The Classical Period in World History
Classical civilizations, building upon the achievements of earlier rive-valley civilizations, took
shape in Asia, North Africa, and southern Europe, between 1000 and 5OO B.C.E.
They endured until the
5th century C.E.
Dramatic innovations occurred, especially the formation of political empires and new
philosophical and religious thinking.
Many other regions, either not connected or only later in contact with
classical centers, also produced important developments.
In the Americas new civilizations took form;
other areas developed more advanced agricultural techniques.
After 1000 B.C.E. the world was divided
into three main parts; one where the roots of civilization were well established; another where complex
societies were first forming; and a third where forms of organization were built around nomadic economies.
The Boundaries of Classical Civilizations.
Classic civilizations developed larger geographic range,
forming more complex political institutions, commercial networks, and cultures than their ancestors.
civilization centers emerged in India, China, the Middle East, and the eastern Mediterranean.
nomadic groups and previously uninfluenced agricultural peoples in Asia, Europe, and Africa began to
learn what civilization involved.
The classical period ended between the 3d and 6th centuries C.E.
decay and invasions from Central Asia destroyed great states from China to Rome.
The reworking of
surviving civilization patterns triggered another new period in world history after 500 C.E.
Regional Integration in the Classical Period.
Each classical civilization was distinctive, but each had to
integrate politically large territories, extend common culture, and expand commerce.
under the Greeks and Romans, became a single economic region allowing local areas to profit through
In China and India similar regions appeared.
Cultural integration through philosophy and
religion emerged in the three classical centers, and in Persia.
Enduring styles in art and architecture
The new civilizations' geographical scope allowed important contacts resulting in cultural
borrowing and diffusion.
During this era the great monuments of thought, politics, and art that developed
provided the foundations for most later civilizations.
Nomadic Challenges and Sedentary Responses
By the close of the second millennium B.C.E. civilizations existed in all continents except Australia and
Their peoples occupied a very small portion of the earth, but comprised 90% of human
They were separated from each other by thousands of miles and by non-civilized groups.
Most of the earth was occupied by migratory peoples who practiced shifting cultivation, nomadic herding,