AP World History Course Outline and Objectives



Unit I   Foundations  (August 6-September 5)


            A. The students will know:

1.      All basic features of world geography

a.       oceans

b.      seas

c.       continents

d.      major rivers and deserts

e.       major mountain rages and passes

f.        location of major kingdoms and civilizations

1)      Roman empire

2)      4 river valley civilizations

3)      Abbasid caliphate           

4)      Ghana and Nubia kingdoms

5)      Han and Tang Dynasties

6)      Byzantine empire

7)      Mayan, Inca and Aztec civilizations


2.      Structure and character of basic systems of economics

a.       Agricultural and Pastoral

b.      The impact of surplus and trade

c.       The impact of technology: bronze, iron, the plow, the stirrup

d.      The demographic and political tendencies of economic systems

1)      nomadic

2)      urbanization

3)      city-states


3.      The crises of Civilizations from the third to eight centuries

a.       the impact of migration

1)      the Huns

2)      Germanic tribes

3)      The Arabs

b.      the emergence of new empires and political systems

1)      Tang Dynasty

2)      Byzantine Empire

3)      European and Japanese feudalism

4)      Arab Caliphates


4.      Religious and Cultural systems

a.       Basic Tenets of world religions

1)      Buddhism

2)      Christianity

3)      Confucianism

4)      Taoism

5)      Hellenism

6)      Hinduism

7)      Islam

8)      Judaism

b.      The basic structures and legitimization of Social systems/hierarchies.

1)      Hindu and feudal caste systems

2)      Confucian social hierarchy

3)      Patriarchal family structures and their religious approbations


5. Primary cultural encounters between 700 and 1000

            a.   Buddhist, Christian, and Islamic missionary movements

            b.   Global trading patterns

                                                1)  Middle East

                                                2)  China

                                                3)  East European

                                                4)  Trans-Saharan

                                    c.   the role of nomadic groups in Central Asia

                                    d.   the impact of the Bantu migrations in Africa


6.  Issues relating to the historians craft

                                    a.   definition of and problems concerning the term “civilization.”

b.   connection and diffusion versus independent invention as

       agents of historical change



B.  Questions and Issues


1.  What are the ways in which the great world religions supported social hierarchies?


2.  How was the role of women different among adherents to Christianity, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Buddhism?


3.  What role did nomadic groups play in the fall of empires? What role did they play in the dissemination of culture and technology?


4.  Why was the collapse of empire in the west more severe than in the eastern Mediterranean and in China?


5.  In what ways are urban societies and cultures different from pastoral ones?


6.  How was the Indian political system different from the Chinese political system?  How were they similar?  How were the powers and authority of the Islamic caliphates different from that of the Roman Emperors?


7.  How was the trans-Saharan trading system similar to the Silk Road trading system?  How were they different?


8.  In the year 1000 where were the major political powers located?  Where were the major trade routes?



C.  Key Terms


hunting and gathering: means of obtaining subsistence by humans before the mastery of sedentary agriculture; normally typical of band social organization.


civilization: societies with reliance on sedentary agriculture, ability to produce food surpluses, and existence of nonfarming elites, along with merchant and manufacturing groups.


Paleolithic: the Old Stone Age ending in 12,000 B.C.E.; typified by use of evolving stone tools and hunting and gathering for subsistence.


Neolithic: the New Stone Age between 8000 and 5000 B.C.E.; period in which adaptation of sedentary agriculture occurred; domestication of plants and animals accomplished.


nomads: cattle- and sheep-herding societies normally found on the fringes of civilized societies; commonly referred to as "barbarian"  by civilized societies.


"savages": societies engaged in either hunting and gathering for subsistence or in migratory cultivation; not as stratified or specialized as civilized and nomadic societies.


culture: combinations of ideas, objects, and patterns of behavior that result from human social interaction.


band: a level of social organization normally consisting of between 20 and 30 people; nomadic hunters and gatherers; labor divided on a gender basis.


agrarian revolution: occurred between 8000 and 5000 B.C.E.; transition from hunting and gathering to sedentary agriculture.


matrilineal: family descent and inheritance traced through the female line.


pastoralism: a nomadic agricultural life-style based on herding domesticated animals; tended to produce independent people capable of challenging sedentary agricultural societies.


Huanghe or Yellow river basin: site of the development of sedentary agriculture in China.


Mesoamerica: Mexico and Central America; along with Peru, site of development of sedentary agriculture in western hemisphere.


Jericho: early walled urban culture based on sedentary  agriculture; located in modern Israel-occupied West Bank near Jordan river.


Bronze Age: from 4000 to 3000 B.C.E.; increased use of plow, metalworking; development of wheeled vehicles, writing.


Mesopotamia: literally "between the rivers"; the civilizations that arose in the alluvial plain of the Tigris‑Euphrates river valleys.


Sumerians: people who migrated into Mesopotamia ca. 4000 B.C.E.; created the first civilization within region; organized area into city‑states.


cuneiform: a form of writing developed by the Sumerians using a wedge‑shaped stylus and clay tablets.


city-state: a form of political organization typical of Mesopotamian civilization; consisted of agricultural hinterlands ruled by an urban‑based king.


Epic of Gilgamesh: the first literary epic; written down ca. 2000 B.C.E.; included story of the Great Flood.


ziggurats: massive towers usually associated with Mesopotamian temple connections.


animism: a religious outlook that recognizes gods in many aspects of nature and propitiates them to help control and explain nature; typical of Mesopotamian religions.


Hammurabi: the most important Babylonian ruler; responsible for codification of the law.


Aknenaton: Egyptian pharaoh of the New Kingdom; attempted to establish monotheistic religion replacing the traditional Egyptian pantheon of gods.


pyramids: monumental architecture typical of Old Kingdom Egypt; used as burial sites for pharaohs.


mummification: act of preserving the bodies of the dead; practiced in Egypt to preserve the body for enjoyment of the afterlife.


hieroglyphs: form of writing developed in ancient Egypt; more pictorial than Mesopotamian cuneiforrn.


patriarchate: societies in which women defer to men; societies run by men and based upon the assumption that men naturally directed political, economic, and cultural life.


Kush: African state that developed along the upper reaches of the Nile ca. 1000 B.C.E.; conquered Egypt and ruled it for several centuries.


Yahweh: the single god of the Hebrews; constructed a covenant with Jews as his chosen people.


monotheism: the exclusive worship of one god; introdueed by Jews into Middle Eastern civilization.


Minoans: a civilization that developed on Crete ca. 1600 B.C.E.; capital at the palace complex of Knossos.


Mycenae: the 1st civilization to emerge on the Greek mainland; destroyed ca. 1000 B.C.E.


Phoenicians: seafaring civilization located on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean; established colonies throughout the Mediterranean.


Hittites: an Indo‑European people who entered Mesopotamia ca. 1750 B.C.E.; destroyed the Babylonian Empire;  swept away ca. 1200 B.C.E.


Indus river valley: river flows from sources in the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea; location of Harappan civilization.


monsoons: seasonal winds crossing the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia; during the summer they bring rain.


Harappan civilization: first civilization of the Indian subcontinent; emerged in Indus river valley ca. 2500 B.C.E.


Aryans: Indo-European nomadic, warlike, pastoralists who replaced Harappan civilization.


Vedas: Aryan hymns originally transmitted orally; written down in sacred books from the 6th century B.C.E.


India: chief deity of the Aryans; depicted as a hard-drinking warrior.


caste system: rigid system of social classification introduced by Aryans.


varnas: clusters of caste groups; four social castes: brahmans (priests), warriors, merchants, peasants; beneath them were the untouchables.


polygamy: marriage practice in which one husband had several wives; present in Aryan society.


polyandry: marriage practice in which one woman had several husbands; recounted in Aryan epics.


patrilineal: social system in which descent and inheritance is passed through the male line; typical of Aryan society.


Huanghe river: river flowing from the Tibetan plateau to the China Sea; its valley was site of early Chinese sedentary agricultural communities.


extended families: consisted of several generations, including sons and grandsons of family patriarch and their families; typical of Shang China elites.


nuclear households: husband, wife, and their children, and perhaps a few other relatives; typical of Chinese peasantry.


oracles: shamans or priests in Chinese society who foretold the future through interpreting animal bones cracked by heat; inscriptions on bones led to Chinese writing.


Zhou: originally a vassal family of the Shang; possibly Turkic in origin; overthrew Shang and established 2nd Chinese dynasty.


feudalism: social organization created by exchanging grants of land (fiefs) in return for formal oaths of allegiance and promises of loyal service; typical of Zhou dynasty.


Mandate of Heaven: the divine source of political legitimacy in China; established under Zhou to justify overthrow of Shang.


Aryans: Indo-European invaders of the Indus valley civilization.


chichimecs: American hunting and gathering groups; largely responsible for the disruption of early civilization in Mesoamerica.


shifting cultivation: an intermediate form of ecological adaptation in which temporary forms of cultivation are carried out with limited impact on the natural ecology.


slash-and-burn farming: a system of cultivation typical of shifting cultivators; vegetation cleared by fire and land planted.


pastoral nomads: an intermediate form of ecological adaptation dependent on domesticated animal herds that feed on natural environment; supports larger population than shifting cultivation.


Hsiung-nu: also known as Huns; horse nomads responsible for disruption of Chinese, Gupta, and Roman civilizations.


shamans: religious experts among the nomads.


silk route: the most famous of the trading routes established by pastoral nomads connecting European, Indian, and Chinese civilizations; transmitted goods and ideas.