Traditions and Encounters, AP Edition (Bentley), 5th Edition

Chapter 12: Cross-Cultural Exchanges on the Silk Roads

Interactive Map Quiz


Map A. Fall of the Roman Empire

During the 5th and 6th centuries C.E., the Roman Empire faced many challenges. By 395 the empire had been split into two provinces; the Western and Eastern Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire, which eventually became the Byzantine Empire, remained centralized and survived into the 15th century. The Western Empire was attacked repeatedly by various invaders, and by 476, the region was under the rule of Odovacer, a Germanic chieftain. This interactive map details the boundaries of the two regions, and shows the different waves of Germanic invasions that led to the defeat of the Western Empire.

Compare the growth of the Roman empire during the Republican period versus the imperial period. What were the main locales of expansion during each era?


Identify the principal means by which the Romans manage to control and expand their empire over a large geographic areas.


Identify the principal differences between Mithraism and Christianity. Be sure to consider both religions basic beliefs and which groups each appealed to most.


Identify and then account for the basic differences between Greek and Roman societies and states? How, and why, did Roman society successfully build and maintain a far-reaching empire while Greeks mostly remained in their city-states?


Map B. The Silk Roads

The Silk Roads, a network of ancient trade routes across the formidable terrain of Central Asia, were the stage upon which classical societies encountered each other. Beginning in 500 BCE, the long military and economic reach of two powerful empires -- Rome in the west and Han Chinese in the East -- transformed these prehistoric trade routes into consequential conduits for an ever growing volume of goods, ideas, people, flora and fauna. Within these empires, however, the trade routes accelerated commercial, cultural, political, and biological development of their formerly more autonomous societies. They linked individuals from West to East into far reaching economic, imperial, and religious networks that thrived well into the 15th century. This map highlights the various empires that flourished along these routes, as well as the journeys traveled by some of the world's most famous early explorers.

The establishment of both overland and sea-routes of silk roads led to a great expansion of traded goods between the China and Mediterranean areas. What else did these regions exchange besides goods like silk and perfumes?


Of the many factors that explain the collapse of the Han and Roman empires, how important do you think the silk roads and their consequences were? In explaining the collapse of both empires, do you think internal or external problems were more important? Why?


What kinds of internal problems had greatly weakened the Roman Empire by the 3rd century C.E.?

Traditions & Encounters, 5e
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