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Study Guide for First Exam – HIS 101: Western Civilization

Chapter 1

The basic division of prehistoric period – Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages

Neolithic Revolution – beginning of agriculture; domestication of animals

Mesopotamia – civilization dating back to about 3000 B.C.

The Sumerians – the earliest civilization

The Babylonians

Hammurabi’s code

Ancient Egypt

The Nile

Chronological scheme – the Old Kingdom / Middle Kingdom / New Kingdom

The Old Kingdom – began about 2700 B.C.


The Great Pyramids

The Middle Kingdom – began about 2000 B.C.

democratization of religion – Osiris and Isis (the afterlife)

The New Kingdom – began around 1550 B.C.


Indian Civilization

Indus culture

Two main sites – Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro

Vedic Aryan Civilization

Indo-European people

Vedas – textual source of Indian religious traditions

Upanishads – latest Vedic texts

Development of caste system

Should know at least two castes

Chinese Civilization

Shang Dynasty

Zhou Dynasty

Mandate of Heaven

Civilization in the Americas

Pacific Northwest and Mississippi Valley

Mesoamerica and Andean Region – emergence of strong long-lasting states

Chapter 2

Chinese philosophy


Confucius – The Analects


Mencius – men are essentially good

Xunzi – men are essentially bad


The Dao – the way


Strongly influenced by Xunzi

Indian religion

Hindu – originally meant someone “Indian”

Brahmanas – ritual application of the old Vedic texts

Shift to Upanishadic view – emphasis on knowledge over ritual

atman-Brahman – the principle of unchanging reality


karma – dharma – moksha

Jain Tradition

ahimsa – principle of non-injury


Siddhartha Gautama – the Buddha (Enlightened One)

The Middle Path

The Four Noble Truths




Hebrews to Jews

The Twelve Hebrew Tribes of Israel / The Land of Canaan

The Kingdom of David (established 1000 B.C.) – Jerusalem

King Solomon – The Temple and the Ark of the Covenant

Split into the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Israel destroyed by the Assyrians – 722/721 B.C.

Judah destroyed by the Chaldeans – 526 B.C.

The Babylonian Exile – Jews (remnant of the tribe of Judah)

Persians permit Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple


From tribal god to universal God

The covenant

Growing concern for social justice

Greek philosophy

Use of reason to understand the nature of things

Early philosophical inquiry

Heraclitus, Parmenides and Zeno

What we experience is in constant flux (an illusion)

The guiding principle (a deeper reality?) is fixed and
unchanging – the logos

Sophists – rhetoric

Critias – law is contrary to nature; how the strong control the weak

The big three

Socrates – the Socratic method

Plato – ideal forms

The allegory of the Cave

The philosopher-king

Aristotle – empiricism

Chapter 3

Minoan Crete

Ends in 1450 B.C.

Mycenaean Civilization – 1600 – 1100 B.C.

The city of Mycenae

Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey

The Greek City-State

The polis

The acropolis

The agora

New military system



Sparta – militaristic state


Athens – democracy
Solon and Cleisthenes

Persian War

First Persian attack led by Darius

Battle of Marathon – 490 B.C.

Xerxes leads an invasion in 480 B.C.

Battle of Thermopylae

Greeks decisively defeat the Persians

The Delian League – Athenian empire

The Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.)

Athens versus Sparta

Greek culture

Writing of history

Herodotus – Persian War

Thucydides – Peloponnesian War

Greek drama


Aeschylus and Sophocles – based on mythology

Euripides – concerned with individual psychology


Aristophanes – Lysistrata

The Hellenistic World

Philip II – Macedonians conquer Greece

Alexander the Great

334 B.C. – attacks the Persian Empire

Destroys the Persian Empire

323 B.C. – Alexander the Great dies at 33 years of age

Empire divided among his successors

Ptolemaic dynasty established in Egypt

Seleucid dynasty established in Mesopotamia

Hellenistic culture

Essentially Greek

New philosophies

Epicureanism – the highest good is happiness

Stoicism – happiness is achieved by living a virtuous life


Archimedes of Syracuse – the lever ad hydrostatics

Aristarchus of Samos – the heliocentric model

Ptolemy of Alexandria – the geocentric model