10th Grade‎ > ‎Global History‎ > ‎

Chapter 1

Ancient Civilizations

The earliest people are known as Nomads (a.k.a Hunter Gatherers). They were people who wandered from oasis to oasis in search of food. Their tools and weapons were made out of the animals they hunted. They didn't have much of a social structure.

Agricultural / Neolithic Revolution

The Nomads made a few discoveries:

1.       They domesticated animals. They trained animals to fit their needs.

2.       They figured out how to plant and benefit from agriculture.

Those discoveries led to a few changes:

1.       They needed to build permanent settlements / villages.

2.       Social classes originated.

3.       Advancing technology was invented to fit their new way of life.

A civilization is a made up of cities containing complex institutions (government & religion), social classes, advanced technology, systems of writing, and specialized jobs.

The result of all the farming was a surplus of food. This led to an increase in population. This made a need for a leader who did more than just fight for them.

Cities and government - The government needs to protect the city and aid with infrastructure and food.

Specialized jobs and social classes - There were too many farmers, so people began specializing in other areas and bartered for the things they needed. The various occupations held different statuses in the community.

Civilization of Fertile Crescent

The land was the shape of a crescent and was extremely fertile because it contains many bodies of water. On the west was the Mediterranean Sea and on the east was the Persian Gulf. The most fertile spot of Fertile Crescent was the Mesopotamia (means: Land Between the Rivers). The Euphrates River is located on its west and the Tigris River is on its east. It was nicknamed the Cradle of Civilization.
Civilizations led to cultural diffusion.  

A city-state is a city and its surrounding lands that are all under the rule of that city. Each city-state was self-sufficient.

                - Sumer - a city state in Mesopotamia

Sumer is an example of a city-state. It was polytheistic. Religion was so important that the largest structure in the entire city-state was their temple - a ziggurat. The second to largest building was the king's palace.

The Sumerians invented some advanced tools.

1.       Plow - It made planting faster and easier.

2.       Wheel - It helped with farming and led to the invention of wheeled vehicles such as the chariot.

3.       Canals - It helped with the irrigation problem. It was a way for water to get from the river to their city.

4.       Dikes (dams) - This also helped with the irrigation problem. It prevented flooding.

5.       Sails - Wind was used to speed up their travels.

6.       Calendar - A 12 month calendar was created according to the lunar cycle.

7.       Cuneiform - This was their system of writing. They would etch in a wet clay tablet using a stylus made out of sharpened reed. The clay would dry and preserve the writing.

Some specialized jobs were:

1.       Scribes - They knew how to read and write. Their most important job was writing laws and keeping business records. They would also write letters for people who could afford it.

2.       Artisans - Potters, weavers, blacksmiths, etc. An artisan is someone who makes goods by hand.

3.       School Masters

4.       Merchants

The class system was:

                -Ur - a city near Sumer (could have been under Sumer's rule)

Archeologist found something in Ur called the "Standard of Ur." It was a decorated box with illustrations of the social class.

The city-state of Sumer was always at battle, and this weakened them. Eventually they were conquered.

- Phoenicians

They came up with a new system of writing called the alphabet. It only had 22 symbols and was much simpler and easier than cuneiform.

- Babylonians

They were originally a nomadic troop of warriors called the Amorites. They invaded Mesopotamia in about 2000 BCE. When they settled, they made Babylon their capital. They gained their fame when Hammurabi came to power. He ruled from 1792 - 1750 BCE. He ultimately captured the entire Mesopotamia. This formed one of the first empires of the world. An empire is a group of countries, lands under one ruler. Hammurabi came up with the first universal code of law in around 1780 BCE. It's called the Code of Hammurabi. This was the first major collection of written laws.

In his prologue, he explained that he wrote these laws to insure that there was justice in the land. He also wrote that it was for the benefit of the people. All 282 laws were engraved on an eight foot stone column. The laws were specifically for every day issues. There were laws about contracts, inheritances, renting, debt, theft, etc. The largest amount of laws (88) for a specific thing dealt with marriage, family, and property. He also wrote a lot about retaliation. He wrote about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. For example, if a contractor built a house and it ended up collapsing on its residents and killing them, the contractor would be executed.

Even though Hammurabi was all about being fair, he was biased towards men and rich people. For example, if a rich man was murdered by a poor man, the poor man would be killed, but if a poor man was murdered by a rich man, the rich man would just have to pay the victim's family. Another example, if a women was unhappy with her marriage, she had to live with it, but if a man was unhappy with his marriage, he just had to find another woman.

The laws also stated that the government was responsible for the people. For example, if a thief wasn't caught, the government would reimburse the victims.

About 200 years after Hammurabi died, the kings weren't as strong and other warriors took over the Babylonian Empire.


It was located in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent. They were very vulnerable to attacks due to their location. Over the years, they were forced to become mightier fighters. In around 850 BCE, they decided to conquer the entire Fertile Crescent.

1.       They came up with iron swords which was stronger than bronze swords.

2.       They also invented a battering ram. It was a big trunk of tree tipped with iron. They would ram it into the wall protecting a city and it would break it apart. They would then steal, loot, set fires, etc. to the city.

To prevent their captives from rebelling, they would resettle them in different countries.

They conquered the entire Fertile Crescent and Egypt. They made Nineveh their capital because it was the largest place.

The Assyrians were eventually captured by the Chaldeans.


The Chaldeans took over the Assyrian Empire by taking over Nineveh in around 612 BCE. More than 1000 years after Hammurabi's death, the Chaldeans made Babylon the capital of their empire.

They had a powerful king, Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled for around 43 years. He once again built up Babylon to a beautiful capital city. He built a magnificent palace for himself. The most impressive part of the palace was the Hanging Garden of Babylon. It was a garden planed around 75 feet above the plains on a terrace. The garden was considered 1 of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. The Greeks decided this.

Nebuchadnezzar also used the tactic of uprooting captives to avoid rebellion. After he died, the emperors slowly began losing power and the Persians took them over.



They were the first people from outside the Fertile Crescent to conquer it and build a large empire. Persia is located on the east, right outside the Fertile Crescent.

The Persian king was Cyrus, and in around 550 BCE, he began conquering kingdoms near Persia (Iran). People realized that he would be the new rising power. Within a few very short years, he conquered all of Fertile Crescent and a bit of Asia Minor (Turkey, India, Pakistan, etc.).  When the Persian Empire was at its height, it was from the Indus River (India) to the Nile River (Egypt). On the north, it reached all the way to the Black Sea (Russia).

The Assyrians had an empire built on fear and harsh laws, but the Persians built their empire based on tolerance and wise kings. For example, in the Persian Empire, people were allowed to keep their religion and customs.

Cyrus died in battle and his son, Cambyses, succeeded him. Cambyses expanded the empire by capturing Egypt.

The next major king was Darius. He conquered more land and brought the Persian Empire to its height. The capital of the empire was Susa.

Darius came up with ways to control his humongous empire.

1.       He divided his empire into provinces (sections). Each province was allowed to keep its language and religion. Each province had a governor - a Satrap - an army leader, and a tax collector.

2.       He built the Royal Road. It spanned a huge distance from the capital, Susa, up north to a place in Asia Minor. The road reduced traveling time from 3 months to around 1 week. There were stops along the way where you could trade horses and riders, so decrees could be spread throughout the empire faster.

3.       He standardized coinage. He manufactured metal coins, each having a standard value.

Ancient Egypt

(Around the same time Hammurabi was emperor of the Fertile Crescent, Ancient Egypt began to become civilized.)

Their life was centered around the Nile River. Upper Egypt was located in the south, and Lower Egypt was in the north. This was because the Nile River flowed from south to north. The north of the Nile River branches out and merges with the Mediterranean Sea. The land surrounding the triangular branch-out of the Nile River is known as the Nile Delta. It's wet, marshy, fertile land. There are 2 major deserts (Libyan and Arabian) on both sides of the river, and they were natural barriers which prevented invasion for a long time.

Many people consider Ancient Egypt as the land of the Gift of the Nile.


1.       The Nile was a great source of transportation (and unified Egypt). To travel from Upper Egypt to Lower Egypt, one would just have to follow the current. To go from Lower Egypt to Upper Egypt, one just had to put up a sail because the dominant winds went from north to south.

2.       It helped with trading.

3.       Gift of Overflowing and the Deposit of the Silt. The river would overflow every summer, and starting in October it would begin to recede and leave behind silt. Silt is a rich, black, fertile mud.

Originally people lived in small farming villages, but they got more civilized and began forming Nomes. It was a few united villages. Each Nome had its own chieftain, rituals, etc. Nomes would even fight amongst each other. Soon, chieftains would conquer a few Nomes and kingdoms formed. This progressed, and by around 3200 BCE, there were only 2 kingdoms: Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt. This lasted for around 100 years, until Menes, the king of Upper Egypt, conquered Lower Egypt and united all of Egypt. He formulated the first dynasty of Ancient Egypt.

Menes made his capital in Memphis. It's located at the mouth of the Nile Delta - where Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt meet. 

                - The Old Kingdom (26 2180 BCE)

It began by the 3rd dynasty. This new era set the culture for the rest of Ancient Egypt. The kings of Egypt were Pharaohs. A pharaoh was looked at as a god, king, and army leader. Ancient Egyptians believed that pharaohs had an eternal spirit and helped rule even after their deaths. Therefore, his burial chambers were extremely important. They would paint pictures of food, family, and servants on the walls to insure that he had scrumptious meals, company, and servants in his after-life. They were also buried with jewelry, clothing, and entertainment (games). Carved into the walls were lists of all the achievements of his life. They preserved his body by mummifying it.

Mummification Process: (took at least 70 days)

1.       Remove all organs except for the heart.

2.       Soak body for 70 days in a mineral salt - Natron - to take out the moisture.

3.       Wrap the body in white linen and then bury it.                                                                               The Sphinx

Their pyramids (burial chambers/tomb) were larger and more elaborate than their palaces because it was forever.

The largest and tallest pyramid was located in Giza and was called the Great Pyramid of Giza. It stands 481 ft. tall.

The sphinx was a statue built during the Old Kingdom. It has the head of a human and body of a lion.

Towards the end of the Old Kingdom, the pharaoh's power began to decline. This was because the Nile didn't overflow as much as usual for a few years. The people began going hungry and doubting the pharaoh's power because he wasn't controlling the powers of nature any more.

                - The First Illness (2180 - 2080 BCE)

There was chaos, civil war (between high nobles), lawlessness, and famines.

Law and order returned in the Middle Kingdom.

                -Middle Kingdom

1.       Farming was revived.

2.       Trade grew.

3.       Culture flourished.

The Egyptians changed their capital to Thebes, which was located more to the south of Egypt.

During this period, the pharaohs thought more about the good of the people. Some pharaohs ordered the digging of a canal from the Nile River to the Red Sea. Even thought it wouldn't overflow, it was helpful with transportation and trade. It brought lots of wealth. With the new wealth, pharaohs bought more to help the people. For example, they built dikes to help with irrigation.

Religious beliefs also focused more on the common people during this time. Now they believed that everyone had an afterlife, and the common people were also mummified.

                -The Second Illness (lasted 70 years)

It was similar to the First Illness. There was chaos, civil war between nobles, and weakness.

The Hyksos (means: rulers of the uplands) invaded Egypt during the 2nd Illness, through the Isthmus of Suez. It was a section of Egypt. It connected Egypt, Africa to Asia, right by the Sinai Desert. An isthmus is a piece of land that connects 2 larger pieces of land. The Hyksos conquered most of Egypt and ruled for the most of the 70 years. The Hyksos invaded with horse-drawn chariots. This was new to Egypt, and they captured the Egyptians easily. The Egyptians didn't like them because the Hyksos were nomadic and uncivilized, while the Egyptians were proud of their rich culture and civilization.

The invasion led to cultural diffusion.

1.       Egyptians learnt how to fight with horse-drawn chariots.

2.       The Egyptians became more powerful with the bow.

3.       The Egyptians learnt how to make bronze. They previously used copper.

4.       Egyptians learnt techniques in weaving and spinning.

Queen Ahhotep: (She was a pharaoh.)

She took over after her husband died in battle fighting against the Hyksos. Even though she was a woman, she was successful in driving the Hyksos back towards the north. She didn't completely drive them out.


He was also very successful in fighting against the Hyksos.

Shortly after Kamose, the Egyptians succeeded in driving out the Hyksos completely.

Once the Hyksos were completely out, Egypt came to their 3rd kindom.

                -The New Kingdom (1570 - 1075 BCE)

Egypt was at its height and was the wealthiest during this kingdom.

Their buildings were more lavish than ever before, but the architecture and art wasn't as creative and precise as before.

The invasion of the Hyksos scared the Egyptians and made them lose faith in the protection of their natural barriers. Instead, they tried to build up their power so that foreign countries would be too scared to invade. All that they had learnt from the Hyksos made them ready for war.

During the 18th dynasty, they formed a professional army with bowmen, infantry, and charioteers.


She declared herself queen in 1478 BCE because her husband had left her stepson as his heir, and he was too young to rule at the time of his father's death. She was very powerful but peaceful. She ruled for 22 years. Instead of being militaristic, she encouraged trade and brought lots of wealth to the empire.

She had a monument built for herself. It was an obelisk, which is a monument that is tall and pointy. It was about 100 ft. tall and made out of one piece of granite. She had carved into it her accomplishments and drawings of her trades (who she traded with and what she traded with them). It's known as Hatshepsut's Obelisk. It's unclear whether she died naturally or was killed by her stepson, because he was eager to rule.

Her stepson was named Thutmose III. He ruled for 25 years (1450-1425 BCE). Thutmose, unlike his stepmom, was really into war. During his 25 years as pharaoh, he won many battles in the north, in Syria and Palestine, and in the south, in Africa - all the way until the 4th cataract, conquering the country of Nubia. During his time, the empire was at its height.

The kings of the New Kingdom realized that the pyramids of the Old Kingdom were too visible and were easily robbed. They found a more remote place and build their pyramids there. It's known as the Valley of the Kings, and it is in Luxor, Egypt. Even there, to further hide themselves, they built their tombs under cliffs.

Howard Carter, a British archeologist, discovered the tomb of King Tut in 1922 CE. It was fully intact.

The New Kingdom was an age of building. They build large, lavish buildings.

Ramses II was a pharaoh, and he built a lot during his time. He ruled for 67 years (1979-1212 BCE). He built 2 massive temples. He built 4 statues of himself for each temple. He was the last ruler of the New Kingdom. After he died, the empire slowly began to fall apart because other civilizations arose and challenged the empire's power. For example, Palestine rebelled against Egypt.

The Egyptian records speak of an attack by Peoples of the Sea. It says, in these records, that these people left Egypt with a lot of destruction.

Social Structure of Egyptian Culture

The nobles were in service of the pharaoh. They were generals, tax collectors, and officials of various types.

The priests were responsible for the rituals and upkeep of the temple. They were responsible for mummifying.

Women were allowed to serve as government officials, scribes, and priests. They also had many rights. They were allowed to own and trade property, propose marriage, and ask for divorce. If they were granted a divorce, they were permitted to keep 1/3 of their family's property.

It was possible to move up in the social structure. For example, if a peasant showed courage in battle, he would sometimes receive a gift of money, land, or/and a raise in status. Usually the highest positions were given to noble-born because one needed to read and write.

Peasants didn't own their land; it was owned by the pharaoh. The pharaoh allotted land to his officials, and these officials would demand high taxes from the peasants. The peasants were left with only enough to eat. Sometimes, like during a recession, peasants were better off than artisans.

Slaves joined the socials structure in the New Kingdom when Egypt began conquering other countries. The peasants would work on the latest projects of the king whenever the Nile overflowed in the summers.

Religion in the New Kingdom

They were polytheistic.

There was one king, known as "The Heretic," who tried to change the religion from polytheism to monotheism. His name was Amenhotep, and he changed it to Akhenaton. He wasn't very popular; the priests were really upset at him.  He tried his hardest and was very ruthless in trying to expel any belief in polytheism, but he was unsuccessful.

King Tutankhamen:

He became pharaoh at the age of 8 and ruled until around the age of 19. He switched back to polytheism. As a reward for reverting to polytheism, the priests loaded his tomb with treasures.

Writing System in Egypt

They wrote in hieroglyphics. They were pictures that represented sounds. After Ancient Egypt, the writing was forgotten. In 1799 CE, a group of French soldiers found a polished, black stone in Rosetta - a city in the Nile Delta. It became known as the Rosetta Stone. On it was a message written in 3 languages: 2 in hieroglyphics and 1 in Ancient Greek. Because they knew how to decipher Ancient Greek, they were able to figure out the code to hieroglyphics, and that is how we know it today.

They used to write on clay tablets, but then they found papyrus. It's a reed found by the Nile Delta. They cut it in strips, weaved them together, and flattened it. It's very similar to paper.

Cosmetics in Egypt

Since the desert was so hot and dry, to prevent their skin from drying out, they rubbed oil into their skin.

They outlined their eyes with makeup (kohl) made from powder stone to soften the glare of the sun.

Egyptians also had an advanced solar calendar. It had 365 days, 12 months, and 30 days per month.  They came up with the calendar because they tracked the overflowing of the Nile annually. This way they knew when to plant and harvest.

Ancient India

Ancient India included India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

India is considered a subcontinent/ subdivision and self-controlled portion of Asia. India is cut off because there are two major mountain ranges that separate India from the rest of Asia. On the west are the Hindu Kush Mountains, and on the east are the Himalayas. At one point, the mountain ranges meet.

The entire ancient India was divided into 3 major sections of land. In the north was the Indus-Ganges Plain. It was called this because of the 2 rivers (the Indus River and Ganges River) that run through it. The land there was  very flat, fertile, and good for farming.

The southern section was less inhabited because it was sort of dry. It is called the Deccan Plateau. A plateau is a section of land that is raised above the land around it.

The 3rd section was the coastal plains. They are along the coast of southern India. The land was good for farming and fishing because it was right near the water.

Because of all the different types of land, it was very difficult for India to unite.

India's climate was controlled by seasonal monsoons (winds). During the summer, they brought down great rains, which helped irrigate the land. The people depended on these rains to water their crops. If there was  too much water, it would flood the crops, but if there was too little water, the crops wouldn't grow.

                - Indus River Civilization

The first Indian civilization was a bunch of settlements around the Indus River., which was found in the Indus-Ganges Plain. One of the largest cities was Harappa (2500 BCE). These cities were very neat and organized. Their roads were exactly parallel in a grid formation. All the bricks in their houses were exactly the same size.

They were also very concerned about their cleanliness and health. Archaeologists found plumbing/sewer systems.

All  these things show us that their government must have been organized.

Most people were famers. They grew cotton and weaved it into cloth. The next sources of income were artisans and merchants. Archaeologists found clay seals in the ruins of both Ancient India and Mesopotamia. This showed us that they must've traded with each other.

In around 1750 BCE, the Indus River Civilization began to decline. Some possibilities of why are:

1.       The Indus River changed its course, so the farmers lacked the water they needed to irrigate their land.

2.       They overgrazed and over-farmed their land.

3.       They were attacked, and the survivors abandoned the city. They have proof of this because they found skeletons with wounds from swords.

                - Vedic Age (1500 - 500 BCE)

A group of people, Aryans, invaded and lasted for around 1000 years. They were from central Asia. They invaded through the Khyber Pass. It was through the Hindu-Kush Mountain range. It was the easiest way to pass through the mountains. Today it is a big road extending from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

When they invaded, some Indians managed to escape, but others were forced to remain as slaves.

The Aryans were extremely different from the Indians. They counted cattle as their wealth. They abandoned the cities and started their own civilizations along the river. Through cultural diffusion, a blended culture arose.

The Aryans spoke a language called Sanskrit, which is still around today. It's considered a very holy language. The Aryan priests memorized long poems, in Sanskrit, about their culture, history, and religion. They memorized these poems to preserve their culture. A collection of these poems are called the Vedas. Through these poems, historians know what happened during the Vedic Age.


The blend of culture resulted in a new religions called Hinduism. It's based on a caste system. Caste means pure in Latin. This system also determined the social classes. This was the first time a social structure was based on religion and the amount of purity one had. The system had absolutely no social mobility. They were born into their status.


The Untouchables weren't even part of the caste system. They had absolutely no purity.

Hindus also believe in reincarnation.

Each cast had its own duty - dharma - in life. They believe in the law of Karma - if you do dharma and behave well, you would be reborn into a higher caste.



Siddhartha Gautama (530 BCE) challenged Hinduism. He wondered why people should suffer, die, and then be reborn just to suffer more. He didn't like the idea of reincarnation and wanted to find an answer to his question. After a lot of meditation, he discovered the truth and set out to teach it.

He changed his name to Buddha, which means enlightened one.

Four Noble Truths of Buddhism

1.       People suffer.

2.       People have pain because of their selfish desires.

3.       The only way to end the pain is to end the desires.

4.       People can overcome their desires by following the Eightfold Path.

The goal of the Eightfold Path is to reach Nirvana - freedom from reincarnation and the pain that comes with it. Buddha teaches that every living thing should be treated with kindness and love. Still, a caste system exists.

Both Hinduism and Buddhism are trying to escape the pain of the world.

In 512 BCE, Darius of Persia, invaded through the Khyber Pass and ruled India for around 200 years. He only ruled the northwest section, around the Indus River.

In around 362 BCE, the Greeks (Alexander the Great from Masedonia), conquered that area and ruled it for the next 5 years, and then he died, and the Greeks lost their power.

Finally, an Indian, Chandragupta Maurya (322 - 298 BCE), united all of northern India. Throughout the 24 years that he ruled, he fought to unite northern India. He began the Mauryan Dynasty.

                -Mauryan Dynasty

Chandragupta ruled by force and fear. He didn't trust anyone and was extremely paranoid. He put spies everywhere, had people taste his food, etc. Anyone who was even suspected of plotting against him was tortured to death.

His grandson, Ashoka (273 - 230 BCE) ruled after his father's death. He was the complete opposite of his grandfather. He ruled according to the Buddhist teachings of peace to all beings. He treated everyone righteously and encouraged everyone to live righteously. Instead of spies, he sent out Officials of Righteousness. He also sent out Buddhist missionaries to many lands, as far as Assyria. Thanks to him, Buddhism was spread all over.

He was the last strong ruler of the Mauryan Dynasty, and India reverted to their many separated, mini kingdoms. Despite all that, the Indian culture remained as it had been by the original people.

Ancient Greece


·         It's located in the southeastern section of Europe.

·         It's made up of many mountains, isolated valleys, and small islands.

·         It's a peninsula. The 3 water surrounding it are:
1. Ionian Sea on the west
2. Aegean Sea on the east
3. Mediterranean Sea in the south

Water shaped their civilization. How?

1.       Water linked most of Greece.

2.       Through the seas, they traded with other countries. They also traded ideas and technology, like the Phoenician Alphabet. They adapted it as their own and altered it a bit.

Their climate was very moderate - warm temperatures - and it only rained in the winter.

Most of their things took place outdoors: market place, theater, meetings, etc.


Bronze Age

The first civil people to settle in Greece were the Minoans. They were there from 1750 -1450 BCE. They settled in Greece's largest island: Crete. It was a very rich and colorful culture. It ended abruptly. Historians assume that there was either a natural disaster or an invasion.

The second group of people to civilize ancient Greece were the Mycenaeans (1450 - 1200 BCE). They settle in the south of the Mainland of Greece. They were very militaristic. They had warrior kings that owned their city and its surrounding land. They were into piracy. They would overcome boats and loot them. The most famous war they fought was the Trojan War. The Greeks went to war against Troy. It lasted many years because both countries were very strong. Greece came up with a smart plan. They pretended to surrender and left a wooden horse as a gift. The Trojans brought the horse into their city. In middle of the night, soldiers who had been hiding in the horse crept out and let in the rest of the Greek soldiers. Greek took over Troy.

Dark Ages of Greece

The third group of people, Darians, settled in Greece. They were much less civilized than the Mycenaeans. They lacked an alphabet. No trading occurred. Nothing happened; Greece was at a standstill. They did have Bards - wandering poets. Homer was a famous bard; he was the greatest of the poets. He wrote epics. Epics are long, heroic narrative poems. He wrote 2 famous poems:
                1. The Iliad - It was about the Trojan War              2. The Odyssey

Greece started the Olympic Games. The first competition took place in 776 BCE. They were held every four years in Olympia. People from all over came to compete and the winners got instant fame and glory.

The Rise of the City-States: (750 BCE)

To recover from the Dark Ages, city-states began to arise. A polis is a city-state in Greek. Each polis had two parts to it.  1. The acropolis was the hilltop and located there were the temples and meeting places.
2. The flat grounds around it were where the homes, theaters, marketplaces, etc. were.

Originally, the city-states were ruled by kings. Then, they developed an aristocracy. An aristocracy is when the land is ruled by nobles. They were very selfish rulers, so a bunch of city-states decided to unite and come up with a different type of government. Examples of city-states are Athens and Sparta.


It was located in southern Greece. In around 700 BCE, they conquered a group of people and treated them like slaves. These people eventually rebelled against the Spartans, but the Spartans just barely managed to stop the rebellion. This event scared Sparta so much that they were determined never to let another incident like that happen. They decided to become a military society. They were mostly a monarchy, but had a few democratic aspects to their government.

1.       Sparta had 2 kings ruling at a time.

2.       There was a Council of Elders. The members of the council were able to propose laws.

3.       Freemen voted for the laws.

·         Boys were in training and the army from seven to thirty years old.

·         Girls were trained in sports, wrestling, etc. so that they would be physically fit to produce soldiers.


It was located in northern Greece.

They valued education more than Sparta did. From seven to eighteen, boys received an education. From eighteen to twenty, the boys were in military school and the army.

If girls were lucky, they learned to read and write at home. They stayed home all day.

Originally, Athens had an aristocracy, but when they realized the poor people were getting anxious and ready to rebel, they reformed their government.

Solon and Cleisthenes formed a direct democracy. A direct democracy is when citizens take part in the everyday running of the government. Citizens could vote on laws.

Women, foreigners, and slaves were not considered citizens. Although these people couldn't bring up issues, citizens could talk to the government for them.

Citizens were responsible for justice. If they witnesses non-citizens doing wrong, they were obligated to bring justice.

All citizens had equal rights. (Rich men received the same consequences as poor men.)

The Persian Wars:

1. The first one started in 490 BCE. King Darius of Persia wanted to fight against Athens. He waged war at Marathon (a city north of Athens). Athens won the battle by far. Thanks to a runner, who ran from Marathon to Athens (26 miles), Athens was saved from destruction by the Persians.

2. The second war occurred 10 years later in 480 BCE. King Xerxes, Darius's son, wanted revenge. He wanted to defeat Greece. This time, more city-states were involved. (Sparta also was involved. They sacrificed themselves so that the other city-states could retreat.) The only problem was that some city-states sided with the Persians, because they were so scared of the great Persian army.

The Athenian navy ended up winning over the great Persian army. Athens' pride was tremendous, and after the war, they formed an alliance with other city-states. It was called the Delian League. Athens was the leader. The purpose of the league was to defend themselves against another attack. It started off as an innocent pack, but soon Athens used its powerful navy to conquer some of the other members of the alliance. They forced other city-states to join. Everyone in the league was obligated to pay an annual fee/yearly due/tax to Athens. This was the Athenian Empire.

With all the wealth acquired from the Delian League, Athens entered a brief golden age.

Golden Age of Athens (480-430 BCE)

Suddenly there was an outburst of creativity in many intellectual areas and cultural arts.

This time was also known as The Age of Pericles. He was a well-liked general and ruled during the golden age. He had three goals:

1.       He wanted to strengthen Athens' democracy. He did this by giving more public officials a paid salary. Before, only the rich people could afford to work in the government, but now, poor people could also afford it if they were chosen by the lot. This means that that there were more diverse citizens involved.

2.       He wanted to build and strengthen the Athenian Empire. To do this he built up their navy even more. He did this for a. safety for sea trade (= more wealth for Athens)
              b. settling arguments between league members

3.       He wanted to glorify Athens. He spend loads of money beautifying Athens. He build many beautiful buildings with gold, ivory, and marble. He got the money from the Delian League. The Parthenon was a temple built during this time. It's famous for its excellent craftsmanship and design.

During this time, a new art was invented. They began writing and performing plays which is referred to as drama. They were:

                1. an expression of pride for their city-state
                2. a tribute to the gods

They would write tragedies which depicts a strong hero whose own strength leads to his downfall. Sophocles was a playwright of tragedies during the golden age of Athens.

The Peloponnesian War

It was fought by the Athenian Empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Tension built between Athens and Sparta because:

1.       Sparta was intimidated by Athens' navy.

2.       They didn't see any results from the money they were paying towards the Delian League.

In 431 BCE, Sparta attacked Athens. There was a power struggle between Athens' navy and Sparta's army. Some battles were fought on land and some were fought on sea. The war lasted 22 years until 404 BCE. Athens finally surrendered and lost its empire, wealth, power, navy, etc.

The reason for Athens' fall was:

A.      Pericles died in the beginning of the war, and it triggered their downfall.

B.      Athens' leaders were corrupt and weak.

C.      The people lost confidence in the government because it was unstable.

A new form of drama called comedy was created to help the people escape the depression of the time. A comedy makes fun of ideas of the time, people, and politics.

There was an outburst of philosophy because the government was corrupt and things weren't going well, so people were searching for the truth. A philosopher means "lover of wisdom" in Greek.


1) Socrates (469-399 BCE)

He came up with the Socratic Method of teaching. It's a way of teaching through asking questions. He asked questions, got answers, contradicted the answers, reasoned, and finally got the truth.

He examined the ways of life and came out with truths. He thought an unexamined life isn't worth living.

He questioned government officials and religion. While under Athenian rule, it was okay because it was a democratic society, but when Sparta took over, he was accused of corrupting the youth. He was arrested and executed.

 2) Plato (427-247 BCE)

He was Socrates' best student. He started the first university called The Academy. He is also famous for writing The Republic. It describes a perfectly governed society where everyone fits into 3 groups:

1.       Workers - They were the most common.

2.       Warriors - They were more gifted.

3.       Ruling Class - They were the highest and rarest. The greatest of this class were the philosophers. The greatest philosopher was king.

3) Aristotle (384-322 BCE)

He was Plato's best student. He was a genius in everything and wrote many books. He believed that people learned through logic and reason. He also believed that every truth logically follows other truths. (There is a story of his students finding him in a field eating a live rabbit. They asked him why he was doing something that went against what he taught. He replied, "Is a mathematician a triangle?"

Ancient Macedonia

It's located north of Greece. They speak Greek and have a similar culture to the Greeks.

When the Delian League fell apart, Greece was very weak.

In 338 BCE, King Philip II of Macedonia attacked and conquered Greece. He didn't enslave them, but he asked for their help in invading Persia. Two years later he was murdered and his desire to conquer Persia was fulfilled through his son, Alexander the Great (20 years old). Alexander was educated (Aristotle's student) and had military experience. He set out to conquer as much of the world as he was able.  He conquered most of the Persian Empire: Persia, Asia Minor, parts of India, the Fertile Crescent, and Egypt.

When he conquered Egypt, he founded a city called Alexandria.  Since he was able to unite the entire Greek Empire, his era ended the independent city-states.

While he was invading the Persian Empire, many Greeks followed him around and settled in the places he had conquered. When they settled, they set up cities with their culture: their theaters, gymnasiums, temples, etc. They also married Persian women. There was lots of cultural diffusion.

The blend of all these cultures (Macedonian and Eastern) formed a vibrant new culture called Hellenism. The main idea of Hellenism was beauty.

At the age of 33, Alexander died from a fever. His empire was divided into 3 sections:

1.       Antigonus got control of Macedonia and Greece.

2.       Ptolemy got control of Egypt and Israel.

3.       Seleucus got control of Asia Minor and the Fertile Crescent.

Politically, they weren't unified, but Hellenism still thrived and contributed a lot to society.

Alexandria was the center of Hellenistic culture at the time. They had a major research library, the first of its kind. There were documents, archives, and literary works from all over the world. People would go there to study.


1.       Astronomy - 1) They discovered that Earth rotates around the sun.
                         2) They estimated the size of Earth.

2.       Math / Physics - Archimedes - 1) He figured out the value of pi.
                                                            2) He figured out how to use a lever to lift heavy objects.
                             - Euclid - geometry
                             - Pythagoras - Pythagorean theorem

Sculptures were made to depict human bodies that were perfectly formed. This showed their belief of beauty and perfection. This mainly came from the Greek contribution to Hellenism.

When Rome began to rise, Hellenism began to decline.


 If you want to download the above notes, download the attachment below. 

Subpages (1): Outline
Rachel Leah Yarmush,
Jun 27, 2011, 7:12 PM