Classical Period (600 BCE to 600 CE)

AP World History



700 bce - 600 bce

Emerged from the teachings of Zarathustra
Visions; supreme god (Ahura Mazda) made Zarathustra prophet
The Gathas, Zarathustra's hymns in honor of deities
Teachings preserved later in writing by magi
Compilation of the holy scriptures, Avesta, under Sasanid dynasty
Ahura Mazda as a supreme deity, with 6 lesser deities
Cosmic conflict between Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu (evil)
Heavenly paradise and hellish realm as reward and punishment
The material world as a blessing
Moral formula: good words, good deeds, good thoughts
Attracted Persian aristocrats and ruling elites
Darius regarded Ahura Mazda as supreme god
Most popular in Iran; followings in Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Egypt, and more
Suffering of Zoroastrianism during Alexander's invasion
Officially sponsored Zoroastrianism during the Sasanid empire
Islamic conquerors cause Zoroastrians to flee to India or convert to Islam
Some Zoroastrians still exist in modern-day Iran
Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism, Christianity, and later, Islam
Buddhism, Christianity, Manichaeism, Judaism also in Persia

Reign of Cyrus the Shepherd

558 bce - 530 bce

Became king of Persian tribes
All of Iran under his control by 548 bce
Established a vast empire from India to borders of Egypt

Achaemenid Empire

558 bce - 330 bce

Medes and Persians migrated from central Asia to Persia before 1000 bce.
Indo-European speakers, sharing cultural traits with Aryans
Challenged the Assyrian and Babylonian empires
Twenty-three satrapies (Persian governors) appointed by central government
Local officials were from local population
Satraps' power was checked by military officers and "imperial spies"
Replaced irregular tribute payments with formal taxes
Standardization of coins and laws
Communication systems: Persian Royal Road and postal stations (Herodutus)
Commonwealth: law, justice, administration led to political stability and public works (like the Qanat)
Nomadic society; importance of family and clan relationships
Imperial administration called for educated bureaucrats (tax collectors, record keepers, translators, etc)
Bureaucrats shared power and influence with warriors and clan leaders
Free classes were the bulk of Persian society
In the city: artisans, craftsmen, merchants, civil servants
In the countryside: peasants, some of whom were building underground canals (qanat)
Large class of slaves who were prisoners of war and debtors
Agriculture was the economic foundation
Standardized coins, good trade routes, markets, banks
Specialization of production in different regions

Reign of Cambyses

530 bce - 522 bce

Cyrus's son
Conquered Egypt in 525 bce

Reign of Darius

521 bce - 486 bce

Largest extent of empire; population 35 million
Diverse empire, seventy ethnic groups
New capital at Persepolis, 520 bce

The Persian Wars

500 bce - 479 bce

Rebellion of Ionian Greeks; peninsula joins
Persian rulers failed to put down the rebellion, sparred for 150 years

Reign of Xerxes

486 bce - 465 bce

Imposed "Persian stamp"
Retreated fro policy of cultural toleration
Caused ill will and rebellions among peoples in Mesopotamia and Egypt

Alexander of Macedon invades Persia

334 bce - 331 bce

Battle of Gaugamela, the end of Achaemenid empire, in 331 bce
Alexander burned the city of Persepolis

Seleucid Empire

323 bce - 83 bce

Seleucus inherited most of Achaemenid when Alexander died
Retained Achaemenid system of administration
Opposition from native Persians; lost control over northern India and Iran

Parthian Empire

247 bce - 224

Based in Iran, extend to Mesopotamia
Power of Parthian was heavy cavalry
Mithradates I established an empire through conquests
Parthian government followed the example of Achaemenid administration
Weakened by wars with Rome, falls to internal rebellion

Sasanid Empire

224 - 651

From Persia, toppled Parthians
Merchants brought in various crops from India and China
Shapur I; buffer states with Romans; standoff with Kushan
Conflicts with Rome, Byzantium, and Kush
Incorporated into Islamic empre



600 bce

Featured prominent critics of Confucian activism
Preferred philosophical reflection and introspection, a life in harmony with nature
Laozi, founder of Daoism, allegedly wrote the Daodejing (Classic of the Way and Virtue)
Zhuangzi is the compendium of Daoist philosophy
The Dao- the way of nature, the way of the cosmos
Elusive concept: an eternal principle governing all the workings of the world
Dao is passive and yielding, does nothing yet accomplishes everything
Humans should tailor their behavior to the passive and yielding nature of the Dao
Ambition and activism had only brought the world to chaos
Doctrine of wuwei: disengagement from worldly affairs, simple life
Advocated small, self-sufficient communities
Political implications: served as counterbalance to Confucian activism


551 bce - 479 bce

Educator and political adviser
Sayings were compiled in the Analects by is disciples
Fundamentally moral and ethical in character
Thoroughly practical: how to restore political and social order
Ethics and politics- not religious
Concentrated on formation of junzi- superior individuals
Edited and compiled the Zhou classics for his disciples to study
Ren- a sense of humanity, kindness, benevolence; people are essentially good
Li- a sense of propriety, courtesy, respect, deference to elders; proper order
Xiao- filial piety, familial obligation; respect for elders
Cultivate personal morality and junzi for bringing order to China


390 bce - 233 bce

The doctrine of practical and efficient statecraft
No concern with ethics and morality
No concern with the principles governing nature
Shang Yang, chief master of Qin and Legalist writer
Han Feizi synthesized Legalist ideas in essays
The state's strength was in agriculture and military force
Discouraged commerce, education, and the arts
Harnessing self-interest of the people for the needs of the state
Called for harsh penalties even for minor infractions
Advocated collective responsibility before the law
Ends justify means
Not popular among Chinese, but practical; put end to Period of Warring States


372 bce - 289 bce

Spokesman for Confucian school
Believed in the goodness of human nature (ren)
Advocated government by benevolence and humanity


298 bce - 238 bce

Had a less positive view of human nature (li)
Believed that humans selfishly pursue own interests
Preferred harsh social discipline to bring order to society
Advocated moral education and good public behavior

Qin Shihuangdi

221 bce - 210 bce

First Emperor
Established centralized imperial rule
Project of connecting and extending the Great Wall
Buried 460 scholars alive because of their criticism against the Qin, others exiled
Burned all books except some with utilitarian value
Tomb was underground palace with army of life-size terra-cotta figures
Excavation of the tomb since 1974

Qin Dynasty

221 bce - 207 bce

Qin, located in west China, adopted Legalist policies
Encouraged agriculture, resulted in strong economy
Organized a powerful army equipped with iron weapons
Conquered other states and unified China 221 bce
Standardization of laws, currencies, weights, measures
Standardization of scripts
Roads, bridges
Massive public works generated tremendous ill will among the people
Waves of rebels overwhelmed the Qin court in 207 bce
Short-lived dynasty, but left deep marks in Chinese history

Productivity and Prosperity

220 bce - 9 ce

Patriarchal social structure
Women's subordination; Ban Zhao's Admonitions for Women
Women's virtues of humility, etc
Children obey and honor parents
Vast majority of population were cultivators
Iron metallurgy: farming tools, utensils, and weapons
Silk textiles: sericulture spread all over China during the Han
Paper production; replaced silk and bamboo as writing material
Increase in education and literacy
Population growth: twenty million to sixty million

Former Han Dynasty

206 bce - 9 ce

Liu Bang; persistant and methodical; by 206 bce restored order
Sought a middle way between Zhou decentralization and Qin overcentralization
Han Wudi, the Martial Emperor, emphasized centralization and expansion- public works, demand for government officials
Adopted Legalist policies
Built an enormous bureaucracy to rule the empire
Continued to build roads and canals
Levied taxes on agriculture, trade, and craft industries
Imperial monopolies on production of iron and salt
Established Confucian educational system for training bureaucrats
Emphasized cultural unity
Invaded and colonized northern Vietnam and Korea
Han organized vast armies to invade Xiongnu territory (nomads from steppes); costs money
Han enjoyed uncontested hegemony in east and central Asia
Expeditions consumed the empire's surplus
Raised taxed ans confiscated land of some wealthy individuals
Taxes and land confiscations discouraged investment in manufacture and trade
Social tensions, caused by stratification between poor and rich
Problems of land distribution

Zhang Qian's mission to the west

139 bce - 126 bce

Held by Xiongnu for years
Told Han Wudi of possibility of establishing trade relations to Bactria
Han Wudi subdued Xiongnu, opening up region to safe trade routes

Reign of Wang Mang

9 ce - 23 ce

Land reforms by the "socialist emperor"
Overthrown by revolts

Later Han Dynasty

25 ce - 220 ce

Yellow Turban Uprising: revolt due to problems of land distribution
Factions at court paralyzed the central government
Problems of factions and land distribution led to rebellions
Generals usurped political authority; the emperor became a puppet
Han empire dissolved; China was divided into regional kingdoms
Nomadic peoples came in; China became even more divided for 350 years


220 ce - 570 ce

Gradual sinicization of nomadic peoples
Withering of Confucianism in light of political instability
Popularity of Buddhism as a religion of salvation; nomadic rulers embraced it


Economic development and social distinctions

600 bce

Towns dotted the India countryside after 600 bce
Towns provided manufactured products and luxury goods
Active marketplaces, especially along Ganges
Trade with Persia, China, Indian Ocean basin, Indonesia, southeast Asia, Mediterranean basin
Gender relations: patriarchal families, female subordination, child marriage
Development of caste system
With trade and commerce new social groups of artisans, craftsmen, and merchants appeared
These social groups functioned as sub castes or jati
Vaishyas and shudras saw unprecedented wealth
Old beliefs and values of early Aryan society became increasingly irrelevant


563 bce - 483 bce

Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha, "enlightened one"
Received enlightenment under the bo tree after 49 day fast
First sermon about 528 bce at the Deer Park of Sarnath
Organized followers into a community of monks
Buddhist doctrine: the dharma- religious and moral duty
The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path are the way to end suffering
Suffering is caused by desire
Religious goal: personal salvation, or nirvana, a state of perfect spiritual independence
Appealed strongly to members of lower castes because it did not recognize social hierarchies of castes and jati
Was less demanding than Jainism, which made it more popular
Used vernacular tongues, not Sanskrit
Holy sites venerated by pilgrims
The monastic organizations- extremely efficient at spreading the Buddhist message and winning converts to the faith
Ashoka converted and became important patron of Buddhism


540 bce - 486 bce

Vardhamana Mahavira (Jina) founded Jain religion
Challenge to the established cultural order
Ascetic lifestyle
Jainist doctrine and ethics inspired by the Upanishads: everything in universe has a soul
Striving to purify one's selfish behavior to attain a state of bliss
Principle of ahimsa, nonviolence toward all living things
Too demanding, not a practical alternative to the cult of the brahmans
Social implication: individual souls equally participated in ultimate reality
Jains did not recognize social hierarchies of caste and jati

Mauryan Dynasty

321 bce - 185 bce

Magadha kingdom filled power vacuum left by withdrawal of Alexander of Macedon; Persian and Greek influence
Chandragupta Maurya began conquest in 320s bce
Founded Maurya dynasty stretching from Bactria to Ganges
Kautala's advice manual, Arthashastra, outlined administrative methods
Use of spies


300 bce - 300 ce

The epics of Mahabharata, a secular poem revised by brahman scholars to honor the god Vishnu, the preserver of the world
Ramayana, a secular story of Rama and Sita, was changed into a Hindu story
The Bhagavad Gita- a short poetic work: dialogue between Vishnuu and warrior
Illustrated expectations of Hinduism and promise of salvation
Achieve salvation (moksha) through meeting caste responsibilities
Lead honorable lives in the world
Hinduism gradually replaced Buddhism in India

Mahayana Buddhism

300 bce - 100 ce

Early Buddhism made heavy demands on individuals (Hinayana, "lesser vehicle")
Development of Buddhism
Buddha became a god
the notion of boddhisatva- "an enlightened being"
Monasteries began to accept gifts from wealthy individuals
These changes became known as Mahayana , "the greater vehicle"
Educational institutions (like Nalanda) promoted new faith

Ashoka Maurya

268 bce - 232 bce

Peak of empire
Conquered the kingdom of Kalinga, 260 bce
Ruled through tightly organized bureaucracy
Established capital at Pataliputra
Policies were written on rocks or pillars
Empire declined after his death because of financial problems- devalued currency, trade with China, Greece, Rome

Bactrians rule northern India

182 bce - 1 ce

Kushans conquer and rule

1 ce - 300 ce

Nomads from Central Asia
High point was Emperor Kashika, 78-103
Crucial role in Silk Road trading network

Gupta Dynasty

320 ce - 550 ce

Founded by Chandra Gupta
Smaller and more decentralized than Maurya
Invasion of White Huns weakened the empire
After the fifth century ce, Gupta dynasty remained in name only
Large regional kingdoms dominated political life in India


Minoan society

2200 bce - 1100 bce

Arose on the island of Crete
Was the center of Mediterranean commerce
Received early influences from Phenicia and Egypt
Untranslated from of writing, Linear A, was used
Crete fell under foreign domination

Mycenaean society

1600 bce - 1100 bce

Named after important city, Mycenae
Indo-European immigrants settled in Greece
Adapted Minoan Linear A into their script, Linear B
Stone fortresses in the Peloponnesus (southern Greece) protected agricultural settlements
Overpowered Minoan society and expanded to Anatolia, Sicily, and Italy

Era of Polis (Greek City-States)

800 bce - 338 bce

Chaos in the eastern Mediterranean after Trojan War (1200 bce)
Sparta began to extend control
Reduced neighboring peoples to the status of helots, or semi-free servants; slaves of the state
Maintained domination and kept slaves in line by a powerful military machine
Women have rights in Sparta
Discouraged social distinction, observed austere lifestyle
Distinction was drawn by prowess, discipline, and military talent
Athens gradually broadened base of political participation
Solon sought to negotiate order by democratic principles; forgave debts
Citizenship was open to free adult males, not to foreigners, slaves, and women
Maritime trade brought prosperity to Attica, the region of Athens
Aristocratic landowners were primary beneficiaries
Class tension became intensified in the sixth century bce
Greeks founded more than 400 colonies
Facilitated trade among Mediterranean lands and people
Spread of Greek language and cultural traditions
Stimulated development of surrounding areas
Trade and commerce flourished resulting in population growth and more colonies
Production of olive oil and wine, in exchange for grain and other items
Led to broader sense of Greek community
Panhellenic festivals (like Olympic Games) became popular
Heroic warriors and outspoken wives in Homer's world
Strong-willed human beings clashed constantly
Patriarchal society was the norm
Women could not own landed property but could operate small businesses
Priestess was the only public position for women
Spartan women enjoyed higher status than women of other poleis
Slavery: private chattel, property of their owners
Worked as cultivators, domestic servants
Educated or skilled slaves worked as craftsmen and business managers
The formation of Greek cultural traditions: philosophy based on human reason
Greek deities: Zeus and scores of subordinate deities
Various types of religious cults; Cult of Dionysus most popular
Drama was performed at annual theatrical festivals
Great tragedians explored the possibilities and limitations of human interaction
Comic drama took delight in lampooning public figures

Founding of Rome

753 bce

Romulus and Remus: legendary twins rescued by a she-wolf
The Etruscans dominated Italy eighth to fifth centuries bce
The kingdom of Rome was on the Tiber River


600 bce

Talented female poet wrote poems of attraction to women
Instructed young women in music and literature at home
Critics charged her with homosexual activity (not acceptable for women)

The Roman Republic

509 bce - 100 bce

Rome nobility deposed the last Etruscan king
Republican constitution included two consuls: civil and military
Consuls were elected by an assembly dominated by the patricians
Senate advised the consuls and ratified major decisions
Both Senate and consuls represented the interests of the patricians
Patricians granted plebians the tribunes
Tribunes' power to intervene and veto decisions
Plebians' tribunes dominated Roman politics, early third century bce
Rome consolidated its position in Italy, fifth and fourth centuries bce
Conflict with Carthage (Punic Wars) and Hellenistic realms
Siege technique "tortoise"
Rome became preeminent power in eastern and western Mediterranean
Offered tax exemptions, trade privileges, citizenship

Persian War

500 bce - 479 bce

Greek cities on Ionian coast revolted against Persia
Battle of Marathon, 490 bce, is decisive victory for Athens
Xerxes tried again to seize Athens; his navy lost battle of Salamis
Persian army retreated back to Anatolia

The Delian League

470 bce - 431 bce

Military and financial alliance among Greek poleis against Persian threat
When Persian threat subsided, poleis, other than Athens, no longer wanted to make contributions


470 bce - 399 bce

"An unexamined life is not worth living"
Encouraged reflection on constant questions of ethics and morality
Was condemned to death on charge of corrupting Athenian youths, questioning everything


443 bce - 429 bce

Most popular democratic leader of Athens
Height of Athenian democracy
Public works
Cultural development

Peloponnesian War

431 bce - 404 bce

Civil war
Tensions led to two armed camps, under leadership of Athens and Sparta
Pericles and one-third of Athenians die
Unconditional surrender of Athens


430 bce - 347 bce

A zealous disciple of Socrates
The theory of Forms or Ideas- world of ideal qualities
This world is an imperfect reflection of world of Forms
His Republic expressed the ideal philosophical kings


384 bce - 322 bce

Plato's student, but distrusted theory of Forms
Philosophers should rely on senses to provide accurate information
Legacy of Greek philosophy- intellectual authorities for European philosophers until 17th century; intellectual inspiration for Christian and Islamic theologians


359 bce - 323 bce

The kingdom of Macedon, a frontier state north of peninsular Greece
Philip of Macedon brought Greece under control; unifies poleis
Alexander of Macedon succeeds Philip at age 20 and begins conquests; never loses
By 331 bce, controlled Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia
Invaded Persian homeland and burned Persepolis
Crossed Indus River, army refused to go farther
Died in 323 bce,at age of 33

Hellenistic Empires

323 bce

Alexander's realm was divided into Antigonid, Ptolemaic, Seleucid
Antigonid Empire: Greece and Macedon- the smallest
Continuous tension between the Antigonid rulers and Greek cities
Economy of Athens and Corinth flourished through trade
The Ptolemaic Empire: Egypt- the wealthiest
Monopolize on textiles, salt, and beer
The rulers did not interfere in Egyptian society
Alexandria, capital at mouth of the Nile
Cultural center: the famous Alexandria Museum and Alexandria Library- education
The Seleucid Empire: largest, from Bactria to Anatolia
Greek and Macedonian colonists flocked to Greek cities of the former Persia; Greek values spread
Colonists created a Mediterranean-style urban society
Bactria withdrew from Seleucids and established independent Greek kingdom
The Hellenistic philosophers; search for personal tranquility
Epicureans: identified pleasure as the greatest good
Skeptics: doubted certainty of knowledge, sought equanimity
Stoics: taught individuals duty to aid others and lead virtuous lives
Religions of salvation spread through trade routes
Mystery religions promised eternal bliss for believers; like Cult of Osiris
Speculation about a single, universal god emerged

Stoicism and Religion in Rome

106 bce - 43 bce

Roman deities: gods, goddesses, and household gods
Greek influence- Stoicism
Appealed to Roman intellectuals
Cicero persuasive orator and writer on Stoicism
Religions of salvation gave sense of purpose and promised afterlife
Roman roads served as highways for religious spread
Mithraism was popular with Roman soldiers- men only
Cult of Isis very popular

Roman Civil War

100 bce - 49 bce

Imperial expansion and domestic problems
The Gracchi brothers supported land redistribution; both were assassinated
Military commanders recruited rural and urban poor- intensely loyal armies
Gaius Marius: general who advocated land redistribution
Conservative aristocratic class supported general Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Gaius Marius wins, Sulla drives Marius out
Reign of terror follows

Roman Empire

46 bce - 476 ce

Roman expansion into Mediterranean basin, western Europe, down Nile to Kush
Pax romana, Roman Peace, for two and a half centuries
Well-engineered Roman roads; postal system
Roman law- tradition: twelve tables (450 bce)
Owners of latifundia focused on specialized production for export
Sea lanes linked ports of the Mediterranean
Roman navy kept the seas largely free of pirates
The Mediterranean became a Roman lake
Wealth of the city of Rome fueled its urban development
Statues, pools, fountains, arches, temples, stadiums
First use of concrete as construction material
Rome attracted numerous immigrants
Attractions: baths, pools, gymnasia, circuses, stadiums, amphitheaters
The pater familias- eldest male of the family ruled
Women wielded considerable influence within their families
Many women supervised family business and wealthy estates
Newly rich classes built palatial houses and threw lavish banquets
Cultivators and urban masses lived at subsistence level
Poor classes became a serious problem in Rome and other cities
No urban policy developed, only "bread and circuses'
Slavery- one-third of the population
Spartacus's uprising in 73 bce
Urban slaves saw better conditions and possibility of manumission

Julius Caesar

46 bce - 44 bce

Very popular social reformer and conqueror (Gaul)
Seized Rome in 49 bce
Claimed the title "dictator for life" 46 bce
Social reforms and centralized control
Assassinated in 44 bce

Octavion (Augustus)

31 bce - 14 ce

Brought civil conflict to an end
Defeats Mark Antony and Cleopatra
Senate bestowed title "Augustus" 27 bce
Monarchy disguised as a republic
Created a new standing army under his control
The imperial institutions began to take root

Jesus of Nazareth

4 bce - 30 ce

Charismatic Jewish teacher, taught devotion to God and love for human beings
Attracted large crowds through his wisdom and miraculous powers
The teaching "the kingdom of God is at hand" alarmed the Romans
Crucifixion in early 30s ce
Became "Christ" or "the anointed one"


30 ce - 200 ce

The New Testament and the Old Testament became the holy book of scripture for Christianity
Paul of Tarsus was principle figure in spread of Christianity
Rapid growth of early Christianity
Strong appeal to lower classes, urban population, and women
Became the most influential faith in the Mediterranean by the third century ce

Jewish Wars

66 ce - 70 ce

Monotheistic Jews considered state cults to be blasphemy
The Essenes, sect of Judaism; Dead Sea Scrolls

Barracks Emperors

235 ce - 284 ce

Series of generals seizing throne
Mostly killed in power struggle


284 ce - 305 ce

Divided the empire into two administrative districts
A co-emperor ruled each district with the aid of a powerful lieutenant


313 ce - 337 ce

Reunifies Rome
Allows Christians to practice religion
New capital at Constantinople

Christianity in the late Roman empire

313 ce - 380 ce

Christianity most prominent survivor of the collapse of the empire
With Constantine's Edict of Milan, Christianity became a legitimate religion 313 ce
Emperor Theodosius proclaimed Christianity the official relition, 380 ce
The Church became increasingly institutionalized
Conflicting doctrines (divinity of Jesus, role of women, etc) and practices among early Christians
Established standardized hierarchy of church officials
Seven patriarchs (super bishops) in seven cities
The bishop of Rome, known as the pope, became spiritual leader
As Roman empire collapsed, Christianity served as a cultural foundation

Fall of Western Roman Empire

450 ce - 476 ce

Germanic migrations from northern Europe to eastern and northern part of Roman empire
Visigoths- settled agriculturalists; adopted Roman law and Christianity
Roman authorities kept Germanic peoples on the borders as a buffer
The Huns under Attila attacked Europe
Under Huns' pressure, Germanic peoples streamed into the Roman empire
Established settlements in Italy, Gaul, Spain, Britain, and north Africa
Germanic general Odovacer deposed the Roman emperor
Rome sacked
Imperial authority survived in the eastern half of the empire

Cross-Cultural Exchanges

Trade networks of the Hellenistic era

323 bce

Important developments of the classical era reduced risks
Rulers invested in constructing roads and bridges
Large empires expanded until borders were closer
Exchanges between India/Bactria in east Mediterranean basin in west
India- spices and pepper
Persia and Egypt- grain
Mediterranean- wine and oil
Ptolemies learned about monsoon system in Indian Ocean
Maritime trade included East Africa- Rhapata
Professional merchant class emerges
Overland trade routes linked China to Roman empire
Sea lanes joined Asia, Africa, and Mediterranean basin into one network
Berenice- trading post in Africa
Trade goods in small segments
Silk and spices traveled west
Central Asia produced large horses and jade, sold in China
Roman empire provided glassware, jewelry, artworks, perfumes, textiles
Merchants of different regions handled long-distance trade in stages
On the seas, long-distance trade was dominated by different empires

Spread of Buddhism and Hinduism

300 bce - 100 bce

Buddhism first present in oasis towns of central Asia along silk roads; faith of the silk road
Further spread to steppe lands
Foreign merchants as Buddhists in China
Popularity of monasteries and missionaries
Buddhism and Hinduism in Southeast Asia cause Indian influence: rajas, sanskrit

Epidemic Diseases

100 ce - 900 ce

Common epidemics in Rome and China: smallpox, measles, bubonic plague
Roman Empire: population dropped by a quarter from the first to tenth century ce
China: population dropped by a quarter from the first to seventh century ce
Both Chinese and Roman economies contracted
Small regional economies emerged
Epidemics weakened Han and Roman empires

Spread of Christianity

100 ce - 600 ce

Missionaries, like Gregory the Wonderworker, attracted converts; dominion over nature
Christian communities flourished in Mediterranean by late third century ce
Sizable communities in Mesopotamia and Iran, second century ce
Sizable number of converts in southwest Asia until the seventh century bce
Their ascetic practices influenced Christian practices in the Roman empire; monastic societies
Nestorians emphasized human nature of Jesus, fifth century ce
Nestorian communities in central Asia, India, and China by seventh century ce


216 ce - 272 ce

Prophet Mani, a Zoroastrian, drew influence from Christianity and Buddhism
Dualism: perceived a cosmic struggle between light and darkness, good and evil
Offered means to achieve personal salvation
Ascetic lifestyle and high ethical standards
Differentiation between the "elect" and the "hearers"
Elect: ascetic lifestyle
Hearers: support the elect
Appealed to merchants
Attracted converts first in Mesopotamia and east Mediterranean region
Appeared in all large cities of Roman empire, third century ce
Persecuted by Sasanids and Romans but survived in central Asia