Unit 3: 2500 B.C.256 B.C.
Cities of the Indus Valley
 The
Indus Valley is located in the region
known as South Asia or the subcontinent of
India. A subcontinent is a large landmass
that juts out from a continent.
 The Indian subcontinent is a huge, wedgeshaped peninsula extending into the Indian
Ocean. Today it includes 3 of the world’s
10 most populous countries— India,
Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
 Towering,
snow-covered mountain ranges
mark the northern border of the
subcontinent, including the Hindu Kush
and the Himalayas. These mountains
limited contacts with other lands and
helped India develop a distinct culture.
 Today, as in the past, a defining feature of
Indian life is the monsoon, a seasonal
wind. Each year, people welcomed the
rains that are desperately needed to
water crops.
 India’s
great size and diverse
languages made it hard to unite.
Many groups of people, with differing
languages and traditions, settled in
different parts of India.
 At times, ambitious rulers conquered
much of the subcontinent creating
empires, yet the diversity of
customs and traditions remained.
Indus Valley Civilization
The earliest Indian civilization is a little bit
mysterious. It had two main cities, Harappa and
Mohenjo-Daro. Each was dominated by a
massive hilltop structure, probably a fortress or
 Scholars think that the Indus Valley civilization
collapsed when nomadic people arrived in larger
numbers and conquered the territory.
 The newcomers were the Aryans, who had horse
drawn chariots and superior weapons. The Aryans
overran the Indus region.
Aryan Civilization
The Aryans were among many groups of IndoEuropean people who migrated across Europe
and Asia seeking water and pasture for their
horses and cattle.
 The early Aryans built no cities and left no statues
or stone seals. Most of what we known about
them comes from the Vedas, a collection of
prayers, hymns, and other religions teachings.
 Aryan priests memorized and recited the Vedas
for a thousand years before they were written
down. As a result, the period from 1500 B.C. to
500 B.C. is often called the Vedic Age.
Pastoralist Society
 In
the Vedas, the Aryans appear as
warriors who fought in chariots with
bows and arrows. They loved eating,
drinking, music, chariot races, and dice
 These nomadic herders valued cattle,
which provided them with food and
clothing. Later, when they became
settled farmers, families continued to
measure their wealth in cows and bulls.
 From
the Vedas, we learn that the Aryans
divided people by occupation. The three
basic groups were the Brahmins, or priests;
the Kshatriyas, or warriors; and the
Vaisyas or herders, farmers, artisans, and
 At first, warriors enjoyed the highest
prestige, but priests eventually gained the
most respect. Their power grew because
Brahmins claimed that they alone could
conduct the ceremonies needed to win the
favor of the gods.
 The Aryans
separated non-Aryans into a
fourth group, the sudras. This group
included farmworkers, servants, and other
laborers who occupied the lowest level of
 During the Vedic age, class divisions
came to reflect social and economic roles
more than ethnic differences between
Aryans and non-Aryans.
 As these changes occurred, they gave
rise to a more complex system of castes,
or social groups into which people are
born and which they cannot change.
Aryan Religious Beliefs
 The
Vedas show that the Aryans were
polytheistic. They worshiped gods and
goddesses that embodied natural forces
such as sky and sun, storm and fire. Fierce
Indra, the god of war, was the chief Aryan
 Other major gods included Varuna, the god
of order and creation and Agni, the god of
fire. The Aryans also honored animals, such
as monkey gods and snake gods.
The Geography of China
 China
was the most isolated of the
civilizations you have studied so far.
Long distances and barriers separated
it from Egypt, the Middle East, and
 To the west and southwest of China,
high mountain ranges—the Tien Shan
and the Himalayas—and brutal deserts
blocked the easy movement of
 The
Chinese heartland lay along the east
coast and the valleys of the Huang He, or
Yellow River, and the Yangzi. In ancient
times as today, these fertile farming
regions supported the largest populations.
 Chinese history began in the Huang He
valley, where Neolithic people learned to
farm. As in other places, the need to
control the flow of the river through
large water projects, probably led to the
rise of a strong central government.
China Under the Shang
 About
1650 B.C., a Chinese people called the
Shang gained control of a corner of northern
China, along the Huang He. The Shang
dynasty dominated this region until 1027
 During the Shang period, Chinese civilization
first took shape. Shang society mirrored that
in other early civilizations. Alongside the royal
family was a class of noble warriors. Shang
warriors used leather armor, bronze weapons,
and horse drawn chariots.
 Most
people in Shang China were
peasants. They clustered together in
farming villages. Peasants led grueling
lives. All family members worked in
the fields, using stone tools to prepare
the ground for planting or to harvest
 When they were not in the fields,
peasants had to repair the dikes. If war
broke out between noble families, men
had to fight alongside their lords.
Religious Beliefs
 By
Shang times, the Chinese had developed
complex religious beliefs, many of which
continued to be practiced for thousands of
 The chief god was Shang Di and a mother
goddess who brought plants and animals to
Earth. The king was seen as the link between
the people and Shang Di.
 The Chinese believed the universe reflected a
delicate balance between two forces, yin
and yang.
 Yin
was linked to Earth, darkness, and
female forces, while Yang stood for
Heaven, light, and male forces.
 To the Chinese, the forces were not in
opposition. Rather, the well-being of the
universe depended on maintaining
balance between yin and yang. For
example, the king had to make the
proper sacrifices to Heaven while at the
same time taking practical steps to rule
Shang Writing
 Some
of the oldest examples of
Chinese writing are on oracle bones.
On animal bones or turtle shells, Shang
priests wrote questions addressed to
the gods or the spirit of an ancestor.
 Priests then heated the bone or shell
until it cracked. By interpreting the
pattern of cracks, they provided
answers or advice from the ancestors.
The Zhou Dynasty
 In
1027 B.C., the battle-hardened Zhou
people marched out of their kingdom on
the western frontier to overthrow the
Shang. They set up the Zhou dynasty,
which lasted until 256 B.C.
 To justify their rebellion against the Shang,
the Zhou promoted the idea of the
Mandate of Heaven, or the divine right
to rule. The cruelty of the last Shang king,
they declared, had so outraged the gods
that they had sent ruin on him.
 The
Chinese later expanded the idea of
the Mandate of Heaven to explain the
dynastic cycle, or the rise and fall of
 As long as a dynasty provided good
government, it enjoyed the Mandate of
Heaven. If the rulers became weak or
corrupt, the Chinese belied that Heaven
would withdraw its support. Floods,
famine, or other catastrophes were taken
as signs that a dynasty had lost the favor
of Heaven.
Chinese Achievements
By 1000 B.C., the Chinese had discovered how to
make silk thread from the cocoons of
silkworms. Soon , the Chinese were cultivating
both silkworms and the mulberry trees on which
they fed.
 Women did the laborious work of tending the
silkworms and processing the cocoons into thread.
Then they wove silk threads into a smooth
cloth that was colored with brilliant dyes. Only
royalty and nobles could afford robes made from
this luxurious silk.
 Under
the Zhou, the Chinese made the
first books. They bound thin strips of
wood or bamboo together and then
carefully drew characters on the flat
surface with a brush and ink.
 Among the greatest Zhou works is the
lovely Book of Songs. Many of its
poems describe such events in the lives
of farming people as planting and
The Beliefs of Hinduism
 Unlike
most major religions, Hinduism has
no single founder and no single sacred
text. Instead it grew out of the
overlapping beliefs of the diverse groups
who settled in India.
 Hinduism is one of the world’s most
complex religions, with countless gods
and goddesses and many forms of
worship existing side by side. Despite this
diversity, all Hindus share certain basic
 Hindu’s
believe that all the universe is part of
the unchanging, all-powerful spiritual force
called Brahman. To Hindu’s, Brahman is too
complex a concept for most people to
understand, so they worship a variety of gods
that give a concrete form to Brahman.
 The most important Hindu gods are Brahma,
the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and
Shiva, the Destroyer. Each represents
aspects of Brahman. Each of these gods can
take many forms, human or animal, and each
also has his own family.
 The
ultimate goal of existence, Hindus
believe, is achieving moksha, or union
with Brahman. To do that, individuals
must free themselves from selfish desires
that separate them from Brahman.
 Most people cannot achieve moksha in
one lifetime, but Hindus believe in
reincarnation, or the rebirth of the soul
in another bodily form. Reincarnation
allows people to continue working toward
moksha through several lifetimes.
 In
each bodily existence, Hindus believe, a
person can come closer to achieving moksha
by obeying the law of Karma. Karma refers
to all the actions of a person’s life that
affect his or her fate in the next life.
 To Hindu’s, all existence is ranked. Humans
are closest to Brahman. Then come animals,
plants, and objects like rocks or water. People
who live virtuously earn good karma and are
reborn to a higher level of existence.
Those who do evil acquire bad karma and are
reborn into suffering.
 To
escape the wheel of fate (being reborn
forever), Hinduism stresses the
importance of dharma, the religious and
moral duties of an individual. These
duties vary according to class,
occupation, gender, or age.
 Obeying one’s dharma, a person acquires
merit for the next life. The concepts of
Karma and Dharma helped ensure the
social order by supporting the caste
Gautama Buddha
 In
the foothills of the Himalayas, Siddartha
Gautama founded a new religion,
Buddhism. His teachings eventually
spread across Asia to become the core
beliefs of tone of the world’s most
influential religions.
 Gautama’s early life is buried in legend.
We know that he was born about 566 B.C.
to a high-caste family. Gautama lived a
life of comfort and luxury in his parent’s
 One
day, as Gautama rode beyond the
palace gardens, he saw a sick person, an
old person, and a dead body. For the first
time, he became aware of human
suffering. Deeply disturbed, he bade
farewell to his wife and child and left the
palace never to return.
 Gautama wandered for years, vainly
seeking answers from Hindu scholars and
holy men. He fasted and he meditated. One
day, he sat under a giant tree, determined to
stay there until he understood the
mystery of life.
 For
48 days, evil spirits tempted him to
give up his meditations. Then, he suddenly
believed that he understood the cause and
cure for suffering and sorrow. When he
rose, he was Gautama no longer, but the
Buddha, the “Enlightened One.”
 The Buddha spent the rest of his life
teaching others what he had learned. In his
first sermon after reaching enlightenment,
he explained the Four Noble Truths that
stand at the heart of Buddhism.
The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism
 1. All life is full of suffering, pain,
and sorrow.
 2. The cause of suffering is the
desire for things that are really
illusions, such as riches, power, and
long life.
 3. The only cure for suffering is to
overcome desire.
 4. The way to overcome desire is to
follow the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path
 The
Buddha described the Eightfold Path
as “right views, right aspirations, right
speech, right conduct, right livelihood,
right effort, right mindfulness, and right
 The first two steps involved understanding
the Four Noble Truths and committing
oneself to the Eightfold Path. Next, a
person had to live a moral life, avoiding
evil words and actions.
 Through
meditation, a person might at
last achieve enlightenment. For the
Buddhist, the final goal is nirvana, union
with the universe and release from the
cycle of rebirth.
 The Buddha saw the Eightfold Path as a
middle way between a life devoted to
pleasure and one based on harsh selfdenial. He stressed moral principles such
as honesty, charity, and kindness to all
living creatures.
Buddhism and Hinduism Compared
 Buddhism
grew from the same traditions
as Hinduism. Both Hindus and Buddhists
stressed nonviolence and believed in
karma, dharma, moksha, and a cycle of
rebirth. Yet the two religions differed in
several ways.
 The Buddha rejected the priests, formal
rituals, and many gods of Hinduism.
Instead he urged each person to seek
enlightenment through meditation.
 Buddhists
also rejected the caste
system, offering the hope of nirvana to all
regardless of rebirth. The Buddha
attracted many disciples, or followers,
who accompanied him as he preached
throughout northern India.
 After the Buddha’s death some of his
followers collected his teachings into a
sacred text called the Tripitaka, or Three
Baskets of Wisdom.” Missionaries and
traders spread Buddhism across India to
many parts of Asia.
Buddhism took firm
root across Asia, it slowly
declined in India. Hinduism
eventually absorbed some
Buddhist ideas and made room
for Buddha as another Hindu god.
A few Buddhist centers survived
until the 1100s, when they fell to
Muslim armies that invaded India.
The First Indian Empire
In 321 B.C., a young adventurer Chandragupta
Maurya forged the first great Indian Empire.
Chandragupta first gained power in the Ganges
Valley. He then conquered northern India.
 Chandragupta maintained order through a well
organized bureaucracy. The Maurya Empire
was effective but harsh. A brutal secret police
reported on corruption, crime, and dissent, that
is, any differing or opposing ideas. Fearful of his
many enemies, Chadnragupta had specially
trained women warriors guard his palace.
 The
most honored Maurya emperor
was Chandragupta’s grandson,
Asoka. A few years after becoming
emperor in 268 B.C., Asoka fought a
long, bloody war to conquer the Deccan
region of Kalinga.
 Then, horrified at the slaughter—over
100,000 dead—Asoka turned his back
on further conquests. He converted to
Buddhism, rejected violence, and
resolved to rule by moral example.
 True
to the Buddhist principle of respect for all
life, Asoka became a vegetarian and limited
Hindu animal sacrifices. He sent missionaries,
or people sent on a religious mission, to
spread Buddhism across India and to Sri
 Asoka had stone pillars set up across India,
announcing laws and and promising righteous
government. On one, he proclaimed: “All
people are my children, and just as I desire for
my children that they should obtain welfare and
happiness, both in this world and the next, so
do I desire the same for all my people.”
 After Asoka’s
death, Maurya power
declined. By 185 B.C., the unity of the
Maurya empire was shattered as rival
princes battled for power across the
northern plain of India.
 Adding to the turmoil, foreign
invaders frequently pushed through
the mountain passes into northern
India. The divided northern kingdoms
could not often resist such conquerors.
Golden Age
 Although
many kingdoms flourished in the
Deccan plateau, the most powerful Indian
states rose in the north. About 500 years after
the Mauryas, the Gupta dynasty again united
much of India.
 Gupta emperors organized a strong central
government that promoted peace and
prosperity. Under the Guptas, who ruled from
A.D. 320 to about 550, India enjoyed a golden
age, or period of great cultural
Gupta rule was probably looser than that of the
Maurays. Much power was left in the hands of
individual villages and of city governments.
 The Gupta’s also made advancements in the fields
of science and mathematics. Gutpa
mathematicians devised a simple system of
writing numbers that is used today. The numerals
are now called “Arabic” numerals because it
was Arabs who carried them from India to the
Middle East and Europe.
 Indian mathematicians originated the concept of
zero and developed the decimal system of
numbers based on 10, which we still use today.
 Gupta
India was not a fair place for all as
the status of women deteriorated in
society. Women gradually lost their right
to inherit or own property and were
married at a younger age.
 The custom of sati was practiced in some
parts of India. Sati involved the practice of
a widow throwing herself on her
husband’s funeral pyre. The custom
alleged to bestow honor and purity upon
the widow.
 The
Gupta empire reached its height just as
the Roman empire in the west collapsed.
Before long, Gupta India declined under the
pressure of weak rulers, civil war, and
foreign invaders.
 From central Asia came the White Huns, a
nomadic people who overran the
weakened Gupta empire, destroying its
cities. Once again, India split into many
kingdoms. It would see no great empire like
those of the Maurays or Guptas for almost
1,000 years.
The Wisdom of Confucius
The great philosopher Confucius lived in the late
Zhou times of classical china. War and chaos
caused thinkers like Confucius to put forward
ideas on how to restore social order.
 Unlike the Buddha, Confucius took little interest in
religious matters such as salvation. Instead, he
developed a philosophy, or system of ideas,
that was concerned with worldly goals, especially
how to ensure social order and good government.
His followers collected many of Confucius’ ideas
and sayings in what is called the Analects.
Running through the teachings
of Confucius is this theme: A
man should lead an upright life,
educate himself, and contribute
to the betterment of society. The
superior man, he says, respects
elders, cultivates the friendship
of good people, presides over
his subordinates with a fair and
even hand, continually educates
himself, overflows with love for
fellow human beings, and in
general sets a good example for
others to follow.
 Confucius
taught that harmony resulted
when people accepted their place in
society. He stressed five key
 1. Father to son
 2. Elder brother to younger brother
 3. Husband to wife
 4. Ruler to subject
 5. Friend to Friend.
Confucius believed that, except for friendship,
none of these relationships was equal. For
example, older people were superior to younger
ones and men were superior to women.
 According to Confucius, everyone had duties
and responsibilities. Superiors should care for
their inferiors and set a good example, while
inferiors owed loyalty and obedience to their
 A woman’s duty was to ensure the stability of the
family and promote harmony in the home.
Correct behavior, Confucius believed, would
bring order and stability.
 Confucius
put filial piety, or respect for
parents, above all other duties. Other
Confucian values included honesty, hard
work, and concern for others. “Do not do to
others,” he declared, “what you do not
wish for yourself.”
 According to Confucius, a ruler had the
responsibility to provide good government.
In return, the people would be respectful
and loyal subjects. Confucius said the best
ruler was a virtuous one who led people
by good example.
 In
the centuries after Confucius died, his
ideas influenced every area of Chinese
life. Chinese rulers relied on Confucian
ideas and chose Confucian scholars as
 As Chinese civilization spread, hundreds
of millions of people in Korea, Japan, and
Vietnam, accepted Confucian beliefs.
Close to a third of the world came under
the influence of these ideas.
 A very
different philosophy grew out of the
teachings of Hanfeizi, who died in 233 B.C.
According to Hanfeizi, “the nature of man is
evil. His goodness is acquired. Greed was the
motive for most actions and the cause of most
 Hanfeizi insisted that the only way to achieve
order was to pass strict laws and impose
harsh punishments. Because of this
emphasis on law, Hanfeizi’s teachings became
known as Legalism.
 The
founder of Daoism was known as
Laozi, or “Old Master.” He is said to have
lived at the time of Confucius. Although we
know little about him, he is credited with
writing The Way of Virtue, a book that had
enormous influence on Chinese life.
 Unlike Confucianism and Legalism, Daoism
was not concerned with bringing order to
human affairs. Instead, Daoists sought to
live in harmony with nature.
Enter the Qin
 Towards
the end of the Zhou dynasty, rival
factions broke out into civil war fighting for
control of the country. Shi Huangdi was
determined to end the divisions that had
splintered Zhou China. He spent 20 years
conquering most of the warring states, then,
he centralized power with the help of his
advisers. Using legalism as government
policy, He started what would become the
Qin Dynasty in China.
Shi Huangdi was harsh against his rivals and used
brutal tactics to control his empire. He broke the
empire up into 36 military districts and
appointed loyal officials to administer them.
 Shi Huangid’s most remarkable and costly
achievement was the Great Wall. Hundreds of
thousands of laborers worked for years to build a
wall around his empire. Many workers died in the
harsh weather conditions to construct this great
achievement. Over the centuries, the wall was
extended and rebuilt many times. Eventually, it
snaked for thousands of miles across northern
 Shi
Huangdi thought his empire would last
forever. But when he died in 210 B.C.,
anger over heavy taxes, forced labor, and
cruel policies exploded into revolts. As
Qin power collapsed, Liu Bang, an
illiterate peasant leader, defeated rival
armies and founded the new Han
dynasty. Like earlier Chinese rulers, Liu
Bang claimed that his power was based
on the Mandate of Heaven.
The Han
The Han dynasty used Confucian thought to
govern their people. They believed that
government leaders should set a good example,
and the people would follow their lead. The Han
lowered taxes and eased the Qin emperor’s harsh
Legalist policies.
 The most famous Han emperor, Wudi, took China
to new heights. During his long reign from 141
B.C. to 87 B.C., he strengthened the government
and economy. Wudi furthered economic growth by
improving canals and roads.
 Han
emperors adopted the idea that
government officials should win
positions by merit rather than through
family background. To find the most
qualified officials, they set up a system
of exams. In time, these civil service
exams were given at the local,
provincial, and national levels. To pass,
candidates studied the Confucian