APWH Unit 1 and 2 - 8000 BCE - 600CE

  • UNIT 1 and 2: 8000 BCE - 600 CE (Neolithic to Classical Era)

    Of all the time periods covered in the AP World History curriculum, Foundations spans the largest number of years. It begins with an important marker event–the Neolithic/Agricultural Revolution/Transition–and ends after the fall of three major classical civilizations: Rome in the Mediterranean region, Han China, and the Gupta Empire of India. Broad topics addressed in the Foundations time period include the following:

    • As humans spread across the globe and experimented with basic agricultural and pastoral techniques, significant changes resulted in the environment and in the human experience.
    • The transformation from hunting/gathering and foraging societies to sedentary, agricultural societies led to the rise of specialized labor which, in turn, gave birth to basic early technologies such as pottery, textiles, and metallurgy.
    • While each of the civilizations that arose in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, Shang China, and Meso/South America had distinctive and defining cultural features, they also shared many commonalities that suggest broad cultural patterns and processes at work on an universal level.
    • The fall of the classical civilizations at the end of this unit in Han China, India (Gupta Empire), and Mediterranean civilizations (Greece and Rome) suggests not just common patterns for the rise of civilizations, but for their decline as well.
    • Among the most salient and influential features of civilization in this unit is the development of major belief systems, including polytheism, Hinduism, Judaism, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Christianity.

    Major Comparisons and Snapshots:

    • Compare major religious and philosophical systems including some underlying similarities in cementing a social hierarchy, e.g., Hinduism contrasted with Confucianism.
    • Compare the role of women in different belief systems – Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, and Hinduism.
    • Understand how and why the collapse of empire was more severe in western Europe than it was in the eastern Mediterranean or in China.
    • Compare the caste system to other systems of social inequality devised by early and Classical civilizations, including slavery.
    • Compare societies and cultures that include cities with pastoral and nomadic societies.
    • Compare the development of traditions and institutions in major civilizations e.g., Indian, Chinese, and Greek.
    • Describe interregional trading systems, e.g., the Indian Ocean trade.
    • Compare the political and social structures of two early civilizations, using any two of the following: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, Shang dynasty, and Mesoamerica and Andean South America.

    Need to Know vs. Not Need to Know:

    • Nature of the Neolithic revolution, but not characteristics of previous stone ages, e.g., Paleolithic and Mesolithic.
    • Economic and social results of the Agricultural Revolution, but not specific date of the introduction of agriculture to specific societies.
    • Nature of patriarchal systems, but not changes in family structure within a single region.
    • Nature of early civilizations, but not necessarily specific knowledge of more than two.
    • Importance of the introduction of bronze and iron, but not specific inventions or implements.
    • Political heritage of classical China (emperor, bureaucracy), but not specific knowledge of dynastic transitions, e.g., from Qin to Han.
    • Greek approaches to science and philosophy, including Aristotle, but not details about other specific philosophers.
    • Diffusion of major religious systems, but not the specific regional forms of Buddhism or Aryan or Nestorion Christianity.

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