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So, we’ve seen the lesser of the Classical Civilizations over the past few days (Persia, America). Now, let’s talk about the major classical societies. In fact, if you refer to the Classical era, you are referring to an era who’s entire existence rises and falls with them. 600 BCE-600 CE is code. Translation: What were the Mediterranean, Indian, and Chinese people up to?
Let's start with India...
Easily the most overlooked of the "Classical Civilizations", the Mauryan, and later Guptan Empire laid the foundation for what is quickly becoming the largest civilization on the planet today. When looking at Classical India, focus more on the social and religious; both of which were tied directly to the world's oldest religion: Hinduism.
Classical India really means two dynasties: MAURYAN & GUPTAN. The Mauryans took power after the retreat of Alexander the Great out of India. They are most famous for their ruler Ashoka Maurya. He famously built his rock and pillar edicts. These tell the story of how he converted to Buddhism after winning a bloody battle (Battle of Kalinga).
The Guptan Empire is the dominant Classical Period empire in India. It's often shown to be a contemporary of both Han China and the Roman Empire. This isn't really true. The Guptans took over in 375 CE. At that point, the Han have been gone for almost 200 years and the Romans are in really bad shape at this point (Constantine had been dead for 40 years!). The real contemporary of the Han and Romans was the Kushans (who for some reason get no love).
Anyway, the Guptans are the people to focus on (besides Ashoka and the Mauryans). They are near the epicenter of world trade, built huge buddhist monasteries, and had many scientific/technological breakthroughs (Zero, Heliocentricity, Chess, base-10 numerals, etc. etc.)
CLICK HERE for my page devoted to Classical India.