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Orient Express

- The belief that the only places that were interesting in history
were the civilizations Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Europe, and
finally America.
- The idea that civilization's progression only heads westward
and everything happening in the east is negligible.

European Miracle
The claim that certain innovations and great minds all came
Europe and that Europe was responsible for leading the world
out of the Medieval Period.
Blaut: "The argument that Europe forged ahead of all other
civilizations far back in history...this internally generated
historical superiority or priority explains world
history/geography post 1492"

Early Cradles of Civilization

Nile Valley, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley, Yellow River, Tigris

Had walls 15 Meters High
had a system of large ditches used as 16 reservoirs for a
population of 20,000.
located in the state of Gujarat, alongside the Sarasvati, or
Ghaggar Hakra river

Mohenjo-Daro; Pakistan
The city, made out of baked bricks, had a population of
40,000, and contained 700 water wells and a flush toilet system
People bathed in a great communal bath
Merchants in the city used seals to denote ownership.
The statue in the city is known as the Priest-King

Necklaces and Jewelry in Harappa made out of Carnelian
No signs show warfare was common in Harappa, nor were
there any signs that showed Harappa was ruled under an
absolute monarch.
Over 300 characters were used in Harappan writing.
Built along Indus River.


- Persian leader made Zoroastrianism, the first monotheistic

religion, the national religion of the Persian Empire.
- Allowed freedom of religion in his empire.

King of Greek city-state Sparta (portrayal in movie compared to

Greek philosopher, one of the founders of Western Philosophy

Buddha - Rajas / Dewa - Rajas

Southeast Asia: God Kings (India)

China, founder of Confucianism

How we represent what happens (filtered through the
perceptions of the individuals involved in the events, and the way
that they come to describe what they perceived) - emphasis is on
how we write about what happens (telling what was perceived
with written language);
Blaut - the importance of perspective

A bias that tends to favor Europe.
The belief that all the good things came from Europe

Environmental Reductionism
The theory that the natural environment strongly influences
human affairs and human history (social/cultural development).

Tropical Nastiness, Myth

Tropical regions inferior because:
Heat bad for human mind/body
Grounded in pseudoscience, not credible
Inferior food production from bad soil
Tropical soils were different, not inferior
Disease existed elsewhere including Europe, in larger scale too

Despotic, Arid Asia, Myth

Karl Wittfogel
Claimed Asian political systems were more despotic than
European political systems during the middle ages due to
claimed this called for a "harsh" ruler with constant despotic
policing of the irrigation system
In reality, the Asian farmers were more concerned with
irrigation than the despot.
Blaut argues peasants in Asia treated equally bad, if not better
than peasants in Europe.

Temperate Europe, Myth

Some believed Europe's climate was constant throughout
Europe and that the climate was ideal
Climate in Europe was not constant, and rainfall farming was
not better than irrigation farming, just different
Also believed in the serf system
In reality, the serf system was just as bad if not worse than the
peasants in despotic Asian societies.

European Rationality, Myth

Basically asserting that Europeans are smarter than everyone
Relied on diffusionist beliefs:
Europe had knowledge and spread it out throughout the world,
believing in the "psychic unity of mankind,"
Europeans related development of different societies to stages
of human, psychological development
with Asia, Africa and other non-Euro countries behind

Superior European Nuclear Family, Myth

Believed the nuclear, European families were innately more
rational and civilized than non-European families
other countries also supported nuclear families as well
European marriages fueled by love, non-European marriages
somehow weren't because they were arranged
arranged marriages were prevalent in Europe too.
attributed to being able to control Malthusianism
less marriages at a later age
This argument simply dehumanizes non-European families

Europe's Technology Superiority, Myth

The least harsh and bias of Eurocentric theory, claiming
technology from three specific inventions leapfrogged Europe
ahead of any other country during the middle ages

The heavy plow

Northern India had this before the time of Christ
social forces and diffusion from elsewhere led to this, not
European technological innovation
The horse collar
Horse collar already widespread in Eurasia from an early date,
probably meant for camels, not horses
Additionally, in England, the horse did not replace the ox
The three-field rotation
This didn't even have much of an effect on European society
Even more intensive rotations were used elsewhere in the
the two-field system was still preferred for ecological reasons

Criss-Cross Diffusion
"The complex of crops, animals, tools, and ideas...developed in
many societies simultaneously...and each new trait...diffused
rapidly to those other parts of the hemisphere in which such a
trait was a useful innovation" (Blaut 155-156).
This process extended agricultural landscape over a vast region
of the Easten Hemisphere

Rome, fall of (476 AD)

Fall of (Western) Roman Empire to the Goths, Visigoths, vandals
and such
Eastern half of Roman Empire persisted for another
Known to Western Europeans as the Byzantine Empire

Dark/Medieval/Middle Ages
Start estimated at the fall of (East) Roman Empire (476 AD). End
disputed at Renaissance, Columbus' "discovery," or the
Protestant Reformation.

Baghdad, House of Wisdom

The melting pot of cultures united under scholarly pursuits
immense scientific competition
the first international scientific expedition
The birth of the scientific process
Birthplace of several innovations in fields ranging from
Algebra, trigonometry
Medicine (the study of germs and the hospital)
Ibn Al-Haytham: father of optics

Invention of paper
Burnt in 1258 by mongols

Mohammed (Empire of Faith)

The messenger of God, "the Prophet," who was born in 570 AD
The founder of Islam and inspired the Koran, the Islamic holy
A charismatic man, Mohammed believed that there is only one
God; and thus, only one people.
However, Mohammed was still very open-minded, and
generally accepting of others' faiths
- retook mecca 630 AD

The Koran (Qu'ran)

Founded by Mohammed
- Islamic holy text

Mecca and the Ka'aba: Center of Religion and Trade

Ka'aba: The sacred house that housed the deities of many
different sub-faiths. It was located in Mecca
Because so many different faiths came to Mecca to worship
their deities, Mecca was a center of both religion and trade

Cordoba Spain, Islamic Center in Europe

Located in southern Spain, Cordoba was the only area in
Europe that resembled the flourishing Islamic Middle East.
Alhambra palace located in Granada was the shining example
of the greatness of Muslim palaces
- Architecture influence

Size of Islamic Empire

Included Middle East and conquered territories of the
Byzantine and Sassanid Empires.
Islam itself spread even further, reaching to North Africa,
Central Europe, India, and Southeast Asia
- Spain to China

- The Caliph of Jerusalem, burned the Church of the Holy
Sepulcher in 1009
This led Christians to view Muslims as heretics

Pope Urban II
Massacre in Jerusalem 1099

- rallied support across France and called for a holy Crusade in

This leads to July 15, 1099, when the crusaders entered and
reconquered Jerusalem

Salah-ad-Din Yusuf (Saladin) 1187

Took back jerusalem in 1187
- Muslim leader who was intelligent, strong and charismatic
Allowed free-worshipping and was forgiving like Mohammed.

Mongol Invaders
Spread of Mongol Empire
Destruction of Baghdad (1258)
Conversion to Islam
Took Baghdad in February 10, 1258
empire spread throughout East Asia to North India, the Middle
East, and parts of Eastern Europe
However, Western Mongol conquerors converted to Islam
Became patrons to the arts
conquest played a key role in opening the world.

Swahili Coast, Maritime Trade

South Africa
Had wealthy trading city-states. Were among the best boatbuilders of the Middle Ages

Great Zimbabwe, Maritime Trade

Traded with Swahili Coast to gain access to Medieval maritime

Mali/Ghana, Maritime Trade

Famous for their camel caravans as a mode for travel. Would
travel to coastal areas or the Middle East for trade. Capital city
was Timbuktu.

Indian Ocean, Maritime Trade

The most important center of trade in the Eastern Hemisphere
as a side note, notice the geographical disadvantage of Europe

Nubia, Maritime Trade

More powerful than even Egypt as the years passed. Romans
unable to conquer __ even though they could conquer the

The Great Chain of Being - Tributary/Feudal System

God/Heaven: Or whatever holy being(s) was/were put on top
Monarch: The ruler, king, etc. Put in place by God/Heaven
Nobility: The really rich families that had the possibility of
being made Monarchs
Military/Warrior: Defended the nobility and monarch to
prevent uprisings
Middle Class: Included the artists, lawyers, bankers, skilled
laborers, etc.
Peasants/Serfs: represented around 90% of the population.

Astrology in the middle ages

Astrologers would study the stars because they believed is
movements meant something
religious context: Things happened in the sky because God said
- Averroes, Maimonides, Albertus Magnus

Microcosmos is whatever happens to the world happens to us.
World is parallel to universe. People are complete rendition of
universe. Our mind is the closest linkage to God. The pattern of
the stars were read to help understand humans (zodiac signs)

Macrocosmos is how the universe began from a small amount (g)
and built up overall. The whole entire universe and the stars
align according to God's plan

"The class-structured agrarian societies of Africa and Asia as well
as Europe" (Blaut 152).

Tributary System
The Great Chain of Being

"Incipient capitalism, adolescent capitalism...the system as it
existed prior to the two revolutionary transformations which
brought modern capitalism into existence...It exhibited most of
the basic traits of capitalism"(Blaut 165).
- Precapitalism
Bourgeois Revolution and Industrial Revolution led to legit

Existed first on a small scale within another dominant
economic system

Lazy Africa, Myth

Hot weather in Africa affects Africans behavior, leading them to
unchallenged themselves thus causing lazy behavior

Edict of Milan
Rome 313 AD
Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman
This came to be known as The Edict of Milan
Constantine built a second Roman capital that was previously
Named this city Constantinople
After his death, the Roman Empire usually had 2 emperors
One in Rome, and one in Constantinople

The Omens
1. Flaming ear of corn (comet) 10 years before the Spaniards'
2. Temple of Huitzilopochtli burst into flames
3. Temple of Xiuhtecuhtli struck by "a blow from the sun"
4. Fire streamed through the sky while the sun was still shining
5. Wind lashed the water until it boiled (raging waters)
6. People heard a weeping woman night after night
7. A strange bird-like creature captured in the nets
8. Monstrous beings with two heads appeared in the streets

Dominated the are from 800-1000 AD

nomads who settled on an undesirable island
Built capital city Tenochtitlan in 1325
worshipped Quetzalcoatl and raised war god Huitzilopochtli to
level of sun god.
Tributes = human heart sacrifices

Motecuhzoma (Montezuma II)

The ruling emperor at the time of Cortes' arrival

Had to deal with seeing if Cortes was Quetzalcoatl or not
Eventually killed in the conflict after being held hostage by
Unsure if Aztec people or Spaniards killed him

God worshipped by Toltecs
Basically, Quetzalcoatl was kicked out of the land, but vowed to
return one day appearing from the East
Aztec astrologers predicted he would come the same year
Cortes landed, 1519

god of war

Hernan Cortez
The first conquistador (1485-1547)
From Medellin, Spain
Aspired to sail to China from the West
brought 500 soldiers/slaves to join him (against orders)
Hit Mexico instead (1519)

Pedro de Alvarado
Cortes' right hand man
Ordered as commander when Cortes took leave to deal with
another issue
Ordered the massacre of Aztecs at the Fiesta of Toxcatl for

Cortes marched to Tezcoco, where they were welcomed
Prince Ixtlilxochitl welcomed them and converted to
Christianity. He also convinced his people to ally with the
Whether or not Cortes actually stayed there for a bit or just
passed by is debated historically

Cortes and the Tlaxcalans fought for a while
Tlaxcalans saw it was impossible to best Cortes, so offered him
gifts and formed an alliance


Allied with the Tlaxcalans, the Spaniards entered Cholula

Tlaxcalans hated the Cholulans
called for a meeting in the courtyard of the god
slaughtered by joint alliance
Some accounts claim that the idea to slaughter the Cholula was
a purely Tlaxcalan idea
However, there was also an account that said that the
Tlaxcalans warned the Cholula about the power of the Spanish,
but they ignored them and killed the messengers sent out to
warn them
This story may have been forged

La Noche Triste (Night of Sorrows)

Cortes and crew escape Tenochtitlan after the death of
Cortes claims 154 Spaniards and over 2000 native allies were
lost that night
Spaniards take refuge in Teocalhueyacan

Smallpox Epidemic
Smallpox epidemic breaks out in Tenochtitlan, around 75-90%
of population perishes before Cortes comes back

Seige of Tenochtitlan
Cortes rounds up support of around 150000 natives
Lays siege on Tenochtitlan for 80 days, starving what's left of
the inhabitants
Emperor Cuauhtmoc surrenders in August 13, 1521

The domestication of Plants and Animals started in MIDDLE
EAST. Recognize that there are innovative people all around the
BarleySyria, 10,000 yrs ago.
Rice China, 10-11,000 tyrs ago.
WheatMesapotamia, 10,000 yrs ago.
CattleAfrica, Middle East 7-9,000 yrs ago.
ChickenIndia, 6-8,000 yrs ago
Maize - 10,000bc mesoamerica


The Divine - The Celestial - The TerrestrialThe human body is like layers. The head is "divine" the body is
"celestial" and the bottom area is "terrestrial" This is also seen in
God as "divine" moon and stars representing "celetial" and earth
as "terrestrial" which all makes sense.

The notion of the "Orient Express" and the "European Miracle"

created a Western historiography that placed Europeans as the
most civilized or advanced of all people. What are the
differences between these two perspectives? What are the
The Orient Express explains the origins of civilization in a way
that favors the west, traveling from Mesopotamia westward. The
European Miracle claims something about Europe causes them
to be better than any other civilization. Something in the blood of
these Arians or talents or language or hobbies made them better.
It could have been desire to explore. Both of these ideas however,
describe Europe as superior over other nations at the time.

How does the ideology of the feudal system support the

economic and political system of the times? How is the
hierarchical feudal structure reinforced by religious and
political beliefs? (Hint - think about the diagram of the
Tributary System shown in class and its relationship to
The feudal system put the king on top, considering him a divine
being. Under him were nobility, warriors/knights, merchants
and artisans, and peasants; in that order. 90% of the population
at the time was peasants. It was set up this way for the purpose of
production. The people on top were the wealthiest and thus
controlled the lands, having everyone under them as servants.

In what ways were all the dominant feudal systems of the Old
World similar by the 1400s? How does Blaut support this view
in the readings? (How does Blaut demonstrate that Europe is
not superior to Asia, the Middle East or Africa during the
Middle Ages?)
Asia had a larger middle class

The traditional story of the European conquest of Mexico

provides a perspective claiming that the Aztec Empire fell due
to European technological superiority. Based on lecture and on
the Broken Spears book, why is this inaccurate? What reasons
for the fall of the Aztec civilization had nothing to do with
European technology or a more advanced European
Although Spanish technology was superior to what the Aztecs
had to offer, there were other major factors influencing their
downfall. One of the large contributing factors of the downfall of
Aztecs was a smallpox epidemic. When Spaniards left, an
epidemic swept across Tenochtitlan and killed the king. Around
75-90% of the population perished before Cortes returned.

In what ways does Blaut clearly demonstrate that the

perspectives of Temperate Europe, Nasty Tropical Africa, Lazy
Africa, and Arid Despotic Asia are all myths that inaccurately
portray Europe as somehow superior to other parts of the
globe? Be specific in your details.
Blaut describes that theories such as Tropical Africa are simply
false, and provides evidence to show these theories don't make
sense, showing how soil differences yielded different types of
crops. Regarding nasty Arid despotic Asia, he goes into detail
about how Asia's complex irrigation system was not a response to
the environment, as there wasn't a lack of water. Temperate
Europe was wrong in that Europe didn't always have great
climate. Countries like Asia were also a lot larger.

Republics and Limited Monarchies

Athens and India