The Classical Era in World History c. 600 B.C.E. to 600 C.E.

Today’s LEQ: After the First
Wave Civilizations, what
changed and what didn’t?
First Wave Civilizations
Emerged from about c. 3500 B.C.E.
 Generated the most impressive and
powerful human societies created thus
 But, proved to be fragile and vulnerable
as well
 Even though “first wavers” broke down,
there was no going back – Civilization,
as a form of human community stuck
Second Wave Civilizations
 New
or enlarged urban-centered,
state-based societies emerged to
replace first wavers – EMPIRES!!!
 i.e. Persia, Greece, Rome, Han-China,
 Many
eventually perished and were
replaced by “third wavers”
 i.e. the collapse of Rome
Continuities in Civilization
Same pattern of “rise, expand, collapse”
 Monarchs continued to rule
 Patriarchy persisted
 Sharp divide between elite and
everyone else
 Practice of slavery stayed
 No major technological or economic
breakthroughs leading to new kinds of
human societies
Changes in Civilization
Population grew more rapidly than ever before
(rate of growth is quite slow compared to recent
Growing size of states & empires dwarfed first wave
civilizations; brought together vast diversity of
people under a single political system
Rise and fall of second wave empires had major
consequences and changes for the people who
experienced them; oftentimes results in bloodshed,
destruction, and trauma
Modest innovations enhanced human potential for
manipulating the environment
Far more elaborate, widespread, and dense
networks of communication and trade
Distinctive “Wisdom Traditions”
All have provided moral and spiritual framework
within which most of the world’s peoples have
sought to order their lives and define their
relationship to the mysteries of life and death
 All are the product of second and third-wave
 The great philosophical/religious systems of Legalism,
Confucianism, and Daoism in China
 Hinduism and Buddhism in India
 Greek rationalism in the Mediterranean
 Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam in the
Middle East
Links to Today
 Current
identities of entire
countries, regions, and
civilizations still linked to the
achievements of the classical era

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