Regents Prep: Global History: Golden Ages

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Regents Prep: Global History: Golden Ages:

A time in a culture of high achievement in arts, literature, and science. Generally occurs in times of peace.


Throughout history, different civilizations have contributed to the cultural and intellectual life of humanity.  These periods are often called Golden Ages, as society enjoys not only cultural and intellectual achievements, but also stable government and a strong economy.

In Asia, China experienced several periods of achievement, with the Han Period qualifying as a true Golden Age.  Japan also achieved greatness in these areas, under the strong leadership of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

The rise of Islam gave way to an empire stretching across three continents.  Contributions in the areas of math, science, art, and  literature influenced many different peoples, including the African Trading Kingdoms and later, the Europeans during the Renaissance.

In Europe, several civilizations contributed cultural and intellectual achievements.  The Greeks under both Pericles of Athens, and Alexander the Great during the Hellenistic period, excelled in areas such as art, architecture, math, and science.  The Romans enjoyed a 200 year long peace that enabled some of the greatest achievements in human history.   The rebirth of cultural and intellectual life during the Renaissance, and later the Enlightenment, would be strongly influenced by both the Greeks and the Romans.

Regents Prep: Global History: Golden Ages:
Pax Romana

The Roman Republic was founded in 509 BCE.  The government was run by elected officials called Senators, who were chosen from the upper class called Patricians.  The lower class, Plebeians, made up the majority of the population and were generally farmers, artisans, and merchants.

By 270 BCE, Rome controlled all of Italy.  They also soon conquered Carthage, Macedonia, Greece, and parts of Asia Minor. This expansion led to civil war and the end of the Republic when Julius Caesar took power in 48 BCE.  After his murder, Caesar's grandnephew, Augustus, became Emperor.  This began a 200 year long peace called the Pax Romana.  The Pax Romana became a time of cultural and intellectual achievements for Rome.

Rome's greatest achievement was its system of laws. Some of the features of this system include, men being equal under the law, having the right to face their accusers, and being considered innocent until proven guilty.  Later, these laws were written down and named the Laws of the Twelve Tables.  Many aspects of this system of justice survive today in law codes around the world.

Art & Architecture
Roman art and architecture is a blending of Greek and Roman elements.  In art, Rome copied many Greek statues, but also produced a more realistic style of portraiture art instead of the idealized forms favored by the Greeks. In architecture, Rome used Greek columns, but modified them to be more elaborate, as well as using the arch and dome quite extensively, something the Greeks did not do.  An example of Roman use of arches and domes can be seen in the Pantheon.

The Romans built engineering marvels across their empire, such as
roads, harbors, and bridges. They were well known for the building of aqueducts, which were bridge like structures used to carry fresh water across long distances. In Segovia, Spain the Roman aqueduct still functions today.

Science and Medicine
As with
Hellenistic civilization, Alexandria, Egypt remained a center of learning under the Romans. In Roman controlled Alexandria, the astronomer - mathematician Ptolemy proposed that the earth was the center of the universe.  The geocentric model offered by Ptolemy was the accepted view until Copernicus offered the heliocentric, or sun centered theory of the universe. In medicine, the Greek physician Galen compiled an encyclopedia that became the standard medical text until the Islamic doctor Ibn Sina wrote his Canon on Medicine.

Regents Prep: Global History: Golden Ages:

Ancient Greek and Hellenistic cultural achievements span two different eras.  The Ancient Greek golden age occurs under the leadership of Pericles in the 5th century BCE.  These achievements were mainly confined to the city-state of Athens, where a strong economy and good government created the conditions necessary for such advancements.

The Hellenistic golden age occurs under the leadership of Alexander the Great, who conquered an empire stretching from the Greek mainland all the way to the Indus River Valley.  Hellenistic society was a blending of Greek, Egyptian, Persian, and many other cultures that gave rise to advancements in math, science, art, and literature.

The Ancient Greeks were the first to use democracy as a form of government.  Under Pericles, male citizens in Athens participated in the daily running of government.  This form of direct democracy excluded all non-citizens, such as women and slavesToday, many governments around the world practice some form of democracy.

philosophers, or "lovers of wisdom," used observation and reason to study the world around them.  This spirit of inquiry led to advancements in the arts and sciences, as well as examining the best form of government for men to live under.  Famous philosophers include Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

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Socratic Method of questioning as a learning tool.

Wrote The Republic 
Favored a strong, controlling government

Developed ideas on government
Favored the one strong and wise rule as best form.

Considered to be first western philosopher

Society has three classes: Philosophers, Soldiers, and Workers

Human Reason was the key to learning

Early Greek literature was in the form of
plays developed for religious ceremonies. Famous writers, such as Aeschylus and Sophocles, wrote tragedies and comedies about human conflict and interaction between the gods and man.  These stories were very popular, and became the basis for modern literature. The Greeks were also the first historiansHerodotus, known as the Father of History, wrote books chronicling historical events, such as the Persian War.

Art & Architecture
Greek artists portrayed the human figure in
idealized realismPaintings and sculptures show humans in the perfect form.  Greek architects build elaborate buildings using marble and the Greek column.  The most famous example of Greek architecture is the Parthenon in Athens.  Many buildings around the world today use Greek architectural ideas.

Math & Science
Greek mathematician
Pythagoras, developed a formula to calculate the relationship between the sides of a right triangle, a method still in use today.  Aristarchus, a Greek astronomer, discovered that the earth rotated on its axis, and revolved around the sun.  Eratosthenes discovered that the earth was round, and accurately calculated its circumference. Euclid wrote a book called The Elements, which is the basis for modern geometry.  A Greek scientist named Archimedes tried to use science for more practical matters, he showed how the use of a lever and pulley system could lift just about any weight.

Hippocrates, a 5th century BCE physician, studied the causes of illnesses and experimented with various cures.  He is also credited with creating a set of ethical standards for doctors called the Hippocratic Oath.

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