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HIST101: Ancient Civilizations of the World

Unit 3: Early Civilizations in South and East Asia   Like the ancient Middle East, civilizations in South and East Asia first developed near great river systems.  The Harappan civilization of the Indus River valley developed in the middle of the third millennium B.C.E.—approximately at the same time as the river civilizations of the Middle East.  But Harappa was unable to survive natural catastrophes and nomadic incursions and disintegrated as a civilization between 1500 and 1200 B.C.E.  In East Asia, however, the Shang civilization served as the foundation of a new and unified civilization—the Zhou dynasty—that endured for millennia. 
In this unit, we will examine the emergence and decline of these important early civilizations in Asia.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 8 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: 5 hours

☐    Unit 3 Assessment: 0.5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Describe the relationship between geographical features and developments of early civilizations in South and East Asia. - Assess the political, social, and cultural legacies of the Harappan civilization. - Describe the social and religious structures of Aryan society. - Trace the characteristics, development, and fall of the Shang and Zhou dynasties in early China.

3.1 The Indus River Valley   - Reading: Jack E. Maxfield’s A Comprehensive Outline of World History: “The Indian Subcontinent, 3000-1500 B.C.” and “The Indian Subcontinent, 1500-1000 B.C.” Link: Jack E. Maxfield’s A Comprehensive Outline of World History: “The Indian Subcontinent, 3000-1500 B.C.”, “The Indian Subcontinent, 1500-1000 B.C.” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the articles and sections specified in order to get a sense of both the Harappan and Aryan cultures that developed on the Indian subcontinent.  PDF and EPUB downloads are available at the bottom of the page.
 
About the Link: This online text was developed by Jack E. Maxfield for use in World History courses and is now part of the Community College Open Textbook initiative.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Indus Valley Civilization” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Indus Valley Civilization” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please read the entirety of “Indus Valley Civilization” to get a sense of the earliest settlements and cities of the Indus River Valley.

  • Reading: California State University-Chico: Chad Greenwood’s “Economics of the Indus Valley Civilization” Link: California State University-Chico: Chad Greenwood’s “Economics of the Indus Valley Civilization” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to get a good overview of the economy of the ancient Indus Valley civilization.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.1 New Civilization in the Indus Valley: Harappa   - Reading: The World History Project: Professor R. A. Guisepi’s “The Indus Valley and the Genesis of South Asian Civilization” Link: The World History Project: Professor R. A. Guisepi’s “The Indus Valley and the Genesis of South Asian Civilization” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article to get a sense of the sophisticated Harappan culture.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.2 Aryan Society and Religion   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Aryan Society and Religion” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Aryan Society and Religion” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the above linked page.

3.2 Early Chinese Civilization   - Reading: University of North Carolina-Pembroke: Robert W. Brown’s “Lecture Notes: Early Indian and Chinese Civilizations” Link: University of North Carolina-Pembroke: Robert W. Brown’s “Lecture Notes: Early Indian and Chinese Civilizations” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please scroll down on the webpage to the section entitled “Early Chinese Civilization.”  Read the entirety of this entry to get a good overview of the important features of early Chinese civilization.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Ancient China” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Ancient China” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please “Ancient China” to get a sense of the material culture of Neolithic, Shang, and Zhou China.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Ancient Dynasties: China’s Prehistory” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Ancient Dynasties: China’s Prehistory” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please read “The Ancient Dynasties” for a overview of the earliest Chinese civilizations: the Yellow River cultures, the Shang, and the Zhou.

3.2.1 Shang Society and Culture   - Reading: Stanford Program on International and Cross-cultural Education: Selena Lai and Waka Takahashi Brown, “The Shang Dynasty, 1600-1050 BCE” Link: Stanford Program on International and Cross-cultural Education: Selena Lai and Waka Takahashi Brown, “The Shang Dynasty, 1600-1050 BCE (HTML and PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage for a good overview of Shang culture, economy, and society.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Shang Society and Shang Culture” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Shang Society and Shang Culture” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please read “Shang Society and Shang Culture” about the unique characteristics of the Shang civilization in early China. 

3.2.2 Zhou (Chou) Feudalism and Cultural Change   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Zhou Dynasty” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Zhou Dynasty” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read “The Zhou Dynasty” for an overview of the history of the Zhou dynasty.  Pay special attention to the reasons why this Eastern Zhou period is described as the “shaping period” of Chinese culture. 

  • Assessment: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: The Global Experience, “Chapter 3, Multiple Choice Quiz” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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