Ancient Civilizations
Paleolithic Era

Paleolithic Era (Old Stone Age)
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Hunters and Gatherers
•
•
•
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When - 2 million BCE to 10,000 BCE
First people lived in East Africa
Nomads – moved to find food
Men would hunt game animals and fish
Women would collect fruits, berries and other edibles
Tools
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Simple tools - spears and axes made of stone, bone or
wood.
Clothing - skins of animals
Shelter – caves
Fire – used for warmth and cooking.
Paleolithic Era
Paleolithic Era

Paleolithic Societies
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•
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Small groups - 20-30 people
Spoken languages to communicate
Early belief systems
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Polytheistic – animism
Burying the dead
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Afterlife – Showing care for the dead
Buried with their tools and weapons
Paleolithic Era

Out of Africa Theory
•

People migrated from Africa to the rest of the
world
Scarce resources
•
•
Hunting and gathering sustained life BUT
people barely survived.
People were nomadic because food was
scarce
Paleolithic Era
Neolithic Revolution
Neolithic Revolution (New Stone Age)
When - 10,000 BCE
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Important discoveries
•
Farming

•
People learned to plant seeds to grow food
Domesticate animals
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Tamed animals they had been hunting
Herded and penned the animals
Sources of food, clothing, labor and transportation
Neolithic Revolution
Neolithic Revolution

Impact of Neolithic Revolution
Reliable source of food
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Permanent communities formed
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•
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As food supply increases, so did the population
Villages of hundreds and cities of thousands emerge
Sedentary Agriculture – farming in one place
New Technologies – to meet their new needs
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•
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Calendars – know when to plant and harvest crops
Metal tools – bronze and then iron (plows, sickles)
Irrigation systems – brought water to farms
Metal weapons – defend their resources and villages
Neolithic Revolution
River Valley Civilizations
Rise of Civilizations
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
Rivers valleys - home to the first
civilizations
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•
•
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Fertile Land – the yearly floods provided
arable land
Fresh Water – gave people water source
Transportation – Used the river as a means of
transportation
Trade –civilizations exchanged goods and
ideas when people came into contact with
one another
River Valley Civilizations
Rise of Civilizations

Characteristics of a Civilization
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•
•
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Cities – populations of thousands
Governments – provide order, organization
and protection
Traditional economy – based on farming and
other skilled crafts such as pottery, clothing
and other goods
Organized religion – priests would perform
ceremonies to ensure plentiful crops and
protection from the Gods (Polytheistic)
Rise of Civilizations
Rise of Civilizations

Specialization of labor
•
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people to perform different jobs/functions in society
Social classes emerge – based on one’s occupation
• Ruler - Leader of the army
• Priests – led religious rituals
• Warriors - protected resources and cities
• Merchants and artisan
• Peasant Farmer
• Women’s - status declined as men took lead roles as
warriors
Systems of writing – Used for record keeping. Early
writing used pictures and then developed into symbols
Art and architecture – Built temples and palaces to
honor religious and political leaders.
Public works – built infrastructure such as roads,
bridges and walls for protection
Nile Valley Civilizations
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
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River Valley Civilizations (4000 BCE–1650 BCE)
Nile River Valley – Egypt (North Africa)
Geographic Setting

Region – North Africa, Middle East

Topography - Mostly Desert – land with little
rainfall and sparse vegetation
•

Natural barrier – provided protection from invasion
Nile River - River flows from South to North
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•
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Fertile Soil – Silt from floods leaves a rich deposit of
soil
Transportation - highway for travel and trade
Cities - Villages merge to form cities
Nile Delta - where the Nile emptied into the
Mediterranean Sea
Nile River Valley
Nile River Valley

Government

Pharaohs – ruler of Egypt

Divine Right - worshipped as a living God

Absolute power Centralized Government
Bureaucracy – government agencies (collecting
taxes)
 Dynasty – Ruling family of Egypt; When the
pharaoh died, power was passed onto the another
family member
 Menes – Pharaoh (3100 BCE) - United Upper and
Lower Egypt to create the first dynasty

Used the Nile to link Upper and Lower Egypt
Nile River Valley
Religion
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
Polytheistic – Worshipped many gods
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•
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Amon-Re – The Sun God and the Chief God
Osirus – God of the Nile, controlled the Nile’s
annual flood
Afterlife – prepared the dead for life after
death
Pyramids – Tombs and monuments used
to store the remains of dead pharaohs as
they await the afterlife
Nile River Valley
Nile River Valley
Society
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Social Classes
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Upper Class – Pharaoh, Priests, Nobles
Middle Class – Merchants and artisans
Lower Class – Peasants (Farmers)
Slaves
Role of Women:
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

Legally own property
Run business
Divorce
Nile River Valley

Contributions

Papyrus – Egyptian Paper

Hieroglyphics – Writing system that used
pictures to represent words and ideas

Rosetta Stone - translated Hieroglyphics

Literature - poetry, songs, hymns and fiction

Surgery and Medicine

Mummification helped them diagnose
illnesses and perform surgery

Calendar – 365 days (solar)

Math - Number system based on 10 (10, 100,
1000, etc.)
Nile river Valley
Mesopotamia
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Tigris & Euphrates Rivers – Mesopotamia
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Geographic Setting

Region – Middle East
• Mesopotamia – The land between the rivers
• The Fertile Crescent – Fertile land that
stretches from the Persian Gulf to the
Mediterranean Sea

Few natural barriers
• Cultural diffusion – exchange of goods
and ideas
• Invasion – allowed for several invasions
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia - Sumer
Sumerian Civilization – (3000 BCE)
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

Government
• City- States – independent areas but shared a
common culture
• Rulers – seen as the chief servant to the gods

Role of Government – Enforced laws, collected
taxes, led armies, kept records, maintained city
walls and irrigation systems
Religion
• Polytheistic – Gods had human qualities and were
tied to the forces of nature

Each city-state had their own God or Goddess
• Ziggurats - Stone temples made out of sun-dried
bricks

Used to show the power of the government and
religion
Mesopotamia - Sumer
Mesopotamia - Sumer

Social Classes
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

Upper Class – Ruling family, Gov’t
officials and high priests
Middle Class –Merchants and artisans
Lower Class – Peasants (Farmers)
Mesopotamia - Sumer
Mesopotamia
Sumer
Contributions
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Inventions
• Sailboat
• Wheel
• Plow
• Walled cities
• Irrigation Systems – brought water to farms; expand
farming
Architecture
• Ziggurats
Writing
• Cuneiform – Writing systems to keep records
Literature
• The Epic of Gilgamesh
Math
• Basic algebra
• Geometry
• Number system based on 6 (60 minute in an hour, 360
degrees in a circle)
Mesopotamia - Sumer
Mesopotamia - Babylon
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Babylonian Civilization
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Government
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Centralized government – strong central government
Hammurabi – (1792-1750 BCE) God-like king
Code of Hammurabi – 300 codified laws carved
in stone
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•
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Criminal Law – robbery, assault, murder
Civil law – business contracts, property, taxes,
marriage and divorce
Specific punishments for specific laws
Harsh punishments – “Eye for an Eye”
Social inequality – laws were harsher for lower
classes, women and children
Mesopotamia - Babylon
Mesopotamia - Babylon
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Contributions
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•
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Contract - written agreement
Astronomy – Study of universe
Lunar calendar (12 months, 7 day week, 24 hr
day)
Map makers – cartographer
Indus River Valley
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Indus River Valley – Indian Subcontinent
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Geographic Setting
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Region - South Asia
Mountain ranges
• Hindu Kush
• Himalayan
Monsoons – seasonal winds that brought rainfall to
the Indian Subcontinent
Unpredictable – Drought or Floods
Indus River – Rich, fertile soil
Indus River Valley
Indus River Valley

Mystery
• Little is known about the Indus river valley because
historians and archaeologists have not been able to
decipher the writing system.
• All that is known comes from archaeological finds

Centralized Government
• Well-Planned Cities – Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro
• Streets – set up in a grid pattern
• Standardized - weights and measures
• Religious Temples
• Granaries – buildings used to store grain

Contributions
• Plumbing systems – baths, drains, sewers
• Irrigation ditches and flood barriers
• Wheel
Indus River Valley
Yellow River Valley
 Yellow

River Valley (3000-2500 BCE)
Geographic Setting
• Region – East Asia

• Natural barriers – mountains, deserts, rainforest, ocean

Isolation - cut off from others (early history)
River Valleys
• Huang He – Yellow River

Loess - yellow matter in river that brings nutrients
to soil

Floods – given the nickname, “River of Sorrows”
• Yangzi River
Yellow River Valley
Yellow River Valley
Government
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
Shang Dynasty – 1650 BCE – 1027 BCE
• Dynasty – Ruling family of China; when the
emperor died, another family member took
over
• Decentralized government – land and power
was delegated to noble families (military
leaders) to govern
 Kings led nobles into battle
 Owned small areas of land
Yellow River Valley
Religion
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Polytheistic – worshipped many gods and
nature spirits
Early Daoism
• Yin and yang – opposing forces that held
nature in balance
• Ancestor Worship – honored ancestors with
sacrifices and shrines
Yellow River Valley
Society
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Social Classes
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Upper Class - Royals family and nobles
Middle Class - Merchants and artisans
Lower Class - Peasants farmers
“Middle Kingdom” - Due to isolation,
early Chinese were cut off from other
cultures and thought of themselves as
the center of the universe
Yellow River Valley
Contributions
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Writing system
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Thousands of characters made it hard to learn
Pictographs – Drawings of objects
Ideographs – Drawings of thoughts and ideas
Yellow River Valley
Classical Civilizations - China
Zhou Dynasty – China (1027 BCE-221
BCE)
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•
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Government
Overthrow – the Shang Dynasty
Mandate of heaven – Right to rule comes
from heaven; used to explain the dynastic
cycle
Dynastic Cycle – cycle that explained the
rise and fall of dynasties, based on the
mandate of heaven
Feudal government – Zhou emperors
granted control of large areas of land to
local lords, but owed military service to the
emperor
Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
Economy
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Trade – increased as a result of new
roads and canals (infrastructure)
Money – Chinese copper coins as a form
of currency
Agriculture expands – development of
iron tools
Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
 Contributions

Confucianism – Belief system that provided
order and stability in China by creating rules of
behaviors for individuals based on filial piety

Daoism – Belief system that stressed harmony
in nature, based on the Dao and concepts of the
yin and yang
Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
 Contributions

continued…
Literature – “Book of Songs” – poems that
describe farming, government, ceremonies and
love

Astronomy – Studied planet movements and
ellipses to create a 365 day calendar

Silk – Expensive material used for clothing that
was China’s most valuable export

Iron – used for weapons and tools
Zhou Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty – China (221 BCE – 206 BCE)
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Government
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Centralized government
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•
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Overthrew the Zhou dynasty
Shi Huangdi claims to be China’s “First Emperor”
Abolished feudal states
Created military districts - official heading each area
Legalism - strict set of laws that imposed harsh
penalties. Used to jail, torture and kill those who imposed
the emperor. Would target nobles and Confucian
scholars.
• Burned books – destruction of all books of literature
and philosophy
Qin Dynasty
 Economy
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Standardized weights and measures
Created national coins
Repaired infrastructure (roads and canals)
Qin Dynasty
 Contributions

Great Wall of China – Built to keep China’s
civilized world separated from nomadic invaders
from the north (Mongols)
• Thousands of workers died building the wall
due to harsh conditions.
Qin Dynasty
Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty – China (206 BCE - 220 CE)
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
Government
• Dynastic Cycle - People despised the Qin’s
dynasty’s harsh laws and heavy taxes; Led by
peasants, the Han Dynasty would take control of China
•
Han Dynasty – Reduced taxes and repealed
Legalism
•
Civil Service Exams – Emperor Wudi improved
China’s government by setting up exams based on
Confucian principles; this would assure Chinese
officials were given jobs based on merit, not their
family influence
Han Dynasty

Economy
•
Infrastructure – new roads and canals improved
trade
•
Monopoly – set up an monopoly on iron and salt;
this gave the government another source of income
other than the taxes on peasants
•
Silk Road – Wudi opened a trade route to the west
that expanded from china to the Middle East and
Eastern Europe.
Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
Society
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
Scholar gentry – Wealthy educated class
emerged from the Civil Service Exams

Women – Confucian principles had women
subordinate to men; women were not allowed to
take the exams and could not take a government
job
Han Dynasty
Contributions
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Technology
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•
•
•
•
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Paper making from wood pulp
Wheel barrow
Fishing reel
Rudder – device to help steer ships
Suspension bridges
Iron stirrups
Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
Science
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
Acupuncture – needles are inserted
under the skin to relieve pain and to treat
illnesses
Han Dynasty
Arts
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Temples and palaces
Jade and Ivory carvings
Bronze artworks
Silk
Literature – “Lessons for a Woman” –
Roles for men and women
Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty

Fall of the Han Dynasty
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

Political Causes – Weak rulers after the death of
Wudi; unable to control powerful warlords
Economic Causes – Did not maintain canals and
roads which were vital for trade to prosper;
Increased taxes on the peasants, led to a revolt
Military Causes – Warlords overthrew the last
Han emperor in 22 CE, the empire was split into
several kingdoms; invaders overran the Great
Wall and set up their own kingdoms
Greece
Greece (1750 BCE – 133 BC)
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
Geographic setting
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•
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Region - Southeast Europe
Topography - many mountains, isolated
valleys and small islands
The Mediterranean and Aegean Seas important link to the outside world


The Greeks became skilled sea traders allowed for
cultural diffusion where they exchanged goods and
ideas (technology)
They adopted the Phoenician alphabet for their own
use.
Greece
Greece
Early civilizations

Minoans (1750 BCE) - first Greek
civilization was established.

•
The Minoans traded with Egypt and
Mesopotamia
Greece
 Government
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
City-States - Due to the rugged mountains
and isolated valleys, Greek civilizations
revolved around the small city-state or
polis.
This geography prevented the Greeks from
building a large empire like the Egyptians
or Mesopotamians
Greece

The Rise of City States
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
Greek culture – Greek city-states had
independent government but shared many
cultural characteristics such as: language,
religion, and sports.
Between 750 BCE and 500BCE the city states
had several different types of government
• Monarchy – first form of government
• Aristocracy – ruled by landowning nobles
Greece
Sparta – A Totalitarian, Military Dictatorship
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At the age of seven boys moved into the military
barracks
They trained hard and faced rigid discipline
Girls also trained hard to strengthen their bodies
Healthy women produce healthy babies
Sparta was an totalitarian state that produced an
excellent military
But they did not trade, create products, nor were
they scholarly so they left no cultural achievements
Spartan inability to change, would lead to its decline
Greece
Greece

Athens – A Limited Democracy
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
Golden Age - Under the leadership of
Pericles (460BCE – 429 BCE)
Direct-Democracy - all “citizens”
participated in government by debating
all political actions.
• Males - over 30, who owns land could vote
• Women - were seen as needing male guidance
and were not allowed to participate.
• Slaves and foreigners - also did not
participate
Greece
Hellenistic Civilization

Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic age



Macedonia - a mountainous region in the
kingdom of northern Greece.
Empire – Conquered Greece, Egypt, Persia and
parts of India
Hellenistic culture - blended aspects of Greek,
Persian, Egyptian and Indian life
• This culture gave more rights and
opportunities to women.
• Although the empire fell soon after his death,
Hellenistic culture had a lasting impact in the
regions he had ruled.
Hellenistic Civilization
Greek and Hellenic Contributions

Greek and Hellenistic Contributions

Philosophy
•
Greek thinkers used observation and reason
to understand why things happened
•
•
The word philosopher means “lover of wisdom”
Socrates - Developed the Socratic method: learning
about beliefs and ideas by asking questions;
Government put him to death
Plato - Believed government should control the lives of
the people; Divided society into three classes;
workers, philosophers and soldiers
Aristotle - Believed strong and good leaders ruled
through reason
•
•
Greek and Hellenic Contributions
Greek and Hellenic Contributions

Literature


Theatre – dramas, tragedies and comedies
Homer – Famous poet
• Iliad - Set in the Trojan War - the ten-year siege of
•

Ilium by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the
battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel
between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles
Odyssey – a sequel to the Iliad, The poem mainly
centers on the Greek hero Ulysses and his long
journey home following the fall of Troy. It takes
Odysseus ten years to reach home
Herodotus – First true historian
•
Considered the “father of history” for his careful
historical writing
Greek and Hellenic Contributions
Greek and Hellenic Contributions
Art and Architecture


Greek Statues - were life-like, and showed the
human body in the perfect form

Parthenon - The most famous Greek building
•
•
Columns – structures that provided support
to a building
Symmetry - equal angles, lengths and sides
Greek and Hellenic Contributions
Greek and Hellenic Contributions

Science
•
•
•
Astronomy - Aristarchus discovered that the
earth rotated on its axis and moves around
the sun
Archimedes - explored the principals of the
lever and pulley
Hippocrates - a Greek physician studies the
causes of illness and looked for cures


Hippocratic Oath – Oath doctors swore to do no
harm and to keep their patient’s information
confidential
Mathematics
•
•
Pythagoras - the formula of a right triangle
Euclid – his book is the basis for modern
geometry
Rome (509 BCE – 476 CE)
Geography



Region – South Western Europe
Rome – located in the center of the Italian
peninsula

Mediterranean Sea – helped the Romans
trade and expand into an empire that spanned
three continents (Europe, North Africa and the
Middle East)
Rome
Rome

Government



Roman Republic – established a government where
people had the power to elect representatives
• Senate – most powerful governing body of the
republic
Roman Law – Rome’s greatest achievement
Twelve Tables – codified laws of Rome that
guaranteed the right to all Roman citizens
• Basic principles – equality under the law, right of
the accused to face the accuser and defend one’s
self, idea of being innocent until proven guilty
• Males had authority over his wife and family
Rome
Rome

Society

Patricians – Upper class, landowning Roman
citizens
• Eligible to take part in the Senate

Plebeians – Social class made up of farmers,
merchants, artisans and traders;
• Limited Power - because they relied on the Patricians to
make changes in the government

Women – were subordinate to men, but gained
right to hold a prominent public role and own
businesses
Rome
 Roman

Empire
Conquest – By 270 BCE, Rome had conquered
the Italian peninsula and then used the
Mediterranean Sea to conquer an empire that
spanned three continents:

Europe (including present day England, France,
Germany, and Greece)


North Africa – Mediterranean Coast
Middle East (SW Asia) – Asia Minor and areas
surrounding the Mediterranean Sea
Rome
Rome
Caesar’s Assassination – Killed because
he declared himself dictator for life


•
Civil War – Rome erupted into civil war as ambitious
•
generals tried to conquer Rome for themselves.
Octavian (Caesar’s Grandnephew) emerged the victor
and changed his name to Augustus
Empire – Rome was an empire led by a
monarch. The Roman Senate was still kept but
absolute power was in the hands of the emperor
and the age of the Roman Empire had begun.
Rome
Augustus ruled Rome with absolute
power



Strong Central Government
Civil Service Exams – ensured a well
educated government officials



Reformed tax system
Uniform coins – made trade easier
Strong military – expanded and protected the
empire
Rome
Pax Romana – “Roman Peace” was a time of

peace and prosperity (golden age).

Trade - Through vast road networks and the
Mediterranean Sea. People freely traded with others in
the empire and with other parts of the world,

Goods – grain from Nile River Valley, ivory and gold
from Africa, spices and gems from India and silk from
China
Rome

Religion - 313 CE Emperor Constantine
legalizes Christianity - Edict of Milan
Rome

Engineering

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
Roads – allowed for trade and military
expansion
Arches – engineering technique that allowed
Rome to create large buildings
Concrete – material used for constructing large
buildings
Aqueducts – bridge-like structures that used the
Roman arch to carry water from the hills to the
cities
Dome – a half, sphere-like roof
Coliseum – Stadium built in Rome that was used
for Gladiator fights, chariot races and
executions (Bread and circuses)
Rome
Rome

Fall of the Roman Empire




Political Causes
• People stop supporting the government
• Corrupt officials
• Divided empire becomes too weak
Economic Causes
• Heavy taxes
Military Causes
• Constant invasions
• Borders are too big to defend
• Hire foreign soldiers
Social Causes
• Gap between the rich and the poor widens
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Ancient Civilizations