Unit 3 Key Concepts

  • Han Dynasty

    (China: 206 BCE–220 CE)

    Civil Service Exams: Emperor Han Wudi established the civil service exams. These exams were created to determine whether or not candidates for government jobs had the necessary intelligence to be effective. Previously, the top government jobs were given to family and friends of the Emperor (or Empress) regardless of how smart they were. The civil service exams were based on the teachings of Confucius.

    Society: Patriarchal society—men had all the power.

    Technology: During the Han Dynasty the Chinese invented paper, wheelbarrow, and the rudder.

    Mauryan Empire

    (India: 321 BCE–185 BCE)

    Government: The Maurya created a large bureaucracy. A bureaucracy is a government in which power is divided up into departments (think of our government; secretary of defense, secretary of treasury, etc.)

    Asoka: Asoka was the ruler of the Maurya who is responsible for the spread of Buddhism. After a particularly bloody campaign to conquer the Deccan Plateau, Asoka rejected further conquest and converted to Buddhism. He sent Buddhist missionaries throughout India to convert his people. This missionary movement is responsible for the popularity of Buddhism today throughout East Asia.


    (1750 BCE–133 BCE)

    *The Greeks were not a united empire until the reign of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, rather they were a collection of city-states.

    Geography: Greece was comprised of rugged mountainous terrain and islands. This type of geography made unification difficult. As a result, Greece was comprised of city-states that operated independently of one another for centuries. 

    Athens vs. Sparta: The two largest and most powerful city-states were Athens and Sparta


    • Direct Democracy
    • Education for boys
    •  Educated in art, math, science, literature
    • Women were inferior to men
    • Trade with other city-states


    • Monarchy
    • Military Society
    • All boys trained for military
    • Girls trained to be mothers of soldiers
    • No trade or travel allowed

    Both Athens and Sparta

    • They were both Greek
    • They shared the same Gods and Goddesses
    • Spoke the same language (Greek)

    Alexander the Great: Alexander of Macedon united all of Greece and went on to conquer Egypt, Persia, and India. He established what was at that time the largest empire in the world. As he conquered Greek culture combined with Egyptian, Persian, and India culture to form what is known at Hellenistic culture (the Greeks called themselves Helles). 

    Famous Greeks

    • Homer—wrote Illiad and The Odyssey
    • Socrates, Plato, Aristotle—Greek philosophers
    • Pericles—Ruler of Athens who created the Direct Democracy

    Architecture: The Greeks are well known for their columns. Particularly visible on the Parthenon (see front page for a picture of the Parthenon).

    Ancient Rome 

    (509 BCE–476 CE)

    Roman Republic: Rome developed a political system very similar to ours today. The Roman Republic was ruled by the Roman Senate, which was made up mainly of patricians, or upper class Romans. Still, the concept of elected officials was unique for large empires and heavily influenced our world today.

    Roman Empire: After bloody civil war Julius Caesar came to power in 48 BCE and established the Roman empire. A consul and general, Caesar was popular amongst Romans. He kept the Senate for show purposes, but he held all of the power. Following his assassination by Roman Senators inside the Senate, Rome enjoyed a 200 year period of peace and prosperity known as the Pax-Romana. 

    Roman Advances:

    Roman Law (12 Tables Law Code)—Innocent until proven guilty, trial by jury, right to face your accuser. This is the basis of western law today.

    Roman Architecture—Aqueducts (carried water to cities using gravity), arches, domes.