Ancient Mesopotamia

Chapter 1 and 2
SSWH1 The student will
analyze the origins, structures,
and interactions of complex
societies in the ancient Eastern
Mediterranean from 3500 BCE
to 500 BCE.
a. Describe the development
of Mesopotamian societies;
include the religious,
cultural, economic, and
political facets of society,
with attention to
Hammurabi’s law code.
b. Describe the
relationship of
religion and political
authority in Ancient
c. Explain the development
of monotheism; include the
concepts developed by the
ancient Hebrews, and
d. Identify early trading
networks and writing
systems existent in the
Eastern Mediterranean,
including those of the
e. Explain the development
and importance of writing;
include cuneiform,
hieroglyphics, and the
Phoenician alphabet
SSWH2 The student will
identify the major
achievements of Chinese
and Indian societies from
1100 BCE to 500 CE.
a. Describe the
development of Indian
civilization; include the rise
and fall of the Maurya
Empire, the “Golden Age”
under Gupta, and the
emperor Ashoka.
b. Explain the development
and impact of Hinduism and
Buddhism on India and
subsequent diffusion of
c. Describe the development
of Chinese civilization under
the Zhou and Qin.
d. Explain the impact of
Confucianism on Chinese culture;
include the examination system, the
Mandate of Heaven, the status of
peasants, the status of merchants,
and the patriarchal family, and
explain diffusion to Southeast Asia,
Japan, and Korea.
Chapter 1 section 2
At the end of the New Stone Age, people in
permanent settlements began to advance rapidly,
especially in four regions. These regions were (1) the
Nile River valley in Africa, (2) the valley of the Tigris
and Euphrates (yoo•FRAY•tees) Rivers in
southwestern Asia, (3) the Indus River valley in
southern Asia, and (4) the Huang, or Yellow, River
valley in Eastern Asia. These people first developed
A civilization is a complex culture with three
characteristics. First, people can produce surplus, or
extra, food. Second, people establish large towns or
cities with some form of government. Third, people
perform different jobs, instead of each person doing
all kinds of work.
The Nile, Tigris and Euphrates, Indus, and Huang
Rivers all flood during rainy periods. During the rest of
the year, little rain falls, and the climate is hot. People
in these valleys developed irrigation systems, digging
ditches and canals to move water from the river into
fields to water their crops. They also built dikes to
keep rivers from flooding. As a result, they produced
surplus food, and population increased.
Villages grew into large cities, where people provided
labor to build great buildings. Leaders and forms of
government emerged to help societies run.
Governments made rules to guide people’s work and
As agricultural techniques improved, people could
specialize in work other than farming. A division of
labor emerged, in which different people performed
different jobs.
Some became skilled workers, called artisans. They
could devote time to improving tools or technologies.
Others became merchants or traders. Traders carried
not only goods but also ideas. The spread of ideas and
other aspects of culture from one area to another is
called cultural diffusion.
The four river valley civilizations also developed a
calendar and writing. Some historians believe these
two achievements are also characteristics of
Calendars helped people to know when the yearly
floods would start and stop. As civilizations grew
more complex, people needed to develop rules for
living together.
Written language was developed around 3000 B.C to
keep and pass on information and ideas. History
The four civilizations also used metals. More than
6,000 years ago, people began
using copper. By 5,000 years ago they had begun
mixing copper and tin to make bronze.
The Stone Age had ended and the Bronze Age had
begun. By 3,200 years ago people in
southwestern Asia had begun to make iron, which is
even stronger than bronze. The Iron
Age had begun.
In the four river valleys, women managed the family.
They may have discovered agriculture and probably
invented pottery and weaving. The rise of goddesses
during this
time suggests that women were powerful. However,
with the invention of the plow and use of animals,
men became the primary food providers, and their
power increased.
People believed in gods and goddesses and forces of
nature that controlled all aspects of life. People
prayed and offered sacrifices to their gods to bring
Chapter 2 Section 1
Egyptian civilization was built along the Nile, the
world’s longest river. It flows 4,160 miles to the
Mediterranean Sea. Each summer the Nile flooded,
leaving fertile soil behind.
Egyptian farmers dug canals to irrigate their fields and
harvested crops before the floods came. Thanks to
Egypt’s warm climate they grew two or three crops a
The Nile Valley offered other advantages. People moved
goods northward with the river’s flow, and sailed boats
southward with the wind, promoting trade. Stone from
the valley provided building material. The surrounding
deserts and sea provided protection against invaders. The
Isthmus of Suez, a land bridge, allowed trade with Asia.
Hunger-gatherers lived in the Nile Valley by 12,000 B.C. A
Neolithic farming culture developed by 6000 B.C. By 3800
B.C. the people mined copper and made bronze. By
3000 B.C. the people developed hieroglyphics a form of
writing using signs, pictures, and symbols. Hieroglyphics
were carved in stone and later marked on a kind of paper
called papyrus, made from thin slices of the papyrus
In A.D. 1798 a French officer discovered a black stone in
the village of Rosetta.
The Rosetta Stone was carved with hieroglyphics and
passages in Greek. It gave the first clue to deciphering
Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Two kingdoms developed, Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt.
After 3200 B.C., Menes united them and formed a
dynasty. The people built temples and tombs to honor
their ruler or pharaoh, which means “great house.”
Historians divide their rule into three periods, or
In the Old Kingdom, from 2680 B.C. to 2180 B.C.,
Egyptians built the Great Sphinx and the largest pyramids.
The lower class of peasants and farmers built the canals
and pyramids. The upper class included the royal family,
priests, and officials. Later the nobles grew powerful,
starting 100 years of civil wars.
In 2050 B.C. a new dynasty ushered in the Middle
Kingdom, Egypt’s “golden age.”
By 1780 B.C. powerful nobles and priests were again
making the kingdom unstable. By
1650 B.C. The Hyksos or “foreigners,” had conquered
Egypt with their new tools of war, including chariots.
From 1570 B.C. until 1080 B.C. a new line of pharaohs
ruled during the New Kingdom. They conquered new
lands and built an empire. Hatshepshut ,one of the
first female rulers, reigned from 1503 B.C. to 1482
B.C. She and her stepson Thutmose III, who ruled until
1450 B.C., brought Egypt to the height of its power.
From 1380 B.C. to 1362 B.C. Amenhotep IV ruled.
Most Egyptians believed in many gods, or polytheism.
Amenhotep believed in only one god, or monotheism.
He changed his name to Akhenaton, meaning “he
who is pleasing to Aton,” the sun god. After
Akhenaton, few strong pharaohs ruled. Ramses II,
who ruled from 1279 B.C. to 1213 B.C., built many
temples and monuments. But by the 300s B.C.
Egyptian rule had ended.
Chapter 2 Section 2
As dynasties rose and fell, ancient Egyptians created a
remarkable culture. It is well known for its
architecture and arts, such as the Great Sphinx and
the pyramids, built ? as for the pharaohs. To move the
heavy stones to form the pyramids, Egypt’s architects
and engineers designed ramps and levers that were
operated by thousands of workers. In art the
Egyptians created small statues of rulers and animals.
Many buildings were decorated with colorful
paintings of everyday life.
Egyptian science, math, and medicine were also
advanced. The Egyptians developed a calendar based
on the phases of the moon, with twelve cycles of
thirty days each. Later they noticed a bright star that
rose every year before the floods. They counted
365 days between the times this star rose each year.
So they added five days to their calendar for holidays.
The Egyptians developed a number system based on
ten and used both fractions and whole numbers. They
used geometry to build the pyramids and rebuild
fields after floods. They also used herbs and
medicines to cure illness and learned to preserve
bodies after death.
Egyptians also developed an educational system. An elite group
of people called scribes, or clerks, learned to read and write so
that they could work for the government.
Religion was an important part of life. At first each village had its
own gods, symbolized by animals such as the cat, bull, crocodile,
or scarab beetle. Later other Egyptians adopted some of these
gods. The most important was Amon, the creator and sun god.
Osiris, Amon’s wife, was goddess of the Nile.
Egyptians believed that people and animals had an afterlife.
They preserved the body by a process called mummification.
They removed the organs and treated the body with chemicals,
preserving the body for centuries. They placed the mummy in a
tomb with clothing, food, tools and weapons that would be
needed in the afterlife. For important persons there were more
objects, and they were more valuable. Later a scroll called the
Book of the Dead was placed in tombs as a guide to the afterlife.
Egyptian society was rigidly divided into classes.
People in the lower class could never enter the upper
class. Egyptian women were the equals of their
husbands in social and business affairs and could own
Farmland was divided into large estates. Peasants
farmed using crude hoes and plows. They grew wheat
and barley. Flax and cotton (still important to Egypt
today) were grown to be woven into cloth. The
peasants worked hard but kept only part of the crop.
The rest was sent to the pharaoh as rent and taxes.
Egypt traded surplus food with other peoples. A
merchant class began carrying trade goods on
donkeys and later on camels. They formed caravans—
groups of people traveling together for safety over
long distances. Caravans traveled to Asia and deep
into Africa. Egyptians were among the first people to
build seagoing ships. These ships traded along the
Mediterranean and Red Seas and the African coast.
The First Civilizations Section 3:
Sumerian Civilization
cuneiform: Sumerian writing made by pressing
a wedge-shaped tool into clay tablets
arch: A curved structure over an opening that
is a very strong form in building
ziggurats: Sumerian temples built from baked
brick placed in layers
city-state: A form of community that includes
a town or city and the surrounding land
controlled by it
In this section you will learn about Sumerian civilization. You will learn how geography
affected the development of civilization in the region of the Middle East called the
Fertile Crescent. You will learn about Sumer’s achievements in writing, architecture,
and science. You will also learn what life was like in Sumerian society.
Section 3 Summary
Between 5000 B.C. and 4000 B.C., Neolithic farmers built a civilization in the Fertile
Crescent, also called Mesopotamia. This strip of fertile land begins at the Isthmus of
Suez and arcs through Southwest Asia to the Persian Gulf. The Tigris and Euphrates
Rivers flow through the Fertile Crescent. They rivers begin in what is now Turkey and
flow southeast, at times up to 250 miles apart. The valley between them is the
Tigris-Euphrates Valley. Both rivers flood often. Unlike the Nile, their floods were
unpredictable in their size and timing. Farmers built canals and dikes to bring water
to their fields and return the water to the river after floods.
The grasslands and mountains surrounding the Fertile Crescent were not as barren as
those around Egypt and offered less protection. Tribes of wandering herders often
invaded the valley, conquered it, and established empires. New waves of invaders
conquered the old, repeating the cycle.
The Tigris and Euphrates deposited rich soil, especially near the Persian Gulf. Neolithic
farmers settled in this area, called Sumer. By 3000 B.C. the Sumerians used metal
and developed an early form of writing called pictographs, or picture writing. They
wrote by pressing marks into clay tablets using a wedge-shaped tool called a stylus.
Historians call Sumerian writing cuneiform, from the Latin word for wedge, cuneus.
Sumerians had about 600 cuneiform signs.
In architecture the Sumerians probably invented the arch, a curved structure over an
opening. The arch is a very strong form in building. By combining arches, the
Sumerians built dome-shaped roofs. They built striking temples to their gods, called
ziggurats, made of baked bricks placed in layers.
The Sumerians may have invented the wheel. In mathematics, they divided a
circle into 360 degrees. Each degree was divided into 60 minutes, and each
minute into 60 seconds. Compasses and clocks still use this system. The
Sumerians also created a lunar calendar. To keep it accurate, they added a
month every few years.
Sumerians developed a form of community called the city-state, made up of a
town or city and the surrounding land controlled by it. Some city-states had
thousands of residents. Each city-state had one or more gods. Later leaders
joined city-states together and ruled as kings over them. Kings, priests, and
nobles were at the top of society, followed by merchants and scholars.
Below them were peasant farmers and slaves.
Sumerians grew dates, grains, and vegetables and raised
animals. They grew flax for linen and wove wool for clothing.
Surplus food allowed some people to become artisans and
traders. By 3000 B.C. Sumerians were trading by land and by
boat. Education was important for upper-class boys, who
learned to write, spell, draw, and do arithmetic.
The Sumerians practiced polytheism. Their gods were linked to
nature, the sun, and the moon. A god or goddess also
guarded each city. The Sumerians buried food and tools with
their dead. They believed the dead went to a shadowy lower
world, where there was no reward or punishment.
Egypt and Sumer
The First Civilizations
Section 4: Empires of the Fertile
Hammurabi: Babylonian king who
conquered the Tigris-Euphrates Valley in
about 1792 B.C. and established laws
known as the Code of Hammurabi
Zoroaster: A Persian prophet who
introduced Zoroastrianism, a religion
based on the struggle between good
and evil and the concept of a final
judgment after death
In this section you will learn more about
the history of the Fertile Crescent. You will
discover why the Sumerians were
attacked and conquered by outsiders. You
will learn about the Babylonians and their
society. You will learn what other
invaders conquered Babylon and why
they failed to control it. Finally, you will
learn about the Persians and the
achievements of their civilization.
In about 2330 B.C. the Akkadians conquered the
Sumerians. The Akkadians spoke a Semitic language
related to Arabic and Hebrew. Sargon, an Akkadian
king who ruled from 2334 B.C. to 2279 B.C.,
established a great empire that reached west to
theMediterranean Sea. Then the Sumerian citystates returned to power.
In about 1792 B.C. Hammurabi, from a new city called Babylon,
conquered the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. He established the Code of
Hammurabi, containing laws for all aspects of life, including
commerce, working conditions, and property rights. Some of its
ideas are still found in laws today. Punishment was harsh, based
on “an eye for an eye.”
The Babylonians farmed and kept animals. They wove cotton and
wool cloth and were active traders. Babylonian women had some
rights and could be merchants, traders, or scribes. Babylonians
adopted Sumerian religious beliefs. They made sacrifices to their
gods to ask for good harvests and believed priests could tell the
The warlike Hittites invaded the Tigris-Euphrates
Valley during the 1600s B.C. They were among the
first people to make iron. Their government was
efficient and their laws were less harsh than
Babylonian law. Hittite kings were also chief-priests.
The Hittites conquered and looted Babylon but were
too far from their homeland to maintain control..
They withdrew to the western Fertile Crescent From about 900 B.C. to
650 B.C., the Assyrians from the north built a mighty empire across
the Fertile Crescent and into Egypt. Fierce warriors, the Assyrians
were the first people to use cavalry—soldiers on horseback. They
often enslaved the people they conquered. In about 700 B.C. the
Assyrians captured and destroyed Babylon. The Assyrian capital,
Nineveh, was surrounded by a huge double wall. A great library in
Nineveh held clay tablets with writings from throughout the
empire, including the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, among the
world’s earliest works of literature
In 612 B.C. the Chaldean leader Nebuchadnezzar
destroyed Nineveh and conquered the Fertile Crescent.
Babylon again became a fine city with magnificent
buildings and canals. The king’s palace had lovely
terraced gardens known as the Hanging Gardens, one
of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The
Chaldeans were skilled astronomers, were advanced in
math, and had accurate calendars. Once
Nebuchadnezzar died, the Chaldean empire fell.
By 850 B.C. the Persians were living in present-day Iran,
ruled by the Medes. In about 550 B.C. Cyrus the Great
of Persia rebelled against the Medes and captured
Babylon and the Fertile Crescent. Later rulers expanded
the Persian Empire. Persian kings were effective rulers,
fair in collecting taxes and enforcing the law. They
allowed conquered people to keep their religion and
culture. Secret agents kept the king informed. The
Persians built roads over 1,000 miles long to connect
their empire, allowed the exchange of customs, goods,
and ideas.
Until about 600 B.C. the Persians worshipped many gods.
Then a prophet named Zoroaster introduced a religion
based on the struggle between good and evil. People
who chose good would be rewarded with eternal
blessings, but those who chose evil would be punished.
Someday good would triumph and Earth would
disappear. Zoroastrianism had a great impact on the
world’s religions. The Persian Empire ended when
Alexander the Great conquered Persia in 331 B.C.
Section 5: The Phoenicians and the
Section 5 Summary
At the western end of the Fertile Crescent lay Phoenicia.
Today this region forms part of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria.
Phoenicia was a loose union of city-states, each governed
by a king. There was little fertile land, and the Lebanon
Mountains blocked expansion to the east. So the
Phoenicians began trading on the sea.
Phoenician sailors sailed throughout the Mediterranean,
using sails and oars.
They may have sailed as far as Britain and the western
coast of Africa. Phoenicians became the greatest traders
of the ancient world. The Phoenician city of Carthage in
North Africa became a major regional power. Phoenicia
established other colonies in what is now Italy and Spain.
Phoenicians traded lumber from cedar forests in the
Lebanon Mountains. They also traded beautiful gold
and silver objects made using methods learned from
the Egyptians. Phoenicia invented the art of
glassblowing and traded beautiful glass objects.
Phoenicians made a purple dye from a shellfish. Cloth
dyed with this purple dye was highly valued. A
favorite of royalty, the color became known as royal
purple. The cities of Sidon and Tyre became centers of
the dyeing trade. The Phoenicians also exported dried
fish, linen, olive oil, and wine.
The Phoenicians borrowed from the cultures of other
peoples, especially the Egyptians and Babylonians.
Through trade they spread these cultures throughout the
Mediterranean region. Phoenician religion was focused
on winning the favor of the many gods they worshipped.
Sometimes they even sacrificed their children.
The Phoenicians never established a major empire. Their
cities were eventually conquered by the Assyrians. Their
major contribution to world culture was the Phoenician
alphabet. Phoenicians used writing in business to draw up
contracts and record bills. Their trading partners saw
these written records and recognized their advantages.
Phoenician traders spread their writing throughout the
Mediterranean. The Greeks adopted the Phoenician
alphabet and added vowels. The Romans adapted this
alphabet into the one we use today.
Section 6: The Origins of Judaism
To the south of Phoenicia lay a strip of land called Canaan.
According to the Bible, Abraham, the founder of the Hebrews,
led his people to Canaan from Sumer. Modern Jews trace their
heritage through Abraham’s son Jacob (or Israel), whose twelve
sons established the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
The descendants of Abraham left Canaan and traveled to Egypt,
probably to escape drought. Later the Egyptians enslaved the
Hebrews. After 400 years a great leader, Moses, led the
Hebrews’ escape from Egypt, known as the Exodus. According to
the Bible, Moses climbed Mount Sinai and returned carrying
tablets bearing the Ten Commandments. These were moral laws
from their god, Yahweh. When the Hebrews agreed to follow
the commandments, they entered into a covenant, or solemn
agreement, with Yahweh. Moses said that Yahweh promised the
land of Canaan to his people. The Hebrews wandered in the
desert for years before entering the “promised land.”
David’s son, Solomon, brought Israel to the height of
its power. He increased Israel’s wealth through trade,
established peace, and built a magnificent temple in
Jerusalem. After Solomon’s death the kingdom split
into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah.
They were conquered by the Assyrians and later the
Chaldeans, who destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s
temple. When Cyrus of Persia conquered the
Chaldeans, he allowed the Hebrews to return and
rebuild their temple.
• The Hebrews from Egypt joined those living north of Canaan.
A loose alliance of tribes, they were ruled by leaders known
as Judges. Sometimes holy men, called prophets, appeared
and warned that people were straying from the covenant. The
Hebrews struggled for more than 200 years to establish a
homeland in Canaan. They finally conquered the Canaanites
and drove the Philistines closer to the coast. During these
years the twelve tribes of Israel were united under one king,
Saul. Saul was succeeded by David, who formed a new
dynasty. David made the city of Jerusalem the capital of
• Hebrew scriptures, also known as the Old Testament of the
Christian Bible, contain Hebrew history, law, poetry, prophecy,
and religious instruction. The first five books, known as the
Torah, include the Hebrew code of laws. Like the Code of
Hammurabi, it demanded an “eye for an eye,” but it placed a
higher value on human life and demanded kindness and
respect toward all people.
The Hebrews worshiped Yahweh as their only god and
believed he protected them from enemies. They also
feared punishment of those who sinned against
Yahweh. Later the Hebrews believed that Yahweh
allowed people to choose between good and evil.
Unlike other ancient peoples, the Hebrews viewed
Yahweh as a spiritual force, not a glorified human
being, and their leaders were not seen as gods.
Because Hebrew religion had only one god and
emphasized ethics, or proper conduct, it is often
called ethical monotheism.
This ethical system carried over into Christianity and is
sometimes called Judeo-Christian ethics—perhaps the
Hebrews’ most important contribution to the world.
search Barnett Chapter 1 and 2
Chapter 3
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[Chapter 3] Ancient Indian Civilizations
The first civilizations arose in northeastern Africa and southwestern Asia. As you have
learned, civilizations have the ability to produce surplus food, towns or cities with
governments, and a division of labor. In this chapter you will learn how civilizations in
ancient India fulfilled these requirements for civilization. They also went on to develop
complex social and religious systems and to make great advances in science and culture.
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Ancient Indian Civilizations
Section 1: Indus River Valley Civilization
In this section you will learn about civilization in the Indus River Valley. You will
learn about the role geography and climate played in the settlement of the Indian
subcontinent. You will also discover how people lived in the first Indus River Valley
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Section 1 Summary
The first Indian civilization developed about 4,500 years ago in the Indus River valley.
Geography and climate played important roles in Indian civilization. The Indian
subcontinent extends southward from central Asia into the Indian Ocean. It is cut off from
immigrants or invaders from Asia by towering mountain ranges including the Himalayas,
the world’s highest peaks.
South of these mountains flow two great rivers: the Ganges, which flows southeast,
and the Indus, which flows southwest. The region drained by these two rivers is the IndoGangetic Plain. South of these rivers lies a high plateau called the Deccan, which is
bordered by the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats. A narrow coastal plain lies in the
west along the Arabian Sea, and a broader plain lies in the east facing the Bay of Bengal.
The peoples of these coastal plains became sea traders.
Two features dominate India’s climate: monsoons and high temperatures.
Monsoons are winds that mark the seasons in India. From November until March,
monsoons blow from the northeast, dropping moisture on the Himalayas before reaching
India. From mid-June until October, the southwest monsoon carries warm, moist air from
the Indian Ocean. Heavy rains fall along the coastal plains. The southwest monsoon
brings much of the year’s rainfall. If it arrives late or brings little rain, crops fail. If the
monsoon brings too much rain, floods destroy the countryside. Temperatures can reach
120ºF in the Indo-Gangetic Plain.
A great civilization developed in the Indus River valley from 2500 B.C. to 1500 B.C.
Archaeologists call it the Harappan Civilization after one of the two cities they have
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unearthed, Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. Both cities were large and carefully planned,
with wide streets, water systems, public baths, and brick sewers. Some Harappans lived in
two-story brick homes with bathrooms and garbage chutes. Each city had a strong central
fortress, or citadel, on a brick platform. Storehouses held grain for 35,000 people.
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Ancient Indian Civilizations
Section 2: Indo-Aryan Migrants
In this section you will learn how life in northern India changed with the coming of the
Indo-Aryans from the north. You will learn about the Indo-Aryan religion and other major
contributions that the India Aryans made to ancient Indian society.
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Section 2 Summary
In about 1750 B.C. tribes of Indo-European people began to cross the mountains into India
in slow waves from north of the Black and Caspian Seas. These nomadic peoples, called
the Indo-Aryans, were sheep and cattle herders and skilled warriors. India’s rich
pasturelands drew them south. Their archers and charioteers helped conquer all of
northern India.
The great literature of the Indo-Aryan religion is called the Vedas. For centuries
people memorized the Vedas and retold them to their children. Later they developed
writing and recorded the Vedas in Sanskrit, the Indo-Aryan language. We call the period
of India’s history from 1500 B.C. to 1000 B.C. the Vedic Age.
The earliest gods in the Vedas personified nature. Thus the sky became a father,
the earth a mother. In addition to gods and goddesses there was one supreme god who
created order in the universe. Later each god had particular characteristics. Varuna, for
example, was the guardian of cosmic order who lived in a great palace in the sky. At first
there were no temples. Ceremonies were performed in open spaces. Fires were lit on
altars and foods and plant juices were offered as sacrifices. As these rituals became more
complicated, only special Indo-Aryan priests called Brahmins knew the proper forms and
rules. Brahmins held great importance. Sanskrit was used only by priests in rituals, and
no longer for everyday speech.
Indo Aryans no longer wandered although they continued to herd animals. In time
their settlements joined into small states. Each city-state was governed by a raja, or
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prince, who was also the military leader, lawmaker, and judge. A royal council assisted
him. Usually Indo-Aryans lived in peace with neighboring groups.
Physical and social differenced between the Indo-Aryans and earlier residents were
the source of a complex system of social orders. The light-skinned, nomadic Indo-Aryans
placed themselves above the dark-skinned, settled people of the Indus Valley. Warriors
and priests were at the top of the social structure, with merchants, traders, farmers, and
servants below them. The Vedas also tell us about family life. Rules governed marriage
ceremonies and restricted marriage among the social orders. Parents usually arranged
marriages. Society strongly valued sacrifice.
The Indo-Aryans raised wheat and barley and used irrigation to grow rice. Other
crops included sugar cane, vegetables, gourds, peas, beans, and lentils. Poor
transportation limited trade, which was conducted by barter. The Indo-Aryans brought
Ancient Indian Civilizations
Section 3: Hinduism and Buddhism
In this section you will learn about the importance of religion in ancient Indian society. You will learn about India’s great religious texts
and its complex form of social organization. You will learn about the principal elements of Hinduism and the basic beliefs of
Buddhism, and how each religion influenced Indian society.
Section 3 Summary
In about 700 B.C. some religious thinkers broke away from the Brahmins. Their teachings were collected in the Upanishads
(oo·PAH·ni·shahdz), which were written explanations of the Vedic religion. Ordinary people could not read the Upanishads.
Instead they listened to heroic tales designed to explain the religion. Over time these stories were combined into two epics—long
poems based on historical or religious themes. One, the Mahabharata (muh·HAH·BAHR·uh·tuh), tells of a great battle. The last
18 chapters, called the Bhagavad Gita, are the most famous Hindu scripture. The other epic, the Ramayana, tells the story of
Rama, a prince and incarnation of the god Vishnu, and his wife Sita. Both stories offered role models to Hindus. Indian society
developed a complex form of social organization known as the caste system. There were four varnas, or social classes. At the
top were rulers and warriors. Next were the Brahmins, the priests and scholars, who later moved to the top varna. The third
class included merchants, traders, and farmers. Peasants and laborers made up the fourth varna. A fifth group were called
Pariahs, or “untouchables.” They performed only jobs viewed as unclean, such as skinning animals. One’s caste determined whom
one could marry and what jobs one could hold. Although abolished, the caste system still influences Indian society. Hinduism
became India’s major religion. It teaches that a divine essence called Brahman is the essence of all things in the universe. This
belief in the unity of God and creation is called monism. Hinduism teaches that the world we see is an illusion, called maya.
People can gain salvation by recognizing and rejecting maya, which takes many lifetimes. Hindus believe in the rebirth of souls,
or reincarnation. Souls advance by doing their dharma, or moral duty in this life. Karma is the good or bad created by one’s
actions. Souls who grow spiritually can reach nirvana, a perfect spiritual peace. To outsiders, Hinduism appears polytheistic—
based on a belief in many gods. To Hindus their gods represent different aspects of creation, so Hinduism is monistic. The Hindu
god Brahma, for example, can be represented as Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the destroyer. Other gods
are represented as trees, animals, or people. Hindus practice mental and physical exercises called yoga. They celebrate religious
festivals with rituals, music, dancing, eating, and drinking. Cows are viewed as sacred and are protected by law. Another great
religion, Buddhism, also arose in India. Its founder, Siddhartha Gautama, became known as the Buddha, or “the Enlightened
One.” The son of a prince, Siddhartha Gautama was raised in luxury, shielded from reality. At age 29 he left his palace and was
shocked to see disease, poverty, and death. He left his family and spent years wandering, meditating and fasting, searching to
understand human suffering. One day, sitting under a tree, Siddhartha Gautama suddenly understood. In that moment he
became the Buddha. He devoted his life to teaching the way to enlightenment. The Buddha accepted some Hindu ideas, such as
reincarnation, but not the Hindu gods or the Vedas. He taught ethics, or good conduct, more than ceremonies. He taught that
desire caused suffering and that all people should practice poverty and nonviolence. A person of any caste could reach nirvana.
Brahmins opposed these teachings, and Buddha gained few followers in India during his lifetime. After his death, however,
Buddhism spread throughout Asia. It split into two branches. Theravada Buddhism followed Buddhism’s traditional beliefs. Its
followers believe that the Buddha was a great teacher and spiritual leader. Followers of Mahayana Buddhism regard the Buddha
as a god and savior. Mahayana took hold mainly in China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.
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Ancient Indian Civilizations
Section 4: Ancient Indian Dynasties and Empires
In this section you will learn about ancient Indian Dynasties and Empires. You will learn
how the Mauryan rlers increased their power and built an empire. You will also learn how
the Gupta family came to power and the reasons for the decline of their rule.
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Section 4 Summary
The rulers of the Magadha kingdom were the first to unify India and protect it from
invasions. The kingdom of Magadha was at the height of its power in 540 B.C. Then
Darius the Great of Persia conquered the Indus River valley, but Magadha soon regained
control and ruled until about 320 B.C.
As Magadha was declining, a powerful young adventurer named Chandragupta
Maurya seized power and established the Mauryan Empire. A Greek diplomat kept a
detailed record of events during his rule. Chandragupta built a grand palace and raised
an army of 600,000 soldiers with thousands of chariots and elephants. He united most of
northwestern India. Chandragupta Maurya established a rigid bureaucracy. He had
workers dig mines and build centers for spinning and weaving. He standardized weights
and measures and established standards for physicians. Chandragupta also made many
enemies and took many precautions for fear of assassination. In about 300 B.C. rule
passed to his son.
Chandragupta’s grandson, A_oka, proved to be an even greater ruler than his
grandfather. A_oka fought bloody wars to enlarge his empire. His dynasty became the
first to include all of India except the southern tip. Later A_oka sickened of battle, ordered
and end to the killing, and became a Buddhist. Many other Indian people also became
Buddhists. A_oka sent missionaries to other countries to spread the Buddhist faith. He
reversed many policies of his father and grandfather. He supported religious freedom for
all people. His laws were carved into stone pillars in public places.
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A_oka worked to unite the diverse peoples and states in his empire by improving
living conditions. Along trade routes he ordered workers to plant banyan trees for shade,
dig wells for water, and build houses for rest. Many cultural and political advances were
made. After A_oka died, however, the Mauryan Empire began a slow decline. His sons
battled each other for control of the throne, and invaders attacked the northern provinces.
In 184 B.C. the last Mauryan emperor was killed by a Brahmin general, who declared the
start of a new imperial dynasty.
Chandra Gupta I, the founder of the Gupta Empire, took power in the A.D. 300s in
Magadha, the old capital of the Mauryans. The Gupta family expanded their territory
through conquest and marriage. By the A.D. 400s the Gupta Empire included all of the
northern part of India. Under the early Gupta rulers, Indian civilization flourished.
During the reign of Chandra Gupta II (A.D. 374–415), great progress was made in
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Ancient Indian Civilizations
Section 5: Ancient Indian Life and Culture
In this section you will learn more about ancient Indian life and culture. You will learn
about Indian economy and society and particularly about the limitations of women’s
rights. You will also learn about the most important cultural achievements of the Gupta
period in art, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine.
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HRW/World History ©2003 Audio Summary/Chapter 3/ page 16
Section 5 Summary
While the highest classes in northern India enjoyed luxury, most people barely survived.
During the Indo-Aryan period, the rajas drew wealth from the farmers who worked the
land. During the Mauryan Empire, the rulers claimed one-fourth of each harvest.
In southern India many people made their living through foreign trade. Traders
sold silk, cotton, wool, ivory, spices, and precious gems. Indian goods appeared in the
Far East, Southwest Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Although Hindu custom gave women some protections, they had fewer rights than
men. The Hindu Laws of Manu required girls to obey their fathers, wives to obey their
husbands, and widows to obey their sons. Women were prohibited from owning property
or studying sacred writings. Men could have more than one wife. This practice, called
polygyny, became widespread. So did a practice called suttee, in which widows
committed suicide by throwing themselves on their husbands’ flaming funeral pyres.
Among the cultural achievements of the Gupta period were the stories of the
Panchatantra, or “Five Books.” These fables, or stories with morals, taught the benefits
of being adaptable, shrewd, and determined. The Panchatantra has been translated into
more languages than any other book except the Bible.
Indian drama developed greatly. Plays were often performed in the open air. They
contained tragic scenes but ended happily. The only paintings that survived are murals in
caves depicting the Buddha and his followers. They show the influence of Greek and
Roman art. Sculpture became more rigid and formal during the Gupta period. Architects
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designed and built great Hindu temples to enclose a statue of a god. The Mauryan ruler
A_oka also built thousands of stupas, or dome-shaped shrines to Buddha.
Education was advanced, but only for children of the higher castes. They studied
the Vedas and the great epics. They also learned astronomy, mathematics, warfare, and
government. Nalanda was a famous Buddhist university where thousands of students
attended for free. Although it was Buddhist, the university also taught the Vedas, Hindu
philosophy, logic, grammar, and medicine.
Indian science was highly developed. Mathematicians understood the concepts of
abstract and negative numbers, zero, and infinity. Aryabhata, a mathematician born in
the late A.D. 400s, was one of the first people to use algebra and to solve quadratic
equations. Although we call the digits 1 through 9 “Arabic” numerals, they were probably
Chapter 4
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[Chapter 4] Ancient Chinese Civilization
You have now studied ancient civilizations that grew along the fertile valleys of the Nile,
Tigris-Euphrates, and Indus Rivers. These civilizations shared many characteristics while
also developing distinct cultures and patterns of life. In this chapter you will learn how
China’s earliest civilizations developed and how they compare with other ancient cultures.
You will learn the history of China’s great dynasties. You will also study its philosophies,
life, and culture and discover its greatest achievements.
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Ancient Chinese Civilization
Section 1: Geographic and Cultural Influences
In this section you will learn about the geography of China and the role that rivers played
in ancient Chinese life. You will also learn how geography isolated China and influenced
the development of Chinese culture.
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Section 1 Summary
The vast land of China varies greatly in geography and climate. Snow-capped mountains
in the west slope down to wind-swept desert plateaus. In the south there are rolling hills.
In the north the North China Plain runs along the coast.
A mountain range called the Qinling (CHIN·LING) Shandi runs west to east, dividing
northern from southern China. This range separates the valleys of two great rivers—the
Huang and the Chang, or Yangtze. Northern China receives less rain and has more
extreme temperatures. The growing season is short, and wheat is the principal crop. In
central and southern China, rainfall is more plentiful, and rice is the main crop.
China is made up of many regions with different histories. The heart of China,
called China Proper, stretches from the coast inland and includes the Huang, Chang, and
Xi (SHEE) rivers. At times during its history China has conquered and ruled Tibet,
Xinjiang (SHIN-JYAHNG), Mongolia, Manchuria, and northern Korea, which form a
semicircle around China Proper. Sometimes nomads from these regions conquered and
ruled China Proper.
The Huang, Chang, and Xi rivers are important in Chinese history. The Huang
River valley has a fertile yellow soil called loess (LES). So much loess washes into the
river that the Chinese called it Huang, meaning “yellow.” Nicknamed “China’s Sorrow,”
the Huang is prone to terrible floods. Early farmers built earthen dikes, or walls, along
the Huang to protect crops from floods. The dikes, however, slowed the river’s flow,
causing the river to deposit more silt on the bottom. Eventually the silt forced the river
higher, and it again flooded. The Chinese built the dikes higher and higher. Today the
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Huang River flows 12 feet above the land. Every few years the Huang broke through the
dikes, causing great destruction. The floodwater could not drain into the higher riverbed
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Ancient Chinese Civilization
Section 2: The Shang Dynasty
In this section you will learn more about ancient China. You will learn how the Chinese
created legends to explain their early history. You will learn about the rise of the Shang
dynasty, and how its government and economy were organized. You will earn about the
religious beliefs of the Shang and their language and writing. Finally, you will discover
why the Shang dynasty collapsed.
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Section 2 Summary
The early Chinese created legends to explain China’s past and its role in history. One tells
how a heroic figure name Yu drained away floodwaters so people could live in China. Yu
established a line of kings called the Xia (SHAH), who lived in the Huang River region.
Little evidence supports these legends, but scholars agree that the Xia people existed. They
developed agriculture and possibly written symbols but were unable to control floods or
drought. Sometime before 1500 B.C. the Shang conquered the valley.
The Shang introduced simple irrigation and flood control and created China’s first
dynasty. Shang rulers created a complex bureaucracy—a government organized into
different levels and tasks. A well-organized army, with chariots and bronze weapons,
increased Shang territory.
Shang farmers grew millet and rice and raised pigs, chicken, and horses. The
Shang also raised silkworms. In the Shang towns lived merchants and artisans. Shang
potters developed the forms of later Chinese vases, using fine clay and hard glazes.
The Chinese lunar, or moon-based, calendar was used to record events such as
births. Each month began with a new moon and had about 29 days. To make up the 365
days of the solar, or sun-based, calendar, priest-astronomers added days. Their accuracy
helped determine the success of the harvest and the king’s popularity.
The Shang religion combined animism—the belief that spirits inhabit
everything—with ancestor worship. They worshiped gods of the wind, sun, clouds, and
moon. A powerful dragon became the symbol of Chinese rulers. Festivals were held in the
spring to ensure good crops and in the fall to give thanks for the harvest. The Shang also
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believed in Shangdi, a god who controlled nature and human destiny. Rulers offered
sacrifices to their ancestors, asking them to plead with Shangdi. Priests predicted events
and interpreted divine messages. Some wrote questions on oracle bones—the shoulder
bones of cattle or tortoise shells. They then heated the bones and interpreted the cracks
that appeared. Some marked their interpretations on the bone or shell. Rulers claimed to
base all decisions upon the will of Shangdi.
The Shang also developed a written language. The Chinese spoke many dialects,
or variations of their language. Their written language represented all dialects. At first
words were assigned pictographs, or drawings of objects. These later developed into
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Ancient Chinese Civilization
Section 3: The Zhou, Qin, and Han Dynasties
In this section you will learn about the three dynasties that succeeded the Shang Dynasty in
China: the Zhou, Qin (CHIN), and Han Dynasties. You will learn why the Zhou fell from
power. You will discover how the Qin dynasty used power to maintain its authority. And
you will learn about the achievements of the Han emperors.
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Section 3 Summary
The Zhou dynasty conquered China in about 1050 B.C. Zhou kings granted territories to
their kin and allies to rule. In return these rulers gave military service and tribute to the
Zhou kings. Zhou kings believed that their god gave them the right to rule. By the 700s
B.C. Zhou kings were losing control as local leaders were fighting among themselves.
Invasions were frequent. Zhou kings may also have become poor leaders. One legend
claims that a wicked king sent his troops to fight an imaginary enemy. Later, troops
ignored warnings when a real army attacked. In any case, invaders destroyed the Zhou
capital in the 700s B.C. The Zhou fled eastward to a new capital but controlled little more
than their own city-state.
After centuries of battles between the so-called Warring States, the Qin (CHIN)
conquered China in 221 B.C. Cheng, who founded the Qin dynasty, took the title Shih
Huang Ti, meaning “first emperor.” The Qin dynasty lasted only 15 years but profoundly
changed China. China’s Western name, “China,” comes from Qin. The Qin established
an autocracy, in which the emperor held total power. He executed those who criticized the
government. The Qin built 1,500 miles of walls to defend their borders, which were added
to by later dynasties to form the Great Wall of China. But people who were forced to
labor on projects like the Great Wall grew angry. In 206 B.C. Liu Bang, a commoner and
a Qin general, overthrew the empire and founded the Han dynasty.
The Han were moderate rulers who kept power for 400 years. The longest-ruling
Han emperor was Liu Ch’e, commonly known as Wu Ti. He extended Han rule into
Manchuria and Korea, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia. The Han dynasty established a
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civil service, a centralized system to run the day-to-day business of government. The Han
created examinations to select the best candidates, and an imperial university trained
people for service. Usually, however, only those with connections and money for schooling
could train. China’s well-trained civil service helped govern its complex society until the
early 1900s.
Rising and falling prices often caused hardship for peasant farmers. Liu Ch’e
invented leveling, a policy in which the government used price controls to balance the
effects of surpluses or shortages. It stored surplus grains for lean years. Liu Ch’e
established military colonies to expand control over warring tribes to the north and keep
• Chapter 4
• Section 3
1. What factors led to the decline of the Zhou
2. Why might Cheng have felt that free
discussion was dangerous to his rule?
3. How did the civil service system affect China?
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Ancient Chinese Civilization
Section 4: Philosophies of Ancient China
In this section you will learn about the philosophies of ancient China. You will discover
why the Chinese valued the concept of balance. You will learn about the Chinese
philosopher Confucius and his teachings. You will also learn about another Chinese
philosopher, Laozi, and the philosophy called Daoism. Daoism and Confucianism worked
together in Chinese society, and you will find why. Finally, you will learn how beliefs such
as Legalism and Buddhism influenced Chinese history.
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Section 4 Summary
Chinese philosophy flourished during the political upheavals at the end of the Zhou
dynasty. Philosophers looked for ways to restore harmony. According to ancient Chinese
beliefs, the world is a balance between two forces. The yin force is female, dark, and
passive. Yang is male, bright, and active. Yin and yang are not in conflict; instead, they
depend on each other. At best they are balanced. For example, day, which is yang, gives
way to night, which is yin. The Chinese also valued balance in human affairs.
A leading philosopher of the Zhou era, Confucius, influenced China more than
any other philosopher.Confucius’s ideas and teachings are collected in a work called the
Analects. Confucius taught the importance of family, respect for one’s elders, and
reverence for the past and one’s ancestors. Confucius said little about religion. He sought
ethical solutions to the social unrest of his time. Confucius believed that each person
should accept his or her role and duties in society. He also taught that government leaders
should be virtuous—that is, honest and honorable. They should not seek wealth or power
but only their people’s welfare. Moral, well-educated officials would set good examples,
and people would gladly follow such leaders.
Two centuries after Confucius a philosopher name Mencius built on these ideas.
Mencius taught that individuals contain goodness that can be strengthened in the proper
environment. Mencius taught that people had a right to rebel against weak, harsh, or
unjust rulers. Mencius’s teachings were also influential.
During Confucius’s time another philosopher, Laozi, founded the philosophy
called Daoism (DOW·ih·zuhm). Laozi saw the Dao, or “the Way,” as a force governing all
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HRW/World History ©2003 Audio Summary/Chapter 2/ page 13
of creation. He taught that people should withdraw from the world and contemplate
nature. Instead of seeking wealth or power, people should come into harmony with the
Dao by being humble, quiet, and thoughtful. Laozi’s teachings, compiled in the Dao De
Jing, became second only to Confucianism in their influence on Chinese life. Peasants
were drawn to Daoism’s concern with nature. Artists liked its spontaneity. Confucianists
appreciated balancing political concerns with contemplation of nature. Like yin and yang,
Daoism and Confucianism balanced each other.
Like Confucianism, the philosophy called Legalism concerned itself with politics.
But Legalists believed in power and in harsh laws rather than virtuous officials. They
believed people were selfish by nature. Harsh punishment was necessary to enforce the
law and achieve peace. Qin rulers followed the ideas of Legalism, but their dynasty did not
last long, possibly because of its cruelty. The long-lived Han dynasty accepted Legalist
principles, but balanced them with the more moderate ideas of Confucianism.
Buddhism was brought to China by missionaries at the end of the Han dynasty.
Competing military leaders were leading destructive raids through the land. Many
Chinese turned to Buddhist temples and ceremonies, which offered peace during turbulent
times. Buddhism also emphasized charity and compassion, ideals lacking in other
philosophies. Mahayana, the main form of Buddhism in China, teaches that the Buddha
helps human beings escape from the world’s miseries.
All four philosophies strongly influenced Chinese society. Confucianism established
reverence for the past and the family. Confucianism and Legalism provided strong
• Section 4
1. What other natural events might be classified
as yin and yang?
2. What were Confucius’s views on politics?
3. What were the main beliefs of the Daoists?
4. In what major way did Legalism differ from
the teachings of Confucius?
HRW/World History ©2003 Audio Summary/Chapter 2/ page 15
Ancient Chinese Civilization
Section 5: Chinese Life and Culture
In this section you will learn more about Chinese life and culture. You will find out why the
family was a central institution in Chinese society. You will learn more about the lives of
farmers in ancient China. You will also discover the greatest achievements of the ancient
Chinese in the arts and sciences.
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HRW/World History ©2003 Audio Summary/Chapter 2/ page 16
Section 5 Summary
Three key values that shaped Chinese culture were reverence for one’s family, respect for
age, and acceptance of decisions made by one’s superiors. The well-being of the state
depended on the well-being of the family, and the family was more important than the
individual. Each upper-class family kept a genealogy, or record of its family tree. Most
families constructed altars to honor their ancestors.
A typical upper-class family included a father, his wife, sons with their wives and
children, and unmarried daughters. Often they all lived in the same house. The father
ruled the family, arranged marriages, and decided his sons’ careers. Women had few
legal rights. Chinese society, however, taught great respect for mothers and mothers-inlaw,
and they held great power within the household. Daughters-in-law were sometimes
treated like servants in their husbands’ families until they gave birth to sons.
Although Chinese towns grew, most people were village farmers. Life was hard.
Groups of families sometimes worked fields together, using ox-drawn plows. They had
complex systems of irrigation and flood control. The governments required peasants to
pay taxes and perform labor on canals, roads, and other projects. Trade first became
important during the Qin dynasty. Qin leaders brought important reforms to the economy.
They standardized the currency and the system of weights and measures. Trade also
during the Han Dynasty.
In education, five texts known as the Five Classics were used to train scholars
and civil servants. The Book of Poems contains more than 300 poems about domestic life,
joy, love, and politics. The Book of History contains government speeches and documents.
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The Book of Changes is about predicting the future. The Spring and Autumn Annals is a
record of events in one city-state from 722 B.C. to 481 B.C. The Book of Rites deals with
manners and ceremonies. In addition to the Five Classics, educated young men read the
Analects of Confucius.
The Qin and Han periods saw dramatic advances in science and technology. In 28
B.C. Chinese astronomers first observed sunspots, which were not seen by Europeans until
the A.D. 1600s. Before A.D. 100 Chinese astronomers built instruments to track the
planets’ motion. The Chinese invented a seismograph that registered even faint
earthquakes. In 150 B.C. they made the world’s first paper from fishing nets, hemp, old
rags, and tree bark. By the A.D. 700s paper reached the Middle East and replaced
papyrus. The Chinese also invented the sundial, the water clock, and the process of
In chemistry the Chinese discovered cloth dyes and pottery glazes. They developed
medicines from herbs and minerals. The therapy known as acupuncture developed from
the Daoist belief that health depends on the movement of life-force energy through the
body. The doctor inserts needles at certain points to help move this energy. Today the
Chinese use acupuncture to stop pain during surgery. Many Americans use it to relieve
pain from arthritis or cancer.
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