AP World - Period 2 Review (600 BCE to 600 CE)

5 min readdecember 21, 2021

Amanda DoAmaral

Amanda DoAmaral

AP World History: Modern 🌍

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Period 2: Organization & Reorganization of Human Societies (600 BCE-600 CE)

In AP World History, period 2 spans from 600 BCE to 600 CE. The following guide will be updated periodically with hyperlinks to excellent resources. As you are reviewing for the classical era, focus on the key concepts and use the essential questions to guide you.

Period 2 Dates to Know

STUDY TIP: You will never be asked specifically to identify a date. However, knowing the order of events will help immensely with cause and effect. For this reason, we have identified the most important dates to know.
500s BCE - Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism
221 BCE - Qin unified China
206 BCE - 220 CE - Han Dynasty
32 CE - Beginnings of Christianity
476 CE - Fall of Rome
570 CE - Birth of Muhammad (founder of Islam)

Period 2 Essential Questions

STUDY TIP: Use the following essential questions to guide your review of this entire unit. Keep in mind, these are not meant to be practice essay questions. Each question was written to help you summarize the key concept.
  1. In what ways  did humans develop and codify religious and cultural traditions?
  2. In what ways  did states and empires rise, develop, and fall?
  3. In what ways did interregional networks of communication and exchange emerge and develop?

Past Essay Questions from Period 2

STUDY TIP: Content from the classical era has appeared on the essays five times. Take a look at these questions before you review the key concepts & vocabulary below to get a sense of how you will be assessed. Then, come back to these later and practice writing as many as you can!
**The AP World History exam was revised in 2017, so any questions from before then are not representative of the current exam format or rubric. You can still use prior questions to practice, however DBQs will have more than 7 documents, the LEQ prompts are worded differently, and the rubrics are completely different. Use questions from 2002-2016 with caution.

Period 2 Key Concepts - Course Outline

*The following outline was adapted from the AP World History Course Description as published by College Board in 2017 found here. This outline reflects the most recent revisions to the course.

2.1. Religion & Culture

Watch: AP World History - 🎥 World Religions
  1. Old religions were developed and codified.
    1. Spread of monotheism through Hebrew scriptures and Jewish diaspora.
    2. Hinduism developed in India with a caste system that affected political & social roles.
  2. New religions emerged and spread.
    1. Buddhism developed in India, spread throughout Asia.
    2. Confucianism developed in China with key ideas in education and relationships.
    3. Daoism influenced China, focused on balance between humans and nature.
    4. Christianity influenced by Judaism & Hellenism, spread through Eurasia.
    5. Greco-Roman philosophers used logic and empiricism to understand the world.
    6. Religion was reflected in architecture.
  3. Religion affected social structures.
    1. Confucianism emphasized filial piety.
    2. Monasticism was practiced by some Buddhists and Christians.
  4. Other traditions.
    1. Shamanism, animism, ancestor veneration continued in periphery civilizations.

2.2. States & Empires

Watch: AP World History - 🎥 Classical Civilizations
  1. States unified and expanded.
    1. Key states = Persia, Qin & Han, Maurya & Gupta, Phoenicia, Greek city-states, Hellenistic Empires, Roman Empire, Teotihuacan, Maya city-states, Moche, Cahokia
  2. States developed new systems of political administration.
    1. Centralized governments managed bureaucracies and legal systems.
    2. Trade and military power led to diplomacy, defensive walls, and roads.
  3. Changes in social and economic structures.
    1. Imperial cities were centers of trade, religion, and politics
      1. Persepolis, Chang’an, Pataliputra, Athens, Carthage, Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Teotihuacan
    2. Social hierarchies included laborers, slaves, artisans, merchants, and elites.
    3. Labor systems developed to maintain food production (corvee, slavery, tributes).
    4. Patriarchy continued.
  4. Empires of the classic era collapsed.
    1. States fell because of overexpansion, political corruption, social tensions, economic difficulties, and elites with too much power.
    2. Lack of security led to outside invasions.
  1. Land & water routes allowed for interregional trade.
    1. Silk Roads, Trans-Saharan routes, Indian Ocean sea lanes, Mediterranean sea lanes.
  2. New technologies expanded trade.
    1. Transportation of goods through domesticated animals.
    2. Adaptations to the environment innovated maritime trade (monsoon management).
  3. People, beliefs, goods, and disease spread on trade networks.
    1. Spread of crops (rice & cotton) changed farming techniques (qanat).
    2. Spread of disease led to decline in populations (smallpox).
    3. Spread of religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism) led to syncretisms.

Concepts & Vocabulary from Period 2

STUDY TIP: These are the concepts and vocabulary from period 2 that most commonly appear on the exam. Create a quizlet deck to make sure you are familiar with these terms!
  • Achaemenid empire
  • ahimsa
  • Alexander the Great
  • Alexandria
  • aristocracy/aristocrats
  • Aristotle
  • ascetic
  • Ashoka Maurya
  • Bhagavad Gita
  • Buddhism
  • caravanserai
  • Carthage
  • caste system
  • Chandragupta Maurya
  • Chichen Itza
  • Christianity
  • Cicero
  • civil service exam
  • Confucianism
  • Constantine
  • consuls
  • Crete
  • Cyrus the Great
  • dao
  • Dao De Jing
  • Daoism
  • Darius I
  • Delian League
  • democracy
  • direct democracy
  • Edict of Milan
  • empiricism
  • Epicureanism
  • Four Noble Truths
  • Ganges River
  • Gupta Dynasty
  • Han Dynasty
  • Hellenistic period
  • hieroglyphics
  • Homer
  • Iliad
  • Indian Ocean sea lanes
  • Jainism
  • Jesus
  • Julius Caesar
  • Kushan Empire
  • latifundia
  • Laws of the Twelve Tables
  • Mauryan Dynasty
  • Maya/Mayan
  • Minoan civilization
  • Moche
  • monasteries
  • obsidian
  • Octavian/Caesar Augustus
  • oligarchy
  • Olmec
  • Parthians
  • patricians
  • Pax Romana
  • Pax Sinica
  • Peloponnesian League
  • Persian Wars
  • Plato
  • plebeians
  • poleis (polis)
  • Punic Wars
  • qanat
  • reincarnation
  • representative democracy
  • republic
  • Rock and Pillar Edicts
  • Royal Road
  • Sassanids
  • satraps
  • Seleucids
  • Shihuangdi
  • Siddhartha Gautama
  • Silk Roads
  • Socrates
  • Spartacus Revolution
  • Stoicism
  • syncretic
  • Teotihuacan
  • tribunes
  • tribute
  • Vedas Upanishads
  • White Huns
  • Xerxes
  • Xiongnu
  • Yellow Turban Rebellion
  • Zarathustra
  • Zoroastrianism

Browse Study Guides By Unit
🐎Unit 1 – The Global Tapestry, 1200-1450
🐫Unit 2 – Networks of Exchange, 1200-1450
🕌Unit 3 – Land-Based Empires, 1450-1750
🍕Unit 4 – Transoceanic Interactions, 1450-1750
✊🏽Unit 5 – Revolutions, 1750-1900
🚂Unit 6 – Consequences of Industrialization, 1750-1900
💣Unit 7 – Global Conflict, 1900-Present
🥶Unit 8 – Cold War & Decolonization, 1900-Present
✈️Unit 9 – Globalization, 1900-Present
✏️Frequently Asked Questions
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