Key Vocabulary

China - 1800 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E.
  • Ancestor: any person from whom one is descended, especially one earlier in a family than a grandparent
  • Bureaucracy: a system of departments and agencies that carries out the work of the government (ex. tax collectors, postal service)
  • Civil War: armed conflict between groups from the same country
  • Dynastic cycle: the pattern of the rise and fall of dynasties
  • Dynasty: a family or group that rules for several generations
  • Emperor: a person who rules and empire (ex. Qin Shi Huang Di, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar)
  • Empire: a group of territories and people brought together under one ultimate ruler
  • Great Wall: the wall built to link smaller walls and keep invaders out of China
  • Oracle bones: animal bones or turtle shells that were used to communicate with the gods and ancestors
  • Philosophy: the logical study of basic truths about knowledge, values, and the world (ex. Confucianism)
  • Silk Road: a road of trade routes from Asia to Europe that traded silk and other valuable goods

Early Humans - 2.4 million years ago - 200,000 years ago
  • Hunter-gatherers: people who hunt animals and gather plants for food
  • Migration: the process of moving or relocating to a new region, usually for food
  • Nomads: members of a group of people who have no set home, but move from place to place

Egypt - 3100 B.C.E. to 1200 B.C.E.
  • Afterlife: life believed to follow after death
  • Arid: climate of hot summers and very little rain
  • Linen: fabric woven from fibers of the flax plant; cloth
  • Monument: a structure, such as a building or sculpture that is built as a memorial
  • Papyrus: paper-like material made from the stems of the papyrus reeds
  • Pharaoh: the rule of ancient Egypt who acts like a king
  • Pictographs: pictures or drawings that represent a word or an idea
  • Succession: the order in which members of a royal family inherit the throne

  • Capital: a town or city that is the official place of the government, like a state or country
  • City: a town with many people, often with a local government and laws
  • Compass rose: tells direction on a map; shows North, East, South and West
  • Continent: the seven largest bodies of land around the world; includes: Antarctica, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America
  • Geography: the study of Earth
  • Key: a tool on a map that gives symbols, lines and colors
  • Scale: measures distance; shows the ratio between a unit of length on a map and a unit of distance on Earth
  • State: a self-governing unit within a country with its own laws, government and army

Greece - 1500 B.C.E. to 326 B.C.E.
  • Acropolis: the highest part of Athens; the location of important buildings, monuments, and temples
  • Aristocracy: a government ruled by the upper class
  • Aristocrat: a rich, upperclass man in ancient Greece, who often had a role in the government 
  • Citizen: person who owes loyalty to a country and in return is protected by the same country
  • Comedy: humorous dramatic work that makes fun of politics, important people, and/or ideas
  • Democracy: a form of government where citizens make political decisions, either directly or through representatives
  • Drama: written work that is performed by actors
  • Epics: a long poem about a hero's adventures
  • Executive branch: the political unit that enforces the laws
  • Fables: a short story usually involving animals and teaches a moral or lesson
  • Judicial branch: the political unit that makes sure laws are fair and that people are following them correctly
  • Legend: a popular story from earlier times that cannot be proved
  • Legislative branch: the political unit that makes laws
  • Myths: a story that people tell to explain beliefs about their world
  • Oligarchy: a form of government that is ruled by a few powerful people or oligarchs
  • Republic: a form of government in which citizens elect representatives to rule in their name
  • Senate: a powerful body of 300 members that advised Roman leaders
  • Tyranny: a form of government ruled by a tyrant
  • Tyrant: a person who took power of the government illegally 

India - 2500 B.C.E. to 375 C.E.
  • Ahimsa: non-violence
  • Caste system: the social class that a person belongs to by birth
  • Enlightened: having spiritual knowledge or understanding
  • Karma: the consequences of a person's actions in this life, which determines her fate in the next life
  • Monsoons: seasonal wind system that produces a wet or dry season in a region, sometimes heavy rainfall
  • Planned cities: cities built according to a plan or design
  • Reincarnation: the rebirth of a soul in another body
  • Subcontinent: a large landmass that is part of a continent but is considered a separate region

Medieval Europe - 500 C.E. to 1450 C.E.
  • Bubonic Plague: a disease also known as the "Black Death" that killed millions of people in Europe and Asia
  • Chivalry: code of conduct of knights that focuses on bravery, honor, and respect towards women and the weak
  • Feudalism: the political and social system where the lords give land to the vassals in exchange for loyalty and military service
  • Hundred Years' War: a series of wars between England and France from 1337 to 1453 
  • Lord: a powerful landowner in medieval Europe
  • Manor: the noble's house and the villages on his land where the peasants lived
  • Medieval: the time period of the Middle Ages
  • Middle Ages: the time period between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance
  • Serfs: people who lived and worked on the manor of a lord or vassal
  • Vassal: a person who received land and protection from the lords in return for loyalty to the lord

Mesopotamia - 3100 B.C.E to 332 B.C.E
  • Agriculture: cultivating or developing the soil in order to grow/produce crops
  • Artisans: people who were trained in a particular skill or craft (ex. pottery making or weaving)
  • Civilization: an advanced form of culture that developed into cities
  • Drought: long periods of little or no rainfall when it is difficult to grow crops
  • Fertile: good soil or dirt that helps to grow crops and other plants
  • King: the highest-ranking leader of a group of people (ex. Hammurabi)
  • Polytheism: the belief in many gods and goddesses 
  • Rituals: ceremonies or acts used in place of worship
  • Scribes: people who specialized in writing and record keeping of events, history, and facts
  • Silt: fine, fertile soil that was carried by rivers and deposited or put onto the land which helped crops to grow
  • Specialization (to specialize): a skill in one type of work (ex. blacksmith, potter, cook)
  • Surplus: an amount that produced that is in excess or more than what is needed

  • Primary source: a document or artifact that was created by a person who witnessed/saw a historical event (ex. diary, letter, interviews, artifacts)
  • Religion: the worship of God, gods, or spirits
  • Secondary source: a work produced about a historical event by someone who was not actually there (ex. textbook, encyclopedia, newspaper)
  • Social class: a group of people with similar customs, backgrounds, training and income (ex. upper, middle, lower)
  • Truce: an agreement to stop fighting

Rome - 753 B.C.E. to 476 C.E.
  • Aqueduct: systems of channels, pipes, and bridges that carried water into Roman towns
  • Barbarian: someone who was primitive and uncivilized; what Romans called the people who were not from Rome
  • Gladiators: trained Roman warriors
  • Mercenary: soldier that is hired to fight
  • Patricians: wealthy landowners who held high government positions 
  • Peninsula: a body of land surrounded by water on three of the four sides
  • Plebians: commoners who were allowed to vote but not hold government offices