Unit 2: The Ancient World
Ancient Greece developed on the rocky peninsulas of Attica and the Peloponnesus. Ancient Greeks practiced polytheism, studied subjects from history to mathematics, watched dramas and comedies, and read epics poems like the Iliad and the Odyssey. Greek city-states were ruled by monarchs, tyrants, oligarchies, or as democracies. The cities of Athens and Sparta dominated ancient Greece. Together they defeated the Persian Empire and fought one another in the Peloponnesian War. Alexander the Great created an empire as well as the Hellenistic era.
Ancient Rome was founded in the Italian peninsula. As it grew powerful it fought with its neighbors. Rome had many civil wars, where generals and politicians fought to dominate the government. One named Julius Caesar was killed by those who felt he was too powerful. His nephew, Octavian, became the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which lasted until A.D. 476. The Roman Empire continued in the east as the Byzantine Empire. Its capital, Constantinople, became one of the largest and most cultured cities in the world.
Around A.D. 30, Jesus began teaching in Roman Judea. His followers became known as Christians and their religion Christianity. Despite being persecuted by Roman officials, Christianity grew. The Roman emperor Constantine became a Christian in A.D. 311 and Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in A.D. 392.
Ancient North and South America were populated by peoples who crossed over from Asia along the land bridge called Beringia. The Hohokam and Pueblo settled in the American Southwest, while the Adena and Hopewell civilizations grew in what is now the Western United States. In Central America the Olmec and Maya civilization flourished. The Olmec left giant heads carved from obsidian. The Maya created a detailed writing and number system as well as giant stone pyramids.
In central Mexico, the Toltec and Aztec civilizations developed. The Aztec became the dominant empire in Central America. They ruled from the huge city of Tenochtitlán, which was built in the middle of a lake. In South America the Inca Empire spread across the Andes Mountains. The Inca used terraces to farm the mountainsides and dug deep for gold to decorate their temples and palaces. Both the Atzec and Inca empires were conquered by the Spanish in the early 1500s.