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Friday, 18 September 2020









Ø By 6th century BCE Iranians had established control over Assyrian empire. They established trade network along the coast of Mediterranean Sea. The Greek cities benefited by these routes. 

Ø By late 4 century BCE the ruler of Macedon, Alexander undertook a series of military campaign and conquered large parts of Europe, North Africa, west Asia and reached up to river Beas.

Ø Though Alexander return but the Greeks culture, language and ideas spread there and the whole region become Hellenised. (Greeks were called as Hellens) Almost three centuries Hellenistic culture remained important in this area so this time period referred as Hellenistic period .

Ø From 2 century BCE with the disintegration of Alexander’s empire Central city state of Rome established control over there. It was the ancient Roman Empire which was spread across the three continents namely Europe, Asia and Africa.



§  Textual sources include histories of the period written by contemporaries (these were usually called ‘Annals’, because the narrative was constructed on a year-by-year basis), letters, speeches, sermons, laws, and so on.


§  Documentary sources include mainly inscriptions and papyri.

§  Inscriptions were usually cut on stone, so a large number survive, in both Greek and Latin.


§  The ‘papyrus’ was a reed-like plant that grew along the banks of the Nile in Egypt and was processed to produce a writing material that was very widely used in everyday life. These have been published by scholars who are called ‘papyrologists’.


§  It includes buildings, monuments and other kinds of structures, pottery, coins, mosaics, even entire landscapes etc. These were found out by archaeologists through excavation and field survey.


Ø Roman empire covered a vast area included most of present Europe and North Africa. At the same time in the middle east there were Iranian Empire.

Ø Mediterranean Sea was the heart of Rome empire as they were dominated around the sea.


Ø This empire was spread from Rhine and Danube river in the north to Sahara Desert in the south.

Ø The roman empire broadly divided into two phase-

§  Early Empire-From 1st century to third century

§  Later Empire-After 3rd century to 7th century.


Ø This empire ruled during the 1st century to 630 CE in middle east.

Ø Iranians empire spread over middle east from Euphrates river in the west to Afghanistan and From Caspian sea in the north to Red sea in the south.

Ø These two empires had divided most of the world that the Chinese called Ta china roughly the west.

Ø They were rivals and fought against each other for much of their history.



Roman Empire               

Iranian Empire



The Roman Empire stretched from Spain in Europe to Syria in the East along the Mediterranean Sea from Rhine and Danube river to Africa's desert.

Iran controlled the entire area south of Caspian Sea to eastern Arabia and at times large parts of Afghanistan


Roman Empire had a diverse population

In this empire Parthians and Sasanians dynasties ruled over mostly Iranians people.


Many languages were spoken in the Roman Empire, but for the administrative purposes only Greek and Latin were used.







§  During 509 BC to 27 BC Roman Empire was Republic in which Government was represented by Nobility, power exercised through a group of wealthy persons called as Senate.

§  It was overthrown by Octavian, the adopted son and heir of Julius Caesar, who later changed his name to Augustus in 27 BC.

§  He was called as Principate’ the leading citizen. Though he was supreme authority but it was named to give respect to the senate. All the rulers give respect to the senate.

§  First two centuries called as the Augustan age is remembered as the age of peace because it brought peace after decades of internal strife and centuries of military conquest.


§   After that Tiberius (14-37 CE), the adopted son of Augusts and Trajan’s (117-138 AD) were important rulers.


§  A body representing the aristocracy, the wealthiest families of Roman and, later, Italian descent, mainly landowners had existed in Rome known as senate.


§  Emperor were judged by how they behave to the senate classes. The worst emperors were those who were hostile to the senatorial class, behaving with suspicion or brutality and violence.


§  The Roman Army was a paid and professional army where soldiers had to put up twenty-five years of service.

§  It was a distinctive feature of the Roman Empire as the contemporary rulers have conscripted army is one which was forcibly recruited.

§  It was the largest single organised body (600000) of the Roman Empire which decide the fate of the emperors.

§  Historian found the source that the soldiers constantly agitate for better wages and service condition.

§  The success of emperors depended on their control of Army.

§  Thus, it can be said that the emperor, the aristocracy, and the army were the three players in the political history of the empire.


Ø Family descent, either natural or adoptive, was the decisive factor in the succession to the throne in the Roman Empire.

Ø The army was also wedded to this concept. For e.g. Tiberius was not the natural but adopted son of Augustus.



Ø In the early 2 century there were no expansion of Roman empire as the ruler thought that it is so vast already.

Ø Trajan (113-17 CE) was first ruler who occupy the territory across the Euphrates, but it was abandoned by his successors.

Ø During this time the rulers merge many dependent kingdoms, in the east to Mediterranean Sea like Syria, Phalestine, Mesopotamia etc into Roman provincial territories. These kingdoms were very wealthy.

Ø At its peak in the second century, the Roman Empire stretched from Scotland to the borders of Armenia, and from the Sahara to the Euphrates.


Ø It was a vast empire with a population of 60 million in 2nd century. It was controlled and administered with the help of urbanisation.

Ø All the territories of the empire were organised in to provinces and were subject to taxation.

Ø Large cities as Carthage, Alexandria, Antioch etc. on the shores of Mediterranean Sea were the foundations of the imperial system.

Ø A city has its own magistrates, city council and a ‘territory ‘containing villages under its jurisdiction. The villages could be upgraded to the status of city and vice-versa generally as a mark of favour from the emperor.

Ø Through these cities’ government collected the tax from the provincial countryside with the help of local upper class.

Ø Thus, they became the new elite of the Roman Empire. They controlled the army and looked after the provincial administration. They became much more powerful than the senatorial class because they had the backing of the Emperors.

Ø Emperor Gallienus (253-68) consolidated their rise to power by excluding senators from military command. He did this in order to prevent control of the empire from falling in to their hands.


Ø In the cities there were no shortage of food in cities.

Ø Cities had better facilities during famine than the countryside.

Ø They enjoyed a higher level of entertainment.

Ø Public baths were striking features of Roman urban life.

Ø One calendar tells us that spectacula (shows) filled no less than 176 days of the year.  Many Amphitheatre were in Roman cities which were used for military drill and for staging entertainments for the soldiers.


Ø The first and second centuries were a period of peace, prosperity and economic expansion. But the third century was a period of crisis.

Ø In 225, new dynasty called Sasanians emerged in Iran. They were more aggressive and expanding rapidly in the direction of the Euphrates.

Ø The rock inscription written in three languages claimed that the King Shapur I, Iran ruler killed 60000 roman soldiers and capture eastern capital Antioch.

Ø During 233 to 280 AD from the North, the Germanic tribes-(Alamanni, the franks, Goths) called as barbarians also began to move against the Rhine and Danube frontiers.

Ø Their repeated invasions forced the Romans to abandon the territory beyond the Danube.

Ø In the 3rd century nearly 25 emperors ruled in only 47 years. This quick succession of emperor is a sign of strain faced by the empire.






Ø In the Roman Empire families were nuclear.

Ø Adult sons did not live with their parents and it was exceptional for adult brothers to share a common household.

Ø Slaves were included in the family.

Ø Male were married in 25-30 where females were married around 20s. So, there were age gap in between husband and wife.

Ø Parents have their full control on their children. Sometime they leave them out in the cold to die.


Ø The women in Roman empire enjoyed considerable legal rights in owning and managing property.

Ø Arrange marriage was the general norm. They were married off in the late teens or early thirties.

Ø women were often subject to domination by their husbands. Some time they were even beaten up by their husbands.

Ø The typical form of marriage was one where the wife did not transfer to her husband's authority but retained full rights in the property of her natal family.

Ø Women remained a primary heir to father's property after marriage. They could become independent property owners after their father's death.

Ø Under a law a married couple was not one financial entity but 2 and wife enjoyed complete legal independence.

Ø Divorce was easy for both men as well as women.


Ø The rate of literacy varied greatly between different parts of the empire.

Ø In Pompei city, walls carried advertisements and graffiti, which indicates high level of casual literacy, while in Egypt there were less literacy rate.

Ø It was widespread among army officers, estate managers and soldiers and professional scribes.


Ø The cultural diversity was reflected in many ways and at many levels.

Ø The diversities were found in their religious cults, local deities, languages, dress, food, pattern of settlement etc.

Ø Different languages were spoken in different areas. But these were purely oral and ceased to be written after 1st century to 5th century.




Near east, west of Eupherates



Punic and Berar

North Africa


Spain and North west




Ø Manufacturing

§  The Roman Empire had substantial economic infrastructure of harbours, mines, quarries, brickyards, olive oil factories etc.

§  In the Roman Empire water power was very efficiently used around Mediterranean and there were advances in the water powered milling technology, the use of hydraulic mining techniques in Spanish gold and silver mines.

Ø Trading

§  Many goods and crops like wheat, wine and olive oil produces in the provinces like Spain, the Gallic provinces, north Africa, Egypt and Italy.

§  Liquids like olive oil and wine were transported in containers called “Amphorae”.

§  Archaeologists found these containers in a large number. In Monte Testaccio (Rome) more than 50 million remains of the vessels found. These vessels were given the name As Dressel -20, on the name of archaeologist, Heneric Dressel who first establish these forms.


§  These containers help to know many things about that period. By this it come to know that Spanish olive oil was a vast commercial enterprise that reached its peak in the years 140-160 AD.

Ø Cultivation

§  In Roman Empire many regions were very fertile and good for cultivation.

§  It included Campania (for wine) in Italy, Sicily, the Fayum in Egypt, Galilee, Byzacium (Tunisia), southern Gaul, and Baetica (southern Spain).

§  Sicily and Byzacium exported large quantities of wheat to Rome.

Ø Herding

§  In Roman territory there were some less developed areas also.

§  For example, in the country side of Numidia (Modern Algeria) people rearing animals like goat and sheep.

§  These pastoral and semi-nomadic communities were often move, (Transhumance) with their oven-shaped huts called, mapalia.

§  As Roman estates expanded in North Africa, the pastures of those communities were drastically reduced and their movements more tightly regulated.

§  North Spain was also less developed areas. There the peasants speak Celtic language and lived in hilltop villages known as castella.

Ø Banking and monetary system

§  In the Roman empire there were well organised commercial and banking networks existed.

§  Widespread use of money indicates that the Roman Empire had sophisticated economy. Their silver coins were known as Dinariaus which containing about 4½ gram pure.



Ø Slavery was an institution deeply rooted in Ancient Roman world. During the republic mostly labour work was done by the slaves. There were 3 million slaves in a total Italian population of 7.5 million up to first century.

Ø But this was not the situation in entire Roman empire.

Ø Roman upper classes were often brutal towards their slaves while ordinary people show sympathy towards slaves.

Ø Slaves were an investment for the Roman Zamindars and upper class.

Ø  After first century when the peace established the number of slaves declines.


Ø After the first century when peace was established, the supply of slaves declined.

Ø So, the users move to cheaper substitutes such as wage labour, slave breeding or free labour etc for agriculture and other public work because-

§  Slaves had to be fed and maintained throughout the year, while these were hired only on the requirement.

§  These can be leave at any time while it was difficult to leave the slaves.

§  Slaves were expensive compare to have free or hired labours.

§  On the other hand, slaves and freedmen were extensively used in jobs where labour was not required in large number that is as business managers.


Ø For a labour management first century of Spain writer Columell suggested some ways -

§  Landowners should keep a reserve stock of implements and tools, twice as many as they needed, so that production could be continuous.

§  It was also believed that without supervision no work would ever get done.

§  So, for the supervision, the slaves were grouped into gang of ten. So that it could be easy to see who is putting in effort and who is not.

Ø Slave gangs method was criticised by Pliny the Elder because slaves who worked in gangs were usually chained together by their feet.

Ø Although all this look harsh yet similar principles of labour control are being enforced in most of the factories in the world today.


Ø The condition of workers and slaves were very bad.

Ø The Elder Pliny described conditions in the frankincense factories of Alexandria, where, he tells us, no amount of supervision seemed to suffice. ‘A seal is put upon the workmen’s aprons, they have to wear a mask or a net with a close mesh on their heads, and before they are allowed to leave the premises, they have to take off all their clothes.

Ø Another edict of early third century refers to Egyptian peasants deserting their villages ‘in order not to engage in agricultural work’.

Ø A law of 398 referred to workers being branded so they could be recognised if and when they run away and try to hide.

Ø Many private employers cast their agreements with workers in the form of debt contracts to be able to claim that their employees were in debt to them and thus ensure tighter control over them.

Ø Rural indebtedness was more common as in Jewish revolt of 66 CE the revolutionaries destroyed the moneylenders’ bonds to win popular support. But in spite of this wage labours wide spread in the roman empire.



v Tacitus, a Roman historian has described the social hierarchy of the early empire.



Patres, lit. ‘fathers’




knights’ or “horsemen’)



‘Respectable’ middleclass

bureaucracy and army but also the more prosperous merchants




plebs sordida







Ø Senators-

§  Senators were the rich land owners. They were very powerful during the republic. Most of the senators were from Italy. But after 1st century the power of senators decline and new middle class emerged from different provinces.

Ø Equites (‘knights’ or ‘horsemen)

§  Like Senators, most 'knights' were landowners, but unlike Senators many of them involved in business activities like shipping, trade and banking. This late Roman aristocracy was very wealthy but was less powerful than purely military elites who came entirely from non-aristocratic background.

§  In the fourth century by the time of Constantine I, the Senators and equities had merged in to an expanded aristocracy and at least half of the families were of from Eastern or African origin.

§  According to Olympiodorus, a historian of the early 5th century, the aristocracy based in the city of Rome received annual incomes up to 4,000 pounds of gold from their estates.

Ø The middle class

§  It consisted of persons working in bureaucracy and army, prosperous merchants and farmers.

§  Tacitus described this ‘respectable’ middle class as clients of the great senatorial houses.

Ø Humiliores

§  Below the middle class were the vast class collectively known as Literally it means 'lower'.

§  They consisted of rural labourers, workers in industrial and mining establishments; migrant workers, self-employed artisans, casual labourers etc.

Ø Slaves


Ø Earlier in Roman empire the silver coins were used which was known as Dinarius it was made up of 4 ½ gram pure silver.

Ø But this monetary system broke down in the late empire because Spanish silver mines were exhausted and the government ran out of stock of the metal to support a stable coinage in silver.


Ø  This is also led to the introduction of a new denomination in gold, known as the solidus a coin of 4½ gm of pure gold. It was introduced by king Constantine I.


Ø The bureaucracy of the late Roman Empire both at higher and middle level was affluent as it drew much of its salary in gold and invested in buying land.

Ø There was corruption in the administration of judiciary and military supplies.

Ø The extortion by higher bureaucracy and the provincial governors was common. But the government intervened repeatedly to stop these forms of corruption.

Ø Laws were made to put an end to them.

Ø  Historians and other members of intelligentsia denounced such practices.

Ø The Roman emperors were not free to do anything as they liked.

Ø By the 4th century the tradition of Roman law acted as a brake and was actively used to protect civil rights.

Ø Because of these laws powerful bishops could deal with powerful emperors when they were extremely harsh on civilian population.


Ø Late antiquity is the term used to describe the final, fascinating period in the evolution and break-up of the Roman Empire and refers from the fourth to seventh centuries.

Ø The period saw considerable changes in cultural, economic, and administrative levels.

v Changes effected by the Emperor Diocletian in administration

Ø The emperor Diocletian abandoned territories with little strategic and economic importance.

Ø He fortified frontiers, recognised provincial boundaries and separated civilian from the military functions.

Ø He granted greater autonomy to the military commanders who became powerful. Constantine consolidated some of these changes and added others of his own.

v Innovations of Emperor Constantine I

Ø The most important innovations of Constantine were in the monetary sphere. He introduced Solidus, a coin weighing 4 ½ gm of pure gold. These coins were minted in millions.

Ø The other innovation was the creation of a second capital at Constantinople presently Istanbul in Turkey, previously called Byzantium.

v Changes in the economic life.

Ø The late Antiquity period witnessed considerable change in economic life.

Ø Monetary stability and an expanding population stimulated economic growth.

Ø Archaeological record shows investments in rural establishments, including industrial installations like oil presses and glass factories, in newer technologies such as screw presses and multiple water-mills.

Ø The period also saw a revival of the long- distance trade. All this led to strong urban prosperity.

v Changes in the religious life

Ø The traditional religious culture of the classical world, both Greek and Roman, had been polytheist. They had no common name or label to describe themselves.

Ø It involved a multiplicity of cults that included both Roman/Italian gods like Jupiter, Juno, Minerva and Mars, as well as numerous Greek and eastern deities.

Ø The other religions in the empire were Judaism and Islam.

Ø Emperor Constantine declared Christianity as official religion of the Roman empire in 4th century.

Ø But Polytheism did not disappear overnight, especially in the western provinces. Christianisation of the empire in the fourth and fifth centuries was a gradual and complex process.

Ø Seventh century was associated with the rise of Islam

v Decline of the Roman Empire

Ø In 4thn century the Roman Empire was divided in to eastern and western halves.

Ø During this time the eastern roman empire remained united under Emperor Justinian. The East Roman Empire came to be known as Byzantium.

Ø This area became prospers till 6 century and population also expended inspite of plague affected in 540s.

Ø But the wars between Rome and Iran in 630s destroyed this vast empire. The expansion of Islam in 7th century was the greatest political revolution in the history of the ancient world.

Ø So large parts of the Roman and Iranian Empires had fallen into the hands of the Arabs by 642 AD

Ø The west roman empire fragmented politically as nomadic tribes such as Goths, Visigoths, Vandals and others attacked and established there own kingdom known as post roman.

Ø The most famous were Visigoths in spain destroyed by Arabs, Franks in Gaul and Lombards in Italy.

·      TIME LINE

·       27 BCE ‘Principate’ founded by Octavian, now calls himself Augustus

·       c. 24-79 Life of the Elder Pliny; dies in the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius also buries the Roman town of Pompeii


·       66-70 The great Jewish revolt and capture of Jerusalem by Roman forces

·       c. 115 Greatest extent of the Roman Empire, following Trajan’s conquests

·       in the East

·       212 All free inhabitants of the empire transformed into Roman citizens

·       224 New dynasty founded in Iran, called ‘Sasanians’ after ancestor Sasan

·       250s Persians invade Roman territories west of the Euphrates

·       258 Cyprian bishop of Carthage executed

·       260s Gallienus reorganises the army

·       273 Caravan city of Palmyra destroyed by Romans

·       297 Diocletian reorganises empire into 100 provinces

·       c. 310 Constantine issues new gold coinage (the ‘solidus’)

·       312 Constantine converts to Christianity

·       324 Constantine now sole ruler of empire; founds city of Constantinople

·       354-430 Life of Augustine, bishop of Hippo

·       378 Goths inflict crushing defeat on Roman armies at Adrianople

·       391 Destruction of the Serapeum (temple of Serapis) at Alexandria

·       410 Sack of Rome by the Visigoths

·       428 Vandals capture Africa

·       434-53 Empire of Attila the Hun

·       493 Ostrogoths establish kingdom in Italy

·       533-50 Recovery of Africa and Italy by Justinian

·       541-70 Outbreaks of bubonic plague

·       568 Lombards invade Italy

·       c. 570 Birth of Muhammad

·       614-19 Persian ruler Khusro II invades and occupies eastern Roman territories

·       622 Muhammad and companions leave Mecca for Medina

·       633-42 First and crucial phase of the Arab conquests; Muslim armies

·       take Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq and parts of Iran

·       661-750 Umayyad dynasty in Syria

·       698 Arabs capture Carthage

·       711 Arab invasion of Spain


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  CLASS – XI THEME-4 TOPIC – AN EMPIRE ACROSS THREE CONTINENTS MCQS QUESTIONS     1. The best kind of wine came to Rome from _...