1. The Life of Muhammad

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AP* World History Study Guide and Graphic Organizers – Unit 2: Post-classical Period, 600 CE – 1450 CE

1. The Life of Muhammad

Because the life and teachings of Muhammad had such a profound affect on the Post-classical world, knowledge of the major events of his life is required of all AP World History students

  • The life of Muhammad

        • born in 570 in Mecca located in the Arabian peninsula

        • Mecca was important location for commerce and religion (polytheistic shrine: Ka’aba); note relationship between pilgrims and success of merchants

        • Muhammad raised by merchant grandfather and uncle, married widow of merchant

        • ~610: Muhammad receives first revelations from archangel Gabriel; only one god, Allah (already familiar to Arabic peoples)

        • Muhammad’s beliefs and teachings threatened success of merchants thriving on commerce from pilgrims

        • 622: Muhammad and followers flee to Yathrib (Medina) where he was free to practice and teach his faith; flight referred to as the hijrah; start of Muslim calendar

        • Umma: rules that governed daily life and included procedures for the care of widows and orphans as well as mounting an army of defense

        • 629: Muhammad returns to Mecca to visit Ka’aba; pilgrimage referred to as the hajj

        • 630: Muhammad and followers conquer Mecca

        • 632: Muhammad dies without a successor

Why you should know this: You will be asked specific questions in the multiple choice section about the events and chronology of Muhammad’s life. You may also need information about his life as background information or examples for an essay question.

  1. Muhammad

    1. made provisions for the future leadership of Islam

    2. established clear class distinctions for Islamic society

    3. built on the religious traditions of the Arabian peninsula

    4. went against established gender distinctions in the practice of his faith

    5. spoke out against military conquest as a vehicle for the extension of Islam

Knowing about how Muhammad developed the Islamic faith would direct you to the

correct answer choice (c). Muhammad taught that one of the gods already familiar to the

Arabic peoples, Allah, was the one true god

2. Islam

As with other major world religions/belief systems, you will need to know the fundamental beliefs of Islam, as well as the significance of the religion in terms of its cultural, social, and political impact on its followers. Additionally, you will need to know about how Islam expanded from the Arabian Peninsula to India, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

  • Islam

        • term “Islam” means submission, a Muslim is one who submits to the will of Allah

        • Founder: Muhammad; believed his revelations were an extension of Jewish and Christian teachings; believed he was last prophet (Abraham, Moses, Jesus are also prophets of Islam)

        • Major beliefs: “Five Pillars”

          • Faith: proclaim belief in only one god, Allah

          • Prayer: five times a day, facing Mecca

          • Fasting: from dawn to dusk during holy month, Ramadan; commemorates revelations to Muhammad

          • Alms-giving: pay zakat (tithe) to charity

          • Pilgrimage (Hajj): Muslims must travel to Mecca to visit the Ka’aba

  • Holy book: Quran (Koran), completed in 650, revelations and teachings of Muhammad; Hadith is collected sayings of Muhammad; Shariah is moral code for daily life, used to guide politicians and judges (criminal justice)

  • Expansion of Islam

    • Early expansion:

      • spread through military conquest

      • most of Arabian peninsula after death of Muhammad

      • 651: Persia conquered

      • End of 7th century: Syria, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt, Central Asia (around Caspian Sea)

      • 8th century: North Africa, India, Iberian peninsula

      • early Muslim conquerors more concerned with gaining power for Muslim leaders, not so much for the spread of religious beliefs

  • India and Southeast Asia:

    • 12th century: Muslim control of Indus River Valley and northern India

    • Delhi Sultanate: ruled northern India, expanded control and influence through military conquest in 13th century through the 16th century

    • Particularly popular with Hindu lower classes (equality in faith for Muslims)

    • Spread to Southeast Asia through merchants

    • More converts in the islands than on the mainland

      • Africa:

        • jihad: Islamic holy war to spread Islam, brought Islam into Africa by the 8th century

        • spread along caravan routes

        • 10th century: Egypt became Muslim, under control of Muslim rulers

        • easily adopted by Sub-Saharan rulers in West Africa: Ghana, Mali; largely adopted by only ruling/elite classes, commoners tended to remain polytheistic or blended Islamic teachings with their indigenous beliefs

        • East Africa (coastal areas): brought by traders

        • not much success in the interior of Africa

        • many women resistant to conversion because they had more freedoms with indigenous belief systems

          • Role of women: lots of change from 630 – 15th century

            • early days: women did not have to wear veil, not secluded, considered as equal in faith

            • after contact with Middle Eastern cultures: harem from Abbasid court (men could have up to four wives, women could only have one husband)

            • killing female children was illegal

            • women could own property before and after marriage (her possessions did not automatically become her husbands after marriage

            • patriarchy established by Quran and shariah

            • women had some legal rights, but these rights were countered by the fact that they became increasingly secluded from the public

              • Social structure: Muslims could not enslave other Muslims (except for prisoners of war), but could own slaves; slavery not hereditary; Muslims could free their slaves (especially after conversion to Islam)

              • Dar al-Islam: the house of Islam, referring to all Muslims lands

              • Significance: last world religion to develop; quickly spread to many lands through trade and conquest; largest theocracy; Muslims preserved advancements made during the Hellenistic Age; unified many people across the Eastern Hemisphere; competition between Muslims and Christians for economic influence in both hemispheres led to intense confrontations (Crusades); friction between Christians and Muslims (and Muslims and Jews, for that matter) persists today; Islam, like Christianity, is a monotheistic religion that shares beliefs with Judaism

Why you should know this: You will be asked about the specific beliefs and the significance and impact of Islam in the multiple choice section, and you may be required to use information about Islam to write an essay
Example: Using the following documents, analyze Islamic and Christian attitudes toward trade and merchants from each religion’s origin through the 16th century. Do these documents display changes over time? What kinds of additional documents would help you clarify Islamic and Christian positions on commerce?
To answer this question, you would need to understand the basic teachings of Islam

and Christianity to use as outside/background information and to help you interpret the

documents. You would need to be familiar with the role of commerce in the regions where

these religions dominated, which requires an understanding of how religious beliefs

affected the general culture and society of the believers.

3. The Division of Muslims

The separation of Muslims into Sunni and Shi’ite branches had and continues to have a profound affect on the Islamic world. AP World History students are required to know the difference between the two groups of Muslims, how the branches split apart, and why there continued to be contention between the two branches.

  • Sunnis vs. Shi’ites

    • Muhammad died before choosing a successor

    • Caliph: successor to the prophet, combines religious and secular duties and authority in one person

    • Controversy over who should rightfully be caliph

    • Shi’ites: only a descendent of the family of Muhammad may be caliph

    • Sunni: any member of the umma (Muslim community) could be caliph

    • Sunni is larger branch

    • led to frequent, bloody conflicts that mirrored the political power struggle between family clans to control Muslim lands

Why you should know this: You may be asked to identify differences between the two branches or you may be asked to relate the separation to future conflicts between the two groups.

  1. One of the weaknesses of the early Muslim empires was

    1. intolerance of the legal traditions of non-Muslim peoples

    2. disregard for the cultural traditions of conquered peoples

    3. failure to resolve questions of succession

    4. insistence on conversion of non-Arabs within the empire

    5. indifference to the Sunni/Shi’ite split

Knowledge of the significance of the split between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims as a

dominating theme of early Muslim history would lead you to the correct answer choice,

4. Muslim Caliphates of the Post-classical Era

You need to know the general characteristics of the Muslim Caliphates, especially in terms of expansion of influence, the blending of cultures, and the influence of Islam on conquered peoples. Additionally, you will need to understand how Muslim advances in science and math had an impact on the West.


Specific characteristics

Significance/general patterns


        • 661 CE: Umayyad family comes to power (Sunni)

        • capital in Damascus, Syria

        • emphasized Arabic ethnicity (Arabs more privileges than non-Arab Muslims)

        • People of the Book allowed freedom of worship

        • Poverty gap, sometimes caused rebellions

        • Overthrow of dynasty in 750 CE

        • Islam blends government with religion

        • Muslim caliphates worked to expand Muslim influence in Africa, Asia, and Europe through military campaigns

        • Muslims preserved Western traditions that were lost to Europe at that time

        • Muslim advances and innovations had a profound affect as they spread to Europe by means of trade (and later, the Crusades)

        • Social structure: increasing poverty gap that led to rebellions

        • Women in Islam: as Muslims came into contact with other civilizations, particularly Mesopotamia and India, they tended to adopt more restrictive ideas about women

        • The teachings of Islam reached most of the world’s population at that time and all major trade routes ran through Muslim lands

        • None of these caliphates succeeded in bridging the gap between Sunni and Shi’ite



        • 750 CE: Abbasids come to power (Shi’ite)

        • capital at Baghdad, Iraq

        • equal status for all Muslims

        • trade increased

        • preservation and use of ancient Greek, Roman, and Persian philosophies (logic, art, architecture, literature); advances in math and science

        • adoption of Indian “Arabic” numerals; transmission of these numbers to the West

        • discoveries: astrolabe, maps of stars, optic surgery

        • growth of cities

        • emphasis on learning; universities built

        • art: calligraphy, arabesques for writing and pottery; new architecture: minarets; literary achievements

        • Religion: mystic Sufis establish missions to spread Islam

        • High taxes

        • Territory so large, hard to manage: kingdoms arose within empire, headed by Sultans

        • Sultan of Persia took control from Abbasids, eventually conquered by Seljuk Turks

        • Official end of Abbasids with the Mongol invasions in the 13th century


        • 711 CE: Berbers from North Africa conquer Iberian Peninsula, allies of Umayyads

        • Expansion into Western Europe, stopped with defeat at Tours (in France, 732 CE)

        • capital at Cordoba

        • preserved Greco-Roman traditions and blended them with new advances from the Muslim world

        • Prosperity through trade

        • Impact of Arabic culture on Spain/Europe (words and knowledge)

Mamluk Dyansties

        • 13th century: Mamluks establish control over Egypt after fall of Abbasids

        • Mamluks: converts to Islam, strict observance of Islam

        • Maintain the security of trade routes through Egypt, allow Egypt to be prosperous and powerful until Egypt’s fall to the Ottomans

Why you should know this: You will be asked specific questions on the advancements made under these caliphates. You will also be asked to identify the impact of Muslim expansion to include much of the Eastern Hemisphere. You will need to be familiar with the chronology of the caliphates and how each caliphate interacted with other civilizations. You are also expected to be familiar with the social structure and the treatment of non-Arabic converts as well as non-Muslims within the caliphates.


  1. The Abbasid dynasty

    1. created a social rift between Arabs and new converts

    2. was more interested in strengthening Arab power than in gaining converts

    3. healed the rift between Sunnis and Shi’ites

    4. discouraged commercial activity in an effort to focus on missionary endeavor

    5. proved the high point of Muslim cultural achievement

If you are familiar with the patterns and trends from one caliphate to the next as

well as the specific characteristics of the Abbasid dynasty, you would be able to pick out

choice (e) as the correct response immediately.
5. Post-classical China

You need to know the patterns and trends of the Post-classical Chinese dynasties, as these dynasties had a significant impact on Post-classical East and Southeast Asia


Specific Characteristics

Shared Characteristics


        • 589 CE: Sui reestablish centralized government in China after a period of disorder following the collapse of the Han dynasty

        • very brief rule, followed by internal chaos again

        • pattern of internal disorder, then reestablished centralized rule

        • trend of increasing lands controlled by the Chinese

        • revival and strengthening of the civil service examination system

        • increase in status of scholar gentry

        • continued increase in the volume of trade accompanied by the participation in trade over seas (connected to the Indian Ocean trade routes)

        • trend of strengthening the patriarchy

Shared Characteristics

        • pattern of internal disorder, then reestablished centralized rule

        • trend of increasing lands controlled by the Chinese

        • revival and strengthening of the civil service examination system

        • increase in status of scholar gentry

        • continued increase in the volume of trade accompanied by the participation in trade over seas (connected to the Indian Ocean trade routes)

        • trend of strengthening the patriarchy


        • 618 CE: rise of the Tang

        • expanded Chinese authority to include Central Asia (Modern Afghanistan), Tibet, Manchuria, and Vietnam

        • continued construction of the Great Wall

        • use of diplomacy to control and regulate huge territory

        • revival of scholar-gentry (Confucian scholars as workers in the bureaucracy)

        • Buddhism gained popularity and acceptance; rapid and prodigious construction of Buddhist monasteries; Empress Wu supported Buddhism; tax exemptions led to monasteries growing wealthy; later Tang rulers worked to stop the growing influence of Buddhists

        • Confucianism regained popularity as Buddhism receded into the background

        • Tang rule weakened and collapsed due to rebellions and invasions from the North

        • Achievements: trade/travel protected and increased; trade by sea increased (junk ships very advanced); use of paper money and earliest forms of credit (letters of credit); urbanization; public works projects like canals and irrigation increased agricultural production; land redistribution; invention of gunpowder

        • population in rice growing areas (south) becomes larger than in wheat-growing areas (north)



        • 960 CE: Song dynasty gains control of most of China, but pays tribute to settled invaders in the north

        • Neo-Confucianism: blending of Confucianism and Buddhism; reinforced traditional ideas about respect for authority, family values, and gender roles

        • Song preference for scholars over soldiers prevented the Song from overpowering the northern invaders ; taxes to pay tribute burdened the peasant class

        • Northern part of Song China invaded by nomads in the North and Song influence retreated south of the Yangtze River

        • Song continued to rule this area of China until the late 13th century

        • Achievements: advanced weapons (catapults); moveable type; compasses; abacus

        • Patriarchy: footbinding and deterioration of the status of women

Why you should know this: You will be asked questions about the general (shared) characteristics of Post-classical China. You may even be asked to differentiate between the Tang and Song dynasties. You may also need knowledge of the specific characteristics of Post-classical Chinese dynasties for the essay portion.

  1. The position of Chinese women

    1. resulted in greater freedoms under Neo-Confucianism

    2. changed markedly between the seventh and thirteenth centuries

    3. was defined by Confucianism

    4. was more restrictive under the Tang than under the Song

    5. declined in regions where Buddhism was popular

In this question, you are asked to remember the trend in the treatment of women,

which was defined by Confucian values. Although Neo-Confucianism saw a revival and

modification of Confucianism, the role of women in traditional Chinese society remained

the same. The correct choice is (c).

6. Post-classical East and Southeast Asia

Because China exerted a strong influence on its neighbors during the Post-classical period, AP students are required to know major events in these areas. Students are also expected to know in what specific ways China influenced these areas


Post-classical events

Examples of Chinese influence



        • 7th century: Japan has contact with China

        • Buddhism blends with Shinto (indigenous Japanese belief)

        • rebellion against use of China as model leads to fragmentation into large estates whose owners built powerful armies

        • power of emperor declines while power of aristocrats grows (feudalism in Japan)

        • bushi: aristocrats that owned large amounts of property and wielded armies; samurai were the knights of the bushi; bushido = code of honor

        • peasants became serfs, bound to the land of the local lord

        • 12th century: powerful clans emerged (Fujiwara) with the help of alliances among local lords

        • Gempei Wars: destructive wars between samurai and peasants, led to the victory of the Minamoto family who established a military government (emperor becomes puppet figure)

        • Move toward feudalism meant isolation from China

        • Powerful families controlled shoguns (military leaders)

        • 14th century: civil disorder leads to bushi taking control and dividing Japan into nearly 300 kingdoms, ruled by a daimyo (warlord)

        • code of bushido declined by the 15th century

        • 16th-17th centuries: increase in centralization, tax collection, and trade resumed with China

        • unique culture: tea ceremony, ornamental gardens

        • Chinese writing

        • Confucianism

        • Chinese bureaucracy

        • Buddhism

        • artistic expression

Chinese influence

        • Chinese writing

        • Confucianism

        • Chinese bureaucracy

        • Buddhism

        • artistic expression


  • conquered by Tang

  • 668: Silla kingdom in Korea pushes Tang out of Korea in exchange for an agreement to pay tribute

  • Silla unites Korea after departure of the Tang

  • trade with China and others in Indian Ocean network via South China Sea

  • Buddhism popular with elite

  • Mongol invasions in 14th century interrupt contacts with China

  • metallurgy and agriculture

  • Buddhism

  • Chinese culture spread when settlers moved to Korea during Han rule

  • Chinese writing

  • Confucian literature

  • Civil service exams

  • porcelain manufacture


  • Vietnam valued independence

  • traded with China

  • conquered lands in Southeast Asia (Cambodia)

  • distinct language

  • women had more freedoms

  • Buddhism more popular in Vietnam than in China

  • conquered by Han China

  • rebelled against Chinese rule: received independence during Tang rule, 939

  • Buddhism

  • agricultural and irrigation techniques

  • Confucian concepts (veneration of ancestors)

  • importance of the extended family

  • civil service examinations

  • military organization and technology

Why you should know this: You will be asked to identify characteristics of all post-classical civilizations and to evaluate the impact of post-classical China on its neighbors

  1. Compared to Korean attitudes toward the Chinese, those of the Japanese

    1. more greatly appreciated the centralization of the Chinese government

    2. were more devoted to Confucianism

    3. were more favorable to the civil service examinations

    4. demonstrated a desire to show respect to the Chinese emperor

    5. were similar in their desire to become part of the Chinese trading system

Knowing what aspects of Chinese culture both Japan and Korea adopted as well as

what aspects of Chinese culture were rejected by each will help you narrow the choices to

the correct response, choice (e).

7. Medieval Europe

AP students will need to know about the political, social, and economic structures of Post-classical Europe (typically referred to as the Medieval time period in European History). Additionally, students will also need to know about cultural characteristics and achievements in this time period.


Early Middle Ages

High Middle Ages


        • Manorialism: typically organized into feudal estates as small landowners sold land to larger landowners; some peasants moved to cities, others stayed to work the lands of those they sold to

        • Feudalism: large landowners (nobles, lords) gave parcels of land to vassals (sometimes knights, sometimes lesser nobles/lords) in exchange for military service; serfs worked the lands of the lords and vassals in exchange for protection

        • Loose kingdoms/Empires developed (Charlemagne, Holy Roman)

        • Sometimes conflicts between estates; largest threat to security were Viking invasions from the North and the Crusades

        • nation-states begin to develop in England (after invasion of William in 1066) and France

        • Italy, Germany remain a collection of large estates (princedoms, duchies)

        • Spain continued to be ruled by Muslims

        • Development of Parliaments: an extension/evolution of feudal relationship between lord and vassal; England, France, Germany

        • Conflict between Catholic Church and monarchs: power struggle for who has more influence (investiture)

        • Hundred Years’ War: between England and France


        • trade diminished, estates had to become self-sufficient

        • Feudalism: serfs gave a portion of their crops and had to work the lands of their lords

        • Technology: renewed contacts with the East ~900 brought plows and improved agricultural techniques

        • An increase in trade sparked peasant migration to cities which allowed landowners to buy more land and pay serfs wages to work the land

        • Crusades: brought attention to products from the East, Europeans wanted these goods; led to an increase in trade and an increase in rivalries between Christian and Muslim merchants

        • renewed trade opportunities and motivations after the crusades

        • early banking systems

        • technology: gunpowder, cannons



        • Feudalism: lords, vassals, knights, serfs

        • Status of women generally declined

        • Serfs could be freed from obligations by living in a city for a year and a day

        • Laws/punishments tended to favor higher classes over lower, men over women

        • Nobility through landownership, military accomplishments, alliances, service to the state

        • Gradual increase in status of most peasants

        • Urbanization

        • Increased population due to better agricultural techniques

        • Increase in rights for peasants/serfs (especially after the development of Parliaments that attempted to protect their rights

        • Development of primitive middle class: wealthy families from banking and commerce


        • Chivalry: code of conduct for knights and lords; unlike bushido in that it involves a reciprocal relationship and does not apply to women

        • Religion: Catholic Church dominated cultural beliefs and traditions (architecture, art, literature), especially before the revival of trade and the development of early kingdoms

        • Viking invaders tended to settle and adopt the culture of where they settled (Normandy)

        • Departure from Roman and Greek traditions after the fall of Rome and throughout the Early Medieval times

        • Gothic architecture: influences from Muslims

        • Expansion of universities, increased emphasis on learning

        • Renewed interest in Greco-Roman heritage

        • Increases sense of national identity

        • Development of literature in vernacular languages

Why you should know this: You will be asked specific questions about the structures of Medieval Europe and you will be asked to compare post-classical Europe to other post-classical civilizations (Muslim world, Japan, China, etc.). You will also be asked to understand changes/transformations in Europe from the Early to High Middle Ages
Example: Compare feudalism in Post-classical Europe and Japan.
To write this essay, you will need to understand not only feudal structures in Europe and Japan, but also the ways in which they were similar and different. You will need to analyze the impact of feudalism on politics, economics, and social classes in both areas. Moreover, you would need to address changes in the feudal structure in both areas.
8. Mongols

Because the Mongols had a significant impact on multiple civilizations (Russia, Middle East, China, Central Asia), AP students are required to know the story of their rise to power as well as their impact on each society.

  1. Origins of the Mongols

    1. Nomads from steppes of Central Asia

    2. Used horses, powerful military

    3. Organized into tribes, traded for what they couldn’t produce

    4. Women: right to participate in tribal councils

    5. Chinggis Khan: leader who united Mongol tribes

    6. Adopted weapons technology from Chinese

    7. Began conquering Central Asia, China, and moved into the Middle East

  2. Mongols in Russia

    1. 1237-1240: conquest of Russia (only successful winter conquest in history)

    2. Called Tartars by Russians

    3. Cities that resisted were destroyed, people killed or sold into slavery

    4. Tribute empire: Golden Horde

    5. Feudalism developed as peasants sought protection from Mongols

    6. Moscow was main tribute collector for the Mongols (gained territory when estates couldn’t pay taxes)

    7. Orthodox Church became dominant church in Russia at request of Mongols

    8. Mongols kept Russia isolated from Western Europe

    9. Mongols attempted to push further west into Eastern Europe, but attacks were repelled

  3. Mongols in Persia

    1. 1258: Mongols burned Baghdad

    2. Mongols execute Abbasid ruler and end the caliphate

    3. Mongols expelled from the Middle East by the Mamlukes of Egypt

  4. Mongols in China

    1. 1271: Kublai Khan controls most of China, establishes the Yuan Dynasty

    2. Chinese not allowed to learn Mongol language, intermarriage outlawed

    3. Religious toleration, but end of civil service examinations

    4. Mongol women had more freedoms than Chinese women

    5. Mongols used foreigners in government positions

    6. Merchants gained status as trade was encouraged

    7. Mongols attempted to expand China by conquering Japan and Vietnam (both failed)

  5. Impact of Mongol Rule

    1. Trade along Silk Roads protected and encouraged

    2. Spread of the Plague

    3. Foreign rule in China, caused revival of Confucianism (Neo-Confucianism)

    4. Russia cut off from Western European advances and the practice of serf labor developed

    5. Timur the Lame (Tamerlane): renegade Turk tried to recreate Mongol invasions by rampaging through the Middle East and Central Asia

Why you should know this: You will be asked questions about the Mongol invasions and

the impact of the Mongols on each society. You may also be asked to compare the paths of Mongol conquests to those of the Vikings or Arab invaders.


              1. Mongol rule in Russia and China differed in that

                1. In China, the Mongols maintained Chinese traditions of isolation from foreigners

                2. Eurasian trade routes under Mongol protection connected Russia more than China to Western European trade centers

                3. The Mongols became more involved in administration in China than in Russia

                4. The Mongols were more interested in controlling trade in China than they were in Russia

                5. Russia advanced culturally under Mongol rule while China became increasingly backward

Knowing how the Mongols established control and how they treated the native

peoples would allow you to immediately recognize the correct answer, (c).

9. Bantu Migrations

You need to be aware of the migration patters of the Bantu as well as the significance of their influence on African societies.

  1. Patterns of Migration

    1. ~2000 BCE: Bantu (agrarian) begin to migrate southward into Sub-Saharan Africa

    2. migrations last until 1500 CE

    3. spread agriculture, knowledge of ironworking

    4. learned how to grow bananas through trade with Southeast Asia

  2. Impact in East Africa

    1. 13th century: Bantu reach eastern coast of Africa

    2. Bantu mix with Arab merchants to create Swahili

  3. Political and Social Structure

    1. Stateless societies: organized around family/kinship groups

    2. Religion: animistic, oral traditions passed on by griots (storytellers)

    3. Age grades: each age level and gender had specific duties to the community

    4. Women: valued as mothers, also worked on farms and sometimes in military

    5. Economic status: measured in acquisition of slaves, not property

Why you should know this: You will be asked questions about the characteristics of Bantu society and the impact of Bantu migrations. You may also be asked to compare these migrations with other migrations (Mongols, Germanic tribes, Vikings, etc.)
Example: Compare the significance of the migrations in TWO of the following areas in the Post-classical Era: Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, Western Europe
To develop an appropriate argument for this essay question, you would have to know specific details about the migration patterns in these areas. You would also have to know the significance of the lasting impact of these migrations to create analytical direct comparisons.
10. Post-classical Indian Ocean Trade Patterns

You are expected to be aware of global trade routes and patterns for the AP test.

Post-classical Indian Ocean Trade Patters


Middle East



        • increased trade during Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties

        • Ming send expeditions to display wealth of “Middle Kingdom” (Zheng He); traveled across ocean to Middle East; expeditions stopped by Confucian scholars, but trade continued

        • merchants used monsoon winds to travel to India and the Spice Islands

        • merchants blended with Bantu to form Swahili; established wealthy city-states

        • attempted to prevent European gains in the Indian Ocean

        • European technology advances allowed Europeans to explore more extensive trade in the Indian Ocean

        • Europeans were especially interested in spices from the “East Indies”

        • Unfavorable balance of trade for Europeans (no one really wanted/needed European goods)

        • “middle” section of trade routes

        • India broken into small kingdoms, establishment of trading ports for Chinese, Arabs, and Europeans

Why you should know this: You will be asked to compare civilizations’ participation in Indian Ocean trade and may have to trace changes in trade patterns.

Example: Analyze changes in trade patterns during the Classical and Post-classical period in the Indian Ocean
To write this Change over time essay, you would need to be familiar with the

patterns of trade that took place during the two periods. You would need to know enough

information about what was traded, who participated in the trade, and how trading

patterns changed to give specific examples in your essay.

11. Europe in Transition

To understand how Western Europe rose to dominate the world in the Early Modern Era, AP students must have a grasp of the important events and changes as Europe transitioned out the Medieval time period.

  1. Emergence of nation-states

    1. England and France first

    2. Spain by 1500’s, after expulsion of Muslims

    3. Portugal, Hapsburg Empire

    4. Papal and Italian States

  2. Renaissance

    1. Revival of Greek and Roman traditions and learning

    2. Humanism: emphasis on human abilities

    3. Great change in the arts and political theories (birth of absolute monarchies)

  3. Exploration

    1. New technologies (learned from China and Arabs) allow faster, farther travel

    2. Competition with Muslims for spice trade (wanting to cut out the middle men) led to race to find new ways to get to the East

    3. Discovery of passages around the south of Africa

    4. Superior European technology (especially weapons) allowed Europeans to easily dominate areas in Africa, however, Europeans mostly interested in establishing trade ports in Africa and Asia during this period

Why you should know this: You will be asked about how and why Europe gained so much power as it transition from Post-classical to Early Modern. You may also need to know the major events listed above for background/example purposes for an essay (any change over time that involves the post-classical period)


              1. European exploration through the mid-fifteenth century

                1. Produced intense rivalries with East Asian civilizations

                2. Placed merchants in conflict with monarchs

                3. Suffered from a lack of technological expertise

                4. Depended upon the knowledge of the Eastern world

                5. Created trade connections that increased Europe’s gold supply

If you know that Europeans were only able to explore after gaining shipping and

navigational technologies from the East, you would easily identify (d) as the correct

answer. (C) might seem like a correct answer, but if you refer back to the date in the

question (1450’s), you will remember that several important European expeditions along

the coast of Africa had already been accomplished, thus proving that Europeans did have

technology at that time.
12. Post-classical American civilizations

AP students are required to know the basic characteristics of postclassical Mesoamerican and South American civilizations.



        • mid 13th century: Aztecs (Mexica) rose to power after the fall of the Toltec in central Mexico

        • capital: Tenochtitlan (Lake Texcoco)

        • agricultural people

        • writing: pictographs

        • conquered neighbors to establish large empire; used prisoners of war for sacrifices; collected tribute from conquered and ruled them harshly

        • Religion: polytheistic, belief in Quetzalcoatl

        • Social structure: nobles, peasants, slaves; organization by family clans; women honored for duties such as childbirth, weaving, had some legal rights, but no political power

        • Economy: markets (controlled by government); long-distance trade

        • 1300: Incas rise to power in Andes

        • unified diverse peoples into one empire; collected tribute from conquered without ruling them harshly

        • Incas dominated large region

        • Capital: Cuzco

        • Writing: knotted ropes to keep records

        • Extensive road system

        • Religion: polytheistic

        • Social Structure: organized around family clans; women had traditional role of homemaker; no separate merchant class

        • Parallel descent: inheritance passed to both males and females

        • Economy: agricultural (maize, potato), government regulation of trade meant that long-distance trade suffered

Why you should know this: You will be asked about specific post-classical American structures and to compare components of these structures. You will also need to know what these civilizations were like before European conquest in order to effectively evaluate the impact of Europeans on the area.


              1. Both the Aztecs and the Incas

                1. Entered into marriage for political reasons

                2. Gained the cooperation of subject peoples

                3. Showed limited signs of urbanization

                4. Lacked a merchant class

                5. Were tribute empires

Knowing the specific characteristics of these civilizations will help you identify (E)

as the correct answer.

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