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World History: The Classical Empires and Age of Kingdoms

By the last centuries BC the Mediterranean, the Ganges and the Yellow River became the seats of empires which future rulers would strive to imitate. In China the Qin and Han dynasties extended the rule of imperial government through political unity, improving communications and also notably the establishment of state monopolies by Emperor Wu. In India, the influence of the Guptas spread over much of the north subcontinent and Pandyas at the south of the subcontinent. The ensuing stability contributed to herald the golden age of Hindu culture in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. In the west, the Romans began expanding their territory through conquest and colonization from the beginning of the 5th century BC. By the reign of Augustus around the birth of Christ, Rome controlled all the lands surrounding the Mediterranean.

Military Annexation and Settlement Formation
The great empires rested on the ability to exploit the process of military annexation and the formation of settlements to become agricultural centers. The relative peace they brought encouraged international trade and notably the growth of the Silk Road. They also faced common problems such as those associated with maintaining huge armies and the support of the bureaucracy. These costs fell most heavily on the peasantry, whilst land-owning magnates were increasingly able to evade centralized control. The pressure of barbarians on the frontiers hastened the process of internal dissolution. The Han empire fell into civil war in 220 while its Roman counterpart became increasingly decentralized and divided around the same time.

The Age of the Kingdom Begins to Develop
Throughout the temperate zones of Eurasia and North Africa, large empires continued to rise and fall.

The breakup of the Roman Empire around the 5th century AD coincided with the spread of Christianity westward from the Middle East. The western part of the Roman Empire fell under the domination of various Germanic tribes in the 5th century, and these polities gradually developed into a number of warring Catholic states. The remaining part of the Roman Empire in the eastern Mediterranean was henceforth known as the Byzantine Empire. Centuries later a large part of western Europe became the Holy Roman Empire comprising a number of states in what is now Germany and Italy.

In China dynasties would similarly rise and fall. The most remarkable, if short lived, of these was the Mongol Empire which seized almost all of Eurasia's landmass, missing only western Europe and Japan.

Islam, which began in Arabia in the 7th century AD, was also one of the most remarkable forces growing from only a few followers to become the basis of a series of large Empires in India, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Technological Developments and Developed Societies
This period was marked by slow, but steady, technological improvements with developments of extreme importance such as the stirrup, the mouldboard plough, and the printing press arriving every few centuries.

Vast societies also began to be built up in Central America at this time with the Inca in the Andes and the Maya and the Aztecs in Mesoamerica being the most notable. In India rise and fall of two major dynasties occurred mainly the Guptas and Mayurian Empires at the north and three prominent Tamil kingdoms grown stably, CherasCholas and Pandyas.

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