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Still updating as of April 2016. Designed for AP Exam review over all units. Some are high priority, while many are just nice-to-know examples. There are many repeated terms. Please post any errors or duplicates you find so I can fix them. Enjoy!


A region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that developed the first urban societies. In the Bronze Age this area included Sumer and the Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires, In the Iron Age, it was ruled by the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires.

Fertile Crescent

The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers gave life to the first known agricultural villages in this area about 10,000 years ago and the first known cities about 5,000 years ago. Includes Mesopotamia, Palestine, and the Nile.


A temple tower of ancient Mesopotamia, constructed of square or rectangular terraces of diminishing size, usually with a shrine made of blue enamel bricks on the top


A pictorial symbol or sign representing an object or concept. Used by many non-alphabetic written scripts.


The earliest known form of writing, which was used by the Sumerians. The name derives from the wedge shaped marks made with a stylus into soft clay. Used from the 3000s BCE to the 100s BCE.


A character or figure in a writing system in which the idea of a thing is represented rather than it's name (example: Chinese)


The world's first civilization, founded in Mesopotamia, which existed for over 3,000 years.


A legendary Chinese dynasty that was not believed to exist until relatively recently. Walled towns ruled by area-specific kings assembled armies, built cities, and worked bronze. Created pictograms which would evolve in to the first Chinese script.


An early Chinese dynasty. Not a unified Chinese state. Instead rulers and their relatives gave orders through a network of cities. Earliest evidence of Chinese writing comes from this period.


Succeeded the Shang dynasty. Similar to the Shang And Xia dynastic periods in that China was fragmented politically. Yet, despite the lack of true centralization, this was one of the longest Chinese dynasties, lasting about 600 years. It left substantial written records, unlike the preceding dynasties.

Yellow River

Also known as the Huang-He. The second longest river in China. The majority of ancient Chinese civilizations originated in its valley.

Oracle Bones

The earliest known Chinese writing is found on these from ritual activity of the Shang period.


A large central city in the Mesoamerican region. Located about 25 miles Northeast of present day Mexico City. Exhibited city planning and unprecedented size for its time. Reached its peak around the year 450.


One of the first urbanized centers in western Africa. A walled community home to approximately 50,000 people at its height. Evidence suggests domestication of agriculture and trade with nearby regions.

Great Zimbabwe

A stone-walled enclosure found in Southeast Africa. Have been associated with trade, farming, and mining.

Code of Hammurabi

A collection of 282 laws. One of the first (but not THE first) examples of written law in the ancient world.


An ancient Anatolian group whose empire at largest extent consisted of most of the Middle East. Some of the first two-wheeled chariots and iron.


One of the first monotheistic religions, particularly one with a wide following. It was central to the political and religious culture of ancient Persia.


The founder of Persia's classical pre-Islamic religion, Zoroastrianism.


Of or influenced by the Greek Empire. A type of culture typically referred to after the conquests of Alexander the Great.


Greek ships built specifically for ramming enemy ships.


One of the early proto-Greek peoples from 2600 BCE to 1500 BCE. Inhabitants of the island of Crete. Their site of Knossos is pictured above.


Greek for "high city". The chief temples of the city were located here.


Socrates' most well known pupil. Founded an academy in Athens.

Pax Romana

The "Roman Peace", that is, the state of comparative concord prevailing within the boundaries of the Roman Empire from the reign of Augustus (27 B.C.E.-14 C.E.) to that of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 C.E.)


A state that is not ruled by a hereditary leader (a monarchy) but by a person or persons appointed under a constitution and in some way claims to be "of the people."


The smallest unit of the Roman army, each composed of some 100 foot soldiers and commanded by a centurion. A legion was made up of 60 of these. They also formed political divisions of Roman citizens.


Under the Roman Republic, one of the two magistrates holding supreme civil and military authority. Nominated by the Senate and elected by citizens in the Comitia Centuriata, the consuls held office for one year and each had power of veto over the other.


The land-owning noblemen in Ancient Rome


All non-land-owning, free men in Ancient Rome


the head of the family or household in Roman law -always male- and the only member to have full legal rights. This person had absolute power over his family, which extended to life and death.

Twelve Tables

Completed in 449 BCE, these civil laws developed by the Roman Republic following demands by plebeians.


An unofficial coalition between Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus was formed in 60 B.C.E. Eventually results in civil war that brings down the republic and results in the Roman Empire.


The supporters of a doctrine in the early Christian Church that held that the incarnate Christ possessed a single, wholly divine nature. they opposed the orthodox view that Christ had a double nature, one divine and one human, and emphasized his divinity at the expense of his capacity to experience real human suffering.

Julius Caesar

Part of the first triumvirate who eventually became "emperor for life". Chose not to conquer Germany. Was assassinated by fellow senators in 44 B.C.E.


Part of the second triumvirate whom the power eventually shifted to. Assumed the name Augustus Caesar, and became emperor. Was the end of the Roman Republic and the start of the Pax Romana.


Roman emperor of 284 C.E. Attempted to deal with fall of Roman Empire by splitting the empire into two regions run by co-emperors. Also brought armies back under imperial control, and attempted to deal with the economic problems by strengthening the imperial currency, forcing a budget on the government, and capping prices to deal with inflation. Civil war erupted upon his retirement.

Bread and Circuses

A Roman bribery method of coping with class difference. Entertainment and food was offered to keep plebeians quiet without actually solving unemployment problems.


An array of Germanic peoples, pushed further westward by nomads from central Asia. They in turn migrated west into Rome, upsetting the rough balance of power that existed between Rome and these people.


A school of Chinese philosophy. Prominent during Warring States Period. Had great influence on the policies of the Qin dynasty. Based on a pessimistic view of human nature. Social harmony could only be attained through strong government control and the imposition of strict laws, enforced absolutely.


The process by which people are gradually absorbed and integrated into another culture.


large nomadic group from northern Asia who invaded territories extending from China to Eastern Europe. They virtually lived on their horses, herding cattle, sheep, and horses as well as hunting.


Continuing the imperial revival started by the Sui Dynasty this dynasty that followed restored the Chinese imperial impulse four centuries after the decline of the Han, extending control along the silk route. Trade flourished and China finally reached its western limits when its forces were defeated by the imperial armies of the Muslim Abbasid Empire at the Talas River--which stopped future expansion by both empires.

Yellow Turban Revolt

A 184 C.E. peasant revolt against emperor Ling of Han. Led by Daoists who proclaimed that a new era would be3ing with the fall of the Han. Although this specific revolt was suppressed, it triggered a continuous string of additional outbreaks.

Liu Bang

First emperor of the Han dynasty under which a new social and political hierarchy emerged. Scholars were on top, followed by farmers, artisans, and merchants. He chose his ministers from educated men with Confucian principals.


immigrants who arrived at the Ganges river valley by the year 1000 BC


compilations of hymns, religious reflections, and Aryan conquests


the longest single poem in the world, about a war fought between two branches of the same family. One of India's greatest epics written between 1000 and 700 BC


Political units in India in the years 700-600 BC. They are the major realms or kingdoms of Vedic (Iron Age) India. They are the earliest kingdoms set up by the Indo-Aryans migrants to India.


Pre-industiral associations of businessmen and producers two work for their collective interest.


the fulfillment of one's social and religious duties in Hinduism


The famous ancient Indian book on statecraft, economic policy, and military strategy. Written by Kautilya.

Siddhartha Gautama

The prince who is said to have founded Buddhism.


One of the worlds oldest religious texts. It is a book composed by Vedic Brahman priests that contains hymns and Sanskrit poetry.

Caste system

India's traditional social hierarchy.


the cycle of life and rebirth in Hinduism


Within several Indian religious this is the peace of mind that comes from ending the cycle of rebirth. For some it is from overcoming suffering while for others it comes from joining with Brahman.

Four Noble Truths

1. Suffering is always present in life
2. Desire is the cause of suffering
3. Freedom from suffering can be achieved in nirvana
4. The Eightfold Path leads to nirvana


The name of the more mystical and larger of the two main Buddhist sects. This one originated in India in the 400s CE and gradually found its way north to the Silk road and into Central and East Asia.


An ancient religion of India with a small following today of only about 10 million followers. Originated in the 800s BCE. They prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice rely mainly on self-effort to progress the soul up the spiritual ladder to divine consciousness. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called jina (Conqueror or Victor).

Silk Road

Connected China, India, and the Middle East. Traded goods and helped to spread culture.

Empress Wu

the only woman to rule China in her own name, expanded the empire and supported Buddhism during the Tang Dynasty.


The repetition of mystic incantations in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Mentuhotep I

Egyptian pharaoh who founded the Middle Kingdom by REUNITING Upper and Lower Egypt in 2134 BCE.


Mesoamerican civilization in lower Mexico around 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE focused. Most remembered for their large stone heads.


Never an empire but an extensive and culturally advanced Mesoamerican society with many cities in the Yucatan.


South American civilization famous for its massive aerial-viewable formations


The agressive Mesopotamian empire created after an Assyrian resurgence, which initiated a series of conquests until a combined attack by Medes and Babylon defeated them resulting in the Persian Empire.


Sea-faring Greek kingdom. A major center of Greek Civilization in the 1000s BCE, centuries before Greek's "Golden Age" of Athenian influence. It's center was located about 90 km southwest of Athens.

Persian Empire

Mesopotamian empire that conquered the existing Median, Lydian, and Babylonian empires, as well as Egypt and many others. Also known as the Achaemenid Empire.


Form of government in which power is centralized into a local city-state.


Early Greek leader who brought democratic reforms such as his formation of the Council of Four Hundred


Ruler of Athens who zealously sought to spread Athenian democracy through imperial force

Peloponnesian War

Conflict between Athens and Sparta


Area between the Greek and Slavic regions; conquered Greece and Mesopotamia under the leadership of Philip II and Alexander the Great

Philip II

Macedonian king who sought to unite Greece under his banner until his death or murder. He was succeeded by his son Alexander.


His ideas on science influenced Muslim and European scholars from Roman times until the Scientific Revolution. He was a Greco-Roman writer famous as a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet. He lived in the city of Alexandria in the Roman province of Egypt, wrote in Greek, and held Roman citizenship.


1st unified imperial Chinese dynasty


"Way of the Kami"; Japanese worship of nature spirits


Incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu made famous in the Ramayana


Means "Enlightened One." He is said to have renounced his worldly possessions and taught of a way to overcome suffering.

Apostle Paul

The man who was instrumental in its spreading Christianity beyond its early Jewish roots, particularly to the Greeks.

Epic of Gilgamesh

An epic poem from Mesopotamia, and among the earliest known works of literary writing.


designating or pertaining to a pictographic script, particularly that of the ancient Egyptians, in which many of the symbols are conventionalized, recognizable pictures of the things represented


leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.


A citizen-soldier of the Ancient Greek City-states. They were primarily armed as spear-men.


Opposing or even destroying images, especially those set up for religious veneration in the belief that such images represent idol worship.


any group migration or flight from a country or region; dispersion. Particularly used in relation to Jews scattered by Romans in 70 CE or to Africans spread to new places during the Atlantic Slave Trade.


Political realism or practical politics, especially policy based on power rather than on ideals.


An ancient Greek philosophy that became popular amongst many notable Romans. Emphasis on ethics. They considered destructive emotions to be the result of errors in judgment, and that a wise person would repress emotions, especially negative ones and that "virtue is sufficient for happiness." They were also concerned with the conflict between free will and determinism. They were also non-dualists and naturalists.


A province and/or the title of a client kings of the Persian Empire. Based on the system where conquered territory would maintain much of their identity and sovereignty within the Persian Empire.


a religion, originated in India by Buddha (Gautama) and later spreading to China, Burma, Japan, Tibet, and parts of southeast Asia, holding that life is full of suffering caused by desire and that the way to end this suffering is through enlightenment that enables one to halt the endless sequence of births and deaths to which one is otherwise subject.

Mandate of Heaven

A political theory developed during the Zhou Dynasty of ancient China in which those in power were believed to have the the right to rule from divine authority.


an Indo-European, Indic language, in use since c1200 b.c. as the religious and classical literary language of India.


The spread of ideas, objects, or traits from one culture to another


The extension of political rule by one people over other, different peoples. First done by Sargon of Akkad to the Sumerian city states.


Created the Persian Empire by defeating the Medes, Lydians, and Babylonians; was known for his allowance of existing governments to continue governing under his name


The third king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. He ruled the empire at its peak. He organized the empire by dividing it into provinces and placing satraps to govern it. He organized a new uniform money system, along with making Aramaic the official language of the empire. He also worked on construction projects throughout the empire.

Alexander the Great

King of Macedonia who conquered Greece, Egypt, and Persia


City founded as the second capital of the Roman Empire; later became the capital of the Byzantine Empire


Chinese ethical and philosophical teachings of Confucius which emphasized education, family, peace, and justice


Philosophy that teaches that everything should be left to the natural order; rejects many of the Confucian ideas but coexisted with Confucianism in China

Babylonian Empire

Empire in Mesopotamia which was formed by Hammurabi, the sixth ruler of the invading Amorites

Delian League

Alliance between Athens and many of its allied cities following the first attempted invasion of Perisa into Greece. Caused a lot of wealth to flow into Athens and thus contributed to the Athenian "golden age."


This city has existed for nearly 3,000 years, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC into the capital of the Carthaginian Empire. The expanding Roman Republic took control of many of its outposts after the two Punic Wars.


Roman emperor who adopted Christianity for the Roman Empire and who founded Constantinople as a second capital

Byzantine Empire

Eastern half of the Roman Empire that survived the fall of the Western half.


The collection of Jewish rabbinic discussion pertaining to law, ethics, and tradition consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara.

Warring States Period

the period from 475 BC until the unification of China under the Qin dynasty, characterized by lack of centralized government in China. It followed the Zhou dynasty.


Emperor of the Roman Empire who made Christianity the official religion of the empire.


the movement of people to Urban areas in search of work.

Wheel of Life

An important symbol of Buddhism. It represents the endless cycle of life through reincarnation.

Tao-te Ching

the central text of Daoism.

Zhou dynasty

the longest lasting Chinese dynasty, during which the use of iron was introduced.


The most significant pre-Columbian Mesoamerican city.


a term for the books of the Bible that make up the Hebrew canon.


The theologians and legal experts of Islam. Best known as the arbiters of sharia law.


The collective community of Islamic peoples, which is thought to transcend ethnic and political boundaries.


a portable dwelling used by the nomadic people of Centa Asia such as Mongols, consisting of a tentlike structure of skin, felt or hand-woven textiles arranged over wooden poles.


The greatest of the Mughald Emperors. Second half of 1500s. Descendant of Timur. Consolidated power over northern India. Religiously tolerant. Patron of arts, including large mural paintings.


The _________ Empire that ruled Persia (Iran) between 1502-1736.


Poll tax that non-Muslims had to pay when living within a Muslim empire


The unification or blending of opposing people, ideas, or practices, frequently in the realm of religion. For example, when Christianity was adopted by people in a new land, they often incorporate it into their existing culture and traditions.


A member of a religious community founded in the Punjab region of India. Developed in the 15th century. They believe in One Immortal Being and the teachings of ten Gurus, starting with Guru Nanak.


Persian capital from the 16th to 18th centuries under the Safavid Empire. Still a major cultural center of Iran today.


A large and wealthy city that was the imperial capital of the Byzantine empire and later the Ottoman empire, now known as Istanbul


A new racial concept that develops in Latin America following the intermixing that occurred between European colonists and the native American population.

Divine Right of Kings

Doctrine that states that the right of ruling comes from God and not people's consent

Glorious Revolution

Following the English Civil War, this event involve the British Parliament once again overthrowing their monarch in 1688-1689. James II was expelled and William and Mary were made king and queen. Marks the point at which Parliament made the monarchy powerless, gave themselves all the power, and wrote a bill of Rights. The whole thing was relatively peaceful and thus glorious.

King Charles I

The English monarch who was beheaded by Puritans (see English Civil War) who then established their own short-lived government ruled by Oliver Cromwell (1650s).

Tennis Court Oath

A pledge signed by all but one of the members of the Third Estate in France. Marks the first time the French formally opposed Louis XVI.


A social class that derives social and economic power from employment, education, and wealth, as opposed to the inherited power of aristocratic family of titled land owners or feudal privileges. It's a term for the middle class common in the 19th century. It's characterized by their ownership of property and their related culture.


German astronomer and mathematician of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, known as the founder of celestial mechanics

John Locke

17th century English philosopher who opposed the Divine Right of Kings and who asserted that people have a natural right to life, liberty, and property.


A popular English playwright and poet in the 16th century.


A popular Enlightenment era belief that there is a God, but that God isn't involved in people's lives or in revealing truths to prophets.

95 Theses

It was nailed to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517 and is widely seen as being the catalyst that started the Protestant Reformation. It contained Luther's list of accusations against the Roman Catholic Church.


Within the Catholic Church, this is the remission punishment for ones sins. Such as for a sin that has already been forgiven by God but which still carries with it some kind of punishment. Centuries ago the Church would sell certificates that would get a person out of purgatory. This practice contributed to the Protestant reformation.

Bartholomew Dias

Portuguese navigator that discovered the Cape of Good Hope in Southern Afica.


The Spanish conqueror of Mexico.


A labor system set up by the Spanish government where Spanish colonists could work the native Americans on their land while compensating them and agreeing to educate some of them and teach them about Christianity. The system was meant to curb exploitation but actually made the exploitation of Native Americans worse.


When colonists were allowed to use Indians for forced labor in colonial South America as a form of taxation. The Inca had previously used a similar practice.


Spanish estates in the Americas that were often plantations. They often represent the gradual removal of land from peasant ownership and a type of feudalistic order where the owners of Haciendas would have agreements of loyalty to the capital but would retain control over the actual land. This continued even into the 20th century.


Economic policy common to many absolute monarchies. Government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the military security of the country. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade and desires new sources of gold and silver bullion, thus fueling more colonialism.

Laissez Faire

The belief that the government shouldn't intervene much in the economy and should instead let the people do what they want with their property.


Economic system with private and corporate ownership of property and competitive markets. However, since its origins in the 18th and 19th century it was also often correlated to large-scale collusion between governments and private industries such as through establishing royal charters, copyrights and patents, corporate law, and eventually even subsidies of taxpayer money to private industries.


A modern concept of a government that controls an area and represents the people of that area, often idealized as a homogeneous people that share a common language and feeling of nationality.

Leonardo da Vinci

A well known Italian Renaissance artist, architect, musician, mathemetician, engineer, and scientist. Known for the Mona Lisa.


A French Protestant