globe in search of wealth, resources, land and power.

Prince Henry of Portugal, known as "Henry the Navigator," established a research center to which he invited sailors, cartographers and shipbuilders. This crew began mapping the African coastline in 1420 which also resulted in trade with the local African kingdoms. Perhaps their most valuable discovery of all was that they could cultivate sugarcane on islands; they would do this by using African slaves to work the crops. Thus began the African slave trade.

Their land routes to Asia having been blocked by Mongols and Turks, many Europeans sought a way to get to Asia. Christopher Columbus set out across the Atlantic in search of Asia. His journey was sponsored by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. When he saw and explored San Salvador, Cuba and Hispaniola, Columbus believed that he was in Asia. The work that Columbus had started was finished by Ferdinand Magellan who discovered that one could sail around the southern tip of South America in order to reach Asia. The ocean he discovered on the other side was so calm and peaceful that he named it the Pacific Ocean. Not wanting to be left out of potential trade opportunities, the English sought a northern route to Asia. John Cabot captained a ship in 1497 which discovered not Asia, but Newfoundland and Canada. Spain and England fought for control of the newly discovered lands and their resources. After a series of skirmishes, England defeated the Spanish Armada and gained the confidence to explore without the threat of violence from Spain.

A natural result of the Age of Exploration was the rise of new economic systems in the so-called Commercial Revolution. Mercantilism characterized the Spanish and Portuguese economies. This system is based on amassing gold and silver through importing and exporting. Mercantilism was also based on the idea that colonies played an important role in the system by producing goods and services that are not available in the mother country. Joint-stock companies and cottage industries also characterized this era, both of which benefited only the mother country. The Age of Exploration resulted in a global exchange of goods and services.

The Americas exported to Europe, Asia, and Africa. Among the goods they traded were potatoes, corn, cocoa beans, peanuts, peppers, turkeys, quinine and tobacco. The Americas imported quite a bit from Europe, Asia and Africa including coffee beans, honeybees, sugarcane, olives and citrus fruits. Unfortunately, diseases also accompanied this trade. Smallpox, measles and malaria were among the diseases introduced to people who had no immunity. Millions of people on both sides of the Atlantic died as a result.

The seventeenth century witnessed unprecedented scientific and intellectual discoveries. Many thinkers of this era based their work on that of the Greeks who had made tremendous advances in the ancient world. Astronomy was one field in which Europeans concentrated their efforts. Copernicus, for example, was a Polish mathematician who contradicted the centuries-old theory of Ptolemy that the earth was the center of the universe. Copernicus instead asserted that the sun was at the center of things and he devised a new heliocentric design. Johannes Kepler advanced Copernicus' ideas by claiming that the planets moved around the sun in ellipses rather than circles. Galileo Galilei was also an important figure of this era, discovering that objects fall at the same speed regardless of their weight which refuted Aristotle's notion that the heavier an object is, the faster it falls. Galileo's ideas were believed to be so controversial that he was condemned by the Catholic church. Sir Isaac Newton was able to unify the ideas of Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo by introducing the idea of gravity. Other novel concepts developed during this era included rationalism (the idea that reason leads to knowledge) and the scientific method.

Science was not the only area in which great advances were made. Philosophy led to significant changes in ideas about politics and government. "During the Enlightenment, political thinkers tried to apply reason and scientific ideas to government. They claimed that there was a natural law, or a law that applied to everyone and could be understood by reason." Englishman Thomas Hobbes asserted that "natural law made absolute monarchy the best form of government." John Locke, on the other hand, "used natural law to affirm citizens' rights and to make government answerable to the people." French thinker Baron Montesquieu claimed in his writings that the government of England was the best because it had a separation of powers which made the different branches accountable to one another.

Politically, Europe witnessed the Age of Absolutism in which the ruling monarch enjoyed absolute, unlimited power. Nowhere was absolutism more apparent than in France, Russia, and Germany. Louis XIV, the Sun King, ruled France for an unprecedented 72 years. His penchant for overspending ultimately weakened the monarchy and the economy of France. Frederick the Great supported the arts and learning while expanding religious tolerance in Germany and Prussia. Russia's Peter the Great and Catherine the Great controlled the vast empire that was Russia. By the end of Catherine's rule, however, "the ideas of liberty and equality had spread across Europe. These ideas seriously threatened the rule of powerful kings and queens."

Rounding out this era was the start of a conflict in the colonies in America. Unhappy with the reign of England as the "mother country," the colonists were frustrated that they were taxed without representation, among other things. This led to a series of revolts and ultimately, to the War of Independence. On July 4, 1776, Congress set forth the Declaration of Independence which made the United States a sovereign nation free of the yoke of England. In 1789, the Constitution was drafted and ratified.

Ed. Scott Locklear