Key Concept 2.2 The Development of States and Empires
As the early states and empires grew in number, size and population, they frequently competed for resources and came into conflict with one another. In quest of land, wealth, and security, some empires expanded dramatically. In doing so, they built powerful military machines and administrative institutions that were capable of organizing human activities over long distances, and they created new groups of military and political elites to manage their affairs. As these empires expanded their boundaries, they also faced the need to develop policies and procedures to govern their relations with ethnically and culturally diverse populations: sometimes to integrate them within an imperial society and sometimes to exclude them. In some cases, these empires became victims of their own successes. By expanding boundaries too far, they created political, cultural and administrative difficulties that they could not manage. They also experienced environmental, social and economic problems when they over-exploited their lands and subjects and permitted excessive wealth to concentrate in the hands of privileged classes.
I. The Roman, Han, Persian, Mauryan, and Gupta empires created political, cultural, and administrative difficulties that they could not manage, which eventually led to their decline, collapse and transformation into successor empires or states.
A. Through excessive mobilization of resources, imperial governments caused environmental damage (such as deforestation, desertification, soil erosion or silted rivers) and generated social tensions and economic difficulties by concentrating too much wealth in the hands of elites.
B. External problems resulted from security issues along their frontiers, including the threat of invasions (such as between Han China and Xiongnu; Gupta and the White Huns; or between Romans, and their northern and eastern neighbors).
Period 3: Regional and Transregional Interactions, c. 600 to c. 1450 CE
Key Concept 3.2 Continuity and Innovation of State Forms and Their Interactions
State formation in this era demonstrated remarkable continuity, innovation and diversity in various regions. In Afro-Eurasia some states attempted, with differing degrees of success, to preserve or revive imperial structures, while smaller, less-centralized states continued to develop. The expansion of Islam introduced a new concept—the caliphate—to Afro-Eurasian statecraft. Pastoral peoples in Eurasia built powerful and distinctive empires that integrated people and institutions from both the pastoral and agrarian worlds. In the Americas, powerful states developed in both Mesoamerica and the Andean region.
I. Empires collapsed and were reconstituted; in some regions new state forms emerged.
A. Most reconstituted governments following the collapse of empires, including the Byzantine Empire and the Chinese dynasties—Sui, Tang, and Song—combined traditional sources of power and legitimacy (such as patriarchy, religion or land-owning elites) with innovations better suited to the current circumstances (such as new methods of taxation,