Step 2 – Pastoral Societies, State Formation, and Cross Cultural Exchange, The Classical Era 1200 BCE-300 CE
.This “steppe” consists of five activities. You should use material from your text (Chapters 4-7) plus the material referenced in each activity below. The learning outcomes are as follows:
1) Evaluate the role of steppe peoples in the formation of states across Eurasia during this time period. How did steppe peoples shape the development of states in Eastern, Western and Southern Eurasia? What states did steppe peoples form during this era?
2) Analyze how the interaction between steppe peoples and more settled societies shaped the economic landscape of Eurasia during this time period.
3) Evaluate the influence of economic transactions between various states and societies in Eurasia on the cultural landscape of the larger region during this time period.
By simply reflecting on what you have learned so far in this course and in your first GIS hypothesize as to what potential impact that sustatined contact between these great empires and the steppe peoples of Eurasia have on Eurasian history during this time period?
Activity 2 : Make “Nomadic Belt”, “Classical Empires” and “Xiongnu” visible layers. To study the relations between the Xiongnu and the Han Dynasty in East Asia, explore Chinese History: The Xiongnu, The Xiongnu Culture – Third Century BCE, and All Empires: The Xiong Nu. Describe relations between the two groups. How did each groups’ behavior affect the history of both empires? Why did the Chinese build massive fortifications in Northern China.
How did Hunnic migrations affect the Roman Empire? How similar were Roman and Hunnic relations to the Han and Xiongnu?
For another example of steppe peoples’ interaction with settled societies during this time, see Kushan Empire: ca 2nd Century B.C. – 3rd Century A.D. Who were the Kushan? How were they affected by events already explored in this step? To see the kingdom they created, make “Kushans” a visible layer. The Kushans show what would become a typical pattern among pastoral groups in Central Asia. Whether because of warfare or climate change, many pastoral groups would conquer and rule over settled and urban populations. In particular, various pastoral groups fought over the oasis cities of the deserts and shrub land of Central Asia. For better understanding, make “Nomadic Belt” and “Natural Vegetation” visible layers. (Remove “Classical Steppe Peoples,” “Classical Empires,” “Huns,” “Xiongnu,” and “Kushan.” Make “Natural Vegetation” the active layer. Now make “Historic Cities” a visible layer. Locate cities found in desert or shrub land. How do you think these cities found enough water to support sustainable agriculture? How else might these cities acquire the agricultural resources they needed? Why do you think these cities became important to pastoral peoples? (Note: Almost all the cities fall within the nomadic belt.)
You have by no doubt seen references to the Silk Road or trade routes that connected the classical empires and classical steppe peoples during this era in world history. To view these trade routes, make “Classical Empires”, “Nomadic Belt” and “Trade Routes” visible layers. Switching back and forth between the visible layers, “Topography” and “Natural Vegetation,” explain the physical barriers that these trade routes overcame. To identify some of these barriers, switch “Topography Labels” to a visible layer. Now add “Historical Cities.” How did these cities facilitate long distance trade? To learn more about how these trade routes emerged, explore The Silk Road up to the section “The Greatest Years.” For images see “Pictures.” Explain how did the steppe people of Central Asia affected the growth of these networks? How did they help to “unify” Eurasia? What were some of the consequences of this cross cultural exchange during the classical era? For further information see Buddhism and Its Spread along the Silk Road and Origins of the Silk Road.