Introduction to World History

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In this unit, you will be reading primary sources from East and South Asian civilizations. As you know from our course definition, primary sources are important because they were written by ancient people who lived during this time period. They let us “time travel” back to see the world from a different time, and a different point of view. As you are reading these sources, think back to what primary sources you read last week from the ancient East Mediterranean world. Both sets of sources cover similar time periods, but record viewpoints from different geographic regions.

After completing this unit, you will be able to:

  • Analyze primary source material to understand the worldview directly from people from ancient East and South Asian societies
  • Synthesize course materials from this module to understand this time period as a whole
  • Apply your knowledge of World History themes to the course materials

Unit Overview: You will read four primary sources, and complete one discussion post assignment

1. You will read four different primary sources from our East and South Asian societies. In these primary sources, you will get a glimpse of the ancient world through very specific viewpoints of these individuals. By viewing the videos in the previous units, you have learned about the historical context of this region. Now, by reviewing these primary source documents, you can think about how what you know about the major events that are going on may have impacted the ways in which these individuals interacted with and commented on their lives and the world around them.

You will read the Mandate of Heaven, which was articulated during the ancient Zhou dynasty. This document became the political philosophy used in China until the 20th century!

You will also read the Debate on Salt and Iron from the Qin dynasty, which sought to regulate trade and goods, but also shows the way in which philosophical thought was applied for practical matters.

Moving to South Asia, you will read the Rig Veda, which is a collection of ancient stories from some of the earliest settlers in South Asia and initially was passed around society in oral, rather than written form.

And finally, you will read excerpts from Buddha’s sermons, as the Buddha was certainly very influential in the development of religious thought in South Asia.

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