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The Classical Period: Directions, Diversities, and Declines by 500 CE

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Presentation on theme: "The Classical Period: Directions, Diversities, and Declines by 500 CE"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Classical Period: Directions, Diversities, and Declines by 500 CE

2 Introduction The Indian Ocean provided an important link between the independent/ self-sufficient empires of Rome, India, and China. How much cultural exchange occurred? (the halo and etc. are Buddhist in nature) Did Christianity later adopt these Buddhist practices because of trade? What would happen to the world when the classical civilization declined and allowed for new opportunities for people? Others would rise to fill the political and economic void that these civilization had formerly met. The classical civilizations fell (Han, Rome, Gupta) –The Gupta Empire for example took advantage of the trade void after the fall of the Roman Empire and their merchants became very prosperous. This in turn allowed for the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism as well as many temples across India to be built. In the postclassical age, Muslim merchants would rise to power to fill this void! The fall of the classical empires had consequences beyond just their borders. New forces were created in sub-Saharan Africa, N. Europe and Asia. The classical civilization did NOT take up all the globe, but they did include the majority of the world’s people.

3 Expansion and Integration
Classical civilizations featured many new ideas and innovations that arose as a response to the needs of the people. Not a coincidence that Confucius, Laozi, Buddha, and Socrates arose about the same time. China tried to unify its people by centralization of government. They had to reign in s. territories and did this via government and had some resettle there and promoted a common language (for elites). India and the Mediterranean were more localized and diverse politically. India unified its people by religious values and the caste system. Mediterranean had many cultural achievements. Rome gave lots of local autonomy to people they conquered and much tolerance to local religion, customs, and laws. Granted citizenship to elites and economics created an interdependence between various regions. Each civilization had social inequalities (men, women, slaves etc.). Only one leading thinker spoke against this-Buddha. A mutual relationship between members in society as well as various ceremonies and cultural experiences unified people socially.

4 Beyond Classical Civ. New cultures in Americas developed independent of classical models Southeast Asia-Hindu and Buddhists merchants spread religion and soon regional kingdoms developed in Indonesia. Africa: Kush 1000 BCE –conquered Egypt for a short time. Had their own language, used iron, had a strong monarchy. Defeated by Axum 300 BCE which later fell to the kingdom of Ethiopia. Kept up their contacts with Mediterranean after fall of Rome. Jewish merchants brought Judaism to Ethiopia and there are still some Jews today who live there. Additionally, merchants also brought Christianity (4th century). These Christians were later cut off from the rest of the Christian world by a wave of Muslim expansion. Ethiopia also had the world’s longest monarchy which ended in the 20th century! Not clear how much influence Ethiopia had over other people around them? Big development in classical age in Africa was the spread of agriculture In Europe and Japan advances in agriculture and manufacturing occurred. Japan had tribal chiefs and social hierarchy was marked with tattoos. Each tribe had its own god…thought to be an ancestor. The Japanese develop iron-working. Later tribal chiefdoms gave way to regional kingdoms. Religion of Japan=Shintoism. It provided for the worship of political leaders AND spirits of nature (god of rice). Around 700 ce beliefs unified into a single religion. Europe was organized into regional kingdoms-some areas had in fact come under Roman authority. After Rome fell things returned to regional kingdoms and cities emptied out due to looting and pillaging. In many of these areas hunting and agriculture were combined and many areas had no written language unless they formerly knew Latin (language of the Catholic Church). After 600 ce Scandinavians (Vikings) put their sailor skills to the test in pillaging throughout Europe. In areas were Christianity hadn’t yet spread people were still polytheistic and believed in a host of gods and the spirits of nature. Until about 1000ce N.and E. Europe remained fairly primitive. Central America had developed a civilization by 600 ce: Olmecs BCE (pyramid monuments) -Civilization based on the cultivation of corn (in wild state just larger than strawberries) in Central America potatoes were grown. Technology wise, Olmec culture had calendars. Later civilization in this area would be the Mayan and Incas. They were isolated from other civilizations and therefore lacked knowledge of all kinds of innovations (use of the wheel and iron). Other isolated groups were the Polynesians who populated islands of the Pacific-Fiji in 1000 BCE  Made it to Hawaii by 400 ce. During classical period agriculture spread to new areas. Central nomadic people started to form new contacts and played an important role in trade between Asia and Middle East. Some also made innovations like the stirrup! They also invaded major civilizations!

5 Decline of China and India
ce-all three major classical civilization collapsed. Rome fell to Germanic invaders b/c of the pressures placed on them by the Huns! Another Hun group also overthrew the Gupta Empire and a similar nomadic tribes had earlier toppled the Han. Han China-corruption increased, creativity decreased, peasants burden by taxes, landlords became more powerful, Daoists led a revolution in 184 ce (magic and healing practices during this time)-Yellow Turbans promised a golden age that would be started due to divine magic. Not successful! Growing political ineffectiveness and inability to kept out invaders (like Rome). China had to deal with new epidemics which killed many. However, China did revive itself with the Sui and Tang dynasty which started the dynastic cycle again (under Tang-Confucian scholars back). India-by 5th century in decline-local princes harder to control and invaders became a problem. Hun invaders formed a new ruling group of regional princes-collectively called the Rajput, that controlled many areas in India. Buddhism declined, but successfully moved to China…as you can imagine Hun princes didn’t do well with the concept of being calm and peaceful  Buddhism suffered and Hinduism grew. India grew economically from control of Indian Ocean trade basin. After 600 ce greatest threat to India would be Muslim Arabs. 711 Abbasid Empire defeated the Sind kingdom in India which began an influx of Muslim conquest and a take over of trade.

6 Decline/ Fall of Rome After 180ce many problems: population decline, recruiting problems, high taxes, despair. It was a process of deterioration: quality of political and economic life shifted, weak emperors, disputes over succession with the interference of the army contributed further to this deterioration. Series of plagues that swept across the empire like in China-b/c of international trade. A set of general problems triggered by a cycle of plagues resulted in the spiral of Rome. Upper class became more interested in pleasure-seeking than ruling. In Rome there was also a cultural decline where intellectually little was done. Rome had a combination of moral and political decay  The plagues weakened the society and culture suffered. As things got bad, farmers gave up lands to larger landlords for protection-eventually led to the manorial system and feudalism. Trade and production declined as did city dwellers. Later emperors who tried to reform and stop problems were Diocletian ( ce) improved tax collection, tried to get worshipped as a god, split empire, made you stay in your job for life. Constantine ( ce) capital –Constantinople, tolerance to Christians. However, you know that nothing actually worked to stop the fall of Rome! By 476ce Roman emperor fell to Germanic invaders! Rome’s fall split the unity of the Mediterranean culture (Hellenistic culture) and didn’t have one central religion. The eastern portion of Rome didn’t really fall, but formed into the Byzantine empire (ruler-Justinian-tried to retake all Roman lands, but couldn’t hold onto them. Justinian law code –taken from Roman law code). In the Middle East after Alexander the Great the Parthian empire rose, but was quickly displaced. In 227ce the Sassanid Empire rose and was similar to the great empire of Persia (Zoroastrianism revived). Parthian and Sassanid served as bridges between Mediterranean and East-goods, beliefs, art. As Rome weakened the Sassanids joined the attack, but the Byzantine Empire manage to stabilize the borders and limit Sassanids into Europe. Sassainds later overthrown by Arabs. Persian rule simply continued in Middle East and Byzantine Empire maintained many Roman ideas. North African zone- a number of regional kingdoms developed after fall of Rome. Christianity spread into N. Africa and indeed Augustine was a bishop there. Differences between Christianity there and in Rome developed (Coptic church in Egypt for example). Soon Islam would spread here. Western empire-Italy, Spain, and north-reduced civilization here and crude Germanic kingdoms developed while cities shrank (mentioned earlier). This part of the world had lost previous Hellenistic knowledge! Even many members of the church began having problems in reading and writing.

7 Religion ce many of the world religions became popular. Religion provided solace to problems: political instability, plagues that killed many, and increasing infant mortality rates. Christianity become popular –formed under Roman Empire, Buddhism moved quickly into Asia when Han fell. In early postclassical empire-Islam developed and became a very important religious and political force in history. Never before had a single religions spread so widely crossing so many cultural and political boundaries! Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism (and later Islam) all emphasized intense devotion and piety, stressed importance of spiritual concerns beyond daily cares, offered hope of a better existence, each responded to political instability and growing poverty. Hundreds of thousands of people in Europe, Africa, and Asia underwent conversions. Many also blended new beliefs with older ones (syncretism). Hinduism-very popular after Gupta fall especially b/c of focus on mother goddess, Devi. Buddhism: became minority in India, but changed significantly b/c it spread. Monks spread the religion. Bodhisattvas-could attain nirvana via meditation and could then become saints and remain in the world to help others. Buddhism became a more emotional cult-popular salvation. Mahayana Buddhism-(E. Asia) retained the original beliefs of Buddha, but Buddha became seen as a divine savior-god. Prayers and rituals to help ordinary people become holy. Women in China-Buddhists believed that women like men and women should have been treated better, but in fact were not-case of cultural syncretism. Confucian leaders were not big fans of Buddhism as you can imagine! Over time in China, Buddhists were attacked. Daoism- improved organization and emphasized practical benefits obtained via magic-drew much interest from peasants.

8 Christianity and Islam
Christianity moved westward from Middle East. Similar to Buddhism in emphasis on salvation and guidance of saints. Differed b/c more emphasis on church organization and structure, focused more on missionaries, stressed the exclusive nature of its truth and was intolerant of competing beliefs. Christianity developed in response to rigidness in Judaism. Some Jews began to believe in a Messiah that would led them out of their problems. Jesus believed by Christians to be the son of God was sent to earth to redeem humans of sin. Jesus preached widely in Israel and had disciples. Message: there is one single God, who loved humankind despite sin. One needed to be devoted to worshipping God and fellowship with other believers. Poverty was best for holiness and God sent Jesus to preach and through his sacrifice his followers could have an afterlife of heaven. Belief, good works, and discipline of fleshly concerns would lead to heaven. Rituals: communion Roman Empire made it easy for Christianity to spread b/c of travel and unhappiness of many peasants with Greek/ Roman religion. Under Paul-no an original disciple –Christianity was seen as its own religion and not a Jewish reform movement. They began to welcome non-Jews, encouraged more formal organization in the church, and a more organized doctrine-New Testament. Under much persecution and competition. –Constantine! In the west the church was organized under the pope (father). In the east still under much control of the state. When Rome fell Christianity continued and so also did the Church. Focus on theology which made intellectuals happy. Focus on importance of faith in the religion and Christianity also accepted some polytheistic traditions-moved Christ’s birth to coincide with the winter solstice (syncretism). Offered deep develop to God and soon monasteries developed (St. Benedict). Latin remained the language of the church in the west while Greek in the east.

9 Spread of Major Religions
Because of the decline of classical empires these religions were able to run through political and cultural borders much due to contacts between these peoples (trade, missionaries activities). Common forces like invaders, diseases, and death help to explain parallel changes in each civilization. The new religions allowed for greater focus on spiritual matters which resulted in a greater tendency to focus on a single basic god. Polytheism continued to flourish due to Hinduism and Daoism. However, animism was reduced.

10 World around 500 ce Response to collapse of classical forms-reviving or reworking institutions/ values. Need to react to the new religious map and to integrate those values into established civilization or use them as the basis for establishing a civilization. Increased skill in agriculture and these civilization would allow for later developments to come. Wider contacts, importance of trade, as empires decline trade more complicated  and shipping more important. Important new culture exchanges (religion).

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