Foundational Period (up to 600 BCE)

AP World History



4000000 BC - 1000000 BC

Appeared in East Africa
Walked upright on 2 legs
Stone tools; fire later

Paleolithic Era

4000000 bc - 12000 bc

Economy prevented individuals from accumulating private property
Egalitarian existence
Lived in small bands, about 30 to 50 members
Big game hunting with special tools and tactics
Some permanent Paleolithic settlements, if area rich in resources (Natufians in eastern Mediterenean, Jomon in central Japan, Chinook in Pacific northwest)

Homo erectus

2500000 bc - 200000 bc

Large brain; sophisticated tools; definitely knew how to control fire
Developed language skills in well-coordinated hunts of large animals
Migrated to Asia and Europe

Homo sapiens evolves

200000 bc

Brain with large frontal regions for conscious and reflective thought
Used knives, spears, bows, and arrows

Homo erectus established throughout

200000 bc

Neandertal peoples

100000 bc - 35000 bc

Europe and southwest Asia, found in Africa and east Asia
Careful, deliberate burials were evidence of a capacity for emotion and feelings

Homo sapiens spread throughout inhabitable world

100000 bc - 13000 bc

Begin spreading throughout Eurasia
Ice age land bridges enabled them to populate other continents
Brought tremendous pressure on other species

Cro-Magnon Peoples (Homo sapiens sapiens) appear

40000 bc

The first human beings of fully modern type
Venus figurines- fertility
Cave paintings of animals- sympathetic magic
Weapons, flexible languages

Neolithic era (New stone age)

12000 bc - 6000 bc

Refined tools and agriculture
Neolithic women began systematic cultivation of plants
Neolithic men began to domesticate animals
Specialization of labor
Prehistoric craft industries: pottery, metallurgy, and textiles
Social distinctions due to private ownership

Agriculture emerges independently in several parts of the world

9000 bc

Merchants, migrants, and travelers spread food knowledge
Slash-and-burn cultivation involved frequent movement of farmers
Agriculture more work than hunting/gathering but steady, large supply of food

Appearance of agricultural cities

8000 bc

Jericho is earliest known Neolithic village; mud huts and defensive walls
Neolithic site Catal Huyuk, 8000 people

Earliest Cities emerge in valley of Tigris and Euphrates

4000 bc - 3500 bc

Larger and more complex than villages
Gradual urbanization

Southwest Asia

Beginnings of Mesopotamian society

6000 bc

Fertile Crescent- Valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates
Little rain, so area needs irrigation (6000 to 5000 bc)
Food supplies increase
Human population increases
First cities emerge 4000 bc
Migrants to the area increase- especially Semites
Sumer (in south) become population center

Indo-Europeans originate in steppes of central Asia

4500 bc - 2500 bc

Pastoral people
Domesticate horses; learn to ride; use horses with carts, then chariots


4000 BC

Made from copper and tin
Used in weapons and later agricultural tools

Wheel and Shipbuilding

3500 bc

Wheel helps trade; carts can carry more goods further
Shipbuilding makes maritime trade increase in all directions; network develops

Sumerians develop Cuneiform

3500 bc - 2900 bc

Becomes standard Mesopotamian writing style
Reed stylus (wedge-shaped) pressed in clay then baked
Mostly commercial and tax documents
Declines with introduction of the Greek alphabet

Cities evolve into city-states

3200 bc - 2350 bc

Governments sponsor building projects and irrigation, regulate trade
Free commoners (peasants), dependent clients (no property); pay taxes and labor on building projects
Attacks by others led to wall building and military development
Kingships evolve with cooperation of noble families
More opportunity to accumulate wealth

Education and Literacy prominent

3000 bc

Education: vocational to be scribe or government official
Literature: astronomy, mathematics, abstract (religious and literary like Gilgamesh)

Indo-Europeans begin migration

3000 bc

Settle in central Anatolia
Some migrate into central Asia
Other migrations: Greece, Italy, central Europe, western Europe, Britain
All pastoral agriculturalists
All speak related languages and worship similar deities
Later wave of migrations to Iran and India (Aryan)

Phoenicians first settle

3000 bc

Develop into kingdoms of independent city-states
Little agriculture; live on trade and communications networks
Overland trade to Mesopotamia; influence on culture
Sea trade most important; get raw materials, trade for manufactured goods

Reign of Sargon of Akkad

2334 bc - 2315 bc

Coup against king of Kish
Seizes trade routes and natural resources
Conquers Sumerian cities one by one
Chronic rebellions
Gradually empire weakens and collapses by 2000 bc

Hittites settle in central Anatolia

2000 bc - 1200 bc

Build powerful kingdoms
Conquer Babylonian empire 1595 bc
Technology: light horse-drawn chariots (spokes) and iron metallurgy

Early Hebrews

2000 bc - 1850 bc

Pastoral Nomads between Mesopotamia and Egypt
Settle in some cities
Abraham leads group to Palestine
Descendents borrow law of retribution and flood story from Mesopotamia

Reign of Hammurabi

1792 bc - 1750 bc

Centralizes bureaucracy and regulates taxation
Used local governors
Capital is Babylon
Law Code: law of retribution and importance of social status, patriarchy
Hittite assault and empire crumbles in 1495 bc

Hittite dominance in Anatolia

1700 bc - 1200 bc

Phoenicians develop early alphabetical script

1500 bc

Assyrian dominance in Mesopotamia

1300 bc - 612 bc

Cities: Assur and Ninevah
Controls Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, and most of Egypt
Powerful army: professional officers (merit) chariots, archers, iron weapons
Unpopular rule leads to rebellions

Hebrews migrate back to Palestine with Moses

1300 bc

Twelve tribes become Israelites
Mesopotamian-style monarchs with Jerusalem as capital


1000 bc

Cheaper and more widely available than bronze
Used in weapons and tools

Torah compiled

1000 bc - 400 bc

Ten Commandments: moral and ethical standards for followers
Moses and monotheism
Parallels Code of Hammurabi

Reigns of David and Solomon in Israel

1000 bc - 930 bc

Assyrians conquer Israel

722 bc - 586 bc

Conquer Israel in north and Judah in south and destroy Jerusalem
Deportees return to Judea; become known as Jews
Prophets in this period increase devotion of people
Build distinct Jewish community in Judea with strong group identity

New Babylonian Empire

600 bc - 550 bc

Hanging gardens of palace shows wealth and luxury


Sahara region is grassy steppe lands with water

10000 bc - 5000 bc

Abundant fishing, hunting, wild grains
Eastern Sudan begins to herd cattle and collect grains
Permanent settlements and the growing of sorghum and yams
Small states with semi-divine rulers

Climate becomes hotter and drier

5000 bc

People are driven into river regions- Nile
Annual flooding makes rich soil for agriculture in Egypt, but more work in Nubia
Peoples cultivate gourds and watermelons, domesticate donkeys and cattle (from Sudan) and grow wheat and barley (from Mesopotamia)

States and small kingdoms emerge

4000 bc - 3300 bc

Strong Nubian Realm, Ta-Seti

3400 bc - 3200 bc

Heiroglyphics and other writings

3200 bc - 500 bc

Hieroglyphics found on monuments and papyrus 3200 bc
Hieratic script, everyday writing 2600-600 bc
Demotic and Coptic scripts adapt Greek writing
Nubia adapts Egyptian writing until Meroitic in 5th century bc (has not been deciphered)
Scribes have very priveleged lives

Egypt, large and prosperous state

3100 bc

Menes at Memphis unites Upper and Lower Egypt
Pharaoh, absolute ruler and owns all land (descended from gods)

Emergence of Cities

3100 bc - 2900 bc

Cities are not as prominent in Egypt as in Mesopotamia (agricultural villages)
Memphis, head of delta
Thebes, administrative center of Upper Egypt
Heliopolis, center of sun god cult
Nubian cities located at cataracts
Kerma, dominates trade routes
Napata, most prosperous city after Nubian conquest of Egypt
Meroe, most influential city after Assyrian invasion because it's farther south

Archaic Period and Old Kingdom

3100 bc - 2160 bc

Great pyramids at Giza built during this period; Khufu is the largest
Violence between Egypt and Nubia (Egypt dominates)
Nubia later develops into Kingdom of Kush
Interaction through diplomacy, Nubian mercenaries, and intermarriage
Only pharaohs are mummified, later ruling classes and wealthy

Early Migrations of Bantu

3000 bc - 1000 bc

Bantu- language group from west central Africa
Cultivate yams and oil palms
Live in clan-based villages
Trade with hunting/gathering forest people
Move south and west into the forest lands
Move south to Congo River and east to Great Lakes region
Absorb much of the population of hunter/gatherer/fisher people
By 1000 bc occupy most of Africa south of the equator
Use canoes and settle along banks of fivers; spread from there
Agricultural surplus causes them to move inland from rivers
Become involved in trade
Many other societies migrate
Spread of agriculture to most of sub-Saharan Africa
Some worship single, impersonal divine force representing good and bad
Many individuals pray to ancestors and local gods for intervention
Much mixing and intermingling of cultures

Period of Upheaval

2160 bc - 2040 bc

Middle Kingdom

2040 bc - 1640 bc

Nomadic horsemen, Hyksos, invade Egypt using bronze weapons and chariots
Capture Memphis in 1674 bc
Causes revolts in Upper Egypt
Commoners begin to be mummified

New Kingdom

1550 bc - 1070 bc

Pharaoh gains power, huge army, large bureaucracy
Building projects: temples, palaces, statues
Tuthmosis III built empire including Palestine, Syria, Nubia
Peasants and slaves (agriculture), pharaoh, professional military and administrators
Nubia: complex and hierarchical society (can tell from tombs)
Then Egypt falls into long period of decline

Reign of female pharaoh Hatshepsut

1473 bc - 1458 bc

Patriarchy but women have more influence than in Mesopotamia
Nubia: women serve as queens, priestesses, and scribes

Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten)

1364 bc - 1347 bc

Principal gods: sun gods Amon and Re
Brief period of monotheism: Aten
Pharaoh Akhenaten's idea of a new capital at Akhenaten
Orders all other gods' names chiseled out; their names die with him
priests restore Amon-Re after death
Cult of Osiris: brother Seth murders Osiris and scatters his body. Wife Isis gathers him up and gods restore him to life in the underworld. Becomes associated with Nile, crops, life/death, immortality. Osiris judges the heart of the dead against the feather of truth
Nubians combine Egyptian religions with their own.

Egyptian decline

1100 bc - 600 bc

Egyptians driven out of Nubia
Nubian Kingdom of Kush; capital is Napata
King Kashta conquers Thebes in 760 bc
Assyrians with iron weapons invade from the north
Series of foreign conquests

Bantu migration increases

1000 bc

Iron tools allow them to clear more land for agriculture
Iron weapons give them stronger position

Iron and other technology

900 bc

Bronze important but copper and tin rare and expensive
Iron metallurgy develops independently in Sudan
Transportation: sailboats, carts, and donkey caravans
Trade networks--
Exotic goods from Nubia for pottery, wine, linen, and decorative items from Egypt
Wood like cedar from Lebanon
Trade with Punt

South Asia

Harappan Society

5000 bc - 3000 bc

Neolithic villages in Indus River valley
Earliest remains still inaccessible because of silt deposits and rising water table
Also little known because riting not yet translated
Indus River runs through north India, with sources at Hindu Kush and the Himalayas. Rich deposits but less predictable than the Nile
Cultivated cotton before 5000 bc
Complex society of Dravidians
No evidence about political system
Harappa and Mohenjo-daro: two main cities
Each city had a fortified citadel and a large granary
Broad streets, marketplaces, temples, public buildings
Standardized weights, measures, architectural styles, and brick sizes
Social distinctions, as seen from living styles
Religious beliefs strongly emphasized fertility

Harappan society declines

1900 bc - 1500 bc

Ecological degradation led to a subsistence crisis
Another possibility: natural catastrophes such as floods or earthquakes
Population began to abandon cities by about 1700 bc
Almost entirely collaped by about 1500 bc
Some Harappan cultural traditions maintained

Vedic Age

1500 bc - 500 bc

Early Aryans depend heavily on pastoral economy
No writing system, but had orally transmitted works called the Vedas
Sacred language (Sanskrit) and daily-use language (Prakit)
Vedic Age is a boisterous period; conflicts with indigenous peoples
Called indigenous people dasas- enemies or subject people
Indra, the Aryans' war god and military hero
Aryan chiefdoms fought ferociously among themselves
Most chiefdoms had a leader raja/king
Gods of the sun, the sky, the moon, fire, health, disease
God Varuna: ethical concern, cosmic order
Ritual sacrifices were more important than ethics
Priests were specialists of the ritual sacrifices
Ritual sacrifices for rewards from the divine power
Sacrifices, chants, soma

Origins of the caste system

1000 bc - 600 bc

Caste: Hereditary, unchangeable social class
The Sanskrit word varna "color" refers to social classes
Four main varnas: brahmins (priests), kshatriyas (warriors and aristocrats), vaishyas (cultivators, artisans, merchants), shudras (landless peasants and serfs)
Later the category of the untouchables was added
Subcaste, or jati, represented more elaborate scheme of social classification
Determined by occupations
Elaborate rules of jati life: eating, communication, behavior
In caste system, social mobility difficult but still possible
Usually a result of group, not individual, effort
Foreign peoples could find a place in society of the castes

Blending of Aryan and Dravidian values

800 bc - 400 bc

Thoughtful individuals retreated to forests as hermits
Dravidian notions of transmigration and reincarnation were adapted
The Upanishads, words of religious teachings
The religious forums: dialogues between disciples and sages
Brahman: the universal soul
Highest goal: to escape reincarnation and join with Brahman
Samsara: an individual soul was born many times
Karma: specific incarnations that a soul experienced
Moksha: permanent liberation from physical incarnation
Samsara and karma reinforced caste and social hierarchy
Upanishads were also spiritual and intellectual contemplations
Taught to observe high ethical standards: discourage greed, envy, vice
Respect for all living things, a vegetarian diet

Aryan migrations in India

500 bce

First Punjab in northern Deccan
Used iron tools and developed agriculture
Lost tribal organizations but established regional kingdoms

Lawbook of Manu

100 bc

Patriarchal and patrilineal society
The Lawbook of Manu prepared by an anonymous sage
Dealt with moral behavior and social relationships
Advised men to treat women with honor and respect
Subjected women to the control and guidance of men
Women's duties: to bear children and maintain household
Sati, social custom in which widow throws self onto funeral pyre

East Asia

Yanshao Society

5000 bc - 3000 bc

The Yellow River- water source at high plateau of Tibet. Loess soil carried by the river's water, hence "yellow". "China's Sorrow" - extensive flooding. Loess provided rich soil, soft and easy to work
Excavations at Banpo village: fine pottery, bone tools

Xia Dynasty

2200 bc

Archeological discovery of the Xia is still in its early stages
Legendary King Yu, the dynasty founder, a hero of flood control
Erlitou: possibly the capital city of the Xia

Southern Expansion

2000 bc - 1000 bc

The Yangzi valley; dependable river; two crops of rice per year
Many of the indigenous people of southern China assimilated into Chinese agricultural society
Some were pushed to hills and mountains
Some migrated to Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand
The state of Chu in the central region of Yangzi challenged Zhou for supremacy
Adopted Chinese political and social traditions and writing

Social Order

1766 bc

Ruling elite with their lavish consumption of bronze
Hereditary aristocrats with extensive landholding
Administrative and military offices
Manuals of etiquette
Free artisans and craftsmen mostly worked for elites
Trade networks linked China with west and south
Oar-propelled boats traded with Korea and offshore islands
Peasants, the majority of the population
Landless peasants provided labor, lived in small subterranean houses
Women's work: wine making, weaving, silkworm raising
Wood, bone, stone tools before iron was spread
Slaves, mostly war prisoners

Shang Dynasty

1766 bc - 1122 bc

Arose in the southern and eastern areas of the Xia realm
Many written records and material remains discovered
Bronze metallurgy, monopolized by ruling elite
Horses and chariots traveled with Indo-European migrants to China
Agricultural surpluses supported large troops
A vast network of walled towns
The Shang capital moved 6 times- Yin last
Lavish tombs of Shang kings with thousands of objects
Other states besides Shang, for example, Sanxingdui

Dragon Bones

1700 bc

Absence of organized religion and priestly class
Believed in the impersonal heavenly power- tian
Oracle bones used by fortune tellers: inscribed question, subjected to heat, read cracks
Discovery of "dragon bones" 1890s
Early Chinese writing, from pictograph to ideograph
More than 2 thousand characters identified on oracle bones
Modern Chinese writing is direct descendant of Shang writing

Zhou Dynasty

1122 bc - 256 bc

Zhou gradually eclipsed Shang
Mandate of heaven, the right to rule
The Zhou needed to justify overthrow
Ruler as "the son of heaven"
Mandate of heaven only given to virtuous rulers
Decentralized administration
Used princes and relatives to rule regions
Consequence: weak central government and rise of regional powers

Zhou Literature

1122 bc

The Book of Change, a manual for diviners
The Book of History, the history of the Zhou
The Book of Rites, the rules of etiquette and rituals for aristocrats
The Book of Songs, a collection of verses- most notable work
Most Zhou writings have perished- destroyed by emperor of Qin

Family and Patriarchy

1122 bc

Early dynasties rule through family and kinship groups
Belief in ancestors' presence and their continuing influence
Burial of material goods with the dead
Offering sacrifices at graves
Family heads presided over rites of honoring ancestors' spirits
Patriarchal society evolved out of matrilineal one
The rise of large states brought focus on men's contribution
After the Shang, females devalued

Nomadic peoples of steppes

1100 bc

Exchange of products between nomads and Chinese farmers
Nomads frequently invaded rich agricultural society
Nomads did not imitate Chinese ways
Nomads relied on grains and manufactured goods of the Chinese

Iron metallurgy

1000 bc

Spread through China
Ends monopoly on bronze

Fall of the Zhou

711 bc - 403 bc

Nomadic invasion sacked Zhou capital in 711 bc
Territorial princes became more independent

The Warring States

403 bc - 221 bc

The last king of the Zhou abdicated his position in 256 bc

The Americas and Oceania

Migration to Oceania

60000 bc - 500

By the mid-century of the first millennium ce, human communities in all habitable islands of the Pacific Ocean
About 10000 years ago, rising seas separated Australia and New Guinea
Australia: hunting and gathering until the 19th and 20th centuries ce
New Guinea: turned to agriculture about 3000 bc
Austronesian peoples from southeast Asia were seafarers to New Guinea, 3000 bc
Early agriculture in New Guinea: root crops and herding animals
Austronesian migration to Polynesia
Outrigger canoes enabled them to sail safely
Agriculture and domesticated animals
Austronesian migrations to Micronesia and Madagascar

Migration to Mesoamerica and Agriculture

13000 bc - 2000 bc

Large wave of humans traveled from Siberia to Alaska around 13000 bc
By 9500 bc, humans reached the southernmost part of South America
As hunting became difficult, agriculture began 7500 bc
Early agriculture: beans, squashes, chilies
Maize became staple 5000 bc
Agricultural villages appeared after 3000 bc
No large domesticated animals, no wheeled vehicles
Ceremonial centers by the end of 2nd millenium bc

Migration to South America

12000 bc - 1000 bc

By 12000 bc hunting and gathering peoples reached South America
By 8000 bc they began to experiment with agriculture
Complex societies appeared in central Andean region after 1000 bc
Andean societies were located in modern-day Peru and Bolivia
Main crops: beans, peanuts, sweet potatoes, cotton
Fishing supplemented agricultural harvests
By 1800 bc the people produced pottery, built temples and pyramids

Lapita Society

1500 bc - 500 bc

Agricultural villages
Pottery with geometric designs
Networks of trade/communication: pottery, obsidian, shells, tools traded
After 500 bc trade network declined; cultures developed independently
Hierarchical chiefdoms; tension led to migration
Divine or semi-divine chiefs: led public rituals, oversaw irrigation


1200 bc - 400 bc

The "rubber people"
Lived near the Gulf of Mexico
Elaborate complexes built
Colossal human heads- possibly likenesses of rulers
Rulers' power shown in construction of huge pyramids
Trade in jade and obsidian
Decline of Olmecs: systematically destroyed ceremonial centers by 400 bc
Influence of the Olmec: maize, ceremonial centers, calendar, human sacrifice, ball game

Chavin Cult

900 bc - 300 bc

Complexity of Andean society increases
Devised techniques of producing cotton textiles and fishing nets
Discovered gold, silver, and copper metallurgy
Cities began to appear shortly after Chavin cult
Early Andeans did not make use of writing


200 bc - 750

In the highlands of Mexico
Colossal pyramids of sun and moon
High point between 400 and 600 ce; 200000 inhabitants
Paintings and murals reflect importance of priests
Rulers and priests dominated society
2/3 of the city inhabitants worked in fields during daytime
Artisans were famous for their obsidian tools and orange pottery
Professional merchants traded extensively throughout Mesoamerica
No sign of military organization or conquest
Cultural traditions: ball game, calendar, writing, sacrifices
Decline of Teotihuadan from about 650 ce; was sacked and destroyed mid-eighth century


300 - 1100

Lived in the highlands of Guatemala
Besides maize, they also cultivated cacao
Tikal was the most important Mayan political center, 300-900
Maya warfare: warriors had prestige; captives were slaves or victims
Chichen Itza, power by 9th century; loose empire in Yucatan
Maya decline began in 800 ce; many Mayans deserted their cities
Society was hierarchical
Kings, priests, and hereditary nobility at the top
Merchants were from the ruling class; they served also as ambassadors
Professional architects and artisans were important
Peasants and slaves were majority of population
The Maya calendar had both solar and ritual years interwoven
Maya writing was ideographic and syllabic; only 4 books survive
Popol Vuh, a Maya creation myth, taught that the gods created humans out of maize and water
Gods maintained agricultural cycle in exchange for honors and sacrifices
Bloodletting rituals honored gods for rains
The Maya ball game: sporting, gambling, religious significance


300 - 700

In northern Peru
Irrigation, trade, military, no writing
Artistic legacy: painting on pottery, ceramics