Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo

Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. Early Human Societies
    1. 1 Understanding the Past
      1. Introduction
      2. 1.1 Developing a Global Perspective
      3. 1.2 Primary Sources
      4. 1.3 Causation and Interpretation in History
      5. Key Terms
      6. Section Summary
      7. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    2. 2 Early Humans
      1. Introduction
      2. 2.1 Early Human Evolution and Migration
      3. 2.2 People in the Paleolithic Age
      4. 2.3 The Neolithic Revolution
      5. Key Terms
      6. Section Summary
      7. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    3. 3 Early Civilizations and Urban Societies
      1. Introduction
      2. 3.1 Early Civilizations
      3. 3.2 Ancient Mesopotamia
      4. 3.3 Ancient Egypt
      5. 3.4 The Indus Valley Civilization
      6. Key Terms
      7. Section Summary
      8. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    4. 4 The Near East
      1. Introduction
      2. 4.1 From Old Babylon to the Medes
      3. 4.2 Egypt’s New Kingdom
      4. 4.3 The Persian Empire
      5. 4.4 The Hebrews
      6. Key Terms
      7. Section Summary
      8. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    5. 5 Asia in Ancient Times
      1. Introduction
      2. 5.1 Ancient China
      3. 5.2 The Steppes
      4. 5.3 Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia
      5. 5.4 Vedic India to the Fall of the Maurya Empire
      6. Key Terms
      7. Section Summary
      8. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
  3. States and Empires, 1000 BCE–500 CE
    1. 6 Mediterranean Peoples
      1. Introduction
      2. 6.1 Early Mediterranean Peoples
      3. 6.2 Ancient Greece
      4. 6.3 The Hellenistic Era
      5. 6.4 The Roman Republic
      6. 6.5 The Age of Augustus
      7. Key Terms
      8. Section Summary
      9. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    2. 7 Experiencing the Roman Empire
      1. Introduction
      2. 7.1 The Daily Life of a Roman Family
      3. 7.2 Slavery in the Roman Empire
      4. 7.3 The Roman Economy: Trade, Taxes, and Conquest
      5. 7.4 Religion in the Roman Empire
      6. 7.5 The Regions of Rome
      7. Key Terms
      8. Section Summary
      9. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    3. 8 The Americas in Ancient Times
      1. Introduction
      2. 8.1 Populating and Settling the Americas
      3. 8.2 Early Cultures and Civilizations in the Americas
      4. 8.3 The Age of Empires in the Americas
      5. Key Terms
      6. Section Summary
      7. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    4. 9 Africa in Ancient Times
      1. Introduction
      2. 9.1 Africa’s Geography and Climate
      3. 9.2 The Emergence of Farming and the Bantu Migrations
      4. 9.3 The Kingdom of Kush
      5. 9.4 North Africa’s Mediterranean and Trans-Saharan Connections
      6. Key Terms
      7. Section Summary
      8. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
  4. An Age of Religion, 500–1200 CE
    1. 10 Empires of Faith
      1. Introduction
      2. 10.1 The Eastward Shift
      3. 10.2 The Byzantine Empire and Persia
      4. 10.3 The Kingdoms of Aksum and Himyar
      5. 10.4 The Margins of Empire
      6. Key Terms
      7. Section Summary
      8. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    2. 11 The Rise of Islam and the Caliphates
      1. Introduction
      2. 11.1 The Rise and Message of Islam
      3. 11.2 The Arab-Islamic Conquests and the First Islamic States
      4. 11.3 Islamization and Religious Rule under Islam
      5. Key Terms
      6. Section Summary
      7. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    3. 12 India, the Indian Ocean Basin, and East Asia
      1. Introduction
      2. 12.1 The Indian Ocean World in the Early Middle Ages
      3. 12.2 East-West Interactions in the Early Middle Ages
      4. 12.3 Border States: Sogdiana, Korea, and Japan
      5. Key Terms
      6. Section Summary
      7. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    4. 13 The Post-Roman West and the Crusading Movement
      1. Introduction
      2. 13.1 The Post-Roman West in the Early Middle Ages
      3. 13.2 The Seljuk Migration and the Call from the East
      4. 13.3 Patriarch and Papacy: The Church and the Call to Crusade
      5. 13.4 The Crusading Movement
      6. Key Terms
      7. Section Summary
      8. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
  5. A Global Middle Ages, 1200–1500 CE
    1. 14 Pax Mongolica: The Steppe Empire of the Mongols
      1. Introduction
      2. 14.1 Song China and the Steppe Peoples
      3. 14.2 Chinggis Khan and the Early Mongol Empire
      4. 14.3 The Mongol Empire Fragments
      5. 14.4 Christianity and Islam outside Central Asia
      6. Key Terms
      7. Section Summary
      8. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    2. 15 States and Societies in Sub-Saharan Africa
      1. Introduction
      2. 15.1 Culture and Society in Medieval Africa
      3. 15.2 Medieval Sub-Saharan Africa
      4. 15.3 The People of the Sahel
      5. Key Terms
      6. Section Summary
      7. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    3. 16 Climate Change and Plague in the Fourteenth Century
      1. Introduction
      2. 16.1 Asia, North Africa, and Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century
      3. 16.2 Famine, Climate Change, and Migration
      4. 16.3 The Black Death from East to West
      5. 16.4 The Long-Term Effects of Global Transformation
      6. Key Terms
      7. Section Summary
      8. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
    4. 17 The Ottomans, the Mamluks, and the Ming
      1. Introduction
      2. 17.1 The Ottomans and the Mongols
      3. 17.2 From the Mamluks to Ming China
      4. 17.3 Gunpowder and Nomads in a Transitional Age
      5. Key Terms
      6. Section Summary
      7. Assessments
        1. Review Questions
        2. Check Your Understanding Questions
        3. Application and Reflection Questions
  6. A | Glossary
  7. B | World History, Volume 1, to 1500: Maps and Timelines
  8. C | World Maps
  9. D | Recommended Resources for the Study of World History
  10. Index
An image of an ancient piece of pottery is shown on a gray background. The item is beige, short, has a round opening at the top, and a thicker middle than the top and bottom. The top is decorated with two black animals with four legs and large white eyes. The horns on top of the head are long and turn into black swirls that cover the top of the item. Four horizonal stripes show in the middle and the lower half of the item is beige with black highlights.
Figure 5.1 Harappa: A Doorway to Trade. This intricately painted cooking vessel is from the ancient city of Harappa, in today’s Pakistan near the Ravi River. Harappan ways left an indelible mark on Indian culture. Featuring standardized weights and measures, uniform bricks, and even indoor plumbing, Harappa and the city of Mohenjo-Daro were doorways to trade, to waves of human migration, and to agriculture flowing from Egypt and Mesopotamia to the rest of Asia. (credit: modification of work “Harappa Vessel - 1-8harappanjar” by Prof Grossetti/Flickr, Public Domain)

Ancient Asia was dominated by two civilizational poles, one centered in today’s India and the other to the east, across the Asian landmass in China. Within both these zones developed impressive cities, kingdoms, and even empires whose commercial might, religion, and technology shaped the lives of Asians for thousands of years (Figure 5.1). Other Asians—traveling peoples of the steppes—acted as conduits of trade and exchange as they brought goods and ideas from one end of the continent to the other.

The same was true far to the east and the south. There, groups that became the Koreans and Japanese, as well as others who arrived in Southeast Asia via migration and trade, also carved out civilizations, smaller societies that influenced their larger neighbors in China and India. At this time, Asia was a region woven together by networks of traveling monks, nomadic peoples, oceanic and overland trade, and shared writing systems.

A timeline of events in this chapter is shown. 100,000 BCE: Peking Man lives in China. 14,500 BCE: Jōmon hunters arrive in Japan; an image of an artifact of a head and torso with large eyes and short arms is shown on a stand. 1800 BCE: Aryans arrive in India.  1400 BCE: Oracle bones serve as first Chinese writing; an image of a stone is shown on a red background. 563 BCE: Buddha is born in India. 268-232 BCE: Ashoka rules India; an image of a stone carving of a figure being pulled by horses in a chariot surrounded by people is shown. 247-221 BCE: Qin Shi Huang becomes first emperor of unified China; an image of a man with a moustache and beard with a colorful hat and shirt is shown. 40-43 CE: Trung Trac and Trung Nhi fight Chinese domination of Vietnam; an image of a drawing of people on horses waging a battle with people on the ground is shown. 300 CE: Buddhism arrives in Southeast Asia. 595-647 CE: Queen Seondeok rules Silla in Korea; an ornate crown is shown. 604 CE: Prince Shotoku writes the Seventeen Article Constitution in Japan.
Figure 5.2 Timeline: Asia in Ancient Times. (credit “14,500 BCE”: modification of work “Dogū (Clay Figurine)” by The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975/Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public Domain; credit “1400 BCE”: modification of work “Shang Ox Bone Oracle Bone” by Gary Todd/Flickr, Public Domain; credit “268–232 BCE”: modification of work "King Asoka visits Ramagrama" by Anandajoti Bhikkhu/Flickr, CC BY 2.0; credit “247–221 BCE”: modification of work “A portrait painting of Qin Shi Huangdi, first emperor of the Qin dynasty” by Richard R. Wertz/18th century album of portraits of 86 emperors of China, with Chinese historical notes, British Library/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain; credit “40-43 CE”: modification of work “Hai ba trung Dong Ho painting” by “LuckyBirdie”/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain; credit “595–647 CE”: modification of work “Gold Crown of Silla Kingsom” by Gary Todd/Flickr, Public Domain)
A map of the world  is shown, land highlighted in white and water in blue.  A white line runs through the middle of the map. China is highlighted purple, India green, and Japan, Korea and Vietnam orange. The Middle east countries are pale yellow as well as the rest of Asia. The eastern steppe above China is colored blue.
Figure 5.3 Locator Map: Asia in Ancient Times. (credit: modification of work “World map blank shorelines” by Maciej Jaros/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Citation/Attribution

This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/world-history-volume-1/pages/1-introduction
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/world-history-volume-1/pages/1-introduction
Citation information

© Dec 13, 2023 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.