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

Chapter 9: State, Society, and the Quest for Salvation in India

Interactive Map Quiz


Map A. The Mauryan and Gupta Empires

The Mauryan and Gupta empires were the first two unified empires in Indian history. The Mauryan Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, who took advantage of the confusion left after the death of Alexander the Great. Chandragupta had familiarized himself with Macedonian fighting techniques during the reign of Alexander, and was able to use this knowledge to attack and defeat the Nanda Dynasty of Magadha and start his own kingdom. From there the empire grew through territorial expansion and diplomatic agreements with the Seleucid king. The grandson of Chandragupta, Asoka is considered to be the greatest emperor of the Mauryans. Under his leadership the empire expanded greatly, although he is celebrated more for his conversion to Buddhism after the bloody and devastating war with the kingdom of Kalinga. After his conversion to Buddhism, he built thousands of Buddhist stupas and rock edicts throughout India.
The Gupta Empire was the second empire that unified the majority of India under one ruler. The first king was Chandragupta, who reigned until 335 CE. His son Samudragupta was a formidable king and conqueror who expanded the empire by incorporating over twenty other regions into his territory. By the fifth century CE however, the empire was embroiled in frequent wars with invading Huns, who eventually defeated the last emperor, Vishnugupta, in the sixth century CE.

How was the Mauryan dynasty formed? How successfully did it maintain its power and rule?


How did the Gupta dynasty differ from the Mauryan dynasty? How successfully did the Gupta dynasty maintain its power and rule?


With what other areas of the world did the peoples of India carry on long-distance trade and what routes did they use to conduct this trade?


Did the centralized imperial governments of the Mauryas and the Guptas succeed as well as the large empires of Persia (e.g., Achaemenid) and China (e.g., the Qin and Han)? Why or why not?


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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