(pages 086 to 117) Chapter 04

First Age of Empires: 1570 B.C. – 200 B.C.
Chapter 4, Pages 86 to 117
World History: Patterns of Interaction
McDougal-Littell 2007
Egypt had united its southern and northern kingdoms around 3100 B.C., and by
2000 B.C. had developed a trade network with Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.
South of Egypt, the Nubian kingdom, known as Kush, also traded with Egypt.
After 1600 B.C., internal instability weakened Egypt and its government. Around
1640 B.C., a Asiatic nation called the Hyksos invaded Egypt. The Hyksos had
chariots, which the Egyptians had never seen before, and ruled Egypt until 1570
B.C., around the same time that the Hebrews settled in Egypt.
During the time of Queen Ahhotep and Pharaoh Kamose, the Egyptian drove out
the Hyksos and regained their independence. Egypt grew stronger during the time
of Hatshepsut, the only female pharaoh, and her stepson, Thutmose III. The
Egyptians fought with the Hittites over control of the eastern end of the
Mediterranean Sea; neither side could win, so Pharaoh Ramses II eventually signed
a truce. After 1200 B.C., Egypt became weaker, facing attacks from the mysterious
“Sea People” who also attacked the Hittites. Libya also attacked Egypt, and Nubia
was able to expand northward.
The Assyrian Empire rose to be the next major power in the region. Expanding
outward from their capital city, Assyrians were skilled with iron weapons, and took
over large parts of the Fertile Crescent and Egypt.
In 930 B.C., Israel’s civil war divided it into a ‘northern kingdom’ and a ‘southern
kingdom.’ In 720 B.C., the Assyrian leader Tiglath-Pileser conquered the northern
kingdom. The Assyrian leader Sennacherib attacked the city of Jerusalem around
701 B.C., but was unable to destroy it. In 612 B.C., the Assyrian capital Ninevah
was destroyed by a combined army of Medes and Chaldeans, two Mesopotamian
nations. The Chaldeans then started a new empire, with Babylon as its capital city,
called the ‘Neo-Babylonian Empire,’ to distinguish it from the original Babylonian
Empire. Its most famous king was Nebuchadnezzar, who conquered the southern
kingdom in 586 B.C., taking its people captive to serve in Babylon.
The Medes had a kingdom on the northern edge of Persia. Persia itself was
growing in power at this time. Between 550 B.C. and 539 B.C., the Persian king
Chapter Four – Page 1
Cyrus expanded his empire until it stretched from India to Anatolia. Conquering
Babylon, he freed the captive Jews and they returned to the southern kingdom. His
son, Cambyses, took the throne in 530 B.C., when Cyrus died, and managed the
empire poorly, weakening it. Darius seized the throne in 522 B.C., strengthening
and expanding the empire even further. His only failure was to start a war against
Greece without winning it. Persian emperors ruled their empires with absolute
power. They appointed ‘satraps’ – governors – over each province within the
empire. As long as the different nations in the empire paid taxes and did not rebel,
the Persians allowed them to practice their own religions and cultures. Persia built
a transportation system, featuring the ‘Royal Road’ from the capital city Susa in
Persia to Anatolia – 1,677 miles.
In Persia, there were many Jews – not all had returned to the southern kingdom of
Judah when Cyrus freed them. But many Persians belonged to a Zoroastrian
religion. Around 600 B.C., a Persian named Zoroaster invented this religion which
saw the world engaged in an endless struggle between good and evil. A third
religion – Christianity – would become popular in Persia after 50 A.D.
In China, the Zhou Dynasty was slowly losing its control over the country. As
disorder began to spread, the philosopher Confucius began explain how China
could regain good government, harmony, and social order. Born in 551 B.C.,
Confucius pointed out that human society was composed of five basic
relationships: parent and child, ruler and subject, husband and wife, older sibling
and younger sibling, and friends. If people conduct themselves properly in these
five roles, a nation will do well. Confucius also gave more specific advice to rulers
about how to organize a government.
Other religions and philosophical systems of thought appear in China shortly after
Confucius – the Taoists, the Legalists, and others. But none were as good and wise
as Confucius. (‘Taoist’ is sometimes spelled ‘Daoist’ – because of transliteration.)
Around 256 B.C., the Zhou Dynasty fell, and around 221 B.C., it was replaced by
the Qin Dynasty. The Qin Dynasty built much of the Great Wall of China, although
parts of it had been built earlier, and parts would be built later. Most of the laborers
building the wall were slaves. Because of the harshness of the Qin Dynasty, it fell
in 202 B.C, and was replaced by the Han Dynasty.
Chapter Four – Page 2