II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > A. Global and Comparative Dimensions > 2. The Growth of Civilizations, 2000–300 B.C.E.
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
2. The Growth of Civilizations, 2000–300 B.C.E.
 
Periodization of world history, after the formative period of agricultural civilizations, focuses mainly on the integration of larger regional units, based in turn on commercial, cultural, and political interactions. The stages of integration in the Eastern Hemisphere mark the main periods of ancient history from 2000 B.C.E. onward, culminating in the great classical empires. Subsidiary themes in periodization involve the main civilizations spreading influence and the major centers making commercial and cultural contacts from China to the Mediterranean.  1
 
a. The Creation of Regionally Unified Societies
 
The civilizations in the Eastern Hemisphere interacted with their surrounding societies through trade, conquest, and migrations of peoples. Civilizations grew from smaller temple- or city-states into regional empires. Egypt (See c. 3100–2686) was unified by 3100 B.C.E. by the conquests of Narmer, and the state remained concentrated in the Nile Valley during the Old Kingdom (to 2200 B.C.E.) and Middle Kingdom (c. 2100–1800 B.C.E.). In the New Kingdom (c. 1570–1050 B.C.E.), however, Egyptian rulers expanded into Southwest Asia, as well as farther south into East Africa. In Mesopotamia around 2350 B.C.E., Sargon I of Akkad conquered the city-states of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, creating a unified regional empire (See 2371–2190). His empire was short-lived but others followed, maintaining broader regional unity under increasingly large and better organized empires. In the Indus Valley (See South Asia, to 72 B.C.E.), the political structure is not clear from the surviving evidence, but the similarities of the great cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro indicate significant cultural uniformity if not political unity. However, this regional society declined and collapsed as a result of natural changes and disasters and nomadic invasions in 1600–1200 B.C.E. The regional civilization was replaced by a society dominated by ARYAN herding peoples. They established a society with regional cultural unity under temples and a priestly Brahman class by c. 800 B.C.E. but did not achieve political unity. SHANG rulers established a regional empire in northern China (c. 1800–1122 B.C.E.), and expansion into southern China continued under the early (western) Zhou dynasty (1122–c. 770 B.C.E.). Trade and movements of peoples also expanded the civilized lifestyle into new areas. The MINOAN CIVILIZATION (See c. 3000–2200) emerged on the island of Crete by c. 3000 B.C.E. as a result of contacts with Egypt and Mesopotamia. Its capital, Knossos, became the capital of a sea-based trade empire which brought civilization to the mainland of Greece and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.  2
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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