Early Civilizations in India and China 2500 BCE

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Transcript Early Civilizations in India and China 2500 BCE

Early Civilizations in India
and China
2500 BCE – 256 BCE
Cities of the Indus Valley
I. Geography of Indian
- Subcontinent – large land mass
that juts out from a continent.
- Made up of current countries:
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Sri Lanka.
- Mountain ranges in northwest
(Hindu Kush) and northeast
(Himalayas) isolated.
- 3 Major Regions – well watered
northern plain, dry triangular
Deccan Plateau, coastal plains
on either side of Deccan
- Monsoons – seasonal wind.
- Winter monsoons blow from the
northeast and bring hot dry
wind that withers crops.
- Summer monsoons blow from
the southwest and bring heavy
II. Indus Valley Civilization
- 2 main cities – Harappa and
- Well Planned Cities – 3 miles in
circumference built in a grid design,
massive hilltop structures (temple or
fortress), huge warehouses to store
- They also had modern plumbing
systems with underground sewers
and uniform system of weights and
- Farming – grew wheat, melon, barley,
and dates and were the first to
cultivate cotton and weave it into
- Trade – built ships and traded with
people along the coast (made
contact with Sumer).
- Religious Beliefs – little is known about
religion of these early cities.
- Veneration – special regard/worship;
also worshiped a mother goddess
and sacred animals (cattle).
III. Decline and Disappearance
- 1750 BCE –
decline without
defined reason
(earthquake, no
trees left, or
- 1500 BCE –
Aryans overran the
Indus people.
Kingdoms of the Ganges
I. Aryan Civilization
- Migrated across Europe and
- Left little archaeology behind
(Vedas tell us what we
- Veda – collection of prayers,
hymns, and other religious
teachings passed down
orally, until a written
language was developed.
- 3 divisions in society –
Brahmins (priests),
Kshatriyas (warriors), and
Vaisyas (farmers, herders,
and merchants).
- Conquered the Dravidians and
called them Sudras.
- Castes – social groups into
which people are born and
cannot change.
The Caste System
Pariahs [Harijan]  Untouchables
II. Religious beliefs
- Worshipped many gods and
goddesses through
elaborate sacrifices that
priests performed
- These sacrifices kept the
world “in order”
- If sacrifices were not
performed properly – bad
events would follow
- Brahman – supreme reality,
the single spiritual power
behind everything
- Mystics – people who seek
spiritual truth (used Yoga
and Meditation to find
spiritual truth).
III. Expansion and Change
- Rajahs – Aryan
tribal leaders.
- Aryans eventually
changed from
being nomadic
warriors to
sedentary farmers.
- Learned crafts, ironworking skills, and
- 500 BCE –
developed written
language known
as Sanskrit.
IV. Epic Literature
- Mahabharata – story of
Aryan family who
struggles for control of
the Ganges region.
- Bhagavad-Gita – story
that reflects on beliefs
about a person’s duty
(dharma) and the
immortality of the soul.
- Ramayana – Story of
husband (Rama) who
rescues kidnapped wife
(Sita). Rama and Sita
become the “ideals” of
what a husband and
wife should be.
Early Civilization in China
I. Geography of China
- Middle Kingdom – China was separated by
physical barriers (ocean, deserts, long
distances, and vast mountain ranges) and
considered themselves the center of the
- Main Regions: Huang He/Yellow River
(named for loess) and Yangzi river valleys
were the center of Chinese civilization.
- Loess – fertile soil that makes the river
valley good for farming.
- Due to frequent flooding, the Chinese built
dikes (walls) to keep river from flooding.
- However, when the dikes are built, the river
slows down, which causes more loess to
deposit on the bottom of the river. This, in
turn, raises the water level. Then taller
walls needed to be built because the river
level grew higher…which starts the cycle
over again.
- If a dike broke, or water level grew too high,
terrible floods ensued, which gave the
Huang He the nickname, the “River of
II. Shang Dynasty (1650 BCE –
1027 BCE)
- Government: Weak central
government, strong local
government (ruled by
- Clan – group of families
who claim a common
(often mythical) ancestor
- Social Classes: similar to
other civilizations, royal
families and warriors were
the upper class, while
farmers, merchants, and
artisans were the lower
III. Religious Beliefs
- Shang Di (Emperor of the Sun)
– Chief of the many gods,
Shang Di would not answer
the prayers of regular people,
he would only listen to the
king’s prayers.
- However, peasants would pray
to their ancestors and ask
them to pray to Shang Di for
- Yin and Yang – two forces
reflect the balance and
harmony in the universe. Yin
represents the Earth,
darkness, and female forces.
Yang represents Heaven,
light, and male forces.
IV. Writing
- Ancient Chinese used systems
of pictographs and ideographs
(found on Oracle Bones).
- Oracle Bones – priests wrote
questions on bones, heated
them, then when the bone
cracked, interpreted the cracks
to form an answer
- Divination – Using a system of
beliefs and rituals to predict the
- Chinese writing system made up
of characters, which represent
a word or an idea. Chinese
language has over 10,000
- Calligraphy – fine handwriting,
in Ancient China this
developed into an elegant art
V. Zhou Dynasty (1027 BCE – 256
- Rebelled against a cruel Shang king (he was cruel and gods
allowed the Zhou to overthrow him.
- Mandate of Heaven – Divine right to rule
- Dynastic Cycle:
- Aging Dynasty: becomes weak and/or corrupt, loses
control...This causes them to lose the Mandate of Heaven
- Problems – floods, famine, earthquakes, invasion, bandits, and
revolts begin to happen since the rulers no longer have the
Mandate of Heaven
- New Dynasty – claims the Mandate of Heaven, takes control
and restores peace, gives land back to peasants, builds
public works for the good of the people
- New Dynasty eventually becomes Aging Dynasty, and cycle
- Feudal State: Zhou rewarded supporters by giving them control
over regions.
- Feudalism – system of government where local lords own and
govern their own region, but owe support, loyalty, and other
duties to the king.
- Economic Growth: Iron working skills (500 BCE) used fro plows
– population increases due to large scale irrigation projects.
- Chinese begin to use copper coins for the first time under the
Start here
A new
comes to power.
The emperor
reforms the govt.
& makes it more
Lives of common
people improved;
taxes reduced;
farming encouraged.
Emperor is
defeated !!
Rebel bands find
strong leader who
unites them.
Attack the emperor.
Poor lose
respect for govt.
They join rebels
& attack landlords.
Problems begin
(extensive wars,
invasions, etc.)
Taxes increase;
men forced to
work for army.
Farming neglected.
famines occur.
Govt. increases
VI. Achievements
- Silk – The Chinese
discovered how to
make silk thread from
the cocoons of
silkworms (valuable
- Calendar – Astronomers
studied the movement
of the stars and planets
and created a very
accurate calendar
- Books – made the first
books by binding thin
strips of wood or
bamboo and then
painting characters