The Classical Era was a time of greatness. Great empires rose to power, the likes of which the world had never seen before. In the west, Rome emerged as the dominant power. Originating in the Italian peninsula, the Roman Empire would eventually stretch from Britain to Mesopotamia and Egypt, a huge empire maintained through a vast network of roads. This empire was made of hundreds of different cultures. In the east, the Han dynasty ruled China, Vietnam, and northern Korea. Han China was united not only by government, but also by culture. Confucianism, a belief system focused on maintaining order, was extremely influential, as was another belief system called Daoism, to a lesser extent. During the Classical Age, the creation of powerful empires allowed for safer trade. Safer trade allowed huge amounts of cross-cultural interaction, trade and the sharing of ideas. But as other empires had done before, and as many did after, the empires of Rome and Han China fell. Rome and Han China had both similarities and differences. The most important similarity was plagues and diseases, and the most important difference was the destruction of culture.
Han China and the Roman empire enjoyed great prosperity because of long-distance trade. Goods and ideas could travel farther than ever before, protected by these empires. However, when people move, they bring their germs with them. Since the trade networks were so vast, uniting places that might have never have had contact with each other, it was easy for diseases to travel. People didn’t have resistance to foreign diseases or medicine to counteract them, so epidemics were able to devastate entire populations. Sanitation in the Roman empire an...
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...sical Age is hailed as a time of great cross-cultural interaction, yet it also unintentionally brought deadly diseases to places that might have never encountered them otherwise, causing millions of deaths. People traded goods and beliefs along with bacteria. Revolutionary ideas spread like wildfire, but they also undermined the empires that maintained stability and prosperity. Christianity promised salvation, but helped bring down Rome, paving the way for the Dark Ages. In the Classical Age, the factors that bring powerful civilizations down are heavily entwined with the things that make them great.
Gill, N. S. "Reasons for the Fall of Rome." About.com Ancient / Classical History. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.
Bentley, Jerry H., and Herbert F. Ziegler. Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the past. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2000. Print.
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