Exam preparation materials

VII. PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER

There are many ways to think about the big-picture themes that have emerged in this chapter, but we’ll stay focused on the three presented in Section II of this chapter.

1. CIVILIZATIONS

By now, you should have a good understanding of the types of developments common to most civilizations; for example, agriculture, written language, and the use of metals all contributed to the growth of early civilizations. You should also be able to explain how civilizations grow when people are less concerned with where their next meal is coming from, and how they spread their influence (primarily through trade routes and conquest). And you should be able to describe what happens when civilizations become so dominant that they have no rivals (a period of peace and prosperity, or a golden age, emerges, making it possible to devote time and money to the arts and sciences). Finally, you should be able explain why those dominant civilizations begin to fall apart (they get too big, their own people get restless, foreign threats gain confidence and power).

By taking note of the patterns woven throughout the expansion and contraction of civilizations, you’ll be well prepared to tackle the essays.

2. SOURCES OF CHANGE

Regarding change occurring in civilizations through cultural diffusion, keep in mind that the two main methods are through trade and conquest. Expansion of major belief systems also plays a major role, but don’t forget belief systems followed the trade routes and the military movements, too.

You should be able to discuss some examples of changes brought about by invention and innovation. Two important ones are the use of the wheel and the use of iron.

Notice that some civilizations were more innovative while others more adaptive, but most cultures do both simultaneously. Whatever they invent, they spread to others; whatever they borrow, they adapt for their own purposes. That said, certain civilizations adapted an incredible amount from others—the Romans and the Macedonians, for example, from the Greeks.

3. HUMANS VERSUS NATURE

You should be able to name many ways in which civilizations have changed their surroundings to suit their own purposes. The digging of canals and irrigation ditches, stone-cutting, plowing, and metal-working are just a few examples. And don’t forget the more subtle examples, such as the development of calendars and sundials, which were very significant in the human quest to predict and control nature for its own purposes. To be sure, humans can’t change the repetitive patterns that underlie the yearly calendar, but by understanding those patterns and keeping track of them, humans can predict and use them for their own purposes.

Notice that as civilizations developed, they were less subject to natural events causing their demise, but more subject to other civilizations doing so. Notice also that as major belief systems developed, civilizations became less interested in appeasing the gods to protect them from the great unknowns, and more interested in internal peace, oneness with a great human force, or salvation. This corresponds to humans’ ability to figure out nature. Thus, their focus of concern shifted from the need for bodily protection to the desire for internal peace.

As you continue to review the major world events in the upcoming chapters, always keep in mind that if you can compare, contrast, and figure out how things are changing, you will be able to write very thoughtful essays.

4. IMPORTANT TERMS

Agriculture

Monarchy

Agrarian

Monotheism

Bands/Clans

Neolithic

Barbarian

Nomadic

Bureaucracy

Pastoral

Civilization

Paleolithic

City-states

Philosophy

Classical

Polytheism

Domestication

River Valley

Economy

Sedentary

Egalitarian

Settlement

Emperor

Subsistence

Empire

Surplus

Feudalism

Sustenance

Foraging

Theocracy

Hierarchy

Traditional

Hierarchical

Urbanization

Hunter-Gatherer

Vassals

Irrigation

 

5. PEOPLE, PLACES, AND ESVENTS

Alexander the Great

Iron Age

Analects of Confucius

Jewish Diaspora

Bronze Age

Legalism (China)

Byzantium

Pax Romana

Calendar

Pyramids

Code of Hammurabi

Roman Republic

Cuneiform

Roman Senate

Democracy

Shang Civilization (China)

Eight Fold Path

Shi Huang Di (Qin China)

Four Noble Truths

Siddhartha Gautama

Gothic Migrations

Silk Road Trade

Great Wall

The Torah

Han Dynasty

The Vedas of Hinduism

Hellenism

Xiongnu

The Huns

Ziggurats

Indian Ocean Trade

 

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