Ancient Civilizations of India, China, and Africa

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Ancient Civilizations of India, China, and Africa
Ancient Civilizations of India,
China, and West Africa
India’s Geography
• India is locate on a subcontinent
• Location near Indus River supported early
• Heavy rains, monsoons, helped to create
fertile soil in the Northern Plains
The most dominant religion
practiced by most Indians…
Hinduism,& cannot be traced
back to a single founder.
Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism can
be traced back to the teachings
Siddhartha Gautama
The History of Buddhism
• It was all started by Buddha, who was a prince in
Lumbini, 2500 years ago.
• He was very unhappy in his royal life, so he set
off on a 6 year journey, exploring other religions.
• After his long journey and much meditation he
was finally “enlightened”.
• He found the middle path, the key to human
happiness. For the rest of his life he wandered
Asia, preaching his new religion.
Four Noble Truths of Buddhism
• Suffering is a part of
• Desire causes
• Overcoming desire
ends suffering
• Desires can be
overcome by
following the Eightfold
Eightfold Path
• Right view = acceptance
of the Four Noble Truths
• Right speech; avoidance
of lies
• Right actions; treating all
with respect
• Right livelihood; avoid
jobs that harm others
• Right effort; constantly
striving for improvement
• Right mindfulness:
awareness of the world
around you
• Right attitude; everything
in moderation
• Right concentration;
ignoring temptation by
The Eightfold Path can be
expressed as the Middle Way.
It advises people to live in moderation,
avoiding the extremes of either comfort
or discomfort in the search for nirvana.
China’s Civilization Develops
• Two rivers supplied needed water: The Chang
Jiang = Yangzi & the Huang He = Yellow River
• Loess, carried by desert winds into China, made
valley of the Huang He very fertile
• Irrigation also aided the development of China’s
• China was largely isolated due to mountains,
hills, and desert: these protected it from
The next four slides
From at least 1766BC to the twentieth century of the Common Era, China was ruled
by dynasties. A dynasty is a ruling family that passes control from one generation to
the next. One Chinese dynasty lasted more than 800 years, while another lasted
only fifteen years. The ancient Chinese people often supported their rulers because
of what they called the Mandate of Heaven. The ancient Chinese believed their
ancestors in heaven had chosen their leaders. The people would rebel against a
weak leader if they believed he had lost the Mandate of Heaven.
The Shang Dynasty
ruled China from
approximately 1766BC
to about 1040BC. The
Shang were the first
dynasty to leave written
records. The Shang
rulers expanded the
borders of their kingdom
to include all of the land
between Mongolia and
the Pacific Ocean.
The Chou were nomads
who lived west of the
Shang. The Chou
overthrew the Shang and
ruled China from 1040BC
to the third century before
the Common Era. The
Chou gained power in
part from their ability to
extract iron. They used
the metal to create
powerful weapons.
The Chou developed a feudal
system in China. In a feudal
system, the rulers appoint nobles
to control smaller parts of an
empire. The nobles divided the
land into farms for extended
families. An extended family
might include many generations
and would often include cousins
and second cousins. The families
were loyal to their nobles and the
nobles were in turn loyal to the
Chou rulers. The Chou rulers
taxed their subjects, but they
used the wealth they collected to
build huge walls around their
cities to defend the citizens from
nomadic warriors. The Chou also
built roads, irrigation systems,
and dams.
Recall: The Chou & the Zhou
are the same dynasty.
The Chou dynasty ended
slowly as nobles became more
powerful. Eventually, the
nobles became more powerful
than the emperor in a period
that became known as the Age
of Warring States. It was
during this period that a great
teacher named Confucius tried
to develop good government.
China grew into a powerful
empire during the Han
Dynasty, between 202BC and
AD220. Scholars trained in the
teachings of Confucius ran the
Han governments with great
skill. During the Han Dynasty,
the Chinese invented paper,
Chinese writers recorded the
history of their land, and the
Chinese first learned of
Zhou conquered the Shang and
to gain acceptance for their rule
Introduced the Mandate of
Heaven. Justification: The gods
would not allow the unjust to rule.
New Philosophies
Confucianism & Daoism
• Confucianism is
based on the
teachings of Kongfuzi
• Respect for tradition
would create a stable,
ordered society
• The family is central
to good government
• Daoism is based on
the teachings of Laozi
• Encouraged a retreat
from society’s laws
and yield to the laws
of nature where there
is a balance = ying
and yang
Chandragupta Maurya
(born c. 340 BCE,
ruled c. 320 BCE –
298 BCE) was the
founder of the Maurya
Ashoka, also known
as Ashoka the Great,
was an Indian
emperor of the
Maurya Dynasty who
ruled almost all of the
Indian subcontinent
from ca. 269 BC to
232 BC
Ashoka Spreads Buddhism
• Ashoka sent missionaries throughout Asia
• Through trade, merchants introduced the
• Spread to: China, Myanmar, Thailand,
Vietnam and Indonesia
West African Empires
In the period between 400 A.D.
and 1591 A.D., West Africa
witnessed the rise and fall of the
indigenous medieval empires of
ancient Ghana, medieval Mali, and
Songhai. Although many other
smaller states and kingdoms arose
in the region during this time, only
the above three achieved the
status of fully-fledged, functioning
and long-living conquest states
and expansionist empires.
These civilizations regulated the
Trans-Saharan trade by offering
protection for trade caravans as
well as taxing slaves, gold,
firearms, textiles and salt that they
By the 5th century Ghana had
arisen and reached its height by
1200 AD. It was ruled by the
Serahule people and eventually
broke apart in the 13th century.
The Mali Empire included Ghana’s
territory and extended it in the 13th
century. It was a Mandinka territory
and at its height covered an area
of over 24,000 sq. km. In this
period, the city of Timbuktu
became a world-famous centre of
commerce and education.
Mali declined in the 14th century
and was succeeded by Songhai,
which grew to be the largest land
empire in tropical Africa. It
originated as a small territory
located on the Niger river known
as Al-kawkaw.
Growth in Trade:
As the centuries passed, North
African Berbers and other
peoples crossed the Sahara,
linking up with traders from the
south, whose own desert
caravan routes crossed the
coastal and riverine trade
networks of other peoples.
These interconnecting networks
promoted long-distance trade in
certain commodities such as salt,
gold, iron, kola nut, spices,
including Black African slaves.
The major trade goods were
desert salt from the north which
were required to preserve food
and supplement diets. These
were exchanged through the
barter system for food, gold and
slaves from the southern tropics.
West Africa south of the desert
was the area of sub-Saharan
Africa’s largest and most
sophisticated states in the period
before the 19th century. People
could travel and communicate
over long distances either on
horseback or foot across the dry
savanna or along the water
routes of the mighty Niger River.
And their location between the
trans-Saharan trade routes and
the northern parts of commercial
networks from gold-producing
areas meant that the great
empires of Ghana, Mali, and
Songhai could profit from the
commerce passing through their
territories. They also were
influenced to varying degrees by
Islam, which gradually spread
through trade to the lands south
of the desert, which the Arabs
called the bilad al-sudan, or "the
land of the blacks."
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