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Classical Trade Patterns and Contacts


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Title: Classical Trade Patterns and Contacts

Classical Trade Patterns and Contacts
  • Plus the Fall of the Classical Empires

Classical Trade Patterns and Contacts
  • An important change in world history during the
    Classical period was the expansion of trade
    networks and communications among the major
  • These trade networks were often controlled by
    nomads who lived in the vast expanses between
    civilizations or on their outskirts.

Classical Trade Patterns and Contacts
  • As a result of these growing networks, more areas
    of the world were interacting and becoming
    increasingly dependent on one another.
  • Three large trade networks developed between 300
    BCE and 600 CE the Silk Road, the Indian Ocean
    trade, and the Saharan trade.

The Silk Road
  • The Silk Road
  • This fabled trade route extended from Xian in
    China to the eastern Mediterranean.
  • It began in the late 2nd century BCE when a
    Chinese general (Zhang Jian) was exploring the
    Tarim Basin in central Asia and discovered
    heavenly horses that were superior to any bred
    in China.

The Silk Road
  • This breed of horse was considered so superior
    that they caused a war (the first known war
    fought over horses).
  • A Han Chinese army traveled over 6,000 miles to
    bring these horses back for the emperor (Wu Di).
  • Today they are known as the Akhal teke, and they
    are still bred by Central-Asian nomads.

The Silk Road
  • The Heavenly Horses of the Tarim Basin

The Silk Road
The Silk Road
  • Over 6,000 years ago silk was a valued fiber for
  • For many centuries, silk fabric was reserved
    exclusively for the emperor and his royal
  • Gradually silk became available for general use. 
  • Farmers paid their taxes in grain and silk.

The Silk Road
  • In addition to clothing, silk was used for
    musical thread, fishing line, bowstrings and
  • Eventually it became one of the main elements of
    the Chinese economy. 

The Silk Road
  • Silk farmers raise silkworms, which take about
    3-4 weeks to spin a cocoon. 
  • Then the cocoons are carefully unwound to a
    length up to 3,000 ft long. 
  • It takes several hundred cocoons to make a single
    shirt or blouse. 

The Silk Road
  • The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the
    triangular prism-like structure of the silk
    fiber, which allows silk cloth to refract
    incoming light at different angles, which
    produces different colors.

The Silk Road
  • Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty decided to
    develop trade with countries to the west, and the
    building of a road across Asia was his main
  • It took nearly sixty years of war and

The Silk Road
  • Individual merchants rarely traveled from one end
    to the other (about 5,000 miles) instead they
    handled long-distance trade in stages. 
  • The Chinese had many goods to trade, including
    their highly prized silk, and with the discovery
    of the heavenly horses, the Chinese now had
    something that they wanted in return.

The Silk Road
  • The Tarim Basin was connected by trade routes to
    civilizations to the west, and by 100 BCE, Greeks
    could buy Chinese silks from traders in
    Mesopotamia, who in turn had traded for the silk
    with nomads that came from the Tarim Basin.

The Silk Road
The Silk Road
  • Although the Romans and Chinese probably never
    actually met, goods made it from one end of the
    Silk Road to the other, making all the people
    along the route aware of the presence of others.

The Silk Road
  • Traders going west from China carried peaches,
    oranges, apricots, cinnamon, ginger, cloves,
    pepper, and other spices as well as silk.

The Silk Road
  • Spices were extremely important in classical
  • They served as condiments and flavoring agents
    for food, and also as drugs, anesthetics,
    aphrodisiacs, perfumes, aromatics, and magical

The Silk Road
  • Traders going east carried alfalfa (for horses),
    grapes, pistachios, sesame, spinach, glassware,
    and jewelry.

The Silk Road
  • Inventions along the route made their way to many
  • For example, the stirrup was probably invented in
    what is today northern Afghanistan, and horsemen
    in many places realized what an advantage the
    stirrup gave them in battle, so it quickly spread
    to faraway China and Europe.

The Silk Road
  • The Silk Road was essentially held together by
    pastoral nomads of Central Asia who supplied
    animals to transport goods and food/drink needed
    by caravan parties.
  • For periodic payments by merchants and
    governments, they provided protection from
    bandits and raiders.

The Silk Road
  • The nomads insured the smooth operation of the
    trade routes, allowing not only goods to travel,
    but also ideas, customs, and religions, such as
    Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.

The Silk Road
  • Biological exchanges were also important, but
    unintended, consequences of the silk roads.
  • Contagious microbes spread along the trade
    routes, finding new hosts for infection. 
  • Until immunities were acquired, deadly epidemics
    took a terrible toll in the second and third
    centuries CE. 
  • The most destructive diseases were smallpox,
    measles, and bubonic plague. 

The Silk Road
  • Smallpox, Measles, and Bubonic Plague

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • The Indian Ocean Maritime System
  • Water travel from the northern tip of the Red Sea
    southward goes back to the days of the river
    valley civilizations.
  • The ancient Egyptians traded with peoples along
    the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • During the river valley era, water routes were
    short and primarily along the coasts.
  • During the classical era, those short routes were
    connected together to create a network that
    stretched from China to Africa.

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • Like the traders on the Silk Road, most Indian
    Ocean traders only traveled back and forth along
    on one of its three legs 1). southeastern China
    to Southeast Asia 2). Southeast Asia to the
    eastern coast of India and 3). The western coast
    of India to the Red Sea and the eastern coast of

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • Countless products traveled along the Indian
    Ocean routes, including ivory from Africa and
    India frankincense and myrrh (fragrances) from
    southern Arabia pearls from the Persian Gulf
    spices from India and SE Asia and manufactured
    goods and pottery from China.

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • Comparison between the Mediterranean and Indian
  • Differences in physical geography shaped
    different techniques and technologies for water
    travel during the classical period.
  • The Mediterraneans calm waters meant sails had
    to be designed to pick up what little wind they
    could, so large, square sails were developed.

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • The most famous of the ships, the Greek trireme
    (from the Latin triremis3 oars), had three tiers
    of oars operated by 170 rowers.

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • A mosaic of a Roman trireme from the Punic wars
    (battles with Carthage).

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • In contrast, sailing on the Indian Ocean had to
    take into account the strong seasonal monsoon
    winds that blew in one direction in the spring
    and the opposite direction during the fall.
  • Indian Ocean ships sailed without oars, and used
    the lateen sail (roughly triangular with squared
    off points).

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • Lateen sails were more maneuverable through
    strong winds.

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • The boats were small, with planks tied together
    with palm fiber.
  • Mediterranean sailors nailed their ships

Indian Ocean Maritime Trade
  • Mediterranean sailors usually stayed close to
    shore because they could not rely on winds to
    carry them over the open water.
  • The monsoon winds allowed Indian Ocean sailors to
    go for long distances across water.

Trade Routes Across the Sahara
  • Before the classical era, the vast Saharan desert
    of northern Africa formed a geographic barrier
    between the people of Sub-Saharan Africa and
    those that lived to its north and east.

Trade Routes Across the Sahara
  • The introduction of the camel to the area
    (probably in the 1st century BCE) made it
    possible to establish trade caravans across the

Trade Routes Across the Sahara
  • Camels probably came to the Sahara from Egypt (by
    way of Arabia), and effective camel saddles were
    developed to allow trade goods to be carried.

Trade Routes Across the Sahara
  • Arabian or dromedary (Arabia or N. Africa).
  • They are faster and can travel more miles in a
    day than the Bactrian camel.
  • Good in deserts, flat land or rolling hills, they
    are not good on slippery surfaces.

Trade Routes Across the Sahara
  • Bactrian (Central Asia).
  • Bactrian camels are better suited for cold
    climates with rugged terrain.
  • They have shorter legs and stout bodies and they
    can walk over slippery surfaces that dromedary
    camels can't handle.

Trade Routes Across the Sahara
  • A major incentive for the Saharan trade was the
    demand for desert salt, and traders from
    Sub-Saharan Africa brought forest products from
    the south like kola nuts and palm oil to be
    traded for salt.

Trade Routes Across the Sahara
  • Extensive trade routes connected different parts
    of Sub-Saharan Africa, so that the connection of
    Eastern Africa to the Indian Ocean trade meant
    that goods from much of Sub-Saharan Africa could
    make their way to Asia and the Mediterranean.
  • Many of these trade routes still function today.

The Incense Roads
  • There has been an Incense Trade Route for as long
    as there has been recorded history. As soon as
    the camel was domesticated, Arab tribes began
    carrying incense from southern Arabia to the
    civilizations scattered around the Mediterranean
  • By the time of King Solomon, the incense route
    was in full swing, and Solomon reaped rich
    rewards in the form of taxes from the incense
    passing into and through his kingdom.

The Incense Roads
The Incense Roads
  • The records of Babylon and Assyria all mention
    the incense trade but it wasn't until the
    Nabataean tribe of Arabs dominated the Incense
    Road that Europeans took notice.
  • Up until 24 BCE the Nabataeans moved large
    caravans of frankincense, myrrh and other
    incenses from southern Arabia and spices from
    India and beyond to the Mediterranean ports of
    Gaza and Alexandria.

The Incense Roads
  • The Nabataeans carved the famous building of
    Petra out of solid rock (located in todays
    southern Jordan).

The Incense Roads
  • The Roman historian Pliny the Elder mentioned
    that the route took 62 days to traverse from one
    end of the Incense Road to the other. Rest
    stops were every 20-25 miles.
  • At its height, the Incense Roads moved over 3000
    tons of incense each year. Thousands of camels
    and camel drivers were used. The profits were
    high, but so were the risks from thieves,
    sandstorms, and other threats.

The Incense Roads
  • The legend of the three Magi (Kings or Wise Men)
    traveled along the Incense Roads to Bethlehem,
    bringing frankincense and myrrh.

The Incense Roads
  • Both frankincense and myrrh are derived from the
    gummy sap that oozes out of the Boswellia and
    Commiphora trees, when their bark is cut.
  • The leaking resin is allowed to harden and
    scraped off the trunk in tear-shaped droplets it
    may then be used in its dried form or steamed to
    yield essential oils.
  • Both substances are edible and often chewed like

The Incense Roads
  • They are also extremely fragrant, particularly
    when burned, with frankincense giving off a
    sweet, citrusy scent and myrrh producing a piney,
    bitter odor.
  • Myrrh oil served as a rejuvenating facial
    treatment, while frankincense was charred and
    ground into a power to make the heavy kohl
    eyeliner Egyptian women famously wore. 

The Incense Roads
  • Though perhaps best known for their use in
    incense and ancient rituals, these
    substancesboth of which boast proven antiseptic
    and inflammatory propertieswere once considered
    effective remedies for everything from toothaches
    to leprosy.
  • Frankincense and myrrh were components of the
    holy incense ritually burned in Jerusalems
    sacred temples during ancient times.

The Nomads
  • During the classical period, a number of major
    migrations of pastoral peoples occurred and no
    one is sure why.
  • Several of these directly impacted the major
    civilizations (and in the cases of Rome and
    India, destroyed them).

The Nomads
  • The most characteristic feature of pastoral
    societies was their mobility.
  • Their movements were not aimless wanderings (as
    is often portrayed) they systematically followed
    seasonal environmental changes.
  • Nor were nomads homeless their homes were
    elaborate felt tents (called gers) that they took
    with them.

The Nomads
  • Pastoral societies didnt have the wealth for
    professional armies or bureaucracies.
  • They valued an independent way of life.

The Nomads
  • Despite their limited populations, the military
    potential from the mastery of horseback riding
    (or camelback) enabled nomadic peoples to wage
    mounted warfare against much larger, more densely
    populated civilizations.
  • Virtually the entire male population (and many
    women) were skilled hunters and warriors.

The Nomads
The Nomads
  • Practicing the skills necessary for warriors
    since early childhood, many nomadic tribes
    extracted wealth through raiding, trading, or
    extortion from neighboring agricultural

The Xiongnu
  • One such large nomadic group were a people known
    as the Xiongnu, who lived north of China in the
    Mongolian steppes.
  • Provoked by Chinese penetration of their
    territory in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BCE, the
    Xiongnu created a military confederacy that
    stretched from Manchuria deep into Central Asia.

The Xiongnu
The Xiongnu
  • Under the leadership of Modun (r. 210-174 BCE),
    the Xiongnu took fragmented tribes and
    transformed them into a more centralized and
    hierarchical political entity.

The Xiongnu
  • All the people who draw the bow have now become
    one family, declared Modun.
  • Tribute, exacted from other nomadic peoples and
    China itself, sustained the Xiongnu.

The Xiongnu
  • In the 1st century BCE, a Chinese Confucian
    scholar described the Xiongnu people as
    abandoned by Heavenin foodless desert
    wastes, without proper houses, clothed in animal
    hides, eating their meat uncooked and drinking

The Xiongnu
  • From the King and downward they all ate the meat
    of their livestock, and clothed themselves with
    their skins, which were their only dress. The
    strong ones ate the fat and choose the best
    pieces, while the old and weak ate and drank what
    was left. The strong and robust were held in
    esteem, while the old and weak were treated with
    contempt. Sima Qian, Chinese historian.

The Xiongnu
  • The Han tried dealing with the Xiongnu by
    offering them trading opportunities, buying them
    off with lavish gifts, contracting marriage
    alliances with leaders, and waging periodic
    military campaigns against them.

The Xiongnu
  • Even though the Xiongnu would disintegrate under
    sustained Chinese counterattacks, they created a
    model that later nomads (like the Turkic and
    Mongol tribes) would emulate.
  • By the third century CE, the Xiongnu helped
    hasten the collapse of the weakened Han dynasty,
    causing China to fall into chaos for several

The Xiongnu
  • As the Han were falling apart, nomadic peoples
    had a relatively easy time breaching the Great
  • A succession of barbarian states developed in
    north China.
  • The barbarian rulers gradually became Chinese,
    encouraging intermarriage, adopting Chinese dress
    and customs, and setting up their courts in a
    Chinese fashion.

The Huns
  • Probably the most famous nomadic warriors of this
    period were the Huns.
  • During the late 4th century CE, they began an
    aggressive westward migration from their homeland
    in central Asia.
  • The Huns might have been motivated to migrate
    because drought led to competition over grazing

The Huns
  • Whatever their motivation, they exploded out of
    the Russian steppes (descendents of the fabled
    Scythians) into Europe, settling in modern-day
    Hun(gary) around 370 CE.
  • Fierce fighters and superb horseman, the Huns
    struck fear into both the German tribes and the

The Huns
  • Their appearance forced the resident Visigoths,
    Ostrogoths and other Germanic tribes to move
    westward and southward and into direct
    confrontation with the Roman Empire.
  • To the Christian scholar St. Jerome (340-420 CE)
    the Huns filled the whole earth with slaughter
    and panic alike as they flitted hither and
    thither on their swift horses.

The Huns
  • Led by the infamous Attila (406-453 r.
    433-453 CE), to the Romans, he was known as the
    Scourge of God.
  • Attila by Delacroix

The Huns
  • When he came of age, Attila acquired a vast
    empire, that stretched through parts of what is
    now Germany, Russia, Poland, and much of
    south-eastern Europe.
  • This is a medal cast during the Renaissance that
    in Latin calls him the Scourge of God.

The Huns
  • Even though he was extremely wealthy, Attila led
    a very simple life.
  • In the tradition of nomadic warriors, he drank
    mare's milk, blood, and ate raw meat.
  • He wore plain clothes and animal skins.
  • His belief system was unknown but he demonstrated
    little, if any, concern for local religions or

The Huns
  • As Attila closed in on the Byzantine Empire, the
    Byzantine emperor (Theodosius II) paid Attila an
    enormous sum of to leave Byzantium alone
    (660 lbs of gold/year).

The Huns
  • The unsteady peace only lasted a few years as the
    Huns attacked Persia (but were repelled), so they
    pressed west and south (into todays Balkans),
    destroying virtually everything in their path.
  • From there, the half million Hun forces stormed
    through Austria, Germany, and Gaul (France).

The Huns
  • Attila went all the way to the outskirts of Paris
    (Orleans) before a combined Roman/Visigoth army
    turned him back (451 CE).
  • Undeterred, he would now focus on Italy.

The Huns
  • Setting his sights on Italy, Attila destroyed
    several Italian cities in Lombardy (452 CE) on
    his way to Rome.

The Huns
  • In a celebrated meeting with Pope Leo I, the Pope
    begged Attila to spare Rome and withdraw from
    Italy (which he did probably because of an

The Huns
  • Attila died in 453, not on the battlefield, but
    on the night of his 7th marriage.
  • He got drunk (and he rarely drank), fell to the
    floor, and died of a bleeding hemorrhage from his
    nose (he choked on his own blood).

The Huns
  • After the death of Attila, the leadership of the
    Huns fell to his three inadequate sons, who split
    their empire.
  • The empire ended in 469 CE with the death of
    Dengizik, the last Hunnish king.
  • The empire of the Huns in Europe withered and
    disappeared, absorbed into other ethnicities,
    like Germanic tribes.

Germanic Tribes
  • Even though the Huns became less of a force after
    the death of Attila, they showed the
    vulnerability of the Romans, and the Germanic
    groups took full advantage.
  • They spent much of their time fighting each
    other, behavior the Romans encouraged hoping to
    keep them weak.

Germanic Tribes
  • But by the 4th-5th centuries, they roamed
    throughout the western Roman provinces without
    much resistance from Rome.

Germanic Tribes
  • Tribal war chiefs began creating their own
    kingdoms that eventually evolved into the
    European countries youre familiar with (the
    Franks settled in France, the Lombards in Italy,
    the Angles Saxons in Britain, the Visigoths in
    Spain, etc.)

The Fall of Rome
  • Rome would finally fall to the Germanic tribes of
    General Odoacer in 476 CE when he overthrew the
    last Roman emperor in the West.

The Fall of Rome
  • Even though the fall of Rome had been decades in
    the making, the year 476 is considered a major
    turning point in the West.
  • By 476, most of what characterized Roman
    civilization had weakened, declined, or

The Fall of Rome
  • Any semblance of large-scale centralized power
    vanished as ineffective emperors were more
    concerned with pleasure than wise rule.
  • There was social and moral decay and a lack of
    interest within the elite classes to participate
    in government. Courtesy and dignity were
  • Roman dependence on slave labor remained high.

The Fall of Rome
  • Disease and warfare reduced the Roman Empires
    population between 25-50.
  • Land under cultivation contracted, while forests,
    marshland, and wasteland expanded.
  • Small landowners, facing increased taxes, were
    often forced to sell their land to the owners of
    large estates, or latifundia. (great disparities
    in wealth)
  • The self-sufficiency of the latifundia (estates)
    lessened the need for central authority and
    discouraged trade.

The Fall of Rome
  • With less trade, urban life diminished and Europe
    reverted back to a largely rural existence.
  • Rome had been a city of over 1 million people by
    the 10th century it had less than 10,000.
  • Romes great monumental architecture crumbled
    from lack of care.

The Fall of Rome
  • Long distance trade dried up as Roman roads
    deteriorated, and money exchange gave way to
  • The Germanic peoples the Romans had long
    considered barbarians emerged as the dominant
    peoples of Western Europe (which caused Europes
    center of gravity to move away from the
    Mediterranean toward the north and west).

The Fall of the Gupta
  • By the late 5th century, the Huns were pouring
    into the Indian subcontinent.
  • Defense against the Huns bankrupted the Gupta
    treasury, and they collapsed by 600 CE.
  • But the Gupta collapse was far less devastating
    than that of Rome or Han China.
  • Even though centralized Gupta rulers declined in
    power, local princes (the Rajput) became more

The Fall of the Gupta
  • Even though political decline occurred as a
    result of invasions, traditional Indian culture
    continued (because people cared more about caste
    and Hinduism).
  • Buddhism declined in India (because it was
    associated with foreigners), while Hinduism added
    to its numbers.
  • The next challenge for Indias traditional
    culture would come during the post-Classical
    period when Islam arrives.

The Fall of the Han
  • The Han dynasty was the first of the great
    civilizations to go.
  • Its decline began around 100 CE, and many of the
    causes were similar to Romes
  • Increasingly weak leadership at the top and less
    interest in Confucian intellectual goals.
    Courtesy and respect were lessened.
  • Heavy taxes levied on the peasants.
  • Poor harvests.

The Fall of the Han
  • Unequal land distribution.
  • Population decline from epidemic diseases.
  • A decline in trade led to declining urban
  • Pressure from bordering nomadic tribes.
  • These symptoms all led to massive social unrest,
    as peasants and students protested governmental
    policies that further impoverished the farmers.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • In the centuries between 200-600 CE, all three of
    the great civilizations collapsed, at least in
  • The period of expansion and integration of large
    territories was coming to an end.
  • Why? What forces pushed once great societies into
    decline? Do societies have some kind of common
    lifespan that pushes them ultimately into aging
    and decay?

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • The western part of the Roman Empire fell, the
    Han Dynasty ended in disarray, and the Gupta
    Empire in India fragmented into regions.
  • The fall of these empires marks a great divide in
    human history.
  • Some common reasons included

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • I. Attacks by nomadic groups The migration of
    the Huns from their homeland in Central Asia
    impacted all three civilizations as they moved
    east, west, and south.
  • In China and India, attacks by the Huns were
    directly responsible for the end of those empires.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • The movement of the Huns caused other groups to
    move out of their way, causing a domino effect
    that put pressure on Rome.
  • Rome was done in by Germanic invaders from the

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • II. Serious internal problems All the empires
    had trouble maintaining political control over
    their vast lands, and were ultimately unable to
    keep their empires together.
  • Less talented leaders were a factor in the
    decline of all three empires, especially Rome.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • No governments had ever spread their authority
    over so much territory, and it was inevitable
    that their sheer size could not be maintained.
  • There was an increased selfishness on the part of
    the elites, who became less willing to serve in
    government or military positions.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • The morale of ordinary citizens deteriorated and
    a sense of helplessness and inevitability to the
    situation overtook the empires.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • III. The problem of interdependence The
    classical civilizations all ended before 600 CE.
  • When one weakened, it impacted them all, as trade
    routes became vulnerable when imperial armies
    could no longer protect them or when economic
    resources necessary for trade were no longer

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Pandemic diseases (probably smallpox or measles
    from India) spread along trade routes, killing
    thousands that would not have been affected had
    they not been in contact with others.
  • Modern estimates are that each civilization lost
    as many as half of their inhabitants during the
    late classical period.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Both Rome and China experienced economic and
    social dislocation brought on by massive death.
  • Labor was difficult to find, and people pulled
    back from production and trade arrangements that
    marked the empires at their height.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Governments had difficulty collecting taxes.
  • Local landlords would compensate for their
    declining revenues by increasing pressure on
    local populations.
  • In Rome and China, tension between large
    landowners and peasants created instability and
    unrest (Red Eyebrows and Yellow Turbans).

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Despite their similarities, decline and fall had
    very different consequences for the three
  • India and China lost their political unity, but
    they did not permanently lose their identity as
    civilizations, and both eventually reorganized
    into major world powers.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Only one(western) Romedid not retain its
    identity after it fell.
  • Why? What were the differences?
  • The Roman Empire never regained its former
    identity and instead fell into many pieces that
    retained separate orientations.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • The authority of the state dwindled, and
    localized conditions prevailed.
  • The eastern empire (Byzantium) created by
    Constantine (r.312-337 CE) maintained many of the
    institutions and cultural values of Rome.
  • He tried to use Christianity to unify the empire.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Although early Christians were persecuted, the
    Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in
    313, which announced the official toleration of
    Christianity as a faith.
  • Constantine became a Christian (probably on his
    deathbed), and thereafter all emperors in the
    East and West (except one) were Christians.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • In 381, the emperor Theodosius made Christianity
    the official religion of Rome, too late to be the
    glue to hold the crumbling empire together, but
    in time to preserve Christianity as a faith.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Justinian (r. 527-565) tried to recapture the
    glory of Rome but was unsuccessful.
  • He was successful in codifying Roman law (known
    as Justinian codes).

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Another part of the answer lies in what happened
    next in the story of world historypolitical
    power isnt the only glue that holds a
    civilization together.
  • In the period before and after 600 CE the most
    important sources of identity were religious.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Around the year 600 CE older religions and
    philosophies (Christianity, Buddhism,
    Confucianism) grew in influence and transcended
    political boundaries.
  • An important new religion was on the horizon

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Islam was destined to become the force behind one
    of the largest land expansions in history, a path
    made easier because it appeared at a time when
    the old political empires of Rome, China, and
    India had fallen.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • In this new era of religious unity, Rome fell
  • Christianity had become its official religion in
    the 4th century, too late to be a unifying force
    for the failing empire.
  • When political and military power failed, nothing
    was left except crumbling architecturesymbols of
    the past.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • India was bound together by Hinduism and the
    intricate caste loyalties that supported it.
  • So the fall of the Gupta had only a limited
    impact on Indias development.
  • Indias trade worsened a bit but India remained a
    productive economy.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • The fall of the Gupta was followed by several
    centuries (nearly a millennia) in which no large
    empires were created in India except as a result
    of Muslim (the Mughals), and later, British

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Confucianism had become such a part of the
    identity of China, that the fall of Han dynasty
    was not a fatal blow to its civilization.
  • Chaos did characterize the period, but the
    Chinese civilization continued and would reassert
    itself when political stability returned.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • The fall of the Han was followed by 350 years in
    which the central government didnt operate.
  • China was divided into regional entities and
    landlord power increased.
  • In the 6th century CE, a new dynasty, the
    short-lived Sui, was established.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • With the Sui came the reestablishment of most of
    the cultural values and institutional workings of
    the Han.
  • Like India, decline and fall was a relatively
    temporary setback to the civilization.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • During the classical era, an important change
    occurred in two of the religionsChristianity and
    Buddhismthat allowed both to spread to many new
    areas far from their places of origin.
  • These two religions followed the Silk Road and
    the Indian Ocean circuit, and their numbers grew

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Both were transformed into universalizing
    religions, with core beliefs that transcended
    cultures and actively recruited new members.
  • As a result, both religions grew tremendously in
    the years before 600 CE, positioning them to
    become new sources of societal glue that would
    hold large areas with varying political
    allegiances together.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Meanwhile, some important ethnic religions, such
    as Judaism, the Chinese religions/philosophies
    (Confucianism and Daoism), and Hinduism created
    strong bonds among people, but had little
    emphasis on converting outsiders to their faiths.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • Three durable changes constitute the reason
    historians use the fall of the great empires to
    mark the end of the Classical Period and the
    beginning of the subsequent one.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • I. In most of the civilized world, there was
    less and less emphasis put on empire building or
  • Societies were less capable, or less interested,
    in maintaining large, integrated political

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • II. The deterioration of this-worldly conditions
    (especially economic and political decline)
    pushed people to think about cultural
    alternatives to the political values of the
    classical period.
  • The end of the classical period and the beginning
    of the post-classical period would be marked by
    greater religious emphasis.

The Fall of the Great Empires
  • III. The collapse of the Roman Empire created a
    permanent division of the Mediterranean world
    into three different entities
  • A. Western Europe
  • B. Southeastern Europe/northern Middle East
  • C. North Africa and the rest of the Mediterranean

The Fall of the Great Empires
The Fall of the Great Empires
  • This division of the Mediterranean had
    tentatively existed with the Greeks, through
    Hellenism, and with the Romans.
  • But the collapse of Rome caused the split into
    three geographic regions to be permanent and this
    would mark history right up to the present day.

The Bantu
  • The Bantu most likely originated in an area south
    of the Sahara Desert near modern day Nigeria.

The Bantu
  • They probably migrated out of their homeland (as
    early as 2000 BCE) because of desertification, or
    the expansion of the Sahara Desert that dried out
    their agricultural lands.
  • They traveled for centuries all over sub-Saharan
    Africa, but retained many of their customs,
    especially language.

The Bantu
  • As their language spread, it combined with
    others, but still retained enough similarity to
    the original that the family of Bantu languages
    can still be recognized over most of sub-Saharan

The Bantu
  • Unlike the surges of the Huns and Germanic
    people, the Bantu migrations were very gradual.
  • By the end of the classical period, the Bantu
    migrations had introduced agriculture, iron
    metallurgy, and the Bantu language to most of
    sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Even though their movements didnt impact
    civilizations on the Eurasian mainland, the
    peopling of the islands of the Pacific Ocean was
    quite remarkable.
  • Like the Bantu, Polynesian migrations were
    gradual, but between 1500 BCE and 1000 CE almost
    all the major islands west of New Guinea were
    visited, and many were settled.

  • Polynesians came from mainland Asia and expanded
    eastward to Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa.
  • They left no written records, so our knowledge
    relies on archeological evidence, accounts by
    early European sailors, and oral traditions.

  • Their ships were great double canoes that carried
    a platform between two hulls and large triangular
    sails that helped them catch and maneuver in
    ocean winds.

  • The distances they traveled were incredibly long,
    and by the time the Europeans had arrived in the
    18th century, the Polynesians had explored and
    colonized every habitable island in the vast
    Pacific Ocean.
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