Intro handout

Overview of the Foundations Era
(8000 BCE - 600 CE)
 Geography and basic definitions
 4 landmarks: agriculture, civilization, classical civilization, decline of classical
What is World History?
 Effort to capture key aspects of human experience
 Emphasizes points where different societies are in contact with one another
 Aspects of shared experience
Advent of Agriculture:
 When and where introduced
 Main crops involved: wheat/barley, rice, corn/maize
 Nature of societies and differences with nomadic tribes (+/- could debate both
sides for both societies)
 Changed gender relations—emphasized inequality in agricultural
 Opportunities for child labor increased with an increase in birth rates
Advent of/What is Civilization:
 Formal states
 Emphasize the formation of cities
 Internal trade patterns
 Almost all have writing (except the Inca), but most people were not literate
 Variety of regions don’t participate (like Central Asia)
Basic Characterizations of Civilizations:
 Effect of Neolithic Revolution on gender systems
 Patriarchal systems dominated
 Rigid systems of social hierarchy
 Upper class was comfortable with the naturalness of pronounced inequality
(natural order of things)
 India—caste system
 Greece and Rome—slavery
 China—Confucian principles of hierarchy
 Buddhism challenged patriarchy
Classical Civilization:
 1600 years of time
 characterized by activities in China, India, Greece, Rome, and Mesoamerica
 Unifying characteristics: expanded territory beyond river valleys, fueled by the
fact that the had IRON, all worked hard to integrate the larger territory they
controlled, worked toward integral economic integration, and sought a common
culture and language (for elites, not everybody)
 Trade patterns and communication systems
Emergence of great political empires
Change over time: differed from original river valley civilizations
Connections among the civilizations (i.e., the Silk Road)
Developed in isolation
Didn’t war with each other
Decline of Classical Civilization:
 Didn’t all decline at the same time
 Tidy transition—7th-2nd Century
 Han China, followed by Rome, followed by Guptas in India
 Reason for decline: formation of empire became more difficult
 Role of religion increased
 Changed the map of the world
 Eastern Mediterranean divided from the Western Mediterranean
Major Comparisons:
 Religious and philosophical systems
 Roles of women
 Empires
 Caste system with other systems of social inequality
 Cities with pastoral and nomadic societies
 Interregional trading systems
 Political and social structures of: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, Shang, and
Mesoamerican and Andean South America
 Role of technologies in growth of state structures