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Home > College Board Tests > AP: Subjects > World History > Topic Outline > Foundations: c. 8000 B.C.E.–600 C.E.

Foundations: c. 8000 B.C.E.–600 C.E.

Major Developments

  1. Locating world history in the environment and time
    1. Environment
      1. Interaction of geography and climate with the development of human society
      2. The environment as historical actor
      3. Demography: Major population changes resulting from human and environmental factors
    2. Time
      1. Periodization in early human history
      2. Nature and causes of changes associated with the time span
      3. Continuities and breaks within the time span
    3. Diverse Interpretations
      1. What are the issues involved in using "civilization" as an organizing principle in world history?
      2. What is the most common source of change: connection or diffusion versus independent invention?
      3. What was the effect of the Neolithic Revolution on gender relations?
  2. Developing agriculture and technology
    1. Agricultural, pastoral, and foraging societies, and their demographic characteristics (Include Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia)
    2. Emergence of agriculture and technological change
    3. Nature of village settlements
    4. Impact of agriculture on the environment
    5. Introduction of key stages of metal use
  3. Basic features of early civilizations in different environments: culture, state, and social structure.
    1. Mesopotamia
    2. Egypt
    3. Indus
    4. Shang
    5. Mesoamerica and Andean South America

    (Students should be able to compare two of the early civilizations above.)

  4. Classical civilizations
    1. Major political developments in China, India, and the Mediterranean
    2. Social and gender structures
    3. Major trading patterns within and among Classical civilizations; contacts with adjacent regions
    4. Arts, sciences, and technology
  5. Basic features of major world belief systems prior to 600 C.E. and where each belief system applied by 600 C.E.
    1. Polytheism
    2. Hinduism
    3. Judaism
    4. Confucianism
    5. Daoism
    6. Buddhism
    7. Christianity
  6. Late Classical period (200 C.E.–600 C.E.)
    1. Collapse of empires (Han China, loss of western portion of the Roman Empire, Gupta)
    2. Movements of peoples (Huns, Germans)
    3. Interregional networks by 600 C.E.: Trade and religious diffusion

Major Comparisons and Snapshots

  • Comparisons of the major religious and philosophical systems including some underlying similarities in cementing a social hierarchy, e.g., Hinduism contrasted with Confucianism
  • Compare the role of women in different belief systems—Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, and Hinduism
  • Understand how and why the collapse of empire was more severe in western Europe than it was in the eastern Mediterranean or in China
  • Compare the caste system to other systems of social inequality devised by early and classical civilizations, including slavery
  • Compare societies and cultures that include cities with pastoral and nomadic societies
  • Compare the development of traditions and institutions in major civilizations, e.g., Indian, Chinese, and Greek/Roman
  • Describe interregional trading systems, e.g., the Silk Roads

Examples of What You Need to Know

Below are examples of the types of information you are expected to know contrasted with examples of those things you are not expected to know for the multiple-choice section.

  • Nature of the Neolithic revolution, but not characteristics of previous stone ages, e.g., Paleolithic and Mesolithic
  • Economic and social results of the agricultural revolution, but not specific date of the introduction of agriculture to specific societies
  • Nature of patriarchal systems, but not changes in family structure within a single region
  • Importance of the introduction of bronze and iron, but not specific inventions or implements
  • Political heritage of classical China (emperor, bureaucracy), but not specific knowledge of dynastic transitions, e.g., from Qin to Han
  • Greek approaches to science and philosophy, including Aristotle, but not details about other specific philosophers
  • Diffusion of major religious systems, but not the specific regional forms of Buddhism or Aryan or Nestorian Christianity