A comparative, skills-building approach to help you learn to think critically and historically.
Worlds of History offers a flexible comparative and thematic organization that will help you learn to make cross-cultural comparisons. Thoughtfully compiled by a distinguished world historian and community college instructor, each chapter presents a wide array of primary and secondary sources arranged around a major theme — such as universal religions, the environment and technology, or gender and family — across two or more cultures, along with material that will build your capacity to analyze and interpret sources.
Table of Contents
Volume 1 includes Chapters 1-14.
Volume 2 includes Chapters 15-28.
VOLUME 1: To 1550
1. Prehistory and the Origins of Patriarchy: Gathering, Agricultural, and Urban Societies, 40,000-1000 B.C.E.
The agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago and the urban revolution five thousand years ago were probably the two most important events in human history. Did they “revolutionize” the power of women or begin the age of male domination? Thinking in “stages” can be more useful than thinking in years.
Thinking Historically: Thinking about History in Stages
1. Virginia Hughes, Were the First Artists Mostly Women?, 2013
2. Olga Sofer, James Adovasio, and David Hyland, The “Venus” Figurines: Textiles, Basketry, Gender, and Status in the Upper Paleolithic, 2000
3. Paleolithic and Neolithic Art from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, c. 15,000-2,000 B.C.E.
Cave drawing from Lascaux, France, c. 15,000 B.C.E.
Rock carving from Tassili n’Ajjer, Algeria, c. 10,000 B.C.E.
Plaster head from Ain Ghazal, Jordan, c. 7000 B.C.E.
Neolithic vase from Gansu Province, China, c. 2000 B.C.E.
4. Margaret Ehrenberg, Women in Prehistory, 1989
5. Catherine Clay, Chandrika Paul, and Christine Senecal, Women in the First Urban Communities, 2009
2. The Urban Revolution and “Civilization”: Ancient City Societies in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Peru, 3500-1000 B.C.E.
The urban revolution created writing and interpretation, war and law, individual anonymity, money and taxes, paupers and kings. Did Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Peru undergo the same development and changes? We have primary (written and visual) as well as secondary sources to find the answers.
Thinking Historically: Distinguishing Primary and Secondary Sources
1. Kevin Reilly, Cities and Civilization, 1989
2. The Epic of Gilgamesh, c. 2700 B.C.E.
3. Enheduanna, The Exaltation of Inana, c. 2250 B.C.E.
4. Hammurabi’s Code, c. 1800 B.C.E.
5. The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, c. 1850 B.C.E.
6. Images from Hunefer’s Book of the Dead, c. 1275 B.C.E.
Entering the Afterlife
The Hall of Ma’at
7 An Assyrian Law and a Palace Decree, c. 1100 B.C.E.
8. Smithsonian, First City in the New World, 2003
3. Identity in Caste and Territorial Societies: Greece and India, 1000-300 B.C.E.
Ancient Greece and India developed with different ideas of society. Does who we are depend on where we are or who we know? While finding out, we explore the relationship between facts and opinions, sources and interpretations.
Thinking Historically: Interpreting Primary Sources in Light of a Secondary Source
1. William H. McNeill, Greek and Indian Civilization, 1971
2. The Rig Veda: Sacrifice as Creation, c. 1500-500 B.C.E.
3. The Upanishads: Karma and Reincarnation, c. 800-400 B.C.E.
4. The Upanishads: Brahman and Atman, c. 800-400 B.C.E.
5. The Bhagavad Gita: Caste and Self, c. 1500 B.C.E.
6. Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution: Territorial Sovereignty, c. 330 B.C.E.
7. Thucydides, The Funeral Oration of Pericles, 431 B.C.E.
8. Plato, The Republic, c. 360 B.C.E.
4. Empire and Government: China and Rome, 300 B.C.E.–300 C.E.
Roughly two thousand years ago the Chinese Empire and the Roman Empire spanned Eurasia. In comparing these ancient empires, we seek to understand how they were governed. Both required officials, armies, and governing ideologies, but these and other tools of rule were not the same. How was the government of the Chinese Empire different from the Roman? What were the consequences of those differences?
Thinking Historically: Making Comparisons
1. Confucius, The Analects, c. 479-221 B.C.E.
2. Lao Tze, Daoism, c. 400 B.C.E.
3. Han Fei, Legalism, c. 230 B.C.E.
4 A Record of the Debates on Salt and Iron, 81 B.E.E.
5. Nicholas Purcell, Rome: The Arts of Government, 1988
6. Cicero, Letter to His Brother Quintus, 60 B.C.E.
7.Correspondence between Pliny and Trajan, c. 112 C.E.
8. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, c. 167 C.E.
5. Gender, Sex, and Love in Classical Societies: India, China, and the Mediterranean, 500 B.C.E.–200 C.E.
The identities and experiences of women and men of the classical era varied from East Asia to the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the predominance of patriarchy in all of these societies set certain limits to the possibilities for women and, in each case, shaped the way men and women related to each other. We can better understand the great works of the classical age (or any historical sources) by asking about their origins, reception, and intended purpose.
Thinking Historically: Asking about Author, Audience, and Agenda
1. Sarah Shaver Hughes and Brady Hughes, Women in the Classical Era, 2005
2. Ban Zhao, Lessons for Women, c. 100 C.E.
3. Vatsyana, On the Conduct of Wives, Husbands, and Women of the Harem, c. 280-550 B.C.E.
4. Plato, The Symposium, c. 385 B.C.E.
5. Ovid, The Art of Love, 1 B.C.E.
6. Depictions of Gender in Classical Societies, c. 500 B.C.E.-150 C.E.
Base of funerary kouros with six athletes, c. 500 B.C.E.
Pottery warrior from tomb of Chi’in Shih Hunag-Ti, 210 B.C.E.
Sundaranada helping Sundai dress, Kushan Period, Fifth Century B.C.E.
Portrait of a Fayum Woman with Large Gold Necklace, c. 150 C.E.
6. From Tribal to Universal Religion: Hindu-Buddhist and Judeo-Christian Traditions, 600 B.C.E.–100 C.E.
Two religious traditions transformed themselves into universal religions at about the same time in two different parts of Asia as each became part of a more connected world. Their holy books reveal the changes as well as the desire to hold on to the tried and true.
Thinking Historically: Detecting Change in Primary Sources
1. Hinduism: Svetasvatara Upanishad, c. 400 B.C.E.
2. Buddhism: Gotama’s Discovery, c. 500-100 B.C.E.
3. Buddhism and Caste, c. 500-100 B.C.E.
4. Mahayana Buddhism: The Lotus Sutra, c.100 C.E.
5. Judaism and the Bible: History, Laws, and Psalms, c. 1000 B.C.E.
6. Judaism and the Bible: Prophecy and Apocalypse, c. 1000 B.C.E.
7. The Christian Bible: Jesus According to Matthew, c. 70 C.E.
8. Paul, Letters, c. 50 B.C.E.
7. The Spread of Universal Religions: Afro-Eurasia, 100–1000 C.E.
Christianity, Buddhism, and later Islam spread far across Eurasia often along the same routes in the first thousand years of the Common Era. Perhaps Judaism did as well. What made these religions so expansive? How were they alike and different? Who converted whom? What did they change, and what did they leave the same?
Thinking Historically: Understanding Continuity and Change
1. Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People, 2009
2. Eusebius, Life of Constantine, c. 339
3. Christianity in China: The Nestorian Monument, 781
4. Buddhism in China: The Disposition of Error, Fifth or Sixth Century
5. Selections from the Qu’ran, Seventh Century
6. Richard C. Foltz, The Islamization of the Silk Road, 1999
7. Peace Terms with Jerusalem, 636
8. The Epic of Sundiata, Thirteenth Century
8. Trade, Travel, and Migrations: Eurasia, Africa, and the Pacific, 3000 BCE–1350 CE
World history is not just the story of different civilizations. It is also the story of the movement and blending of peoples, things, and ideas across oceans and continents. Migrants, travelers, and traders have remixed almost every aspect of life: political, social, economic, and cultural.
Thinking Historically: Sifting Factors
1. Patrick Manning, Austronesian, Indo-European, and Bantu Migrations, 2005
2. Lynda Norene Shaffer, Southernization, 1994
3. Faxian, Travel on the Silk Road and Seas, ca. 400
4. Ibn Battuta, Travels, 1354
5. Francesco Balducci Pegolotti, Merchant Handbook, 1343
9. Love, Sex, and Marriage: Medieval Europe and Asia, 400–1350
Love and marriage make the world go ’round today, but not a thousand years ago. Love, sex, and marriage were also not always experienced in the same relationship, even ideally. These words meant different things to different people throughout Europe and Asia. We use cultural comparisons to find out more.
Thinking Historically: Analyzing Cultural Differences
1. Kevin Reilly, Love in Medieval Europe, India, and Japan, 1997
2. Ulrich von Liechtenstein, The Service of Ladies, 1255
3. Andreas Capellanus, The Art of Courtly Love, 1184-1186
4. Locales of Love: Tournament and Temple, Eleventh and Fourteenth Centuries
5. Omar Khayyam, The Rubaiyat, c. 1100
6. Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji, c. 1000
7. Zhou Daguan, Sex in the City of Angkor, 1297
10. Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Encounters: Afro-Eurasia, 1000-1300
Islam, Christianity, and Judaism came into frequent contact in the centuries after 1000. In this chapter, we examine these post-1000 encounters and recognize their diversity. Why did the German city of Speyer invite Jews in 1084 and then allow them to be killed by crusaders in 1095? How do we account for the cooperation between Muslim and Christian armies? When did Muslim hostility to Christians harden? History is a process of continual change, and here we seek to understand causes.
Thinking Historically: Understanding Causes
1. Shelomo Dov Goitein, Interfaith Relations in Muslim North Africa (1000-1300), 1969
2. Bishop of Speyer, Grant to the Jews, 1084
3. Fulcher of Chartres, An Account of Pope Urban’s Speech at Clermont, c. 1100-1127
4. Chronicle of Solomon bar Simson, c. 1140
5, Ibn al-Athir, A Muslim History of the First Crusade, c. 1231
6. Ibn al-Athir, The Conquest of Jerusalem, c. 1231
7. Letter from a Jewish Pilgrim in Egypt, 1100
8. Ecclesia and Synagoga, c. 1230
11. Raiders of Steppe and Sea: Vikings and Mongols, Eurasia and the Atlantic, 900–1350
From the late ninth through the tenth century, waves of Viking ships attacked across Europe; a few centuries later, beginning in 1200, the Mongols swept across Eurasia, conquering all in their path and creating the largest empire the world had ever seen. What was the impact of these raiding peoples on settled societies and vice versa? In considering this question and the violent and destructive nature of these “barbarian” raids, we will consider the relationship of morality to history.
Thinking Historically: Distinguishing Historical Understanding from Moral Judgments
1. Gregory Guzman, Were the Barbarians a Negative or Positive Factor in Ancient and Medieval History? 1988
2. Ibn Fadlan, The Viking Rus, 922
3. Eirik’s Saga, c. 1260
4. Yvo of Narbona, The Mongols, 1243
5. The Secret History of the Mongols, c. 1240
6. Ibn al-Athir, The Mongols, c. 1231
7. John of Plano Carpini, History of the Mongols, 1245-1250
12. The Black Death: Afro-Eurasia, 1346–1350
The pandemic plague ravaged the population of Afro-Eurasia, killing about one-third of the population of Europe and Egypt. In this chapter, we examine the impact of the plague in various locales while also contemplating its causes and the relation between cause and effect.
Thinking Historically: Considering Cause and Effect
1. Mark Wheelis, Biological Warfare at the 1346 Siege of Caffa, 2002
2. Gabriele de’ Mussis, Origins of the Black Death, c. 1348
3.Giovanni Boccaccio, The Plague in Florence: From
The Decameron , c. 1350
4. Causes According to College of Physicians, Paris, c. 1348
5. Images of the Black Death, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Century
The Black Death, 1348
Flagellants, from a Fifteenth-Century Chronicle from Constance, Switzerland
The Burning of Jews in an Early Printed Woodcut
6. Ahmad al-Maqrizi, The Plague in Cairo, Fifteenth Century
13. Students and Education: The World, 800-1400
This chapter looks at students and education over the long course of human history, from Buddhist monks in Japan and societies in central Sudanic Africa in the ninth century to Aztec society in the fifteenth century. In addition to asking about the context in which the source is composed, we will ask about the context in which the source presents its subject.
Thinking Historically: Texts and Contexts
1. H. J. Fisher, Islam, Literacy, and Education in the Sudan, 1977
2. Ichisada Miyazaki, The Chinese Civil Service Exam, 1976
3. Regulations of Buddhist Monks in a Japanese Mountain School, 818
4. King T’aejo, Founding Edict, Korea, 1392
5. Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji: Chinese Literacy among Japanese Women, c. 1000
6. Walter de Merton, Merton College Statutes, 1264
7. Codex Mendoza: Aztec Discipline and Education, c. 1535
14. Environment, Culture, and Technology: Europe, Asia, and Oceania, 500–1500
Since the Middle Ages, the most significant changes have occurred in the fields of ecology, technology, and science. In this chapter we read and assess three grand theories about the origins of our technological transformation and of our environmental problems, drawing on written and visual primary source evidence to develop our conclusions.
Thinking Historically: Evaluating Grand Theories
1. Lynn White Jr., The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis, 1967
2. Image from a Cistercian Manuscript, Twelfth Century
3. Image from a French Calendar, Fifteenth Century
4. Image of a Chinese Feng-Shui Master, Nineteenth Century
5. Image of European Surveying Instruments, c. 1600
6. Jared Diamond, Easter Island’s End, 1995
7. Terry L. Hunt, Rethinking the Fall of Easter, 2006
8. J.R. McNeill, Sustainable Survival, 2010