CLASSICAL EMPIRES FROM
THE PERSIANS TO THE GUPTAS
The following question is based on the accompanying documents. (The documents have been edited for the purpose of this exercise). The question is designed to test your ability to work with and understand historical documents. Write an essay that:
Has relevant thesis and supports that thesis with evidence from the documents.
Uses all or all but one of the documents.
Analyzes the documents by grouping them in as many appropriate ways as possible and does not simply summarize the documents individually.
Takes into account both the sources of the documents and the authors’ points of view.
Describe the benefits afforded by classical empires to their peoples and the difficulties of maintaining the same empires.
Based on the following documents, discuss classical empires. What types of additional documentation would help determine the benefits and difficulties of running classical empires?
Beginning in the sixth century BC, Cyrus the Great of Persia established the first of the classical empires. Classical empires were transnational, multi-ethnic, and often encompassed diverse physical geographic regions. Between then and the sixth century AD, the city of Athens, Macedon’s Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors, the Mauryans in India, the Romans, the Ch’in and Han Dynasties in China, and the Parthians and Sassanids in Persia, and lastly the Guptas in India all established empires. While culturally and geographically diverse and different, these states, nevertheless, were remarkably similar.
TEACHING CLASSICAL EMPIRES
1. PERSIA (ACHAMENIAD, PARTHIAN, SASSANID)
2. GREECE (ATHENIAN, MACEDONIA, PTOLEMIES, SELEUCIDS)
4. INDIA (MAURYA, GUPTA)
5. CHINA (CHIN, HAN)
6. AFRICA (ETHIOPIA, GHANA)
A. EMPEROR, USUALLY HEREDITARY AND DYNASTIC
B. TRAINED BUREAUCRACY WHICH IS LOYAL TO THE STATE
C. ORGANIZED AND ADVANCED MILITARY ON A MASSIVE SCALE
D. NOTION OF PUBLIC SERVICE TO THE STATE
E. NOTION OF CITIZENSHIP
F. UNIFORM LEGAL CODES WHICH ARE USUALLY CODIFIED
G. WARFARE IS CONSTANT
H. BARBARIANS A CONSTANT THREAT
A. UNIFORM ECONOMIC POLICIES INCLUDING TAXES
B. UNIFORM COINS, WEIGHTS, STANDARDS
C. DEFENSE PAID FOR BY TAXATION
D. PUBLIC ARCHITECTURE AND ELABORATE PUBLIC WORKS
E. ROADS AND TRADE ROUTES MAINTAINED
F. POLICE PROTECT COMMERCE
G. AGRICULTURE CRITICAL
H. TRADE LUCRATIVE BUT IS USUALLY LUXURY BASED
A. USUALLY A STATE RELIGION WHICH SERVES STATE INTERESTS
B. TOLERANT TOWARDS OTHER FAITHS/PHILOSOPHIES
C. RULING CLASS INCLUDES BUREAUCRACY AND MILITARY ELITE
D. DISTINCT CLASS STRUCTURES
E. SLAVERY EXISTS BUT NOT OF THE CHATTEL NATURE
10. INTELLECTUAL AND ARTISTIC
A. IMPERIAL SUPPORT OF THE ARTS AND ARCHITECTTURE
B. LEISURE TIME AND LEISURE ACTIVITIES
A. CENTRALIZED CORE
B. METROPOLITAN CENTER
A. INTERNAL DECAY
B. BARBARIAN INVASION
HISTORY: CLASSICAL EMPIRES
Classical Empires arose in all cultures, once they had reached a certain level of technology and development. The most famous examples in history are the Persian Empires, the Greek empires of Alexander and his successors, the Roman Republic and Empire, the Mauryan and Guptan Empires in India, and the Chin and Han Dynasties in China. Other classical empires arose in Africa and the...
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