Period 2: 600 B.C.E. to 600 C.E.

  • Period 2: Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies, 600 B.C.E. to 600 C.E.

    Key Concept 2.1 - The Development and Codification of Religious and Cultural Traditions

    Summary: As states and empires increased in size their religions and belief systems were transformed.  This transformation assisted in the development and reinforcement of political, economic, and social stratification.  Religion, military, and legal structures were developed to reinforce the establishment of large empires.  Religions and belief systems also generated conflict.

    I. Codifications and further developments of existing religious traditions provided a bond among people and an ethical code to live by.

    A. Hebrew Monotheism

    B. Hinduism

    II. New belief systems and cultural traditions emerged and spread, often asserting universal truths.

    A. The core beliefs about desire, suffering, and the search for enlightenment preached by the historic Buddha and recorded by his followers into sutras and other scriptures were, in part, a reaction to the Vedic beliefs and rituals dominant in South Asia. Buddhism changed over time as it spread throughout Asia — first through the support of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, and then through the efforts of missionaries and merchants, and the establishment of educational institutions to promote its core teachings.


    Spread of Buddhism

    B. Confucianism’s core beliefs and writings originated in the writings and lessons of Confucius and were elaborated by key disciples who sought to promote social harmony by outlining proper rituals and social relationships for all people in China, including the rulers.


    Jen & Li


    C.  In the major Daoist writings, the core belief of balance between humans and nature assumed that the Chinese political system would be altered indirectly. Daoism also influenced the development of Chinese culture.

    Taoism (Daoism)

    Tao Te Ching 



    D.  Christianity, based on core beliefs about the teachings and divinity of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded by his disciples, drew on Judaism, and initially rejected Roman and Hellenistic influences. Despite initial Roman imperial hostility, Christianity spread through the efforts of missionaries and merchants through many parts of Afro-Eurasia, and eventually gained Roman imperial support by the time of Emperor Constantine.


    Paul of Tarsus

    Spread of Christianity

    E.  The core ideas in Greco-Roman philosophy and science emphasized logic, empirical observation, and the nature of political power and hierarchy.  Using logic and reason to answer questions rather than relying on gods and religion.

    Greek Scientists

    Greek Philosophers


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