The Classical Empires - Fort Thomas Independent Schools

Unit 2: Classical Period
600 BCE – 600 CE
Learning Targets/Key Themes
Students will be able to:
 Define
an empire and explain why empires rise and
 Describe the basic features of the earliest empires
 Analyze the key interactions between Classical Empires
These themes, along with the key vocabulary (See
handout) will be the basis for your test at the end of
this unit
Answer the following questions
in your notebook:
How would you define the term
 What are the reasons an empire is
What is an Empire?
A state with political control of people and regions
with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds
Why Are Empires Created?
Strong sense of Patriotism
 Extreme
pride in one’s country
To benefit the regions being conquered
To eliminate threats
Economic gain
To create a buffer zone (protection)
To spread religious beliefs
To gain political power
Characteristics of an Empire
Diverse population
Strong government
Strong military
Strong diplomacy
 Peaceful
negotiations between two countries or regions
The Classical Period (600 BCE – 600 CE)
Main Characteristics:
 Growth
of Empires
 Growth of Trade
 Cultural Diffusion
 Spreading
of cultural
ideas and traditions
from one region to
What is an empire?
Why are empires created?
What is cultural diffusion?
Major Classical Civilizations
China (Zhou, Qin, Han dynasties)
India (Gupta dynasty)
Mayans (Americas)
The Persian Empire (558-332 BCE)
Founded by Cyrus the
Darius I (521-486 BCE)
Balanced central
government and local
 Divided government into 3
districts to make it easier
to control
 Built Royal Road
 Fought in many wars that
lead to the decline of the
Persian Empire
Persian Society
Women worked in textile
 Government used slaves to
complete public works projects
Persian Economy
Government coined money
 Traded with Greeks and
 Main City: Persepolis
Persian Religion
Classical China
Zhou Dynasty (1029258 BCE)
 Mandate
of Heaven
 Rulers
are given the right
to rule by the gods
 Strong
landowners and
weak emperor
 Ends in civil war for two
hundred years
 Leads
to development of
major philosophies
Chinese Philosophies
Founded by Confucius
 Relationships create an
orderly society
 Family is foundation of
“Dao” – the way
 Look to nature for order
Humans are naturally evil
and will only obey authority
through force
Qin Dynasty (221-202 BCE)
Used Legalism to
restore order
Took away power from
Strong centralized
Unified China
 Standard
language and
writing system
 Uniform laws throughout
Shi Huangdi
Proclaimed himself “First
Centralized power by
banning local militaries
Built roads to improve
Started building the
Great Wall of China
 Forced
 Also built his own tomb
with the Terracotta Army
Terracotta Army
Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 CE)
Founded by a peasant
Longest Chinese dynasty
Conquered Vietnam,
Korea and parts of
Central Asia
Traded with India, Rome,
Continued building Great
Wall of China
Reformed government
Promoted Confucianism
Ancient Greece
Geography prevented
political unification
Developed strong citystates instead  Athens
and Sparta
Main Problems
Wars with Persia
 Wars between city-states
Peloponnesian Wars (431404 BCE)
Athens vs. Sparta
Leads to downfall of
Greek city-states
Alexander the Great (332-323 BCE)
Alex’s father, Philip II,
conquered most of Greece
Built a massive empire,
including Greece, Egypt, and
Tries to invade India, but his
military refuses
After death, empire divided
in three parts
Main Contribution: Hellenism
 Blending of Greek and
Middle Eastern/Asian
Roman Republic (509-44 BCE)
Political System
 Consuls
 Senate (patricians 
upper class)
 Tribunes (plebians 
lower class)
Focused on military
Laws  Twelve Tables
Created laws that
everyone must follow
 Protected the lower classes
End of the Roman Republic
Growing Tensions between
the rich and poor
Food shortages, not
enough opportunities to
own land or get certain
Julius Caesar
General in Roman Army
 44 BCE: Invades Rome with
his own military and
declares himself “dictator
for life”
 Assassinated by upperclass senators
The Roman Empire (31 BCE – 476 CE)
Established by Augustus Caesar
 Continued
military expansion
 First true emperor of Rome
 “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace)
 Height
of Roman Empire; Great cultural and political
NOT a dynasty (Unlike China and India)
 Succession
based on military strength
Tolerated local customs and religions
Laws and Nationalism held empire together
Expansion of the Roman Republic
The Decline of the Roman Empire
1). How did the geography of Greece impact its political development?
2). Describe the City-State of Sparta. (culture, lifestyle, economy)
3). Describe the City-State of Athens. (culture, lifestyle, economy)
4). Which city-state would you wish to live in back in Ancient Greece?
Explain why in complete sentences.
5). Why was Alexander the Great able to conquer Greece so easily?
6). What is Hellenism and how is Alexander the Great connected to it?
7). Describe the Structure of the Roman Republic.
8). Why is Augustus Caesar considered the 1st Emperor of Rome?
9). What is the difference between Plebeians and Patricians?
10). Thoroughly explain 1 reason why the Roman Empire fell in 476c.e.

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