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The Classical Empires . Unit 2: Classical Period 600 BCE – 600 CE. Learning Targets/Key Themes. Students will be able to: Define an empire and explain why empires rise and fall Describe the basic features of the earliest empires Analyze the key interactions between Classical Empires

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The classical empires

The Classical Empires

Unit 2: Classical Period

600 BCE – 600 CE

Learning targets key themes
Learning Targets/Key Themes

  • Students will be able to:

    • Define an empire and explain why empires rise and fall

    • Describe the basic features of the earliest empires

    • Analyze the key interactions between Classical Empires

  • These themes, along with the key vocabulary (See handout) will be the basis for your test at the end of this unit

Answer the following questions in your notebook
Answer the following questions in your notebook:

  • How would you define the term “empire”?

  • What are the reasons an empire is created?

What is an empire
What is an Empire?

  • A state with political control of people and regions with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds

Why are empires created
Why Are Empires Created?

  • Strong sense of Patriotism

    • Extreme pride in one’s country

  • Expansion

  • To benefit the regions being conquered

  • To eliminate threats

  • Economic gain

  • To create a buffer zone (protection)

  • To spread religious beliefs

  • To gain political power

Characteristics of an empire
Characteristics of an Empire

  • Diverse population

  • Strong government

  • Strong military

  • Strong diplomacy

    • Peaceful negotiations between two countries or regions

The classical period 600 bce 600 ce
The Classical Period (600 BCE – 600 CE)

  • Main Characteristics:

    • Growth of Empires

    • Growth of Trade

    • Cultural Diffusion

      • Spreading of cultural ideas and traditions from one region to another


  • What is an empire?

  • Why are empires created?

  • What is cultural diffusion?

Major classical civilizations
Major Classical Civilizations

  • Persia

  • China (Zhou, Qin, Han dynasties)

  • India (Gupta dynasty)

  • Greece

  • Rome

  • Mayans (Americas)

The persian empire 558 332 bce
The Persian Empire (558-332 BCE)

  • Founded by Cyrus the Great

  • Darius I (521-486 BCE)

    • Balanced central government and local leaders

    • Divided government into 3 districts to make it easier to control

    • Built Royal Road

    • Fought in many wars that lead to the decline of the empire

Persian empire
Persian Empire

  • Persian Society

    • Women worked in textile manufacturing

    • Government used slaves to complete public works projects

  • Persian Economy

    • Government coined money

    • Traded with Greeks and Indians

    • Main City: Persepolis

  • Persian Religion

    • Zoroastrianism

Classical china
Classical China

  • Zhou Dynasty (1029-258 BCE)

    • Mandate of Heaven

      • Rulers are given the right to rule by the gods

    • Strong landowners and weak emperor

    • Ends in civil war for two hundred years

      • Leads to development of major philosophies

Chinese philosophies
Chinese Philosophies

  • Confucianism

    • Founded by Confucius

    • Relationships create an orderly society

    • Family is foundation of society

  • Daoism

    • “Dao” – the way

    • Look to nature for order

  • Legalism

    • Humans are naturally evil and will only obey authority through force

Qin dynasty 221 202 bce
Qin Dynasty (221-202 BCE)

  • Used Legalism to restore order

  • Took away power from aristocracy

  • Strong centralized government

  • Unified China

    • Standard language and writing system

    • Uniform laws throughout empire

Shi huangdi
Shi Huangdi

  • Proclaimed himself “First Emperor”

  • Centralized power by banning local militaries

  • Built roads to improve communications

  • Started building the Great Wall of China

    • Forced labor

    • Also built his own tomb with the Terracotta Army

Han dynasty 202 bce 220 ce
Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 CE)

  • Founded by a peasant

  • Longest Chinese dynasty

  • Conquered Vietnam, Korea and parts of Central Asia

  • Traded with India, Rome, Persia

  • Continued building Great Wall of China

  • Reformed government

  • Promoted Confucianism

Ancient greece
Ancient Greece

  • Geography prevented political unification

    • Developed strong city-states instead  Athens and Sparta

  • Main Problems

    • Wars with Persia

    • Wars between city-states

      • Peloponnesian Wars (431-404 BCE)

        • Athens vs. Sparta

        • Leads to downfall of Greek city-states

Alexander the great 332 323 bce
Alexander the Great (332-323 BCE)

  • Alex’s father, Philip II, conquered most of Greece

  • Built a massive empire, including Greece, Egypt, and Persia

  • Tries to invade India, but his military refuses

  • After death, empire divided in three parts

  • Main Contribution: Hellenism

    • Blending of Greek and Middle Eastern/Asian cultures

Roman republic 509 44 bce
Roman Republic (509-44 BCE)

  • Political System

    • Republic

    • Consuls

    • Senate (patricians upper class)

    • Tribunes (plebians lower class)

  • Focused on military expansion

  • Laws  Twelve Tables

    • Created laws that everyone must follow

    • Protected the lower classes

End of the roman republic
End of the Roman Republic

  • Growing Tensions between the rich and poor

    • Food shortages, not enough opportunities to own land or get certain jobs

  • Julius Caesar

    • General in Roman Army

    • 44 BCE: Invades Rome with his own military and declares himself “dictator for life”

    • Assassinated by upper-class senators

The roman empire 31 bce 476 ce
The Roman Empire (31 BCE – 476 CE)

  • Established by Augustus Caesar

    • Continued military expansion

    • First true emperor of Rome

    • “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace)

      • Height of Roman Empire; Great cultural and political achievements

  • NOT a dynasty (Unlike China and India)

    • Succession based on military strength

  • Tolerated local customs and religions

  • Laws and Nationalism held empire together

The decline of the roman empire
The Decline of the Roman Empire

  • 1). How did the geography of Greece impact its political development?

  • 2). Describe the City-State of Sparta. (culture, lifestyle, economy)

  • 3). Describe the City-State of Athens. (culture, lifestyle, economy)

  • 4). Which city-state would you wish to live in back in Ancient Greece? Explain why in complete sentences.

  • 5). Why was Alexander the Great able to conquer Greece so easily?

  • 6). What is Hellenism and how is Alexander the Great connected to it?

  • 7). Describe the Structure of the Roman Republic.

  • 8). Why is Augustus Caesar considered the 1st Emperor of Rome?

  • 9). What is the difference between Plebeians and Patricians?

  • 10). Thoroughly explain 1 reason why the Roman Empire fell in 476c.e.