A blog about education technology, teaching, learning, and startups

AP World History Period 2 Review Questions and Discussion

This article is part of the AP World History Review series. You can also view articles on:
APWH Period 1 Review
APWH Period 2 Review (this article)
APWH Period 3 Review
APWH Period 4 Review
APWH Period 5 Review

Introduction - A Review of Period 2 Timeline

Period 2 begins in 600 BCE and ends in 600 CE. This covers the classical period and a couple hundred more years. This period officially begins when writing becomes widespread because the adoption of writing resulted in a chain reaction that made the whole world more educated, artistic, and essentially began human history. Some of the greatest creative works were made during this period. All the interesting things start happening in the classical period. It was perhaps the first significant golden age for mankind. This is why historians and artists alike love to study this period.

During this period, we see the rise of classical civilizations like Greece, Rome, India, China, and Persia. Most major religions, except Islam, are also founded in this period. Imagine the effect religion has in many of our lives today. Something that impactful started during this period. Some of the most famous figures in history are covered here.

These include great philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato. Science flourished in this period because of geniuses like mathematician Pythagoras the inventor of the pythagorean theorem, Archimedes the father of fluid physics, and Hippocrates physician who created the Hippocratic Oath. Period 2 is also rich with famous military and political leaders like Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Xerxes, and even Leonidas (pictured below) just to name a few. This is where history really starts. So, let's start reviewing some questions from the beginning of World History.

Leonidas statue meets Gerard Butler, who played as him in the movie 300 Leonidas meets Gerard Butler. This is how I imagine they would stare at each other if they met.

Note: you can access the review questions discussed below in an online worksheet format at You may also use that link to assign these questions to your students if you are a teacher.

Stimulus Based: Questions 1 - 3

Use the following stimulus for questions 1 through 3:

But suppose one comes with dominion for Him, with good thought and right, then vitality informs the body, piety the soul: their ringleader Thou wilt have as if in irons.

and when the requital comes for their misdeeds, for Thee, Mindful One, together with Good Thought, will be found dominion to proclaim to those, Lord, who delivers Wrong into the hands of Right.

Zoroaster - Excerpts from the Gathas 100-600 BCE

The master said, “When the parents are alive, serve them according to the rites; when they die, bury them and then make sacrifices to them according to the rites.”

“Maybe there are people who can act without knowledge, but I am not one of them. Hear much, pick the best and follow it; see much, and keep a record of it: this is the best substitute for innate knowledge.”

Ji Kangzi asked Confucius about government, saying: “Suppose I were to kill the bad to help the good, how about that?” Confucius replied: “You are here to govern; what need is there to kill? If you desire what is good, the people will be good. The moral power of the gentleman is wind, the moral power of the common man is grass. Under the wind, the grass will bend.”

Confucian Analects c. 4th Century BCE

Learning Objective: SOC-3
1. Which of the following statements best describes the impact of Confucianism (as demonstrated in the above text) on social hierarchies during the Han dynasty c. 206 BCE to 220 CE?

  • Existing social hierarchies were undermined by Confucian thought as it spread more widely during the Han dynasty.
  • Existing social hierarchies were strengthened by Confucian thought as it spread widely during the Han dynasty.
  • The introduction of Taoism c. 550 BCE directly influenced the teachings associated social hierarchies inherent in Confucian thought by the 3rd century BCE.
  • Despite the impact of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism during the Han dynasty, social hierarchies were primarily determined by socioeconomic standing.

The Western Han (206BC - 24AD) was regarded as the first unified and powerful empire in Chinese history. It was based around a imperialistic Government structure, which had defined social classes.

Why it's the Best Answer

We can make a strong case that Confucianism strengthened the Han dynasty. Its emphasis on the importance of social relationships along with a well-defined structure of how they should be conducted shaped Chinese etiquette and culture during this period. Confucianism established an ideal state between a ruler and subjects where the people must stay loyal to the king or ruler because the ruler represented fate's will. This was called the mandate of heaven. It was bestowed on the emperor or king as a privilege to rule or lead the people. This privilege could be lost if the emperor did not fulfill his duty in doing what is best for the people.

The above is just one example of the many social relationships that Confucianism established. However, the importance of the subject and ruler relationship led to a social structure where the jobs and people who worked closer to the king or ruler had a higher social status. Interestingly enough, this trend is still seen in China today, where high ranking government officials are powerful and wealthy political figures. Reportedly, the top 200 wealthiest government officials in China have a combined net worth in the $400 billion range. Yes, with a 'B'.

The rest of the choices besides the second one don't quite hit the mark. The first choice is the opposite. The third choice may have been tempting but Taoism didn't really teach very much about social hierarchy or structure. It was more of a personal philosophy about acceptance and resilience to external outcomes. Finally, an interesting counterexample to the fourth choice is the fact that merchants, who are generally wealthy, were not looked upon highly by Confucianism. There was a greater respect for professions in which someone made a tangible good or service rather than reselling it for profit.

Learning Objective: CUL-1
2. Based on the text above and your knowledge of World History, which of the following most strongly represents the philosophical commonality these religious leaders share?

  • A belief in the justice and worthiness of existing political structures.
  • A belief in the existence of good and evil in all things.
  • A belief that good will always triumph over evil.
  • A belief that people should be responsible for their behavior.

Through the comparison of the two passages we see that they share a belief in individual choice, specifically that each person is responsible for their actions.

Why it's the Best Answer

Both religious leaders believed in the free will of individuals and the ability to make choices, at least among most people. Zoroaster is quoted to acknowledge that people can have "good thought and right". For the people who don't, "requital comes for their misdeeds". Similarly, Confucius also believed that most individuals act with knowledge, or at least have the ability to. He goes on to imply that the people who "act without knowledge" are few and stupid.

The rest of the choices are not great answers because only Confucius wrote about political structures. Although the two leaders do talk about good and evil in their passages, nowhere do they both express that good will triumph over evil or that good and evil exist in everything. When Confucius talks about good and evil, he mentions that good and evil are on a spectrum and this spectrum can be moved towards good or evil depending on the strength of the emperor's leadership. In other words, good leadership can influence the amount of good in the world.

"What need is there to kill? If you desire what is good, the people will be good." - Confucius

Learning Objective: CUL-4
3. Both passages above encourage and emphasize the efforts of their respective Empires to meet which of the following goals?

  • To balance the needs of humans with those of nature.
  • To promote social harmony by outlining proper rituals and social relationships.
  • To enhance trade and taxation through educational pursuits.
  • To govern well and maintain the agrarian nature of the respective empires.

Each passage discusses the promotion of social harmony through proper rituals and relationships within society.

Why it's the Best Answer

Both leaders highlight and encourage the importance of a person's good relationship to society. Zoroaster warns that people who do evil will repent for it later. Confucius does not provide such a warning but his teachings laid the foundation for many ancient Chinese social rituals and relationships. His answer on how to care for parents is a perfect example.

Neither of the leaders mention anything about nature, trade or taxation in their passage. Confucius talked much about good governance, but Zoroaster didn't have much to say about it. Nor did Zoroaster mention much about the importance of agriculture or farming.

Stimulus based: Questions 4-7

Use the following stimulus for questions 4 through 7:

“It was in the nineteenth year of the reign of Diocletian, (302-303) in the month of March, when the feast of the Savior’s passion (Easter) was near at hand, that royal edicts were published everywhere, commanding that the churches be leveled to the ground and the Scriptures be destroyed by fire, and ordering that those who held places of honor to be degraded, and that the household servants, if they persisted in the profession of Christianity, be made slaves.”

303 CE Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica 8.4

“Our purpose is to grant both to the Christians and to all others full authority to follow whatever worship each person has desired, whereby whatsoever Divinity dwells in heaven may be benevolent and propitious to us, and to all who are placed under our authority. Therefore we thought it salutary and most proper to establish our purpose that no person whatever should be refused complete toleration, who has given up his mind either to the cult of the Christians or to the religion which he personally feels best suited to himself. It is our pleasure to abolish all conditions whatever which were embodied in former orders directed to your office about the Christians, that every one of those who have a common wish to follow the religion of the Christians may from this moment freely and unconditionally proceed to observe the same without any annoyance or disquiet.”

Edict of Milan - 312 CE: Emperors Constantine and Licinius

Learning Objective: SOC-5
4. Based on your knowledge of the Roman empire, which response best reflects the ways in which Christianity challenged gender roles in the Roman empire?

  • Christianity was unique during the 1st through 3rd centuries CE in that it taught a form of equality for women, unlike other religious and philosophical beliefs of the time.
  • Christianity provided an outlet for aristocratic women in the Roman empire to display their dissatisfaction with Roman laws on property inheritance.
  • Christianity incorporated existing gender norms into the codification of church law.
  • Christianity adopted the norms of other monotheistic belief systems in the 1st through 3rd centuries CE by accepting women into the hierarchy of the system.

Christian teachings challenged gender roles in the Roman empire, specifically the views on women.

Why it's the Best Answer

The first answer is the best answer because Christianity's treatment of women was much more favorable than what was seen in the ancient Roman Empire. Jesus regularly talked to women and learned from them. In fact, many of Christianity's early followers were women, including Mary Magdalene, who was arguably more influential than some of the apostles.

In contrast, women in ancient Rome couldn't vote, were usually not taught to write (so they couldn't express themselves as well) and weren't allowed to own property. Even though women in Rome would be allowed to own property by the first century of the common era, they still couldn't vote or be in a political office.

Learning Objective: SOC-5
5. Which other religious ideologies are considered the primary influences upon Christianity?

  • Buddhism & Mithraism
  • Confucianism and Taoism
  • Manicheism & Zoroastrianism
  • Zoroastrianism & Hebrew ideology

Zoroastrianism & Hebrew ideology influenced Christianity.

Why it's the Best Answer

Zoroastrianism and Hebrew ideology is the best answer because there are many elements of both religions in Christianity. There is strong evidence that Zoroastrianism influenced both Judaism and Christianity. Specifically, Zoroastrianism introduced the idea that there would be a savior, a messiah, that would come to rescue their people. This ended up being an important concept in giving rise to Christianity, where Jesus became this savior.

When the Babylonian Empire captured the Jewish kingdom around 600 BC, many Jews were exiled into Babylonia and had a chance to mingle into the culture there (also called the Babylonian Captivity). Even after the captivity was over and the Jews were allowed to go back to their homeland, some chose to stay and mingle into the culture. Eventually, they ended up gaining religious and political influence. This is believed to have been when Zoroastrianism influenced Hebrew ideology and eventually Christianity.

Eventually, certain sects of Judaism that believed in specific ideals from Zoroastrianism are thought to have laid the foundation for Christianity. Beliefs that Christianity may have adopted from Zoroastrianism include:

  1. Good and evil represented by God and the Devil
  2. The apocalyptic myth on how the world will end
  3. The idea that a messiah will save their people

Learning Objective: SOC-5
6. Prior to 300CE, what was the primary mode of transfer for Christian ideology as articulated above?

  • Political elites exchanging ideas in an official capacity.
  • Christian slaves being sold between cultures.
  • Missionaries and merchants establishing monasteries and convents.
  • Disenfranchised pagan worshipers assimilating new religious ideologies.

Before established trade routes, missionaries and merchants would trade out of already set up religious buildings (i.e: monasteries and convents).

Why it's the Best Answer

Before 300CE, the trade routes were not as populated and were more like informal networks of merchants. Between 300CE to 600CE is when trade became truly global, and continued to grow. As a result, the spread of christianity was relatively slow from the first century CE to 300CE, but accelerated quickly afterwards.

spread of christianity map

In the map above, the dark orange region shows areas that were predominantly Christian by 326. The light orange region shows areas that became Christian by around 600. Notice how quickly Christianity spread during this time. Most of this was because of expansion in trade and a more open, religiously tolerant political atmosphere.

Learning Objective: SOC-5
7. Which of the following statements is the most likely cause for the abrupt change in Roman policy demonstrated in the texts above?

  • By embracing Christianity, the Roman emperors were able to utilize the ideology to increase their power.
  • Emperor Constantine had a religious experience that induced him to embrace Christianity.
  • Emperor Diocletian died enabling Emperors Constantine and Licinius to enact their privately held beliefs into law.
  • Persecution of Christianity resulted in a lower tax base at a time when both halves of the Roman Empire needed money.

Roman rulers used Christianity as a means to gain more power and support from the masses.

Why it's the Best Answer

Although Constantine was one of the more forward-thinking Roman emperors, he still had a political benefit for allowing the practice of Christianity freely. Religious tolerance makes people happier and the happier the people are, the fewer the number of protests, revolts, etc. As a result, the church was initially greatly influenced by the Emperor because religion was seen as a way to help control the masses. This dynamic between the church and the state will shift and be molded throughout the rest of history across Europe, but this period laid the foundation.

Conclusion - Period 2 overview and transition to Period 3

If we had to summarize Period 2 with just the highlights, they would be:

  1. Religion
  2. Classical empires
  3. Emergence of sophisticated land and sea based trade

Religion will continue to play an important role in Period 3 with the founding of Islam and the evolution of Christianity. We will also see more advancements in technology, redrawing of various political boundaries, and the emergence of stronger trade networks among Europe, Africa, and Asia. By the end of Period 2, although trade is flourishing, it is largely by land through networks like the Silk Road. There hasn't been a strong push for ocean-based trade through cargo ships yet. This is going to change in Period 3 as stronger trade connections from Europe with Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and India become established.

AP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this site.