Asia, Europe, and North Africa in 1 C.E. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Asia, Europe, and North Africa in 1 C.E.


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Title: Asia, Europe, and North Africa in 1 C.E.

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Asia, Europe, and North Africa in 1 C.E.
  • The Development of systems of writing was
    integral to the development of civilization
  • With writing came effective long-distance
    communication and the ability to build nation and
    empires. Writing could be used to
  • Create records
  • Record history
  • Preserve imaginative works

Cities, Nations, and Empires
  • The agricultural revolution
  • Primitive people were hunters and gathers
  • Between 8,000 and 6,000 B.C.E. people began to
    settle and cultivate crops.
  • With the increased food supply, civilizations
    were able to develop specialist (non-agricultural
    roles) in cities.
  • Over time, vast civilizations emerged.

The Great Ziggurat at Ur Today. Credit Ur,
Photograph 17th January 2004, by Lasse Jensen.
The Great Ziggurat.
Cities, Nations, and Empires
  • Early civilizations grew up near water
  • Mesopotamia takes its name from the Greek phrase
    between the rivers
  • Tigris and Euphrates rivers, on their banks were
  • Ur
  • Akkad
  • Nippur
  • Babylon
  • Egypt (on the banks of the Nile River)
  • China (on the banks of the Yangtse River)
  • India (on the banks of the Indus River)
  • Water was important for trade and communication

Travel, Migration, and Trade
  • People were on the move throughout the ancient
  • Armies of conquest
  • Traders
  • Waves of migration in search of resources
  • Much of ancient literature plays to peoples
    fascination with hearing about distant peoples
    and their unusual customs.

Lyric and Epic
  • Lyric poetry gets its name from the Greek poets
    custom of signing their poems to the
    accompaniment of a lyre, a small harp.
  • The poetic impulse seems to be universal all
    ancient cultures in the anthology recorded lyric
    poetry long before prose emerged.

Funerary relief with a lyre player. A young boy,
reading in a book role, recites a poem on the
melody. Magna Graecia (South Italia), ca. 420 BC.
Lyric and Epic
  • Poetry was composed in many different settings
  • Religious ceremonies
  • Entertainment at banquets
  • Poets could be seen as powerful verbal magicians
  • In China poetry was seen as integral to the daily
    life of any educated person.

Lyric and Epic
  • Epics are long, narrative poems that concern a
    series of great struggles or adventures of a hero
    or group of heroes, aided and opposed by
    different gods, often leading to the forming of a
    people or nation.
  • Epic poetry is found in the ancient cultures of
  • Babylonia
  • India
  • Greece
  • Rome

Lyric and Epic
  • The oldest epics are collective compositions
  • They were developed over time, carried on and
    revised through oral tradition

Deogarh. Here you see the five Pandava princes-
heroes of the epic Mahabharata - with their
shared wife-in-common named Draupadi (although
some had their own wives too). Vishnu, incarnated
as Krishna , was advisor and their charioteer in
battle. The central figure is Yudhishthira  the
two to his left are Bhima and Arjuna . Nakula and
Sahadeva , the twins, are to his right. Their
wife, at far right, is Draupadi . These heroes
are themselves incarnations Yudhishthira
manifests Dharma, the Sacred Order of Life. Bhima
represents the Wind God, Vayu. Arjuna is Indra.
Nakula and Sahadeva incarnate the twin Horseman
Gods (The Greek Dioscuri). Draupadi is Indrani ,
the queen of the gods and wife of Indra- a very
old Vedic (Pre-Hindu) god. Credit Bob King. This
file is licensed under Creative Commons
Attribution 2.0 License
Myth, Legend, and History
  • Myth is a term with many meanings.
  • Today, sometimes used for anything that isnt
  • In ancient Greek, any story
  • A certain group of stories about the gods
  • Myth in the ancient world can be thought of as a
    story of ultimate truths
  • Often used to explain origins

Myth, Legend, and History
  • Ancient literature mixes material that we usually
    think of as distinct.
  • Myths, legends, history
  • The ancient texts that we have today are rare
    exceptions that survived the centuries
  • They were so treasured that they were widely
  • They simply happened to be preserved in a tomb or

The Ancient Near East
  • The Fertile Crescent is a broad band of settled
    lands stretching from the Tigris and Euphrates
    rivers into what is now Iraq, up into Asia Minor,
    and down through Palestine.

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The Ancient Near East
  • Due to a unique combination of favorable
    environmental conditions and human ingenuity, the
    worlds first great cities were established.

Ruins of Babylon, 1932. Library of Congress
The Ancient Near East
  • As rulers sought to create empires and merchants
    trading, writing developed to solve communication
  • Around 3200 B.C.E. early Sumerians developed a
    form of writing that used symbolic
    representations of objects, and later of sounds.
  • By 3000 B.C.E. the worlds first fully developed
    writing systems had emerged
  • Eventually, language became simplified to
    alphabetic symbols and dropped visual signs
    creating the first phonetic alphabets

The Ancient Near East
  • Scribes achieved great authority
  • Highly skilled counselors
  • Diplomats
  • A sort of civil service elite
  • Early writing systems were complex and difficult
    to learn.
  • Involved carving hundreds of symbols on stone or
    clay tablets, later brushed onto papyrus

Cuneiform Clay Tablet. Credit Permission is
granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this
document under the terms of the GNU Free
Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later
version published by the Free Software
Foundation with no Invariant Sections, no
Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A
copy of the license is included in the section
entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
Ancient Near East
  • Cultural production centered around court and
  • Kings were often seen as partly divine
  • Tensions between court and temples over power
  • Extensive texts were written to record the
    affairs of both
  • Royal annals, medical and astronomical texts,
    hymns, prayers, etc.

Ancient Near East
  • Divinities varied throughout the ancient near
    east but there are strong family resemblances
  • A primordial generation that created the world
    and gave birth to a further generation of gods
    that now rule
  • A few major divinities and a host of minor
  • Major divinities
  • Sun Utu (Sumarian), Shamash (Akkadian), Amon Re
    or Aten (Egypt), Apollo (Greece)
  • Fertility/Love Inanna or Ishtar (Mesopotamia),
    Isis (Egypt), Aphrodite (Greece), Venus (Rome)
  • Cosmic systems relied on a male/female

Example of the Greek Divine Lineage
Birth of Monotheism
  • The worship of many gods often tempered by
    devotion to a particular god (patron deity)
  • Among the Hebrew tribes, devotion to Yahweh
    gradually evolved into monotheism
  • United Israel under Saul in 1020 B.C.E. His son
    Solomon strengthened the kingdom but civil wars
    erupted at his death and the country was ruled by
    a series of foreign powers.
  • During Solomons reign, writers composed
    chronicles and wisdom texts of their own,
    inspired by older Canaanite, Babylonian, and
    Egyptian sources. They continued throughout the
    years of foreign rule and exile.
  • The Hebrew Bible became an extraordinary
    compendium of historical writing, law, poetry,
    and reflection on fundamental questions of human

Language, Cities, Empires
  • The ancient world was instable, with constant
    political and social instability
  • Empires grew and fell through wars with rivals
  • Natural disasters led to mass migrations
  • Created an ethnic, linguistic, and cultural
  • Example Flood stories (Gilgamesh, Bible, etc.)
  • Egypt remained a single country with an unbroken
    history for 3,000 years a record only matched
    by China.

Early China
Early China
  • Early China usually thought of as lasting until
    the first millennium B.C.E.
  • Confucius lived at midpoint
  • Mythological record credits a series of sage
    emperors with innovations and principles that
    guide the development of Chinese civilization
  • Focus on historical beings and world, rather than
  • Insistence on respect for ones parents and
  • Importance of agriculture, writing, ritual, arts
  • Conviction that morality, rather than genealogy,
    validated ones right to govern

Early China
  • Shang Dynasty begins the actual historical
    record at 1550-1040 B.C.E.
  • Scapulimancy reading of cracks in heated bones
    or shells
  • Demonstrates continuities in Chinese language
  • Zhou Dynasty came to power after a tyrannical
    Shang ruler claiming a mandate of heaven
  • Like Shang, agrarian people with regulated city
  • Sacked by a non-Chinese tribe
  • A new capital of a revived Eastern Zhou remained
    for five centuries divided into Spring and Autumn
    period and Warring States period

Early China
  • Confucius enormous respect for Zhou ideals
  • Primacy of a family-based morality and an
    extension of this into other relationships
  • Government for the good of governed governing by
    moral example
  • Priorities of group over individual
  • Proper roles in a social hierarchy led to social

Early China
  • Daoists, most important early thinkers to take
    issue with Confucian ideals
  • Sought harmony with the way
  • Privileged natural over human
  • Thoroughgoing relativity undermined active
    commitment of any kind
  • Legalists, believed that human nature was not
    inclined to be good.
  • Only power could succeed in ordering the state

Early China
  • Qin dynasty
  • Short-lived and busy
  • Standardized writing system, weights and
    measures, coinage, width of carriage axles
  • Construction projects, including Great Wall
  • Centralized imperial power through agents
    dispatched across the country
  • Also ordered all classical texts burned, searched
    for elixirs of immortality, and commissioned a
    elaborate mausoleum
  • Civil war erupted and the Han Dynasty was born.

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935)
Early China
  • The Han Dynasty rejected the excess of the Qin,
    but built up the administrative structure more
  • Implemented the civil service exam
  • Identified the Five Classics (each associated
    with Confucius in some way), which were the basis
    of the exam, and became the required reading of
    all educated people

Early South Asia
  • History of Early South Asia is obscure until
    around 500 B.C.E.
  • Asoka (third Maurya king) is the first that we
    have solid information about
  • Mauryan empire ended about 2nd century B.C.E.,
    but we have only a shadowy idea of why

Early South Asia
  • Although Indus Valley civilization appears to
    have been literate. They left only seals that
    are indecipherable.
  • Part of Indo-European language family Roots of
    which can be traced from Iran to Ireland
  • The Veda (wisdom) is one of the oldest
    remaining texts. It comprises materials used in
    the complex liturgy of domestic and communal
  • Transmitted orally for 3 millennia (samskrita)
  • Much of the Veda is verse same 11 meter found
    in ancient Greek poetry

Early South Asia
  • The Ramayana was composed in the late Maurya
    epoch, around 200 B.C.E.
  • The Mahabharata, ascribed to the sage Vyasa, is
    usually thought of as a history. Probably
    created a century or two before Asoka, but
    continued to grow.
  • For both the principle theme is meaning and
    extent of power
  • The nature of kingly rule and the limits of the
    world within which this rule makes sense
  • Sanskrit poets and scholars produced literature
    and theory about literature that dominated the
    cultural scene in South Asia

Early South Asia
  • Vedic tradition encountered a crisis of belief in
    the middle of the first millennium B.C.E.
  • One reaction was an ascetic renunciation and
    physical self-mortification
  • Another reaction was a new and profound
    reflection on life and death
  • Ideas of redeath and rebirth (transmigration or
    samsara) , in accordance with deeds committed in
    a previous life (karma)
  • Upanishads and Four Noble Truths
  • Vedic thinkers tried to synthesize there many
    tendencies into a doctrine called the four-life
  • Spiritual attachment to various gods remained,
    but three main gods Brahma (creator), Vishnu
    (sustainer note his avatara, or descent into
    human form), and Shiva (beneficent destroyer)
    sometimes merged into a triple godhead

Classical Greece
The Greeks lived in pockets of what is now
mainland Greece, throughout the islands of the
eastern Mediterranean and along the shores of the
Mediterranean sea.
Classical Greece
  • Mycenaean civilization came in contact with
    Minoan civilization in the late Bronze age
    through trading
  • The earliest writing dates back to this period
  • Clay tablets used to meet the record-keeping
    needs of large bureaucracies
  • Greek speakers later conquered them and adopted
    their writing system to record the sounds of
  • The Greeks later looked back on this period as
    their heroic age

Classical Greece
  • Epic poetry was by far the most important Greek
  • Aethiopis or Amazonia
  • Iliad and the Odyssey
  • There appears to have been a dark age where
    written language was lost. Stories passed orally
    and recaptured in 8th century B.C.E.
  • Began to use alphabet borrowed from Phoenicians
  • Writing often seen as something dangerous (used
    by tyrants)

Classical Greece
  • Greek society was really a mosaic of many varied
  • We know the most about Athens thanks to the rich
    written record they left behind.
  • Following Mycenaean era, city-states ruled by
  • Some aristocrats eventually set themselves up as
  • In a sharp break from traditional forms of
    governance, democracy rose (esp. in Athens). All
    free male citizens chose their magistrates by lot
    (no women, slaves, or non-citizens).

Classical Greece
  • Dramatic festivals were central to Athenian life.
  • Celebrated Dionysos, god of wine
  • Committees of citizens chose the plays and
    awarded a winner
  • Tragedy dramatized the epic cycle in music,
    dance, and spoken dialogue
  • Comedy featured fantastic plots and direct
    references to their contemporary world. There
    was also a good deal of obscenity and phallic

Greece, Athens, Dionysus theater, seen from the
Classical Greece
  • After the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, a
    period of relative peace was established by
    Philip of Macedon.
  • His son, Alexander, inherited his kingdom.
    Relentlessly trying to conquer the Persian
    empire, Alexander conquered the Greeks, Egypt,
    deeply into barbarian lands, and east to the
    Indus River.
  • At his death, his generals divided his fragile
  • I.E. Alexandria, under the Ptolemies
  • Eventually Hellenistic empire fell under the

  • Mythological origins
  • Romulus and Remus
  • Aeneas
  • Local magistrates expelled the last Tarquin kings
    and gained independence from the Etruscan Empire
    in 510 B.C.E.
  • The republic, governed by the Senate, lasted
    until Augustus in 27 B.C.E.

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  • By 1st century C.E. Rome had grown from tiny
    republic to the dominant power in the
  • Rome itself had an unmatched population
  • Problems of overcrowding, supply, and waste
  • Inspired necessary advances in water and sewage
  • Multicultural almost all residents came from
    somewhere else

  • The republics troubles began with the Gracchi
    brothers attempts to address growing social
    inequality with land redistribution and
    citizenship for all Latins.
  • This launched a series of reform measures and
    attempts to grab power that eventually end in
    Caesars dictatorship.
  • Caesars power based on his army and track record
    of victories

Modern bronze statue of Julius Caesar, Rimini,
Italy Credit Georges Jansoone This file is
licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution
ShareAlike 3.0, Attribution ShareAlike 2.5,
Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 and Attribution
ShareAlike 1.0 License. In short you are free to
share and make derivative works of the file under
the conditions that you appropriately attribute
it, and that you distribute it only under a
license identical to this one. Official license.
  • After Caesars assassination in 44 C.E. war broke
    out among potential heirs.
  • Caesars adopted son, Octavian, defeated Mark
    Antony and his ally and lover Cleopatra at the
    Battle of Actium, and became sole ruler
  • The Roman Empire was born

  • The Roman Empire was a complex combination of
    military prowess and political savvy.
  • Roman legions highly-trained, well-equipped, and
  • Constructed carefully laid-out provincial
    capitals and paved roads and aqueducts to link
    the empire.
  • As long as conquered rivals paid heavy taxes they
    were given relative autonomy

  • Expansion continued through the 4th century.
  • At its height, borders extended into Scotland,
    the Rhine and Danube in Europe, and throughout
    the Mediterranean.
  • Overtime, emperors became more autocratic powers
    and godlike status, but the military played an
    increasingly important role in selecting emperor
    often resulting in a series of military coups.

The Roman Empire
  • Fall of Rome Invasion by northern barbarians led
    by Alaric in 410.
  • Military relied on peoples of conquered nations
  • Conversion of Constantine in 324 eventually
    shifted power eastward
  • The rule of Germanic tribes was less centralized
    and often at odds with Eastern Empire
  • Rome continued to decline, although somewhat
    strengthened by the medieval papacy
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