1000 – 30 BCE
 A.
Geography and Resources
 i.
Iran is bounded by mountains, deserts, & Persian Gulf;
open to invasion from Central Asia. High mountains on
edges, salt desert interior, sloping plateau w/streams.
 ii. Limited natural resources. Water scarce; environment
can only support limited population. Irrigation networks
used underground tunnels; labor-intensive & advanced,
under strong central authority. Mineral resources
(metals) & plentiful timber.
 B.
Rise of the Persian Empire
 i.
Medians helped destroy Assyrians in late 7th cen. BCE.
Persian Achaemenids related by marriage. 550 BCE,
Cyrus took over & created new empire including Medes &
 ii. Built up by 3 kings: Cyrus the Great started, took
Lydia & Mesopotamia. Cambyses took Egypt, contacted
Libya & Nubia. Darius I: Persians more dominant.
Extended empire from Indus to Thrace.
C. Imperial organization and ideology
 i. Darius established provinces headed by satraps connected
to court. Satraps hereditary; became more autonomous in far
 ii. Provinces had to pay tribute. Central gov’t hoarded
gold/silver, causing scarcity & inflation. Well-maintained
roads converged on Susa, w/garrisons.
 iii. Kings aloof, as masters of all. Owned & administered
“king’s land.”
 iv. Kings were lawgivers, but permitted people to live
according to their own traditions. Managed central
administration @ Susa, performed ceremonies @ Persepolis.
 v. Major religion: Zoroastrianism. Origins unclear. Zoroaster
(Zarathustra) lived between 1700-500 BCE. Monotheistic:
Dual universe of good vs. evil (Ahuramazda vs. Angra Mainyu).
Final judgment, heaven/hell. Dualism may have influenced
Judaism & Christianity.
 A.
Geography & Resources
i. Part of Mediterranean ecological zone; all areas have
similar climates, seasons, crops. Conducive to migration,
transfer of crops/technology, & trade. Culture area
includes Greek mainland, islands, & western Anatolia.
 ii. Reliance on rainfall (no H2O sources for irrigation).
Limited water / thin, arable soil meant limited
population. Few metal resources/little timber. Plentiful
 B.
Emergence of the polis
i. Post-Mycenaean “Dark Age” 1150-800 B.C.E. Ended
when contact/trade w/ Med lands re-established.
Phoenicians played a role & provided alphabetic system.
Archaic Per. begins (800-480 B.C.E.)
 ii. Explosive pop. growth. Causes: shift from pastoral to
agricultural eco, importation of foods/raw materials.
Effects included urbanization, specialization, &
development of polis.
iii. Polis (city-state) was urban center & rural territory.
Features included acropolis, agora, fortified walls,
public buildings. No sharp distinction between urban
& rural areas or inhabitants.
 iv. Frequent wars between C/S. Warfare used
hoplites – close formation of infantry trying to break
enemy’s defense. Soldiers mostly farmer-citizens
serving short-term.
 v. When population outstripped resources, excess
sent to colonies in Med & Black Sea. Brought Greeks
into close contact w/other peoples.
vi. Colonization introduced new ideas, but also
sharpened Greek identity. Important idea: coins in
Lydia (early 6th cen. B.C.E.)
 vii. Increasing prosperity & growing middle class led
to mid-7th & 6th cen. emergence of tyrants, reducing
power of traditional elites. Tyrants eventually rejected
in favor of oligarchy or democracy.
 viii. Religion: anthropomorphic sky gods (many
represent forces of nature). Worshiped @ state
ceremonies. Sacrifice important & helped create
sense of community. Sought advice from oracles
(Apollo’s @ Delphi) & revered female fertility deities.
C. New intellectual currents
i. Archaic Greeks began developing concepts of
individualism & humanism.
 ii. Pre-Socratic philosophers began to question religion &
tried to explain rationally why world created, what it is
made of, why it changes. (Sophists)
 iii. “Logographers” in Ionia began to gather information on
Med peoples, founding of cities, & family backgrounds.
Method of investigation/research called historia –
adopted by Herodotus.
 iv. Herodotus went beyond simple collection/recording of
info to offer explanations for Persian Wars in Histories.
Invented modern concept of “history”. “Father of History.”
(Also included legend, folktales, etc.) Thucydides: Only
primary sources!
 v. Hellenic period sculpture very stiff and formal.
 D.
Athens & Sparta
i. Sparta: on Peloponnese in S. Greece. To ensure
food supply, took over fertile Messenia & enslaved
Messenians (slaves called helots). Fear of uprising
led to creation of a severely ascetic, highly militarized
society in which all Spartan males trained for the
army & devoted lives to needs of state.
 ii. Athens: large hinterland (Attica) supported 5th-cen.
B.C.E. pop of ~300,000. 6th cen. B.C.E., period of
rule by tyrants.
 iii. Late 6th-early 5th cen., Athens ejected tyrant family
& developed democracy. Direct democracy. Limits
on citizenship. Pericles completed transition to
democracy in 460s-450s. Gov’t included Assembly,
Council of 500, & People’s Courts. Participation
expected (or idiotes).
 A.
Early encounters
i. 499-494 B.C.E., Greek cities of Anatolia, aided by
Eretria & Athens, staged revolt against Persians. Led to
Persian Wars: 2 Persian attacks on Greece. 1st: 490,
Darius I’s generals attacked. Athenian forces won @
Marathon (Pheidippides- Nike!).
 ii. 2nd: 480, Xerxes led army & fleet. Many C/S
submitted. Sparta organized Hellenic League (after
Thermopylae, Greeks victorious). Athens took
leadership; organized Delian League & drove Persians
out of most of E. Med.
 B.
Height of Athenian power
i. Classical period (480-323 B.C.E.) marked
by Athenian dominance – subordinated other
Delian League states & became imperial
power. Power based on navy.
 ii. Naval strength based on technological
innovation (triremes) and use of lower-class
men as rowers (they began to demand rights
of citizenship).
 iii. Power used to conduct trade & extract
tribute from subject states. Wealth of empire
made it possible for Athens to conduct public
works (Parthenon), put on festivals, and
support arts & sciences (drama important!).
Classical sculpture much more realistic in
style. Naked male body considered peak of
iv. Most influential philosophers: Socrates & Plato.
Socrates focused on ethics, probed meaning of
words, & used “Socratic method” of question &
answer. Tried on charges of corrupting youth & not
believing in gods – untrue, but sentenced to death
(he really made people uncomfortable by challenging
ideas/beliefs). Suicide or martyr?
 v. His student Plato wrote dialogues exploring
concepts like justice, excellence, & wisdom. Said
world we see is but a pale reflection of higher, ideal
reality (allegory: The Cave). His intellectual activity is
representative of transition from oral to written
culture; he read & wrote books, including The
Republic, and founded a school (the Academy). His
most famous student was Aristotle, who gathered
knowledge into systems… like scientific method.
 C.
Inequality in Classical Greece
i. Athenian democracy limited in scope; only free adult
males participated (10-15% of pop). Women, children,
slaves, & foreigners not citizens.
 ii. Slaves mostly foreign, 1/3 of pop, regarded as
property. Average family owned 1 or more; treated them
as domestic servants. Slavery provided male citizens
with leisure for political activity.
iii. Position of women varied. Sparta: relatively free &
outspoken. Athens: more confined & oppressed.
Marriages arranged unions of younger woman/older
man. Duties of wife: produce & raise kids (esp. sons),
weave cloth, cook & clean. Poorly educated.
 iv. Little meaningful relationship/equality between men
& women, so men sought emotional & intellectual
companionship with equals (other men).
 D.
Failure of the C/S and triumph of Macedonians
i. Imperial Athens triggered resentment from other Greek
C/S, which led to Peloponnesian War( 431-404 B.C.E.)
(Sparta’s alliance vs. Athens’). Persians paid for Spartan
navy to defeat Athens.
 ii. Spartan arrogance inspired other C/S. The internal
conflict allowed Persia to reclaim territory in W. Asia,
including Greek cities in Anatolia.
iii. As Greek C/S declined, kingdom of Macedonia
developed as a military power. King Philip used
longer spears, cavalry & infantry, phalanx, and siege
 iv. Philip’s son/heir Alexander (the Great) invaded
Persia in 336 B.C.E. and conquered as far as
Pakistan – also Egypt. Built an empire maintaining
the Persian administrative system, using Persian,
Greek, & Macedonian officials, encouraging
intermarriage, and presenting himself as successor
to the Persian king (and son of Zeus, and pharaoh. . .)
New cities (Alexandria). Died @ 33 with no heir.
A. Hellenistic kingdoms
i. After Alex’s death, empire divided into 3 parts
w/Macedonian rulers – Hellenistic Age (323-30 B.C.E.).
 ii. Seleucid Kingdom: Mesopotamia, Syria, parts of
Anatolia, Iran, Indus Valley... Peripheral area lost by 2 nd
cen. B.C.E. Maintained Persian-style administration and
Alexander’s institution of Greek-style cities.
 iii. Ptolemies: Egypt, sometimes Palestine. Used
centralized, well-controlled Egyptian admin/tax systems.
Capital: Alexandria. Greek immigration encouraged. Did
not build other Greek-style cities or try to change Egyptian
lifestyle/language. Resentment of Greek rule meant
uprisings common from early 2nd century on. Last
Ptolemaic ruler: Cleopatra.
 iv. Antigonids in Macedonia & Greece. Spartans and
confederations of C/S resisted Macedonian rule; Athens
 B.
 i. Greatest Hellenistic city. Pop of ~1/2
million; Mausoleum of Alexander, Library,
Museum. Served as center for politics,
learning, & trade. Hellenistic sculpture had a
great sense of motion and realism.
 ii. Greek city (but in Egypt). Greek residents
were citizens, participated in gov’t Assembly
& Council. Public baths, theaters,
gymnasiums. Also a significant Jewish
C. Great developments in sciences, math, philosophy.
Aristarchus: earth goes around sun. Archimedes:
Water displacement, etc. Euclid and Pythagoras:
geometry. Epicurus: Epicureanism. Zeno: Stoics.
Diogenes: Cynics.
D. Hellenization included intermarriage between
Greeks & non-Greeks, spread of Greek language &
lifestyle, and synthesis of indigenous & Greek culture.
A. Significance of Persian Empire
i. Largest world had seen. Held together not so much by
force but by ability of Persian kings to co-opt local elites &
incorporate them into imperial structure.
 ii. Persians were masters of PR and represented
themselves as benevolent rulers.
B. Changes in W. Asia brought about by the
i. Persian Empire brought dramatic political changes to W.
Asia – less significant cultural impact.
 ii. Greeks not considered a significant threat until
 C.
Cultural impact of Greeks
i. Persia was a major factor in Greek political life after 2
centuries of invasion threats.
 ii. Alexander’s conquests in W. Asia had a deep, longlasting cultural effect. Hellenistic kingdoms used Greek
soldiers, officers, & administrators and established
Greek-style cities. Strong Hellenistic influence lasted
1000 years.