World History AP with Mr. Duez - Learning Targets

Part 2 - The Classical Era in World History, 500 B.C.E. - 500 C.E.

CH 5 - Eurasian Cultural Traditions, 500 BCE - 500 CE



1. “Religions are fundamentally alike.” Does the material in this chapter support or undermine this idea?

2. Is a secular outlook on the world an essentially modern phenomenon, or does it have precedents in the classical era?

3. “Religion is a double-edged sword, both supporting and undermining political authority and social elites.” How would you support both sides of this statement?

4.        How would you define the appeal of the religious/cultural traditions discussed in this chapter? To what groups were they attractive, and why?


1.  What different answers to the problem of disorder arose in classical China?

2.  Why has Confucianism been defined as a “humanistic philosophy” rather than a supernatural religion?

3.  How did the Daoist outlook differ from that of Confucianism?

4.  In what ways did the religious traditions of South Asia change over the centuries?

5.  In what ways did Buddhism reflect Hindu traditions, and in what ways did it challenge them?

6.  What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana expressions of Buddhism?

7.  What new emphases characterized Hinduism as it responded to the challenge of Buddhism?

8.  What aspects of Zoroastrianism and Judaism subsequently found a place in Christianity and Islam?

9.  What was distinctive about the Jewish religious tradition?

10.  What are the distinctive features of the Greek intellectual tradition?

11.  How would you compare the lives and teachings of Jesus and the Buddha? In what different ways did the two religions evolve after the deaths of their founders?

12.  In what ways was Christianity transformed in the five centuries following the death of Jesus?



Ahura Mazda: In Zoroastrianism, the good god who rules the world. (pron. ah-HOOR-ah MAHZ-dah)

Angra Mainyu: In Zoroastrianism, the evil god, engaged in a cosmic struggle with Ahura Mazda. (pron. AHN-grah MINE-you)

Aristotle: A Greek polymath philosopher (384–322 b.c.e.); student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great.

atman: The human soul, which in classic Hindu belief seeks union with Brahman. (pron. AHT-mahn)

Ban Zhao: A major female Confucian author of Han dynasty China (45–116 c.e.) whose works give insight into the implication of Confucian thinking for women. (pron. bahn joe)

Bhagavad Gita: A great Hindu epic text, part of the much larger Mahabharata, which affirms the performance of caste duties as a path to religious liberation. (pron. BAH-gah-vahd GHEE-tah)

bhakti movement: An immensely popular development in Hinduism, advocating intense devotion toward a particular deity. (pron. BAHK-tee)

Brahman: The “World Soul” or final reality in upanishadic Hindu belief. (pron. BRAH-mahn)

Brahmins: The priestly caste of India. (pron. BRAH-min)

Buddhism: The cultural/religious tradition first enunciated by Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha).

Confucianism: The Chinese philosophy first enunciated by Confucius, advocating the moral example of superiors as the key element of social order.

Confucius (Kong Fuzi): The founder of Confucianism (551–479 b.c.e.); an aristocrat of northern China who proved to be the greatest influence on Chinese culture in its history. (pron. of Chinese form of name: kuhng fuh-tzuh)

Constantine: Roman emperor (r. 306–337 c.e.) whose conversion to Christianity paved the way for the triumph of Christianity in Europe.

Daodejing: The central text of Daoism; translated as The Way and Its Power. (pron. dow-day-jing)

Daoism: A Chinese philosophy/popular religion that advocates simplicity and understanding of the world of nature, founded by the legendary figure Laozi. (pron. dow-ism)

filial piety: The honoring of one’s ancestors and parents, a key element of Confucianism.

Greek rationalism: A secularizing system of scientific and philosophic thought that developed in classical Greece in the period 600 to 300 b.c.e.; it emphasized the power of education and human reason to understand the world in nonreligious terms.

Hinduism: A word derived from outsiders to describe the vast diversity of indigenous Indian religious traditions.

Hippocrates: A very influential Greek medical theorist (ca. 460–ca. 370 b.c.e.); regarded as the father of medicine.

Isaiah: One of the most important prophets of Judaism, whose teachings show the transformation of the religion in favor of compassion and social justice (eighth century b.c.e.).

Jesus of Nazareth: The prophet/god of Christianity (ca. 4 b.c.e.–ca. 30 c.e.).

Judaism: The monotheistic religion developed by the Hebrews, emphasizing a sole personal god (Yahweh) with concerns for social justice.

karma: In Hinduism, the determining factor of the level at which the individual is reincarnated, based on purity of action and fulfillment of duty in the prior existence.

Laozi: A legendary Chinese philosopher of the sixth century b.c.e.; regarded as the founder of Daoism. (pron. low-tzuh)

Legalism: A Chinese philosophy distinguished by an adherence to clear laws with vigorous punishments.

Mahayana: “Great Vehicle,” the popular development of Buddhism in the early centuries of the Common Era, which gives a much greater role to supernatural beings and proved to be more popular than original (Theravada) Buddhism. (pron. mah-hah-YAH-nah)

moksha: In Hindu belief, liberation from separate existence and union with Brahman. (pron. mokeshuh)

nirvana: The end goal of Buddhism, in which individual identity is “extinguished” into a state of serenity and great compassion. (pron. neer-VAH-nah)

Plato: A disciple of Socrates whose Dialogues convey the teachings of his master while going beyond them to express Plato’s own philosophy; lived from 429 to 348 b.c.e.

Pythagoras: A major Greek philosopher (ca. 560–ca. 480 b.c.e.) who believed that an unchanging mathematical order underlies the apparent chaos of the world. (pron. pith-AG-or-us)

Saint Paul: The first great popularizer of Christianity (10–65 c.e.).

Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha): The Indian prince turned ascetic (ca. 566–ca. 486 b.c.e.) who founded Buddhism. (pron. sidd-ARTH-uh gow- TAHM-uh)

Socrates: The first great Greek philosopher to turn rationalism toward questions of human existence (469–399 b.c.e.).

Thales of Miletus: A Greek natural philosopher (ca. 624–ca. 547 b.c.e.), noted for his application of reason to astronomy and for his questioning of the fundamental nature of the universe. (usually pron. THAY-lees)

Theodosius: Roman emperor (r. 379–395 c.e.) who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman state, banning all polytheistic rituals.

Theravada: “The Teaching of the Elders,” the early form of Buddhism according to which the Buddha was a wise teacher but not divine and which emphasizes practices rather than beliefs. (pron. THAIR-ah-VAH-dah)

Upanishads: Indian mystical and philosophical works, written between 800 and 400 b.c.e. (pron. ooh- PAHN-ish-ahds)

Vedas: The earliest religious texts of India, a collection of ancient poems, hymns, and rituals that were transmitted orally before being written down ca. 600 b.c.e. (pron.VAY-dahs)

Warring States period: Period in China from 403 to 221 b.c.e. that was typified by disorder and political chaos.

yin and yang: Expression of the Chinese belief in the unity of opposites.

Zarathustra: A Persian prophet, traditionally dated to the sixth or seventh century b.c.e. (but perhaps much older), who founded Zoroastrianism. (pron. zah-rah-THOOS-trah)

Zhuangzi: A Chinese philosopher (369–286 b.c.e.) who spelled out the teachings of Daoism. (pron. jwang-tzuh)

Zoroastrianism: Persian monotheistic religion founded by the prophet Zarathustra. (pron. zor-oh- AST-ree-an-ism)

Period 2: Organization & Reorganization of Human Societies, c. 600 BCE to c. 600 CE

Key Concept 2.1 The Development & Codification of Religious & Cultural Traditions

I. Codifications of existing religious traditions create a bond among the people & an ethical code

A. Judaism developed

1. Influenced by Mesopotamian culture & legal traditions

2. Conquered by political states led to diaspora communities

B. Sanskrit scriptures formed Hinduism(s)

II. New belief systems emerged & spread, often asserting universal truths.

A. Buddhism

B. Confucianism

C. Daoism

D. Christianity

E. Greco-Roman philosophy & science

III. Belief systems affected gender roles

IV. Other religious/traditions continued parallel to written belief systems.

A. Shamanism & animism

B. Ancestor veneration

V. Artistic expressions, including literature & drama, architecture, & sculpture.

A. Literature & drama

B. Indian, Greek, Mesoamerican, & Roman architectural styles.

C. Greco-Roman sculpture, syncretism w/ Buddhism

Key Concept 2.2 The Development of States & Empires

I. Imperial societies grew dramatically.

A. Persian Empires

B. Qin & Han dynasties

C. Maurya & Gupta Empires

D. Phoenician & Greek colonies/colonization, Hellenistic & Roman Empires

E. Teotihuacan, Maya city states

F. Moche

II. Empires & states developed new techniques of imperial administration

A. Rulers created centralized governments, elaborate legal systems, & bureaucracies.

B. Imperial governments projected military power

C. Much of the success of empires rested on their promotion of trade & economic integration

III. Unique social & economic dimensions developed in imperial Societies.

A. Function of Cities

1. centers of trade

2. religious rituals

3. political administration

B. Social hierarchies 1) cultivators; 2) laborers; 3) slaves; 4) artisans; 5) merchants; 6) elites; 7) caste groups.

C. Methods used to produce food, rewards for elites.

D. Patriarchy continued to shape gender & family relations.

IV. Roman, Han, Mauryan, & Gupta declined, collapsed, transformed into successor empires or states.

A. Empires caused environmental damage & generated social tensions & economic difficulties.

B. External problems resulted from the threat of invasions

Key Concept 2.3 Emergence of Trans Regional Networks of Communication & Exchange

I. Hemispheric trade, communication & exchange networks impacted climate & location of the routes, the typical trade goods, & the ethnicity of people

A. Eurasian Silk Roads

B. Trans-Saharan caravan routes

C. Indian Ocean sea lanes

D. Mediterranean sea lanes

II. New technologies led to long-distance communication & exchange.

A. New technologies led to domesticated pack animals, promoted longer routes.

B. Maritime technologies, monsoon winds

III. Intangible Trade Networks

A. crops led to changes in farming & irrigation

B. Diseases decreased urban populations, also decreased empires (Rome & Han)

C. Religious & cultural