You are on page 1of 3

COMMON FEATURES OF CLASSICAL CIVILIZATIONS

The three areas of classical civilizations developed their own beliefs, lifestyles, political
institutions, and social structures. However, there were important similarities among them:

 Patriarchal family structures - Like the river valley civilizations that preceded them, the classical
civilization valued male authority within families, as well as in most other areas of life.
 Agricultural-based economies - Despite more sophisticated and complex job specialization, the most
common occupation in all areas was farming.
 Complex governments - Because they were so large, these three civilizations had to invent new ways to
keep their lands together politically. Their governments were large and complex, although they each had
unique ways of governing
 Expanding trade base - Their economic systems were complex. Although they generally operated
independently, trade routes connected them by both land and sea.
CLASSICAL CIVILIZATIONS
Culture Political Organization Social Structure
Slavery widely
Most enduring influences come practiced
from Athens:

Valued education, placed


No centralized government; concept of
emphasis on importance of Men separated
polis, or a fortified site that formed the
human effort, human ability to from women in
centers of many city states
shape future events military barracks
until age 30;
Governing styles varied (Sparta a
Interest in political theory: which women had relative
military state, Athens eventually a
form of government is best? freedom; women
democracy for adult males)
in Spartaencourage
Celebration of human individual d to be physically
Athens government first dominated
achievement and the ideal human fit so as to have
by tyrants, or strong rulers who gained
form healthy babies;
power from military prowess; later
generally better
Greece (abou came to be ruled by an assembly of free
Philosophy and science treated and more
t 800- men who made political decisions.
emphasized the use of logic equal to men than
300 BCE)
women in Athens
Both Athens and Sparta developed
Highly developed form of
strong military organizations and
sculpture, literature, math, written Athens encouraged
established colonies around
language, and record keeping equality for free
the Mediterranean. Spartatheoretically
males, but women
equal; wealth accumulation not allowed
Polytheism, with gods having and slaves had little
very human characteristics freedom. Neither
group allowed to
Cities relatively small participate in polis
affairs.
Great seafaring skills, centered
around Aegean, but traveling Social status
around entire dependent on land
holdings and
Mediterranean area cultural
sophistication
Basic division
between patricians
(aristocrats) and
plebeians (free
farmers), although
a middle class of
Perfection of military techniques:
merchants grew
conquer but don't oppress;
during the empire;
division of army into legions,
Two eras: wealth based on
emphasizing organization and
land ownership;
rewarding military talent
Republic - rule by aristocrats, with gap between rich
some power shared with assemblies; and poor grew with
Art, literature, philosophy,
Senate most powerful, with two consuls time
science derivative from Greece
chosen to rule, generally selected from
Rome (about
the military Paterfamilias -
500 BCE to Superb engineering and
male dominated
476 CE, architecture techniques; extensive
Empire - non-hereditary emperor; family structure
although road, sanitation systems;
technically chosen by Senate, but
eastern half monumental architecture -
generally chosen by predecessor Patron-client
continued for buildings, aqueducts, bridges
system with rich
another
Extensive colonization and military supervising
thousand Polytheism, derivative from
conquest during both eras elaborate webs of
years) Greeks, but religion not
people that owe
particularly important to the
Development of an overarching set of favors to them
average Roman; Christianity
laws, restrictions that all had to obey;
developed during Empire period,
Roman law sets in place principle of Inequality
but not dominant until very late
rule of law, not rule by whim of the increased during
political leader the empire, with
Great city of Rome - buildings,
great dependence
arenas, design copied in smaller
on slavery during
cities
the late empire;
slaves used in
households, mines,
large estates, all
kinds of manual
labor
Confucianism developed during Zhou - emperor rules by mandate of Family basic unit of
late Zhou; by Han times, it heaven, or belief that dynasties rise and society, with
dominated the political and social fall according to the will of heaven, or loyalty and
structure. the ancestors. Emperor was the "son of obedience stressed
heaven."
Legalism and Daoism develop Wealth generally
China (about during same era. based on land
500 BCE to ownership;
600 CE) Buddhism appears, but not Emperor housed in the forbidden city, emergence of
influential yet separate from all others scholar gentry

Threats from nomads from the Growth of a large


south and west spark the first merchant class, but
construction of the Great Wall; Political authority controlled by merchants
clay soldiers, lavish tomb for first Confucian values, with emperor in full generally lower
emperor Shi Huangdi control but bound by duty status than scholar-
bureaucrats
Chinese identity cemented during Political power centralized under
Han era: the "Han" Chinese Shi Huangdi - often seen as the first real Big social divide
emperor between rural and
Han - a "golden age" with urban, with most
prosperity from trade along Han - strong centralized government, wealth concentrated
the Silk Road; inventions include supported by the educated shi (scholar in cities
water mills, paper, compasses, bureaucrats who obtained positions
and pottery and silk-making; through civil service exams) Some slavery, but
calendar with 365.5 days not as much as
in Rome
Capital of Xi'an possibly the most
sophisticated, diverse city in the Patriarchal society
world at the time; many other reinforced by
large cities Confucian values
that emphasized
obedience of wife
to husband
Complex social
hierarchy based on
caste membership
Aryan religious stories written (birth groups
down into Vedas, and Hinduism called jati);
became the dominant religion, Lack of political unity - geographic occupations strictly
although Buddhism began barriers and diversity of people; tended dictated by caste
in India during this era; to fragment into small kingdoms;

Mauryans Buddhist, Guptas Hind political authority less important than


u caste membership and group allegiances Earlier part of time
period - women had
Great epic literature such as the Mauryan and Gupta Empires formed property rights
India Ramayana and Mahabarata based on military
conquest; MauryanEmperor Ashoka see Decline in the
Extensive trade routes within n as greatest; converted to Buddhism, status of women
subcontinent and with others; kept the religion alive during Gupta,
connections to Silk Road, and corresponding to
heart of Indian Ocean trade; "theater state" techniques used during increased emphasis
coined money for trade Gupta - grand palace and court to on acquisition and
impress all visitors, conceal political inheritance of
So-called Arabic numerals weakness property; ritual of
developed in India, employing a sati for wealthy
10-based system women ( widow
cremates herself in
her husband's
funeral pyre)