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World History Era 3

Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires, 1000 BCE-300 CE

Standard 1: Innovation and change from 1000-600 BCE: horses, ships, iron, and monotheistic faith

Standard 2: The emergence of Aegean civilization and how interrelations developed among peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, 600-200 BCE

Standard 3: How major religions and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean basin, China, and India, 500 BCE-300 CE

Standard 4: The development of early agrarian civilizations in Mesoamerica

Standard 5: Major global trends from 1000 BCE-300 CE

By 1000 BCE urban civilizations of the Eastern Hemisphere were no longer confined to a few irrigated river plains. World population was growing, interregional trade networks were expanding, and towns and cities were appearing where only farming villages or nomad camps had existed before. Iron-making technology had increasing impact on economy and society. Contacts among diverse societies of Eurasia and Africa were intensifying, and these had profound consequences in the period from 1000 BCE to 300 CE. The pace of change was quickening in the Americas as well. If we stand back far enough to take in the global scene, three large-scale patterns of change stand out. These developments can be woven through the study of particular regions and societies as presented in Standards 1-5 below.

Classical Civilizations Defined: The civilizations of the irrigated river valleys were spreading to adjacent regions, and new centers of urban life and political power were appearing in rain-watered lands. Several civilizations were attaining their classical definitions, that is, they were developing institutions, systems of thought, and cultural styles that would influence neighboring peoples and endure for centuries.

Major Religions Emerge: Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Brahmanism/Hinduism, Confucianism, and Daoism all appeared in this period as systems of belief capable of stabilizing and enriching human relations across large areas of the world and providing avenues of cultural interchange between one region and another. Each of these religions united peoples of diverse political and ethnic identities. Religions also, often enough, divided groups into hostile camps and gave legitimacy to war or social repression.

Giant Empires Appear: Multi-ethnic empires became bigger than ever before and royal bureaucracies more effective at organizing and taxing ordinary people in the interests of the state. Empire building in this era also created much larger spheres of economic and cultural interaction. Near the end of the period the Roman and Han empires together embraced a huge portion of the hemisphere, and caravans and ships were relaying goods from one extremity of Eurasia to the other.

Why Study This Era?

  • The classical civilizations of this age established institutions and defined values and styles that endured for many centuries and that continue to influence our lives today.

  • Six of the world’s major faiths and ethical systems emerged in this period and set forth their fundamental teachings.

  • Africa and Eurasia together moved in the direction of forming a single world of human interchange in this era as a result of trade, migrations, empire-building, missionary activity, and the diffusion of skills and ideas. These interactions had profound consequences for all the major civilizations and all subsequent periods of world history.

  • This was a formative era for many fundamental institutions and ideas in world history, such as universalist religion, monotheism, the bureaucratic empire, the city-state, and the relation of technology to social change. Students’ explorations in the social sciences, literature, and contemporary affairs will be enriched by understanding such basic concepts as these.

  • This era presents rich opportunities for students to compare empires, religions, social systems, art styles, and other aspects of the past, thus sharpening their understanding and appreciation of the varieties of human experience.

Each standard was developed with historical thinking standards in mind. The relevant historical thinking standards are linked in the brackets, [ ], below.

Standard 1

Innovation and change from 1000-600 BCD: horses, ships, iron, and monotheistic faith.

Standard 1A

The student understands state-building, trade, and migrations that led to increasingly complex interrelations among peoples of the Mediterranean basin and Southwest Asia.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain the fundamentals of iron-making technology and analyze the early significance of iron tools and weapons in Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Describe the extent of the Assyrian and New Babylonian empires and assess the sources of their power and wealth. [Obtain historical data]
5-12 Explain the patterns of Phoenician trade, political organization, and culture in the Mediterranean basin. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]
5-12 Describe the emergence of Greek city-states in the Aegean region and the political, social, and legal character of the polis. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances]
7-12 Analyze the factors that led Greeks to found colonies in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. [Analyze multiple causation]
9-12 Analyze the social and cultural effects of the spread of alphabetic writing in Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean basin. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 1B

The student understands the emergence of Judaism and the historical significance of the Hebrew kingdoms.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain the fundamental teachings and practices of Judaism and compare Jewish monotheism with polytheistic religions of Southwest Asia. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
7-12 Explain the development of the Jewish kingdoms and analyze how the Jews maintained religious and cultural traditions despite the destruction of these kingdoms. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]
9-12 Assess the significance of the Babylonian captivity for the survival of Judaism. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
9-12 Analyze the significance of the Jewish diaspora for the transmission of Judaism in the Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 1C

The student understands how states developed in the upper Nile valley and Red Sea region and how iron technology contributed to the expansion of agricultural societies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
9-12 Assess the importance of political, commercial, and cultural relations between Egypt and Nubia/Kush. [Analyze multiple causation]
5-12 Analyze the effects of Nile valley trade and the decline of the New Kingdom as factors in the power of Kush in the first millennium BCE. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Evaluate the linguistic, architectural, and artistic achievements of Kush in the Meroitic period. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Analyze how Kushite and Assyrian invasions affected Egyptian society. [Evidence multiple perspectives]
7-12 Explain connections between maritime trade and the power of the kingdom of Aksum in Northeast Africa. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Describe the emergence of states south of the Sahara desert and appraise theories of how iron-working technology spread in West and East Africa. [Evaluate major debates among historians]

Standard 1D

The student understands how pastoral nomadic peoples of Central Asia began to play an important role in world history.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain the relationship between the mastery of horse riding on the steppes and the development of pastoral nomadism and cavalry warfare. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Analyze how the warrior states of the Scythians and the Xiongnu arose among pastoral nomadic peoples of Central Asia. [Analyze multiple causation]
7-12 Infer from archaeological or other evidence basic characteristics of Scythian or Xiongnu society and culture. [Formulate historical questions]
5-12 Analyze why relations between pastoral nomadic peoples of Central Asia and major agrarian states of Eurasia involved both conflict and economic interdependence.[Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 2

The emergence of Aegean civilization and how interrelations developed among peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, 600-200 BCE.

Standard 2A

The student understands the achievements and limitations of the democratic institutions that developed in Athens and other Aegean city-states.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Compare Athenian democracy with the military aristocracy of Sparta. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas, values, and institutions]
5-12 Explain hierarchical relationships within Greek society and analyze the civic, economic, and social tasks that men and women of different classes performed. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
7-12 Describe the changing political institutions of Athens in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE and analyze the influence of political thought on public life. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]
9-12 Assess the importance of Greek ideas about democracy and citizenship for the development of Western political thought and institutions. [Hypothesize the influence of the past]

Standard 2B

The student understands the major cultural achievements of Greek civilization.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Identify the major characteristics of Hellenic architecture and sculpture and assess the ways in which architecture, sculpture, and painting expressed or influenced social values and attitudes. [Draw upon visual sources]
7-12 Identify major Greek myths and dramas and assess how they reflected social values and attitudes. [Formulate historical questions]
9-12 Explain the leading ideas of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, and other philosophers and historians. [Appreciate historical perspective]

Standard 2C

The student understands the development of the Persian (Achaemenid) empire and the consequences of its conflicts with the Greeks.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain the founding, expansion, and political organization of the Persian empire. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]
5-12 Analyze the major events of the wars between Persia and the Greek city-states and the reasons why the Persians failed to conquer the Aegean region. [Analyze multiple causation]
9-12 Describe the basic teachings of Zoroastrianism. [Interrogate historical data]

Standard 2D

The student understands Alexander of Macedon’s conquests and the interregional character of Hellenistic society and culture.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Analyze the rise of Macedonia under Philip II and explain the campaigns and scope and success of Alexander’s imperial conquests. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]
5-12 Assess Alexander’s achievements as a military and political leader and analyze why the empire broke up into successor kingdoms. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Evaluate major achievements of Hellenistic art, philosophy, science, and political thought. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
9-12 Assess the character of Greek impact on Southwest Asia and Egypt in the 4th and 3rd centuries and the influence of Greek, Egyptian, Persian, and Indian cultural traditions on one another. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Analyze the significance of the interaction of Greek and Jewish traditions for the emergence of both Rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]

Standard 3

How major religions and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean basin, China, and India, 500 BCE-300 CE.

Standard 3A

The student understands the causes and consequences of the unification of the Mediterranean basin under Roman rule.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Assess the contributions of the Etruscans and the western Greek colonies to the development of Roman society and culture. [Analyze multiple causation]
5-12 Describe the political and social institutions of the Roman Republic and analyze why Rome was transformed from republic to empire. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Describe the major phases in the expansion of the empire through the 1st century CE. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]
9-12 Assess ways in which imperial rule over a vast area transformed Roman society, economy, and culture. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Analyze how Roman unity contributed to the growth of trade among the lands of the Mediterranean basin and assess the importance of Roman commercial connections by land or sea with Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and East Asia. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Evaluate the major legal, artistic, architectural, technological, and literary achievements of the Romans and the influence of Hellenistic cultural traditions on Roman Europe. [Appreciate historical perspectives]

Standard 3B

The student understands the emergence of Christianity in the context of the Roman Empire.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Describe the lives of Jesus and Paul and explain the fundamental teachings of Christianity. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
5-12 Analyze how Christianity spread widely in the Roman Empire. [Analyze multiple causation]
9-12 Trace the extent and consequences of Christian expansion in Asia, Africa, and Europe to the 4th century. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]

Standard 3C

The student understands how China became unified under the early imperial dynasties.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Assess the significance of the Zhou dynasty for the development of imperial rule and the concept of the Mandate of Heaven. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
5-12 Assess the policies and achievements of the Qin emperor Shi Huangdi in establishing a unified imperial realm. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
9-12 Analyze the political and ideological contributions of the Han to the development of the imperial bureaucratic state and the expansion of the empire. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Evaluate the literary, artistic, and technological achievements of the Han dynasty. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
7-12 Analyze the importance of iron technology and family division of labor on the expansion of agriculture and the southeastward migration of Chinese farmers. [Analyze multiple causation]
5-12 Analyze the commercial and cultural significance of the trans-Eurasian “silk roads” in the period of the Han and Roman empires. [Interrogate historical data]
5-12 Describe the life of Confucius and explain comparatively the fundamental teachings of Confucianism and Daoism. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]

Standard 3D

The student understands religious and cultural developments in India in the era of the Gangetic states and the Mauryan Empire.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain the major beliefs and practices of Brahmanism in India and how they evolved into early Hinduism. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
5-12 Describe the life and teachings of the Buddha and explain ways in which those teachings were a response to the Brahmanic system. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Explain the growth of the Mauryan Empire in the context of rivalries among Indian states. [Consider multiple perspectives]
5-12 Evaluate the achievements of the emperor Ashoka and assess his contribution to the expansion of Buddhism in India. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
9-12 Analyze how Brahmanism responded to the social, political, and theological challenges posed by Buddhism and other reform movements. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Analyze how Buddhism spread in India, Ceylon, and Central Asia. [Analyze multiple causation]

Standard 4

The development of early agrarian civilizations in Mesoamerica.

Standard 4A

The student understands the achievements of Olmec civilization.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Analyze the relationship between maize cultivation and the development of complex societies in Mesoamerica. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Interpret archaeological evidence for the development of Olmec civilization in the second and first millennia BCE. [Formulate historical questions]
5-12 Evaluate major Olmec contributions to Mesoamerican civilization, including the calendar, glyphic writing, sculpture, and monumental building. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
9-12 Assess Olmec cultural influence on the emergence of civilization in the Oaxaca valley and other regions. [Analyze multiple causation]

Standard 5

Major global trends from 1000 BCE-300 CE.

Standard 5A

The student understands major global trends from 1000 BCE to 300 CE.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Define the concept of “classical civilizations” and assess the enduring importance of ideas, institutions, and art forms that emerged in the classical periods. [Analyze the importance of ideas]
7-12 Analyze the significance of military power, state bureaucracy, legal codes, belief systems, written languages, and communications and trade networks in the development of large regional empires. [Interrogate historical data]
5-12 Compare institutions of slavery or other forms of coerced labor in the Han empire, the Maurya empire, the Greek city-states, and the Roman empire. [Draw comparisons across eras and regions]
5-12 Analyze how new religious or ethical systems contributed to cultural integration of large regions of Afro-Eurasia. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Explain the significance of Greek or Hellenistic ideas and cultural styles in the history of the Mediterranean basin, Europe, Southwest Asia, and India. [Analyze the importance of ideas]
7-12 Analyze ways in which trade networks, merchant communities, state power, tributary systems of production, and other factors contributed to the economic integration of large regions of Afro-Eurasia. [Employ quantitative analysis]
9-12 Explain the fundamentals of iron metallurgy and assess the economic, cultural, and political significance of iron technology in Eurasia and Africa. [Employ quantitative analysis]
9-12 Identify patterns of social and cultural continuity in various societies and analyze ways in which peoples maintained traditions and resisted external challenges in the context of increasing interregional contacts. [Draw comparisons across eras and regions]