NYSED Global History and Geography Online Resource Guide

Unit 1


Core Curriculum

Essential Questions

Focus Questions



Helpful Hints

Resources for Teachers


Learning Experience(s)


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C.Classical civilizations

  1. Chinese civilization
    1. Human and physical geography
    2. Chinese contributions (engineering, tools, writing, silk, bronzes, government system)
    3. Dynastic cycles
    4. Mandate of Heaven
  2. Greek civilization
    1. Human and physical geography
    2. The rise of city-states—Athens/Sparta
    3. Contributions: art, architecture, philosophy, science—Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and Plotemy
    4. Growth of democracy in Athens versus the Spartan political system
    5. Alexander the Great and Hellenistic culture—cultural diffusion
  3. Roman Republic
    1. Human and physical geography
    2. Contributions—law (Twelve Tables), architecture, literature, roads, bridges
  4. Indian (Maurya) Empire
    1. Human and physical geography (monsoons)
    2. Contributions—government system
  5. Rise of agrarian civilizations in Mesoamerica—Mayan (200 BC -900 AD)
    1. Human and physical geography
    2. Contributions (mathematics, astronomy, science, arts, architecture, and technology)
    3. Role of maize
    4. Religion
  6. The status and role of women in classical civilizations
  7. The growth of global trade routes in classical civilizations
    1. Phoenician trade routes
    2. Maritime and overland trade routes
      1. Linking Africa and Eurasia
      2. Linking China, Korea, and Japan

Focus Questions

  • What makes a civilization “classical?” What were the contributions of classical civilizations to human history?
  • What was the status and role of women in the classical civilizations?
  • How do the geography and climate of an area influence the success or failure of a civilization?
  • How did geography affect the rise of city-states in Greece and the rise of the Roman Empire?
  • What impact did the monsoons have on the historic and economic development of the Sub-Continent?
  • How did the institution of slavery fit within the Athenian concept of democracy?
  • What forces caused the rise and fall of these classical civilizations?
  • How are contemporary democratic governments rooted in classical traditions?
  • What impact did Greek civilization have over time?
  • Why did the Chinese define their history in terms of dynastic cycles?
  • How did agriculture begin in the Americas? What were the earliest crops? How did the Mayan civilization and its subsequent decline compare to the river valley and classical civilizations of Afro-Eurasia?
  • Do the Mayans exist today?

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agora meritocracy
architecture monsoons
bronze age Olmec
caste patrician
city-states plebeian
classical polis
cultural diffusion pyramid
democracy republic
dynastic cycles senate
emperor slash and burn agriculture
Golden Age slavery
glyphs Socratic method
Hellenism stelae
maize temple
Mandate of Heaven terrace farming
maritime/overland trade routes triumvirate
Maya Twelve Tables

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Helpful Hints

  • Basic research on the different areas of classical civilizations can begin through text work, films (Art of the Western World series, by Michael Wood), and the Internet. Comparisons can then be made according to the criteria of what a classical civilization is. These criteria should be explored as a follow-up to the criteria for distinguishing a civilization from a culture (most likely done earlier).
  • Emphasis could be placed on the effect of geography and climate in the development of these areas, and how these factors made them strong civilizations. The essential question, How do physical and human geography affect people, places and regions? is important. Use maps to illustrate these points.
  • Government is another strong theme, with the introduction of democracy in Greece and the Roman Republic. Look at documents illustrating government systems. How do they compare with present-day governments around the world?
  • Where appropriate, compare earlier law codes, such as Hammurabi's Code and the Ten Commandments.
  • The introduction of the Mayas helps students appreciate that there were cultures and civilization in the Americas that date back before 1492.
  • Emphasis should be placed on appreciating the complexity of an indigenous culture prior to the encounter.

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Resources for Teachers (Books/Articles, Visuals/Music)

Antoniou, Jim. 1999. Cities Then and Now. New York: Book Sales, Inc.

Ehret, Christopher. 1998. An African Classical Age: Eastern and Southern Africa in World History, 1000 B.C. to A.D. 400. 1998. Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia.

Freeman, Charles. 1999. The Greek Achievement: The Foundation of the Western World. New York: Viking.

Gallenkamp, Charles. 1985. Maya: The Riddle and Rediscovery of a Lost Civilization. 3rd ed. New York: Viking Penguin, Inc.

Grant, Michael. 1987. The World of Rome. New York: Meridian.

Grant, Michael. 1991. Founders of the Western World. New York: Scribner Maxwell Macmillian International.

Grousset, Rene. Transl. Naomi Walford, 1970. The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Henderson, John S. 1981. The World of the Ancient Maya. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Isichei, Elizabeth. 1997. A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kitto. H.D.F. 1957. The Greeks. Baltimore: Penguin Books.

Mann, Charles C. 2005. 1491:  New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf.

McNeill, William. 1991. The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, with Retrospective Essay. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Martin, Thomas R. 1997. Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Mumford, Lewis. 1961. The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformation, and Its Prospects. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.

Shirokauer, Conrad. 2005. A Brief History of Chinese Civilization. New York: City University of New York.

Schirokauer, Conrad. 1978. A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Smith, Bonnie, ed.2004-05. Women's History in Global Perspective. Champaign, Ill: University of Illinois Press.

Time-Life. 1997. What Rome Was Like When Rome Ruled the World: the Roman Empire 100 B.C.-A.D. 100. Alexandria: Time Life books.

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Learning Experience(s)

Roman Coins
Live from Antiquity
Who Were the Ancient Maya? Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3, Handout 4, Handout 5, Handout 6

Available in PDF, HTML, WORD

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Editor's Note: All state examinations are aligned to the New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies and Social Studies Resource Guide with Core Curriculum. The chart below specifies where these alignments have occurred (from June 2000 to the present).

Core Curriculum: Global History and
Geography Regents:
  1. Greek Civilization
    1. Alexander the Great and Hellenistic culture— cultural diffusion

January 2004 DBQ, Change (Individuals Who Have Changed History)

  1. Roman Republic

January 2007 Thematic, Human Rights Violations

  1. Indian (Maurya) Empire

January 2002 Thematic, Geography

  1. The status and role of women in classical civilizations

August 2001 DBQ, Role of Women

  1. The growth of global trade routes in classical civilizations
    1. Phoenician trade routes
    2. Silk Road
    3. Maritime and overland trade routes
      1. Linking Africa and Eurasia
      2. Linking China, Korea, and Japan

August 2006 Thematic, Movement of People and Goods: Trade

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