States and Empires: c. 600 BCE - 600 CE

AP Concept: 2.2 The Development of States and Empires
Key Concepts
  • Imperial societies grew and unified areas
  • Empires and states developed and refined new forms of imperial administration
Imperial Unification
  • Powerful rulers conquered massive territories and brought them under control using advanced military strategies and technologies
  • The Persian Empire (553 - 333 BCE) emerged when emperor Cyrus conquered land ranging from the Indus River to modern-day Turkey, and allowed captured peoples to maintain their culture, which encouraged loyalty
  • The Roman Empire transitioned from a republic (509 - 44 BCE) to an empire (31 BCE - 476 CE) by expanding through war
  • General Julius Caesar expanded the empire to its height, surrounding the Mediterranean
  • While classical Greece (480 - 323 BCE) functioned as a collection of independent city-states, occasionally the city-states unified against common enemies
  • Later, King Philip II conquered Greece using sophisticated military strategies, and his son Alexander conquered Persia and northwest India
  • This empire became known as a Hellenistic Empire (323 - 31 BCE), as it featured cultural traditions adapted from classical Greece
Imperial Administration
  • Rulers unified conquered territories into cohesive empires using a variety of strategies, including centralized government, unified culture, tolerance, and strict governance
  • China's rulers used a variety of cultural traditions to unite the empire following the Warring States Period
  • The Qin dynasty (221 - 207 BCE) drew on Legalism for its harsh, centralized rule
  • The Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE) learned from Qin mistakes, maintaining the centralized bureaucracy but using on Confucianism as a guiding philosophy
  • Under the Han, a Confucian-based imperial university prepared students to take civil service exams as an entrance into government jobs
  • In the Persian Empire, ruler Darius divided the empire into provinces, which were ruled by satraps. Satraps allowed their peoples to retain local cultural traditions
  • Communication networks such as the Royal Road facilitated easy travel and trade, as did a system of metal coins
  • India was united through a variety of governments
  • The Mauryans (322-185 BCE) conquered and ruled India using a centralized bureaucratic government; emperor Ashoka collected taxes through this system
  • The Gupta Empire (320 CE -520 CE) again united India, and ruled by allowing collaborations between local and regional rulers, rather than through one overarching ruler
  • In the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar's successors cemented a centralized government that maintained the traditions of Rome's republic
  • The resulting stability led to 200 years of peace, known as the Pax Romana
  • The Roman Empire established a tradition of laws that gave power to defendants

Related Links:
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Social and Economic Dimensions of States and Empires: c. 600 BCE - 600 CE